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In a strategic move, American telecom major AT&T has sold its network cloud technology to Microsoft and moved its 5G stuff onto Azure.

The big move will start with the 5G core, but there seems to be no limit to the amount of its network AT&T is prepared to entrust to Microsoft. As if to symbolise its total capitulation on this matter AT&T is handing over its cloud tech to be chucked into the Azure for Operators mix.

Commenting on the development, AT&T Chief Technology Officer Andre Fuetsch said the company’s Network Cloud team has proved that running a network in the cloud drives speed, security, cost improvements and innovation.

“Microsoft’s decision to acquire these assets is a testament to AT&T’s leadership in network virtualization, culture of innovation, and realization of a telco-grade cloud stack. The next step is making this capability accessible to operators around the world and ensuring it has the resources behind it to continue to evolve and improve. And do it securely. Microsoft’s cloud expertise and global reach make them the perfect fit for this next phase,” said Andre Fuetsch.

Surely, Andre Fuetsch, an even bigger testament to AT&T’s technology leadership would have been for it to not have to get Microsoft to handle everything. It seems inevitable now that all mobile networks will be run by one of the big three public cloud providers and the most noteworthy aspect of this news is a much-needed win for Microsoft in this sector after a quiet few weeks in which AWS and Google have done well.

While Dish went all-in on AWS a couple of months ago, AT&T’s other US competitors are still clinging onto the last vestiges of autonomy. Having said that, Verizon has just announced it’s partnering with Red Hat and its parent IBM to deploy its 5G network as an open hybrid cloud platform. This seems to be more in line with the kind of thing Orange recently started dabbling in and there’s no talk of public cloud at this stage, but surely it’s just a matter of time.

Steve Canepa, Global MD, Communications Sector at IBM blogged, “By working with Red Hat and IBM Global Business Services to build their 5G core network services on Red Hat OpenShift, Verizon is evolving to an open, cloud-native, containerized webscale platform that is ready to harness innovative applications that can support advanced 5G use cases.”

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