BT will use Ubuntu and OpenStack to power 5G transformation

In a major win for Canonical, BT, formerly British Telecom, will rely on Ubuntu Linux and OpenStack cloud to deploy 5G in the UK and around the globe.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

In one of Canonical's most significant deals ever, BT, formerly British Telecom, announced it would use Ubuntu Linux and OpenStack cloud to bring 5G to its the UK and worldwide customers.

Specifically, BT announces it would use Canonical's Charmed OpenStack on Ubuntu as a key component of its next-generation 5G Core. In addition, Canonical will provide the open-source virtual infrastructure manager (VIM) as part of BT's Network Function Virtualisation (NFV) program. With this open-source cloud approach, BT can delivery the capacity it needs to meet 5G's demand for fast, ever-changing network connections.

VIM is being deployed using Canonical's Juju, and Charms DevOps tools Metal-as-a-Service (MaaS) will be used as the cloud provisioning tool. BT's 5G Core will be backed by Ubuntu Advantage for Infrastructure for the ongoing management and support of operations. The full 5G Core will first be used for 5G, but eventually, it will be used to transform all of BT's networking offerings --fixed, mobile and Wi-Fi--into a single, seamless customer experience.

With 30 million mobile and 10 million broadband customers, BT needs all the speed it can get for 5G. The Canonical Linux and OpenStack offerings will be used to build an internal "Network Cloud." This will be an elastic, scalable compute platform, which will be used for both BT's internal network demands and its outward-facing edge offerings.

Neil McRae, BT Group's chief architect, said BT wasn't sold on Canonical at first" "I'll be honest with you, when we started looking, I had already ruled these guys out to some extent, because we had never really heard of them. Yeah, I'd heard of Ubuntu but not much beyond that. But in the trial and RFP [request for proposal] phase, it was clear that they had some very strong capabilities and smart people, and shared our  mindset." The result was BT inked the deal with Canonical.

McRae continued, "Canonical is providing us with the 'cloud-native' foundation that enables us to create a smart and fully converged network. Utilizing open-source and best-of-breed technologies will ensure we can deliver on our convergence vision, and enable a world-leading 5G experience for our customers."

In a statement, Canonical CEO Shuttleworth said, "BT has recognised the efficiency, flexibility and innovation afforded by an open architecture, and realises the value of such an approach in enabling its delivery of new 5G services. We're delighted to be working with them to deliver the foundation to this approach, which will underpin BT's 5G strategy."

BT has already BT's switched on 5G in six launch cities--London, Birmingham, Cardiff, Manchester, Edinburgh, and Belfast. In its 5G roadmap, the cloud-based full 5G Core will be rolled out in 2022.

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