Microsoft Azure Solution Could Greatly Reduce 5G Roll-Out Costs

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Microsoft has revealed a new cloud solution, built on its Azure platform and meant to bolster 5G rollouts nationwide. That's according to recent reports citing statements from the company earlier this week.

Full details about what that means or exactly what the 5G technology is have not been laid out. But, according to the company, it will represent a reduction in costs. That's in addition to added "flexibility to add services on demand" and AI capabilities for automation. In fact, according to Azure Networking corporate vice president Yousef Khalidi, the costs could be cut by 30- or 4-percent. At least in "some cases."

When, exactly, did Microsoft get directly into the 5G game?

Now, According to Mr. Khalidi, Microsoft first involved itself in 5G after it obtained "telco DNA" through the acquisition of cloud networking companies. Specifically, companies such as Affirmed Networks and Metaswitch earlier in 202o. Those acquisitions grew its workforce in the technology from a "small number of engineers" to "literally hundreds."

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But, Mr. Khalidi continues, "foundational pieces" of the 5G puzzle such as edge computing have been in the works for "many years." So the ideas central to 5G cloud networking have been in place for some time already. And that gives some indication of where, exactly, Microsoft fits in the grander scheme of things. As do the companies Microsoft is already partnered on.

Microsoft has already entered agreements with companies from Verizon and AT&T to Samsung and Mavenir. That's to either sell or use the new Azure-based Microsoft 5G platform.

With consideration for those details, Microsoft's solution appears to hinge on the fact that a lot of what makes 5G the next-gen network is virtualization. Specifically, speculatively, centered on cloud computing at the edge of networks to manage traffic and band allocation.

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What does this mean for the industry?

The new offering isn't necessarily something end-users will see front-and-center. But it will serve as competition to industry incumbents nonetheless. CCS Insight analyst Nicholas McQuire reportedly indicates that brands like Nokia and Ericsson will see increased competition from the announced technology.

That's undoubtedly good news for users who want to take advantage of 5G too. Especially since some long-standing primary competitors in the space, such as the global leader in 5G networking — namely, Huawei — are no longer able to operate in Microsoft's home region due to restrictions based on allegations of threats to national security. Reduced costs are absolutely needed in the US, as a result of those endeavors on behalf of the US government.