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Microsoft Bolsters Its 5G Chops with Affirmed Networks Acquisition

Microsoft this week acquired Affirmed Networks in an effort to buttress its various software-defined networking (SDN) services just as mobile operators start rolling out 5G next-generation wireless technologies.

Thursday's announcement contrasted the software-defined approaches offered by Affirmed Networks as being more flexible than hardware solutions used by mobile operators:

Previous generations of wireless networks have been based on purpose-built hardware. We believe that with innovation in software and by making use of broadly available cloud computing platforms like Microsoft Azure, operators can deploy and maintain 5G networks and services more efficiently, more cost effectively, more rapidly and more securely.

Affirmed Networks claims on its Web site that its cloud-based solutions for mobile operators have more than 100 deployments across 76 countries. It counts operators such as AT&T, Orange and Vodafone among its customers.

Affirmed Networks' President and CEO Anand Krishnamurthy suggested in a Thursday announcement that the partnership with Microsoft would accelerate the use of its cloud-native solutions by 5G mobile operators.

"We have been their partner of choice as they prepare for fifth generation (5G) networks and infrastructure," Krishnamurthy wrote regarding mobile operators. "Now, the combined technologies of Microsoft and Affirmed will further accelerate this momentous shift."

Affirmed Networks offers a number of software-defined, cloud-based solutions for mobile operators. A main offering is its Virtual Evolved Packet Core technologies, which are used for delivering various services, including "consumer, IoT, private LTE, Wi-Fi, GiLAN, VoLTE, CUPs, fixed wireless, edge compute and 5G services."

The company also offers Affirmed UnityCloud 5G Core technologies for automating network functions. Its Affirmed Cloud Edge technologies let enterprises host applications and keep the data locally stored. Other Affirmed Networks offerings for mobile operators include Internet of Things (IoT) solutions, Service Automation for managing updates, Deep Packet Inspection and GiLAN solutions, a Virtual Probe and Analytics service, a Virtualized WiFi Gateway solution for voice-over-Wi-Fi calling and Network Slicing for customized services.

Microsoft's announcement suggested that it would continue to support existing mobile operators and partners with the acquisition of Affirmed Networks.

"To ensure the success of our customers, we will work closely with existing suppliers, emerging innovators and other stakeholders around the world including in Europe, Asia, the U.S. and other markets to help make this vision [of 5G connectivity] a reality," Microsoft's announcement stated.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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