IBM involved in two European 5G deals

5G global network connection

IBM this week made two separate announcements regarding its involvement in open 5G networks in Europe.

The US-based tech firm on Tuesday revealed it is working with Airspan Networks to set up an Open RAN testbed in Germany and France, and followed that two days later with the news that it has been selected by Telefonica to use its software and services in the deployment of its cloud-native 5G core network platform.

We have long been promised that open architectures will bring different names into the frame in telecoms networks, and this pair of announcements backs up that idea. IBM is hardly an unfamiliar brand in Europe, but it is not front-of-mind when it comes to mobile networks.

The Telefonica arrangement will see IBM Global Business Services, the systems integrator arm of IBM, work with Red Hat and Juniper Networks to deploy UNICA Next, Telefonica’s cloud native platform. The new network is built on IBM Cloud Pak for Network Automation, Red Hat OpenShift, and Juniper Networks Apstra and QFX technology.

The platform will be deployed across multiple central, regional and distributed data centres, starting as soon as next month, IBM explained, adding the usual references to low latency, high bandwidth, and the ability to deliver services in an agile manner.

“With IBM, Telefónica is combining the latency and bandwidth advancements of 5G with the customization and intelligence of the cloud: we anticipate the results will be transformative in Europe and beyond,” said Javier Gutierrez, director of strategy, network, and IT development for Telefónica.

Meanwhile, IBM Global Communications Sector Managing Director Steve Canepa described his company as being “energized by the opportunity to enable Telefónica and all our clients to modernize their networks and enable new revenue-generating services that deliver tremendous value to consumer and enterprise customers.”

IBM is also channelling its energies into open networking slightly further north.

IBM Global Business Services has teamed up with Airspan to set up what it terms a 5G-enabled Open RAN testbed across the IBM Watson IoT Center in Munich and IBM’s Global Industry Solution Center (GISC) in Nice with the aim of showcasing long-distance control over 5G-enabled edge computing.

The testbed will help customers across Europe to develop multi-vendor solutions for various use cases. The firms said they will work together to accelerate the adoption of Open RAN technology and further the ecosystem. The testbed will help develop hardware and software, as well as facilitate end-to-end interoperability testing with private 5G stand-alone core networks. IBM and Airspan said they will provide their partners and customers with the ability to collaborate and test features for next-generation campus networks.

“Open approaches and standards-based technologies are vital to help unleash the full potential of 5G and edge computing. That’s why, in collaboration with Airspan, we hope to work to advance emerging use cases that harness Open RAN and bring new value to telecom clients,” said Marisa Viveros, Vice President of Strategy and Offerings, Telecom, Media and Entertainment Industry at IBM.

IBM clearly really wants a seat at this table.

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