BT has opted for an open source option after it selected Canonical’s Charmed OpenStack on Ubuntu as a key component of its next generation 5G Core.

The deal will see Canonical “provide the open source virtual infrastructure manager (VIM) as part of BT’s Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) program, and the transition to a cloud-based Core network.”

What this means essentially is that Canonical will be used for BT’s cloud platform, that will help support the introduction of 5G via its EE division, and fibre-to-the premise.

Canonical boss Mark Shuttleworth

Canonical OpenStack

Canonical’s OpenStack architecture will also facilitate the delivery of BT’s full 5G Core network, said the carrier.

BT said that Openstack cloud software will “enable the separation of network hardware and software, turning Core network components into software applications, meaning they can be updated faster with continuous integration and development.”

It should be noted that most telecom carriers around the world are in the process of migrating from proprietary, hardware-based networks, to much cheaper virtualised cloud-based networks, often run on off-the-shelve servers

BT says this separation allows different network applications to share the same hardware across data centres, making the network more resilient and scalable when additional capacity is needed.

“Canonical is providing us with the ‘cloud-native’ foundation that enables us to create a smart and fully converged network,” explained Neil J. McRae, BT Group chief architect. “Utilising open source and best-of-breed technologies will ensure we can deliver on our convergence vision, and enable a world-leading 5G and FTTP experience for our customers.”

Open approach

And Canonical was also keen to tout the win as an important endorsement of its open architecture approach.

“BT has recognised the efficiency, flexibility and innovation afforded by an open architecture, and realises the value of such an approach in enabling its delivery of new 5G services,” said Mark Shuttleworth, CEO of Canonical. “We’re delighted to be working with them to deliver the foundation to this approach, which will underpin BT’s 5G strategy.”

EE was the first to launch its network at the end of May, followed by Vodafone in early July.

BT aims to integrate the cloud-based 5G Core in EE’s network from 2022, which will help the carrier deliver fixed, mobile and Wi-Fi in one seamless customer experience.

Quiz: What do you know about BT, the UK’s biggest mobile and broadband provider?

Tom Jowitt @TJowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

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