Challenges of 5G cloud deployment and how to overcome those

Alepo Technologies Inc.
4 min readFeb 14, 2023

Introduction

As 5G technology advances and is adopted globally, network operators must decide whether to move their 5G core to the public cloud. While popular cloud providers have been pushing for this move, most operators have chosen to stick with traditional private cloud deployments due to the complexity and high investment costs associated with 5G Service-Based Architecture (SBA) networks.

Functional 5G SBA core

5G SBA networks have around 36 network functions that are much more complex compared to previous generations. They also use container-based cloud-native network functions (CNFs), which eliminate the dependency of tight coupling between the software and hardware resources. Before 5G, networks were built by end-to-end core vendors that supplied network functions built on tightly integrated x86-based hardware. As service providers make this paradigm shift from tightly integrated software and hardware to cloud-native CNFs, there are numerous challenges to consider.

Challenges of moving 5G core to the public cloud and solutions to overcome those

Complexity and time-to-market

Implementing a 5G SA network on a telco cloud is already a complex task. Moving to the public cloud would increase that complexity even further due to the need for high-level network security. Time-to-market for CSPs that have already deployed 5G core on the public cloud varies between four to five years.

How to overcome this challenge

CSPs should thoroughly understand the requirements for moving the network to the 5G core. Conducting lab simulations and beta trials before commercial deployment can ensure optimal network performance and availability.

Reliability and performance

Telco-grade network reliability is expected to be 99.9990% for mobile broadband and 99.9999% for private wireless applications. Public cloud service providers (SPs) typically have reliability numbers between 99.50% to 99.99%. Public cloud SPs must meet these high-reliability standards and have geo-redundancy in place to prevent single points of failure that affect the entire network. In case of network downtime, telecom operators should commit to restoring the network in the minimum possible time and ensure that the network outage is confined to one country when including multi-national CSPs.

How to overcome this challenge

CSPs must confirm whether their network reliability meets the expected standards from various public cloud SPs. CSPs should verify the network uptime SLA from the public cloud SP. They must also consider geo-redundancy and failover mechanisms using various data center zones from their cloud provider.

Data sovereignty and security

Security is a major concern for CSPs when moving to the public cloud. Public cloud service providers must meet all data sovereignty and regulatory requirements and keep users’ personal and lawful intercept data within the country’s territory.

How to overcome this challenge

CSPs need to confirm that the data center of the public cloud SP is within the country’s territory. Regular audits need to be performed by CSPs to keep track of where and how the data is stored.

Agility

To fully utilize the potential of 5G, CSPs need to build an agile network that can introduce new features quickly. Public cloud service providers must provide granular network control and make it easy for CSPs to install software upgrades.

How to overcome this challenge

When considering a move to a public cloud, CSPs should consider the following factors:

  • The level of network control that will retain in the public cloud.
  • Any loss of control that may occur compared to a telco cloud.
  • The process for installing 5G core software upgrades and introducing new features.

Total cost of ownership

When switching from a telco to a public cloud, CSPs must consider various factors such as performance differences, user plane function (UPF) throughput differences, potential lost revenues during network downtime, costs of changing vendors, and upgrading plans.

How to overcome this challenge

CSPs should evaluate the flexibility and cost of different public cloud plans regarding network capacity and bandwidth to determine the most cost-effective option. It is important for CSPs to carefully review the plan’s network capacity limitations, any additional charges for exceeding capacity, and potential penalties for scenarios such as signaling storms. By negotiating these terms in advance, CSPs can minimize unexpected costs.

Conclusion

Moving 5G cores to the public cloud is a complex decision with several challenges. CSPs must weigh the pros and cons and consider their options before deciding. Alepo’s 5G Core network solution is cloud-native with service-based architecture, which can help CSPs run a 5G core in the cloud environment. In addition, it can be deployed on multiple cloud platforms, such as AWS, Google, and Azure. To start your 5G journey, send an email to market.development@alepo.com. We’ll help you get started.

Source: Alepo Blog

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Alepo Technologies Inc.

Our next-gen products and solutions include Digital BSS, 5G Core, Carrier WiFi (monetization & offload), AAA/virtualized AAA, and more. alepo.com/contact-us/