Telcos have new, open 5G offerings through HPE

Edge-to-cloud, platform-as-a-service strategy incorporated in a software stack to deploy 5G services more rapidly.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has rolled out a new portfolio of open 5G offerings to help telecommunications companies build and deploy open 5G networks. The portfolio will enable them to rapidly deploy 5G services, HPE said.

HPE's edge-to-cloud, platform-as-a-service (PaaS) strategy is designed to help telcos leverage a cloud-native software stack for 5G core, optimized telco core and edge infrastructure blueprints, and Wi-Fi 6 enabled services, the company said. It is built on open and interoperable platforms incorporating carrier grade infrastructure and modular software components, according to HPE. The portfolio of offerings is designed to allow telcos to incorporate more automation, become more agile, and deploy new 5G services faster across the telco core, the telco edge, and into the enterprise, HPE said.

  • At the telco core: A new HPE 5G open, cloud-native, container-based software stack. It is geared at providing telecommunication customers with the core network capabilities required to rapidly deliver new 5G services to subscribers and enterprise customers.
  • At the telco edge: A ruggedized, general purpose platform enabling Virtual Radio Access Network (vRAN) and Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) to provide telcos with an IT service environment at the cellular network edge.
  • At the enterprise edge: Aruba Central services, including Air Pass Wi‑Fi/5G roaming, and Air Slice SLA management. These services help telcos extend the 5G footprint to the enterprise edge by allowing access to Wi-Fi connected users and IoT devices.
  • HPE GreenLake, an as-a-service offering: Available via a pay-as-you-go, management services, and elastic model, these offerings provide telcos with a fast ramp for rolling out 5G services by enabling them to reduce upfront capital investments and reduce risk by leveraging telco-focused enterprise edge hardware and software.

To fully realize the benefits and power of 5G, a standalone 5G core needs to be combined with the nascent 5G radio access networks, according to HPE. "Previous generation networks have often depended on proprietary vertically integrated systems from a single vendor, but 5G offers the opportunity to move to open, cloud-native platforms that utilize commercial off-the-shelf servers along with modular software components from different vendors, allowing telcos to monetize new 5G services faster," according to HPE.

SEE: 5G: What it means for IoT (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

At the edge of the telco network, legacy network infrastructure in the radio access network (RAN) also uses proprietary network technology that results in high operational costs and limited agility. Additionally, the higher frequencies of 5G have issues penetrating buildings, so telcos will need to be able to utilize both 5G RAN and Wi-Fi 6 networks in the enterprise to provide uninterrupted service to their customers as they enter shopping malls, campuses, and office buildings.

The edge-to-cloud, 5G-ready technologies are available on a pay-as-you-go or subscription basis via HPE GreenLake to help accelerate the rollout of 5G infrastructure without upfront capital outlays, HPE said.

Telcos can use HPE GreenLake to grow and expand their network as new users come online and pay a monthly fee based on measured utilization, the company said. This can free up resources to focus on innovation at the network and enterprise edge, HPE said. 

The pay-as-you-go service is new in the 5G field, and many companies are experimenting with what models will work, said Maribel Lopez, principal analyst at Lopez Research. "The biggest benefit of the pay-as-you-go model is to get the [communications service provider] over the hurdle of purchasing something. Once they start building and using the technology, the model may revert to purchase or a combination of purchase and pay as you go." 

She said there are benefits to the new HPE offerings. "First, they know telecom … they've had a telecom group forever,'' Lopez said. "Second, the infrastructure is solid. Third, they are a big vendor, and telcos have not really [done] long-term business with big vendors. Still, I imagine that Dell is aggressively bidding for infrastructure." 

Cell signals diminish when penetrating energy-efficient buildings

Aruba Air Pass is a new roaming service designed to enable cellular subscribers to securely and automatically roam onto participating Aruba enterprise Wi-Fi networks. Air Pass aims to provide a seamless hand-off between cellular and Wi-Fi networks, without sacrificing security or quality of service, HPE said. When used in conjunction with Aruba Air Slice, an Aruba technology designed to improve radio performance, telcos can extend their 5G footprint into the enterprise and enable seamless Wi-Fi calling and gigabit-class guaranteed performance, according to HPE.

Evolving building codes, energy-efficient construction materials, and low-emission glass have led to diminished quality of cellular signals when penetrating buildings, HPE said.

"We all have had the experience where we're on a phone call or doing cellular-based connectivity when walking into a building and … there's minimal or bad cell quality,'' said Dave Chen, senior product marketing manager for Aruba, an HPE company. "Energy efficient windows are a natural dampener."

To combat this, Aruba customers can utilize their existing enterprise Wi-Fi infrastructure as a cost-effective alternative to deploying indoor small cells or distributed antenna systems (DAS), HPE said.

"So when you walk into a building, you identify a device with a SIM card that will actually recognize some credentials with carriers at the back end of the service and will automatically onboard the client" for data, voice, and text services without any impact to connectivity, and no one has to log onto the network, Chen said.

One of the enabling technologies behind Aruba Air Pass is Passpoint, a standard created by the Wi-Fi Alliance to enable mobile devices to automatically authenticate on enterprise Wi-Fi networks using their cellular credentials.

Air Pass and Air Slice are geared at enterprises, especially where cost is a big factor when making technology transitions, Chen said.

This means an enterprise "can breathe new life into existing wireless infrastructure and repurpose Wi-Fi radio as an extension of your cellular services,'' he said. "It's adding a dimension to what Wi-Fi does today … and some intelligence services to enhance that experience."

Enterprises can now look to Wi-Fi to deliver the types of experiences that 5G is positioning the market for today, Chen said, such as ultra-low latency, and IoT use cases.

"The whole notion is to improve, accelerate, and optimize the on-demand benefits of 5G and Wi-Fi 6,'' he said.

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