Amazon recently announced the general availability of AWS Private 5G, a managed service to set up and deploy private mobile networks. The current lack of 5G support, the minimum price of a radio unit and the availability only in the United States raised some concerns in the community.
Announced in preview since the latest re:Invent conference, AWS Private 5G is designed to deploy and maintain a private mobile network and connect thousands of devices and machines with low latency and high bandwidth. Despite its name, the service currently supports only 4G LTE. Jeff Barr, vice president and chief evangelist at AWS, explains:
The private mobile network makes use of CBRS spectrum. It supports 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) today, and will support 5G in the future, both of which give you a consistent, predictable level of throughput with ultra low latency. You get long range coverage, indoors and out, and fine-grained access control. AWS Private 5G runs on AWS-managed infrastructure. It is self-service and API-driven, and can scale with respect to geographic coverage, device count, and overall throughput.
The current lack of 5G support has raised doubts as well as the minimum price to try the service. Even if there are no upfront fees or per-device costs, each radio unit costs USD 10 per hour, with a 60-day (14400 USD) minimum commitment. In a popular Reddit thread, user Akustic646 writes:
Really expensive! We run a fleet of devices on 4g/5g connection across the country and would love to run our own network instead of going with verizon/tmobile/att (whichever is better in the area a unit is deployed), but not at this price point.
Gabriel Brown, Heavy Reading analyst, adds:
Looks like they wanted to launch as GA, but aren’t really ready and have priced it not to sell.
AWS Private 5G is designed to offer two deployment options, in an AWS Region and on premises, but the current release supports only the configuration with the mobile network core hosted on AWS. This is a deployment where small-cell radio units are installed on the customer premises while the network control and data plane are hosted in an AWS datacenter. Barr warns:
Planning and deploying a private wireless network can be complex and not every enterprise will have the tools to do this work on their own. In addition, CBRS spectrum in the United States requires Certified Professional Installation (CPI) of radios. To address these needs, we are building an ecosystem of partners.
The new service scales the core according to the number of radio units and helps customers whose applications are hosted in the cloud and want to route device traffic to downstream AWS services.
The radio units are certified for use only in the United States and the new service is currently available only in three AWS regions: Ohio, Northern Virginia and Oregon. Marco Tesch, tech lead at tecRacer, comments:
Can’t wait to see this service make its way to Europe!
The Private 5G minimum package includes a radio unit and ten SIM cards and the radio unit requires AC power and wired access to the Internet, along with basic networking. The cloud provider released a short video to present the service.