Bharti Airtel, India’s largest integrated telecommunications services provider, and the world’s second largest MNO, has announced that IBM and Red Hat will build its new telco network cloud.
With the current roll-out of 5G equipment around the world, a telco cloud enables vendors to implement network function virtualization (NFV) and software-defined data center (SDDC) management. NFV will enable Airtel to virtualize network services, such as routers, firewalls, and load balancers, that have traditionally been run on proprietary hardware. These services are packaged as virtual machines (VMs) on commodity hardware, which allows service providers to run their network on standard servers instead of proprietary ones.
Airtel’s network cloud is designed to make it more efficient, flexible and future-ready to support core operations and enable new digital services. And under the new agreement with IBM and Red Hat, Airtel will build its next generation core network, analytical tools and new consumer and enterprise services on top of this cloud platform based on open standards.
“With the new network cloud, Airtel intends to deliver a better customer experience through enhanced network performance, improved availability, operations automation and scaling the network to the edge,” read an Airtel statement. “This is designed to reduce latency and improve bandwidth availability and automation, thereby strengthening the overall quality of the network.”
The announcement comes days after India’s largest telecoms company revealed that it would be using Altiostar’s open virtual radio access network (vRAN) solution for 5G delivery, whilst also announcing a multi-year agreement to deploy Nokia’s SRAN solution across nine ‘circles’ in India (telcom regulators in India have divided a telecom map of the country into 22 circles).
With India expected to reach 920 million unique mobile customers by 2025 – including 88 million 5G connections, according to the GSMA – the country’s data consumption is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 70% by 2022. And by adopting a modern hybrid cloud architecture, communication service providers (CSPs) can deliver more responsive networks that tap into automation and AI.
Using IBM and Red Hat's portfolio of hybrid cloud and cognitive enterprise capabilities, Airtel plans to adopt an open cloud architecture that uses Red Hat OpenStack Platform for all network workloads and Red Hat OpenShift for newer containerized workloads. It will also tap into Red Hat's ecosystem of network OEMs.
In the future, Airtel's open hybrid cloud platform is expected to help enable new revenue streams with the on-boarding of third-party services including gaming, remote media production and enterprise services.
- Discover the best 5G networks in the UK and US
- Get your hands on the hottest 5G phones
- Millimeter wave: the secret sauce behind 5G
- The complete guide to 5G security
- We reveal the latest 5G use cases
- Discover the truth behind 5G dangers
- 5G towers: everything you need to know