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AWS takes a shot at the private 5G network

Well, more like 4G LTE right now, and you'll probably need someone to put up the radio

Amazon Web Services has waded into the private mobile network marketplace with AWS Private 5G.

The name for the box of tricks is slightly misleading. Jeff Barr, Chief Evangelist for AWS, noted in the announcement "it supports 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) today, and will support 5G in the future," which is fair enough if it were not for AWS slapping the digit 5 and the letter G over everything.

The service is aimed squarely at corporates and permits the user to deploy their own private mobile network "in a matter of days" which isn't the click and go to which managed service users have become accustomed to. There's decent range, indoors and out, and it's designed to play nicely with other bits of AWS, such as AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM).

AWS is a bit late to the private 5G networks party. Other providers, such as FreedomFi, have long offered plug-and-play CBRS (Citizens Broadband Radio Service) gateways, small cells, and SIM cards based on open standards and open-source software.

It's a useful alternative to Wi-Fi (or begging a cell provider to build some more towers) and AWS noted that the technology is also handy for communicating with actuators and sensors in a smart factory or improving connectivity for handheld devices.

However, while it might all be very scalable, an installer who knows what they are doing is needed. "CBRS spectrum in the United States requires Certified Professional Installation (CPI) of radios," said AWS. Plans are afoot to build an ecosystem of companies capable of setting up customers with the kit.

While a user can order the kit themselves (including the radio, which needs to be plugged into power and the Internet and ten SIM cards), the installer must enter the latitude, longitude and elevation of the site.

The cost for all this newfangled AWS tech is a little on the high side. While there are no upfront or per-device costs, users are billed at $10 per hour with a 60-day minimum. There are also some hardware limits – each network can support one radio unit that can provide up to 150Mbps of throughput spread across up to 100 SIMs. AWS is aiming to up the SIM and radio count in the future.

There are also geographical limitations. Right now, only US East (Ohio and North Virginia) and US West (Oregon) are supported. Support outside of the US is tucked in the folder marked "the future." ®

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