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The German subsidiary of Spanish-owned Telefónica will transfer about 1 million 5G customers to Amazon’s public cloud provider AWS. This marks the first time worldwide that a big telco is moving an existing client base to a public cloud.

The move to AWS (Amazon Web Services) concerns Telefónica Germany’s core network. This means high-performance servers in data centres that securely route data and calls at high speeds. This should cut costs, increase scale, and allow repairs without service disruption.

Other telecom networks have moved some of their infrastructure to a public cloud in the past, but this has always concerned IT operations and other non-core operations. The US telco Dish has also used AWS for its core network since 2021, but it built this network from scratch without having to move an existing user base.

Roadmap

Although moving an existing base is a global first, the move concerns ‘only’ one million of Telefónica Germany customers. The telco has 45 million customers in Germany.

“I want to see it working for at least one to two quarters and have a roadmap to move at least 30-40 percent of my customer base by 2025-2026,” said Mallik Rao, Chief Technology & Information Officer at Telefónica Germany (otherwise known as O2 Telefónica), according to Reuters.

AWS will provide the infrastructure. Nokia, the erstwhile mobile phone giant that reinvented itself as a 5G champion in recent years, will provide the software. The latter also worked with Dish in its construction of the first 5G core network in a public cloud.

Growing telecom cloud market

Big cloud-computing services firms such as Amazon and Microsoft are eagerly eyeing the telecoms sector, lured by billions of dollars in potential revenue. The global telecom cloud market is expected to reach 108.7 billion dollars by 2030 (more than 101 billion euros), up from 19.7 billion dollars in 2021. Operaters however, have been worried whether public clouds have the capability to handle mobile networks.

“We want to make it a business to run telco workloads,” AWS vice president Jan Hofmeyr said. The company expects more deals with other operators in the next 12 months. “I would say in most cases the discussion is about timing versus should we move into the cloud.”

Also read: Eurofiber partners with Nokia to offer Private 5G service