T-Mobile US is one of the wireless service providers working with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to offer more dependable private wireless networks than (so the argument goes) Wi-Fi can.

In fact, T-Mobile issued a press release today announcing that it is the first U.S. wireless service provider to collaborate with AWS to provide adaptable 5G edge compute offerings for the new initiative.

AT&T and Microsoft announced a partnership to create AT&T Private 5G Edge at MWC Barcelona a year ago. A Verizon spokeswoman said that although the company offers both private and public Mobile Edge Compute (MEC) with AWS, it is not currently using AWS to deploy private 5G solutions. Instead, other vendors are providing services for Verizon’s Private 5G.

The new Integrated Private Wireless programme from AWS, according to the company, combines private 4G and 5G wireless technologies from top telcos with AWS services across AWS Regions, Local Zones, and Outposts, as well as the AWS Snow Family. The programme will make use of the more than 100,000 partners from more than 150 countries that make up AWS’s partner network, making it a good fit to be promoted at the upcoming international MWC Barcelona trade show.

To give businesses quick and simple ways to deploy private wireless offerings, the programme was developed in close cooperation with its initial telco partners, including Deutsche Telekom, T-Mobile, KDDI, Orange, and Telefonica Tech, according to AWS.

“T-Mobile has been working to solve the complexity in this space for customers with our 5G Advanced Network Solutions. T-Mobile’s 5G ANS portfolio gives businesses the optimal level of performance they need with 5G public, hybrid, or private network options. Now, as the first U.S. provider to collaborate with AWS on customizable solutions via the Integrated Private Wireless on AWS portal, we make it even easier for customers to get what they need to run their business,” said Mishka Dehghan, SVP of Strategy, Product and Solutions Engineering in the T-Mobile Business Group, in a statement.

By way of example, T-Mobile cited monitoring worker safety on remote industrial campuses, performing predictive maintenance on manufacturing equipment and ensuring faster aircraft turnaround times at airports.

According to AWS Chief Technologist of Telecommunications Ishwar Parulkar, the private wireless market is very large in terms of network topology and use cases. Smaller businesses that use unlicensed spectrum like CBRS are the target market for AWS Private 5G, which AWS announced in late 2021.

These use cases do not necessitate switching between public and private networks or a sizable mobile network. He noted that it is a sizable area in and of itself.

This newest offering addresses use cases where customers need to switch between public and private networks when they want to use a licenced spectrum. Mobile operators offer their expertise in situations where a customer might need a network to cover a campus or a portion of a city, for instance.

“What we’re doing, in this case, is bringing operators into that equation, where they can bring in their assets,” he told Fierce. But the whole thing is still managed on AWS, the same as with the managed services. The monitoring and network services run in the cloud, but it’s offered by the telecom provider.

“The way we are approaching it is solving the problem of automation of networks,” he said. “Our objective here is for AWS to be the best place to host 5G networks, public and private.”

Separately, AWS announced the general availability of AWS Telco Network Builder, a fully managed service that helps customers deploy, run and scale telco networks on AWS. O2 Telefónica in Germany said it’s exploring AWS Telco Network Builder to deliver new 5G network services faster and manage its networks more efficiently.

The transition to more software-defined networking (SDN) began in the telecom sector years ago, extending the know-how created in the computer industry.

Parulkar previously served as Cisco Systems’ chief architect for telcos. The discussion of SDN and virtualization really took off in the 2015–2016 time frame, and it became clear that the cloud was where everything was going. AWS hired him in 2016.

Has the telecom industry finally caught up more slowly than he anticipated?

“I think it took the time I thought it would take. I’m very encouraged” by the fact that it’s happening and accelerating now, he said. “But it does require a mind shift as well. It’s not just about technology. It’s really starting to think in a different way. Instead of running appliances, you’re now software oriented,” with the network in the cloud. It’s all better but it’s a different way of looking at it, he said.

Another aspect of it is educating telco staff members about the cloud and creating software and applications with the cloud in mind. AWS has been collaborating with some operators to support them as they travel towards becoming more familiar and practical with the cloud.

He said he believes the smaller carriers in the U.S. and elsewhere will be a big market for the cloud, even though most of the movement has so far been with the largest operators, both in the U.S. and globally. It makes sense because the whole point is to automate and simplify processes, which is why it appeals to them. They stand to gain significantly from the cloud, he claimed.