AWS for Industries

O2 Telefonica Moves its 5G core network to the Cloud with AWS and Nokia

Today, O2 Telefónica announced its 5G Cloud Core – a new 5G cloud network built entirely in the cloud, using technologies from European network equipment provider Nokia and Amazon Web Services (AWS).

We’re increasingly seeing more telecom operators recognize the value of moving network workloads to the cloud. Earlier this year, NTT DOCOMO, INC. (DOCOMO), Japan’s leading mobile operator announced it will work with AWS to commercially deploy its nationwide 5G Open Radio Access Network (RAN) in Japan, and in 2021, we announced our work with DISH to help it build and rapidly scale its 5G network across the U.S.

However, today’s announcement is significant: it’s the first-time a telecom operator is migrating its existing network and customers to a new 5G cloud network running on AWS.

A 5G cloud network is an evolution of “packet core” connecting mobile subscribers to the Internet, voice and other networks. This is where mobile data streams converge when customers surf the 5G standalone network. The new 5G Cloud Core offers customers a better network experience when surfing on the provider’s 5G standalone network (“5G Plus”). This approach also gives operational advantages to O2 Telefónica: the core network functions, which are designed as cloud native software, can be updated faster and more cost-effectively. This is particularly important in the 5G era, where new functions and features are constantly being added. Instead of purchasing hardware or deploying and managing dedicated private clouds, the company can update software and flexibly book or cancel capacities in the cloud. This makes it easier for O2 Telefónica to deploy new 5G services to its customers – which presents new value to best support customers as well as new potential for monetization.

According to Matthias Sauder, Director Mobile Access Network at O2 Telefónica, the benefits were compelling: “We chose to use AWS to build our new solution because of its data security and sovereignty capabilities, as well as the improved performance, efficiency, and elasticity which will enable to offer our customers an excellent 5G experience and new digital applications.”

Let’s dive deeper into how we’re working with O2 Telefónica and Nokia to realize improved network quality and offer the highest standards of security with AWS, the most secure cloud available today.

The network architecture is designed for high availability and scalability in the cloud. O2 Telefónica leveraged AWS Region and Availability Zones for a resilient and fault tolerant architecture running Nokia 5G Core at scale. For example, during any planned or unplanned event, traffic is automatically routed to other servers to achieve full service resilience. Consequently, maintenance can be performed without service disruption, improving network availability, which is particularly important for modern 5G applications. The AWS services used by O2 Telefónica in this architecture include Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS) for the orchestration of containerized cloud native Network Functions (NFs) from Nokia, backed by Amazon Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2) for different types of workloads ranging from compute-intensive to throughput-intensive in AWS Regions and AWS Outposts.

Customers around the globe—from governments and highly regulated industries to small businesses and start-ups—trust Amazon Web Services (AWS) with their most sensitive data and applications, and this played a key factor in O2 Telefonica decision to run in AWS. O2 Telefónica’s data core network is the central part of a mobile network and this is where all applications and data converge. All data is stored, either on O2 Telefónica premises or AWS infrastructure within Europe and is fully end-to-end encrypted. O2 Telefónica is using Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) for IP networking between different Nokia’s NFs on AWS and on-premises, and AWS Direct Connect for a performant, secure, and resilient connectivity to on-premises sites such as Radio Access Networks (RAN) sites. O2 Telefónica developed a comprehensive Cloud Security Framework that sets highest standards for security, quality, and data protection. It uses Amazon Key Management Service (KMS) and AWS CloudHSM for the management of data encryption keys using fully managed and dedicated tamper-resistant hardware devices to secure customer data. Further, the architecture leverages AWS Nitro System, which is the underlying platform for all AWS compute instances and enables data isolation, encryption, price performance, cost, and pace of innovation that O2 Telefónica requires, restricting the ability for operators to access customer data. It is AWS Nitro System that allows AWS to provide its cloud continuum across the topology of the Telco Network and enabling AWS EC2, Networking, and EKS services as foundational building blocks of a Cloud Native Architecture. For resilient, performant and scalable block and network attached storage it uses Amazon Elastic Block Storage (EBS) and Amazon Elastic File Storage (EFS) respectively. For consistent and scalable governance of AWS accounts and organizational policies, O2 Telefónica is using AWS Control Tower. A suite of Continuous Integration/Continuous Deployment (CI/CD) services is used for automated deployment and management of various AWS resources. These CI/CD and observability toolset include AWS CloudFormation, AWS CodePipeline, AWS CodeBuild, Amazon Elastic Compute Service (ECR) and Amazon CloudWatch.

O2 Telefónica is also benefiting from AWS supporting the Multus Container Network Interface (CNI) plugin in Amazon EKS for traffic segmentation and for using distinct container network interface (CNI) plugins as per different network function requirements including accelerated packet processing. O2 Telefónica is also using Multi-VPC Elastic Network Interface (ENI) attachments to separate different type of traffic (such as control plane and user plane) to apply different routing and security policies for VPC-to-VPC and VPC-to-on-premises connectivity by leveraging cloud native technologies. Additionally, for keeping the velocity of Kubernetes updates in Amazon EKS to a bare minimum, O2 Telefónica uses Amazon EKS extended support for Kubernetes, O2 Telefónica can use a Kubernetes minor version for up to 26 months from the time the version is generally available from Amazon EKS.

“We’re extremely proud to have been selected for the 5G Cloud Core network deployment of O2 Telefónica,” says Jan Holfmeyr, Vice President, EC2 at AWS. “AWS unmatched experience, maturity, reliability, security and performance is helping O2 Telefónica build their 5G Cloud Core network and to realize their vision of the network of the future.”

To learn more about the AWS cloud solutions for telecom visit AWS for Telecom.

Amir Rao

Amir Rao

Amir Rao is Director of Telco Product Management for EC2 Edge Services at AWS. His global team focuses on building AWS EC2 Edge Services for telco customers, including AWS services and infrastructure required for OSS/BSS, 5G Core and IMS, 5G RAN (CU/DU), and other fixed/mobile network application domains across both public and private networks. His team also focuses on 5G network monetization leading to digital transformation for enterprises by managing AWS products like Wavelength and Integrated Private Wireless. Prior to his current role, he was GM of solutions portfolio at AWS for the telecommunications industry business unit. His led AWS cloud adoption by Telco customers for multiple solutions across the value chain of Telco businesses and topology of Telco network. Amir has over 20 years of global work experience with Tier 1 technology providers such as AWS, Motorola Solutions, Huawei, Nokia, and Microsoft. Throughout his career he has been involved in new technology introduction in global markets, such as CDMA in 2005, WIMAX in 2006, LTE in 2012, 5G MEC (Wavelength Zones) in 2019, AWS Outposts as NFVi in 2019, and 5G Network on AWS cloud with Dish in 2021 and 5G Core on AWS cloud with Swisscom. He is a Stanford Graduate School of Business and London Business School alumni.

Fabio Cerone

Fabio Cerone

Fabio is currently Managing Director at AWS, where he founded the Telco Business Unit for the EMEA region back in 2019. He joined AWS after an extensive sales experience to scale very large businesses (over $1B USD), developing organization and operational capabilities to deliver software solutions and technology-enabled services businesses across the telecom industry. He has worked at large telecom companies such as Ericsson and Telecom Italia. In Ericsson, he has been the global head of the telco cloud business line with the responsibility to drive service providers transformation to cloud adoption. Fabio is a dynamic executive who achieved success by driving sales growth and business transformation in both the global dimension (Global Executive roles in Corporate) and in the local dimension as customer sales executive. With 24 years of tech sector experience, his career developed from a variety of customer-facing roles in sales, delivery, business development into senior executive responsibilities, including general manager role driving companywide transformation Programs aimed at boosting sales in new areas. His expertise focuses on the telecom Industry, telecom systems and architectures, communication software, Cloud infrastructure and services, management software and platforms, mobility including evolution to 5G, systems integration business. Fabio’s leadership and management experience provided a key contribution in developing high performing organizations, establishing a culture of collaboration, ownership, accountability and customer focus.