IBM strengthens 5G deals with telecoms companies

New AI and offerings could allow IBM’s partners to build 5G networks faster and at a lower cost.

Late last year, century-old tech giant IBM announced plans to spin out its IT infrastructure business next year in a bid to focus more on sectors such as AI and cloud.

Now, the company’s focus on these areas is allowing it to strengthen its partnerships with telecoms operators including current partners Verizon and Telefonica.

Having acquired Red Hat in 2018, IBM had identified this as a key driver of its growing cloud business.

Now, the company is using software obtained from that acquisition to offer telecom operators cloud services to run their networks, helping them build 5G networks faster, reduce costs and sell customised services.

As part of IBM’s new offering, wireless network operator Verizon, a long-time partner of IBM, will has selected IBM and Red Hat to build and deploy an open platform and service orchestration solution across its 5G core network.

Steve Canepa, global GM and managing director of IBM Communications wrote in a blogpost that this marks an enormous step in how IBM supports Verizon’s position as a network-as-a-service leader in 5G.

“With this approach, Verizon gains more control over how they choose to drive new value for their customers. They have flexibility in how and where they move their data, and what tools and technologies they choose to develop these emerging 5G-enabled business solutions,” he said.

The company will also work with Spanish telecoms operator Telefonica will work with IBM to an AI-powered virtual assistant and a blockchain platform.

Gonzalo Martín-Villa, CEO of IoT and big data at Telefonica Tech, said: “These agreements reinforce our strategy of being the best partners for companies to face digital transformation with guarantees, complementing solutions based on our own technology with the best services from our partners.”

In addition, IBM said telcos will now be able to access AI-powered automation software through its new Cloud Pak for Network Automation product, which is engineered to run in a wide range of environments on Red Hat OpenShift.

Andrew Coward, general manager of software defined networking at IBM, said: “As the telco industry races to capture new value from 5G and edge computing, many are transforming their networks to software-defined platforms that can deliver on this promise.

“Yet our customers have identified that limited automation and the lack of real- time visibility across networks have hindered their ability to deliver innovative services to customers fast enough,” he said.

“To help address these growing demands, IBM’s new Cloud Pak for Network Automation software uses AI-powered automation to enable zero-touch provisioning of new services which can facilitate the simplification of the management of network functions from the core to the edge.”

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