AWS Private 5G: Want to build your own 5G network? Now you can

AWS offers US enterprises a fast and low-cost option for deploying private 5G networks at factories, campuses, construction sites and more.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer
Image: Getty

Any enterprise can now rent AWS Private 5G, a managed service from Amazon Web Services that lets enterprises quickly deploy and test a private 5G network in their facilities. 

AWS announced the preview of AWS Private 5G at re:Invent in November as a managed service to extend or replace wifi for connected devices and sensors, but with an easier deployment model than specialized carrier-grade gear.

The appeal comes from the relative simplicity of setting up a private LTE/5G network to support IoT devices in businesses and factories compared to building a private mobile network from scratch. AWS's Private 5G network can support functions like monitoring inventory from sensors, video streaming from security cameras, and providing network coverage on a campus.

Users from the IT department can specify a zone they want to be covered and the capacity needed, and then AWS ships the required hardware and SIM cards. The network then configures automatically. 

"This cool new service lets you design and deploy your own private mobile network in a matter of days. It is easy to install, operate, and scale, and does not require any specialized expertise," says AWS spokesman Jeff Barr

"You can use the network to communicate with the sensors and actuators in your smart factory, or to provide better connectivity for handheld devices, scanners, and tablets for process automation."

Despite the name, the service doesn't support 5G yet because it relies on Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) in the US, which currently only supports 4G LTE but will eventually support 5G.

CBRS is a 3.5GHz band that has historically been used by the US government for military radar systems and commercial fixed satellite systems. As of 2015, the FCC adopted rules for its commercial use within a 100 MHz slice of spectrum within CBRS that is shared with federal incumbents. For private use, enterprises deploying 5G networks in that spectrum don't need to acquire licenses. 

"Ordering additional capacity, provisioning additional devices, or managing access permissions can be done easily just using the AWS console. And best of all, you can provision as many connected devices and users as you want without any per-device charges. With private 5G, it operates in the shared spectrum, so you don't even need a spectrum license," AWS chief Adam Selipsky said at re:Invent. 

After admins specify parameters in the AWS Management Console, AWS delivers and maintains a small cell radio unit, the mobile network core and radio access network (RAN) software, and SIM cards. AWS only charges for network capacity requested, but does not require upfront fees or charge on a per-device basis. 

After the hardware arrives, admins attach power and internet connectivity to the small-cell radio unit and register it with the Spectrum Access System (SAS) service in the AWS Private 5G console. 

AWS Private 5G is exclusive to the US and is only available in the US East (Ohio), US East (N. Virginia), and US West (Oregon), and is available for $10 per hour for a 60-day commitment. AWS's estimated pricing for a small manufacturing shop in the US to remotely monitor equipment would be $14,400 over 60 days based on one AWS Private 5G small-cell radio unit ($7,200 per radio/month) and 100 SIMs for a site. Data transfer costs are variable.

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