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Spark calls upon AWS and Mavenir for 5G SA trial

There are signs that Amazon could be in line for another 5G standalone (SA) networking deal.

Spark New Zealand this week shared details of two 5G SA proof-of-concepts (PoCs) it carried out, and the hyperscaler was heavily involved in both of them.

With Mavenir providing the networking software, Spark deployed a 5G SA cloud-native core solution on AWS Snowball Edge, Amazon’s rugged, briefcase-sized edge cloud. It enabled the incumbent to create a portable storage and compute solution that can be deployed right at the edge of its 5G network, offering high throughput and low latency when and where it is needed. Incidentally, the PoC also marked the first deployment of Mavenir’s SA core solution on Snowball Edge. Using this set-up, Spark tested a video analytics tool, recording a 70 percent reduction in latency compared to its 5G non-standalone network.

The other PoC saw Spark deploy the same Mavenir core solution on AWS Outposts, a managed service that extends AWS infrastructure, APIs and tools to customer premises. It means a customer can work within the same development environment as the AWS public cloud, but use local storage a compute resources, resulting in lower latency. Spark said it wanted to see how this architecture might improve the performance of its 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) service. By deploying cloud-native core network software on AWS Outposts, the telco said it achieved faster download speeds and reduced latency compared to non-standalone FWA.

“These proof-of-concepts create line of sight for us to deliver the enhanced benefits of standalone 5G – both to New Zealand businesses looking to innovate using 5G connectivity and multi access edge compute (MEC), and to New Zealanders accessing a network that supports applications such as instant video streaming, cloud hosted gaming and the reaction times required for driverless vehicles,” said Josh Bahlman, Spark’s tribe lead for telco cloud, in a statement on Tuesday.

“The 5G standalone network opens the door on capacity and low latency to help accelerate IoT trends, such as connected cars, smart cities and IoT in the home and office,” he added.

Amazon’s heavy involvement with these PoCs suggests Spark might be mulling a public cloud deployment for its 5G SA network. As Dell’Oro pointed out recently, that would be going against the grain: the overwhelming majority of telcos that have either deployed or committed to deploying 5G SA have also committed to rolling it out on their own telco cloud.

Spark didn’t categorically state that its commercial 5G SA network will use AWS architecture, it might still go for an in-house option. At this stage, it doesn’t appear to have ruled anything in or out.

“The solutions offered by AWS and Mavenir provide an opportunity to test and learn by leveraging cloud-native solutions and multi access edge compute services optimised for 5G. Testing the technology in this way allows us to identify the optimal combination of vendors and solutions to deliver the benefits we want to achieve,” Bahlman said. “We have further proof-of-concepts underway as we work to bring relevant use cases specific to New Zealand’s local requirements.”

 

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