AT&T to Run Mobility Network on Microsoft’s Azure for Operators

AT&T will move its 5G mobile network to the Microsoft cloud. The strategic alliance provides a path for all of AT&T’s mobile network traffic to be managed using Microsoft Azure technologies.

The companies will start with AT&T’s 5G core, the software at the heart of the 5G network that connects mobile users and IoT devices with internet and other services. Bringing existing and future network workloads to Azure for Operators will enable AT&T to increase productivity and cost efficiency while focusing on the delivery of large-scale network services that meet its customers’ evolving needs.

In turn, Microsoft will gain access to AT&T’s intellectual property and technical expertise to grow its telecom flagship offering, Azure for Operators. Microsoft is acquiring AT&T’s carrier-grade Network Cloud platform technology, which AT&T’s 5G core network runs on.

AT&T’s Network Cloud platform has been running AT&T’s 5G core at scale since the company launched 5G in 2018. This move brings real-world production 5G workloads to Azure for Operators. The Network Cloud platform engineering team will receive offers to join Microsoft.

The move is aligned with Microsoft’s commitment to continuous, customer-driven innovation. Azure for Operators will help operators across the world deliver reliable, cost-effective and secure 5G services to consumer and enterprise customers.

AT&T will continue to operate its network and retain its customer relationships. By using Microsoft’s hybrid and hyperscale infrastructure, AT&T can reduce engineering and development costs. Early access to Microsoft’s cloud, AI and edge technology will provide AT&T with the flexibility it needs to innovate and launch new services and customer experiences enabled by 5G.

As AT&T design, development and engineering experts join its ranks, Microsoft can apply its knowledge to expand the technology skills it obtained from the 2020 acquisitions of Affirmed Networks and Metaswitch Networks to enable operators to run a secure telecom network in the cloud.

Additionally, Microsoft will acquire AT&T engineering and lifecycle management software used to develop and deploy a carrier-grade cloud that runs containerized or virtualized network services. Microsoft will make the platform applicable to other carriers through Azure for Operators and invest in an ecosystem to enable simpler and faster transition of network workloads to cloud.

Microsoft will assume responsibility for software development and deployment of AT&T’s Network Cloud immediately and bring AT&T’s existing network cloud to Azure over the next three years. The companies are not disclosing details on financial terms.