• United States

HPE rolls out turnkey 5G-as-a-service

News Analysis
Mar 16, 20204 mins

IT giant targets telco hardware makers with deployable pure 5G networks and Wi-Fi integration.

5G light trails
Credit: PLEJ92 / Getty Images

HPE is entering the 5G market, taking square aim at telco network equipment providers like Huawei, Nokia, and Ericsson with a new 5G core network software stack targeted directly at telcos.

The company is selling HPE 5G Core Stack, an open, cloud-native 5G core network solution for deployment of dedicated 5G networks. HPE 5G Core Stack will be available as a pre-integrated software and hardware solution through the company’s HPE GreenLake pay-per-use service.

HPE notes that while some carriers have already started deploying 5G radio access networks (RAN) services, the true value of 5G will only be realized when access networks are combined with a 5G core network. Some telcos have made 5G deployments and are boasting of it in TV ads, but their services run on top of 4G networks. 5G Core Stack is a pure 5G play and promises greater speed and low latency for not having to run on a legacy 4G network.

This is made possible by 5G’s design, which uses open, cloud-native platforms. HPE notes that previous generations of cellular networks relied on proprietary, integrated systems from a small number of incumbent suppliers. This product targets the monopoly Huawei, Nokia, and Ericsson have had on the wireless hardware market up to now.

HPE 5G Core Stack is a fully-featured turnkey 5G core network software stack that offers bandwidth slicing, interworking with previous generation network technologies, and end-to-end automation. It has been designed to be cloud-native and includes stateless containerized network functions (CNF) from HPE and partners, a shared data environment (SDE), a common platform as a service (PaaS) architecture, end-to-end management and orchestration (MANO), and an automation framework. This is all pre-integrated on carrier-grade infrastructure as a service (IaaS) gear.

“Openness is essential to the evolutionary nature of 5G. With multi-generational networks, where services delivered across 3G, 4G, 5G, Wi-Fi and edge networks will be common, service providers need to reduce operational costs and keep themselves open to multiple networks and technologies while avoiding being locked-in to a single vendor approach,” says Phil Mottram, vice president and general manager of HPE Communications and Media Solutions in a statement.

Along with the hardware from HPE GreenLake is a portfolio of telco-specific hardware and software blueprints, which offer validated configurations optimized for specific core and edge telco workloads.

The telco-edge blueprints include HPE Edgeline systems that are ideal for Virtual Radio Access Network solutions and Multi Access Edge Computing applications commonly found at the edge of the telco networks. HPE plans to add more blueprints over time, including support for the entire 5G stack.

HPE telco blueprints will be available from HPE GreenLake, starting with the core infrastructure-as-a-service blueprint and adding more over time, including support for the entire 5G stack. HPE GreenLake can provide open software-defined infrastructure as a service for network equipment providers or telcos that want to deploy their own software stacks.

HPE CEO Antonio Neri went into further detail with a blog post announcing the product, where he repeatedly used the word “trust.” This is not an accident, as there isn’t an unintentional word in a posting like this. U.S. federal authorities have repeatedly labeled Huawei a security risk and it has been banned in several nations, including the U.S. Obviously HPE is looking to capitalize on the questions surrounding Huawei, and who can blame them?

Adding Wi-Fi connectivity

Along with the 5G launch, Aruba, an HPE company, announced a new service called Aruba Air Pass that allows for a seamless hand-off between cellular and Wi-Fi networks, without sacrificing security or quality of service.

Because 5G standards support aggregation of both 3GPP and Wi-Fi radio access networks (RANs), global telcos can leverage Wi-Fi as an indoor onramp to 5G services to deliver new classes of enterprise services, such as network slicing. This helps enterprise IT teams accelerate their adoption of 5G with an economical solution that  improves performance inside the enterprise.

A major technology behind Aruba Air Pass is Passpoint, a standard created by the Wi-Fi Alliance to enable mobile devices to automatically authenticate on enterprise Wi-Fi networks using their cellular credentials. Passpoint is a broadly accepted standard and is supported on nearly all mobile devices, so there is no vendor lock-in. Aruba Air Pass works with Wi-Fi 6, which is just coming to market, and earlier versions.

Andy Patrizio is a freelance journalist based in southern California who has covered the computer industry for 20 years and has built every x86 PC he’s ever owned, laptops not included.

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of ITworld, Network World, its parent, subsidiary or affiliated companies.