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BT chooses Canonical to support 5G core roll-out from 2022

Mark Shuttleworth.jpg

BT has selected Canonical, a publisher of public cloud operating system Ubuntu, to assist in its next generation 5G core by using Charmed OpenStack, an open source virtual infrastructure manager.

London-based Canonical is supporting the telco’s transition to a cloud-based core network as part of BT’s network functions virtualisation (NFV) programme. BT’s open source cloud-based approach will allow it to deploy new services and increase capacity to support 5G and fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) customer demand.

“BT has recognised the efficiency, flexibility and innovation afforded by an open architecture, and realises the value of such an approach in enabling its delivery of new 5G services," said Mark Shuttleworth (pictured above), CEO of Canonical. "We’re delighted to be working with them to deliver the foundation to this approach, which will underpin BT’s 5G strategy.”

48088BT’s EE mobile network switched on 5G in six launch cities in May 2019: London, Birmingham, Cardiff, Manchester, Edinburgh and Belfast. BT says the cloud-based full 5G core will be introduced from 2022.

In June, BT also chose Juniper Networks to support the delivery of its cloud infrastructure initiative, which will allow various lines of its business to operate on a single platform.

Canonical said that its architecture will facilitate the delivery of BT’s full 5G core network, with Openstack cloud software separating network hardware and software to turn core network components into software applications. This allows faster updates and continuous integration and development, it said.

The separation also allows different network applications to share the same hardware across data centres, making the network more resilient and scalable when additional capacity is needed.

Canonical said the speed at which software can be updated compared to replacing core network equipment “will lead to a new way of working for the development of 5G services where BT can build new services in weeks and deploy in days”.

Higher bandwidth, lower latency and growing 5G coverage is set to deliver a more responsive network, enabling mobile augmented reality, real-time health monitoring, and mobile cloud gaming.

“Canonical is providing us with the ‘cloud-native’ foundation that enables us to create a smart and fully converged network,” said Neil McRae (pictured middle), chief architect of the BT group. “Utilising open source and best-of-breed technologies will ensure we can deliver on our convergence vision, and enable a world-leading 5G and FTTP experience for our customers.”

Canonical said that the full 5G core is a “vital step” on BT’s convergence of network technologies, and will bring together fixed, mobile and Wifi “into one seamless customer experience”.

It added: “Further developments, able to be introduced with more agility thanks to the cloud-based architecture, will introduce ultra-reliable low latency communications (URLLC), network slicing and multi-gigabit-per-second speeds. This phase of 5G will enable critical applications like real-time traffic management of fleets of autonomous vehicles, massive sensor networks with millions of devices measuring air quality across the entire country, and the ‘tactile internet’, where a sense of touch can be added to remote real-time interactions.”

Learn more about the race for 5G between network operators in an article that investigates the latest 5G partnership developments and how much hangs in the balance without a structured approach to spectrum allocation.