AWS’ Private 5G Service Hits the Market with a Big Asterisk

Amy Larsen DeCarlo – Principal Analyst, Security and Data Center Services

Summary Bullets:        

• Eight months after AWS announced it was bringing a private 5G service to market, the solution is now generally available in select AWS regions.

• The AWS Private 5G service comes with a big, carrier-style caveat at launch; it only supports 4G LTE with 5G coming sometime in the future.

After announcing it in December 2021, Amazon Web Services (AWS) has now rolled out its AWS Private 5G service to a wider prospect pool, but without 5G support. The misleading branding of the service will no doubt cause confusion, particularly given the fact that AWS hasn’t specified when support for 5G will be available.

The service, which uses Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum and supports 4G LTE today, promises to give enterprises a streamlined way to set up a private cellular network quickly in just a few days. AWS touts the service running on AWS infrastructure as easy to set up and run, which it boasts delivers ‘consistent’ throughput with ‘ultra-low’ latency ‘indoors and out.’ Designed as a self-service offering, the solution integrates with other AWS security and observability resources, including AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM).

AWS is hardly the only provider to prematurely hype 5G support. In some cases, operators have been marketing 5G services years before they are widely available. This has produced a bit of backlash from customers who, in many cases, see 5G labels on their services but with no discernible service quality between 4G or even 3G.

The AWS Private 5G service is packaged as a radio unit with 10 SIM cards. The radio unit incorporates wired access to the public internet with basic networking via IPv4 and DHCP. Pricing is $10 per hour per radio unit with a 60-day minimum commitment.

In its initial offer, AWS Private 5G is available in three AWS regions: US East (Ohio), US East (North Virginia), and US West (Oregon). In his blog, AWS Vice President and Chief Evangelist Jeff Barr says the company is working to extend the service to other regions, including international locations, but he did not specify a date for the expansion.

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