Key step towards realizing highly-available and flexible mobile networks
TOKYO, JAPAN – February 22, 2023 – NTT DOCOMO, INC. and NEC Corporation today announced their completion of a high-level carrier-grade redundancy design for a 5G core network (5GC) hybrid-cloud environment leveraging Amazon Web Services (AWS) and DOCOMO’s on-premises network functions virtualization (NFV) infrastructure. The design will allow DOCOMO to switch between DOCOMO’s on-premises NFV and AWS infrastructure for 5GC redundancy operations, offering a more flexible and cost-effective means to manage network performance and capacity.
DOCOMO and NEC also successfully onboarded NEC’s 5G User Plane Function1 software dedicated to edge computing (Edge UPF) on the AWS Graviton32 processor. The verification is expected to support the faster construction and reduced energy consumption of 5GCs and Edge UPFs for IoT use cases.
According to Naoki Tani, Executive Vice President, Chief Technology Officer, and Executive General Manager of R&D Innovation Division of NTT DOCOMO, “We are thrilled to announce the successful completion of this high-level design for a redundant 5GC hybrid cloud environment as well as onboarding an Edge UPF on AWS Graviton3 processor. NEC’s highly reliable cloud-native 5GC/UPF software and AWS’s innovatively energy-efficient AWS Graviton processor were key contributors to these great achievements. DOCOMO looks forward to delivering increasingly flexible and reliable mobile networks to customers.”
Atsuo Kawamura, Executive Vice President, NEC Corporation, said, “We are pleased to see NTT DOCOMO running NEC’s Converged Core on AWS Graviton3 with high availability and high performance while enabling significant power savings. These are key attributes of our solution, and a true testament to our cloud-native architecture to be able to scale out and run on-premises, on public clouds and hybrid environments. NEC is committed to building blocks for end-to-end, carrier-grade performance and sustainable networks that contribute to enriching the society of our future.”
“Traditional network architectures require mobile network operators to build capacity to support peak traffic, a level that might only be reached a couple times a year, or design costly back-up networks for redundancy in the event of a natural disaster,” said Adolfo Hernandez, Vice President, Telecom Industry at AWS. “By integrating AWS with DOCOMO’s existing network functions virtualization (NFV) infrastructure, DOCOMO has the flexibility to offload traffic workloads to AWS, optimizing network performance, and reducing total upfront costs. Combined with the energy efficiencies to be gained from leveraging AWS Graviton3 processors, we can help DOCOMO gain flexibility and reduce operating expenses.”
A demonstration environment based on the design will be showcased at the AWS exhibition booth, AWS Next Level, Upper Walkway, South Entrance, Fira Barcelona Gran Via, during MWC Barcelona 2023.
1 User Plane Function is the part of the network that connects data from wireless networks to the Internet.
2 The AWS Graviton is a processor developed by AWS for its cloud computing service. Graviton3 is the third-generation processor and Graviton2 is the second-generation processor. https://aws.amazon.com/ec2/graviton/
For further information, please contact:
Core Network Development Department, R&D Innovation Division
Network Services Business Planning Division
About NTT DOCOMO
NTT DOCOMO, Japan’s leading mobile operator with over 86 million subscriptions, is one of the world’s foremost contributors to 3G, 4G and 5G mobile network technologies. Beyond core communications services, DOCOMO is challenging new frontiers in collaboration with a growing number of entities (“+d” partners), creating exciting and convenient value-added services that change the way people live and work. Under a medium-term plan toward 2020 and beyond, DOCOMO is pioneering a leading-edge 5G network to facilitate innovative services that will amaze and inspire customers beyond their expectations.
DOCOMO and NEC launched their proof-of-concept test of a 5GC hybrid cloud environment leveraging AWS in March 20221. Last September, they confirmed a 5GC deployed on the predecessor Graviton2 processor succeeded in reducing 5GC power consumption by an average of 72% as well as completing the deployment of a 5GC hybrid-cloud environment leveraging AWS and DOCOMO’s on-premises infrastructure. 2
DOCOMO’s commercial network is designed to switch to backup network equipment in the case of system failure to ensure the provision of uninterrupted network service. DOCOMO and NEC have been working on a design that enables switching to a backup 5GC in a hybrid cloud leveraging DOCOMO’s on-premises and AWS. The companies completed the basic design after solving various connection matters involving DOCOMO’s on-premises infrastructure and switching method to enable the incorporation of AWS functions.
In order to onboard an Edge UPF on the new Graviton3 processor, various issues needed to be resolved due to the UPF’s method of processing user communications and its use of various technologies including acceleration, which made it difficult to port the device to different CPU architectures. Performance tests of the Edge UPF deployed on the Graviton3 confirmed that throughput per CPU improved by 20% compared to a UPF running on conventional architecture. 3
Verification Test of edge UPF on Graviton3
Throughput performance was quantified by running NEC’s UPF software on an AWS Graviton3 processor to simulate commercial operation. The experimental UPF was implemented on two Amazon Elastic Compute Clouds (Amazon EC2s), one using the AWS Graviton3 and the other a sixth-generation x86 processor. Throughput was measured by gradually transmitting more user packets of typical commercial size to the UPF in each 5GC.
1 NTT DOCOMO and NEC are Onboarding 5G SA Core Using Energy-efficient and High-performance AWS Cloud Computing Services
2 NTT DOCOMO and NEC Reduce Power Consumption for 5G SA Core by an Average of 72% Using AWS Graviton2, followed by a Successful Onboarding of 5G SA Core on Hybrid Cloud
3 This press release is based on results obtained from “Research and Development Project of the Enhanced Infrastructures for Post-5G Information and Communication Systems” (JPNP20017), commissioned by the New Energy and Industrial Technology Development Organization (NEDO).