In a collaboration intended to open up new business opportunities and deliver innovative services for enterprise customers, as well as realising the full potential of 5G technology, operator A1 Austria (A1), working with Nokia, has completed what it claims is the industry’s first 5G edge cloud network slicing trial with Microsoft.

A1 is Austria’s leading communications provider, encompassing about 5.1 million mobile communications customers and 1.9 million fixed access lines. With edge cloud network slicing, A1 believes it can bring enterprise cloud applications to mobile users over a high-capacity, secure and low-latency network.

The trial utilised Nokia’s 5G edge slicing solution integrated with Microsoft Azure managed edge compute on A1’s live commercial network in Vienna, Austria. The trial was executed with Azure, which supports enterprise private and public applications at the operator and enterprise edge. Azure managed edge compute was deployed at A1’s datacentre in Vienna with connectivity to the Azure region in Austria.

The 5G edge cloud network slicing solution can be used by enterprises and industries across a wide range of use cases, including retail, media, utilities, healthcare and transportation. The solution offers mobile operators an opportunity to generate new revenue streams. During the trial, A1 demonstrated real-time HD video streaming by transmitting live camera feeds from several mobile devices using a streaming mobile platform running on the Azure edge infrastructure.

Nokia’s solution enabled A1 to isolate its public internet and enterprise traffic while keeping critical business traffic local using 4G/5G core breakout for enterprise edge cloud applications. The network slices were implemented across Devices-RAN-Transport-Core-Edge Cloud Applications. 5G edge slicing enhanced the enterprise user experience for low-latency and high-bandwidth use cases with high network performance, quality security and manageability.

The Nokia solution also offered a sliced mobile broadband VPN in selected business areas such as a campus or city environment. Scalable 5G Edge Slicing supports multiple enterprise VPN deployments using the same 4G/5G network. It can be used with all 4G/5G devices including new UE Route Selection Policy-capable multi-slice smartphones for different applications.

Commenting on the completion of the trial, Marcus Grausam, CEO of A1, said: “We are excited to lead the industry with the deployment of edge cloud network slicing with Nokia and Microsoft Azure. This innovative solution enables A1 to deliver secure, reliable and high-performance enterprise VPN services integrated with edge cloud applications over our 4G/LTE and 5G networks.

Silvia Candiani, vice-president of telecommunications and media at Microsoft, added: “Our collaboration with A1 and Nokia, and the deployment of network slicing using Microsoft Azure, is a testament to our commitment to innovation. As we redefine connectivity, we’re also providing opportunities to industry leaders like A1 and Nokia to tap into the large Microsoft ecosystem of enterprise developers and solution providers to help drive new monetisation efforts.”

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