IBM To Build Telefónica’s First-Ever Cloud-Native 5G Core Network Platform

by The Chicago Times Business Staff

September 25, 2021

ARMONK, NY — IBM announced Sep 23 a multi-year strategic agreement with Telefónica to use IBM intelligent automation software and services to implement UNICA Next, Telefónica’s first cloud-native 5G core network platform.

As Telefónica and other Communications Service Providers (CSPs) around the world prepare for the benefits that 5G will bring to core network functions; Telefónica intends to have an open, secure, intelligent, and highly automated network capable of powering transformation for consumer and enterprise customers across all industries.

To deploy the cloud-native platform, Telefónica has worked with IBM Global Business Services, a leading systems integrator and IBM’s digital transformation services and consultancy arm, Red Hat, and Juniper networking.  The platform will be a new open-standard open-networking technology compliant platform that will be deployed across multiple central, regional, and distributed data centers, offering low latency and high bandwidth while delivering services in an agile fashion.  UNICA Next data centers are scheduled to be deployed beginning in October 2021, with scalable architecture designed to meet ETSI and other relevant industry standards.

The new network is based on IBM Cloud Pak for Network Automation, Red Hat OpenShift, and Juniper Networks Apstra and QFX technology, all of which work together to provide streamlined end-to-end orchestration and operations.

The platform will enable continuous improvements in deployment and management, as well as the creation of new services that provide increased customer value.  The combination of IBM Cloud Pak for Network Automation software and UNICA Next enables intent-driven orchestration, which supports the end-to-end lifecycle management of various network cloud elements and network functions, including 5G core.  When combined with the power of Red Hat Open Shift and Advanced Cluster Management for Kubernetes, Telefónica will have an environment designed for increased observability and control for managing the UNICA Next Kubernetes environment and driving 5G and edge innovation more quickly and with less complexity.

These new capabilities will be designed to enable Telefónica to deploy network services and new network functions more quickly by leveraging the IBM Cloud for Telecommunications partner ecosystem.

Telefónica, a pioneer in the adoption of open networks, has already deployed a live implementation in Europe using the IBM Cloud for Telecommunications and is continuing to innovate for their customers with increased speed and value.

The IBM Global Telco Solutions Lab in Coppell, Texas, in collaboration with Telefónica’s Network Cloud Lab in Madrid, will help accelerate the evolution of UNICA Next by creating new fully integrated releases using CI/CD methodology for ongoing life-cycle upgrades to the existing UNICA Next platform.

Telefónica will be able to increase agility and data security while also continuing to innovate and transform by leveraging IBM’s large network function ecosystem, Red Hat’s vast ecosystem of certified partners, and Juniper’s relationships with network function and hardware vendors by collaborating with IBM.