Can 5G be implemented over Public Cloud?

  • My friend: Hi Ibrahim, I have a question for you.

    • Me: Please, go ahead.
  • My friend: I was wondering if 5G can be implemented over public cloud or only private telco cloud?

    • Me: Actually, this will let us first distinguish between RAN and core and see the possibility for each to be deployed over public cloud. So, let’s start with RAN. As RAN is composed of RU, DU, and CU, so we can say that RU will be in the cell site as it is, so remaining is the DU and CU. As DU is carrying out real-time functions like scheduling, which means it should be near from the cell site. While the CU, both CU-CP and CU-UP, is performing non-real time functions, so it can be located far from the cell site, but in case of URLLC service is required, then CU-UP should be near from the cell site as well. So, simply if the public cloud service provider like AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google has enough data center locations distributed over the whole country where we are deploying the 5G network, so we can move some of the RAN functions to be hosted over the public cloud assuming the required latency is achieved.
  • My friend: So, what about moving the 5G core to the public cloud?

    • Me: As the 5G core is using the SBA (Service-Based Architecture) whereby the control plane functionality and common data repositories of a 5G network are delivered using a set of interconnected Network Functions (NFs), so 5G NFs can be hosted over the public cloud assuming some requirements are achieved such as security where subscribers’ database and personal information will be stored in public cloud which should be secure enough to meet the government requirements especially that NOT all the public cloud providers are available in all countries and so this critical information can be hosted in another country which will put many concerns regarding data privacy. Also, latency can be affected in this situation as every 5G call, we need to connect to the 5G core which is hosted in another country.
  • My friend: But are there any benefits from moving 5G to the public cloud?

    • Me: Yes, many benefits indeed such as cost optimization as we are going to OPEX more than CAPEX mode and even this OPEX can be reduced if you pay upfront for one year or more. Also, scalability as you will be able to scale resources up and down on a global scale. And you will guarantee high performance as there is a regular upgrade to the latest generation of computing hardware. Also, operators will transfer cloud complexity to the cloud service provider, which means faster time-to-market and improved operations efficiency are achieved by taking advantage of their existing CI/CD DevOps, automation, and analytics capabilities. Operators can then focus on service differentiation, not the underlying cloud platforms.
  • My friend: Thank you so much. You made it very clear.

    • Me: You are most welcome.

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