The carrier last week announced plans to outsource its 5G network to Microsoft Azure.

James Anderson, Senior News Editor

July 7, 2021

4 Min Read
cloud partnership

AT&T has continued its foray into cloud-based 5G computing with an expanded Google Cloud partnership.

The companies announced last March that they would team up to pair AT&T’s 5G network with Google Cloud’s Anthos for Telecom managed application platform platform. They aimed to ultimately deliver enterprise-focused edge solutions. Now the wireless carrier and public cloud provider are announcing two new services.

First, they will integrate AT&T’s Multi-Access Edge Compute (MEC) solution with Google Cloud’s core capabilities. Those capabilities feature Kubertnetes, and AI, as well as machine learning and data analytics. In addition, AT&T can tap into Google Cloud’s “robust edge ISV ecosystem.”

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Second, the partnership lets businesses deploy applications at Google edge points of presence (PoPs) while transporting them through AT&T’s 5G and fiber networks. AT&T and Google Cloud will first bring the solution to Chicago in 2021, followed by Atlanta, Dallas, Miami, and San Francisco. They will expand to more than 15 regions throughout their multiyear strategy.

‘Next-Generation Applications’

The companies pointed to a more immersive experience that they can provide for enterprise customers. Integrations with Google Maps, Android, virtual reality and other applications let customers build “meaningful outcomes” at the network edge.


Google Cloud’s George Nazi

“By combining the power of AT&T 5G and Google Cloud technologies, we are helping enterprises create new customer experiences and business services that were previously impossible,” said George Nazi, vice president, global telecom, media and entertainment solutions, Google Cloud. “Together with AT&T, we are committed to enabling our customers to build and deliver next-generation applications, whether on premises or on AT&T’s … mobile network.”


AT&T’s Rasesh Patel

AT&T Business chief product and platform officer Rasesh Patel pointed to the higher speeds and low latency that 5G provides. Furthermore, Patel said the combination of 5G and network edge computing gives customers expanded control over their data.

“We’re bringing forth a new era where the latest technological advancements, including 5G and edge computing, make it possible to transform, innovate and prepare for whatever the future holds,” Patel said.

Use Cases

The companies noted that they are opening use cases as a result of the expansion. For example, video analytics services can help with theft prevention in retail, and augmented/virtual reality can help with telehealth.


IDC’s Jason Leigh

Jason Leigh, IDC‘s research manager for 5G and mobile services, said the partnership brings together three different technologies: 5G, cloud and edge.

“5G, cloud services and edge compute each have a tremendous amount of promise as standalone technologies. But coupling these three as complementary, enabling technologies both accelerates and extends the promise of digital transformation in many more business settings,” Leigh said.


Gartner’s Sid Nag

Gartner research VP Sid Nag made a similar comment about the growing infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) market. Although the IaaS market is …… growing at a 40% clip, Nag said the biggest opportunity exists in “cloud-adjacent technology markets.” Those include edge, 5G and AI.

AT&T’s Cloud Ventures

AT&T last week announced plans to sell its Network Edge unit, which has operated AT&T’s 5G network since 2018, to Microsoft. As a result, AT&T’s core 5G network will reside in Microsoft Azure. In addition, Swisscom announced plans to migrate its network onto AWS.

Darryl Schoolar, who runs Omdia‘s fixed and mobile infrastructure practice, wrote that the outsourcing of 5G mobile cores will impact the telecom market in a big way. Although wireless operators have been teaming with cloud service providers around applications, customer data and billing, AT&T and Swisscom have gone to an entirely new level. Schoolar said AWS and Azure must maintain entire networks containing fast-moving and high volume data traffic. There’s little room for error.

“Obviously AT&T and Swisscom feel cloud services have matured to a level of performance that makes them comfortable outsourcing such a key network element. For this reason, today’s market-disrupting announcement should be concerning to incumbent equipment vendors,” Schoolar wrote. (Omdia and Channel Futures share a parent company, Informa.)

Schoolar said incumbent equipment vendors must find additional areas of value as cloud services eat into core deals by 20-30%.

Telecom and channel analyst Peter Radizeski noted AT&T’s growing reliance on strategic partnerships. In addition to the Microsoft and Google alliances, AT&T recently expanded its partnership with RingCentral around mobile cloud PBX.

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About the Author(s)

James Anderson

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

James Anderson is a news editor for Channel Futures. He interned with Informa while working toward his degree in journalism from Arizona State University, then joined the company after graduating. He writes about SD-WAN, telecom and cablecos, technology services distributors and carriers. He has served as a moderator for multiple panels at Channel Partners events.

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