Microsoft acquires 5G specialist to accelerate telco push

UK-based Metaswitch is Microsoft's second telecom acquisition of the year

Microsoft has acquired a UK-based 5G specialist, two months after snapping up Affirmed Networks, to further strengthen its cloud-based telecommunications services. 

The terms of its deal to acquire Metaswitch Networks were not disclosed but the company has a number of high profile customers including BT and Sprint.

It follows a growing trend of tech companies mixing 5G with cloud computing to provide services to network providers and, in some cases, to become providers themselves. 

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Microsoft said Metaswitch's portfolio of cloud-native communication software will be expanded into its own range of services aimed at the telecommunications industry. It also said that it intends to "leverage the talent and technology" from Metaswitch's portfolio to extend Azure's reach in the telecoms industry, but did not specify what services this would include or how this would be done.

"We have a long history of working with operators as they increasingly embrace software-based solutions and continue to support the advancement of cloud-based networking while helping create new partnership opportunities for existing network equipment providers," Yousef Khalidi, corporate VP of Azure Networking, wrote in a blog post.

"Our intention over time is to create modern alternatives to network infrastructure, enabling operators to deliver existing and value-added services – with greater cost efficiency and lower capital investment than they've faced in the past."

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A similar announcement was made by IBM, during its Think Digital event, just a week ago. The IBM Telco Network Cloud Manager – which runs on Red Hat OpenShift – automates virtual and container network functions for 5G applications. The tech giant also launched a dedicated IBM service team for edge computing and telco networks.

Cloud-based 5G capabilities also featured at AWS Re:Invent 2019, with Amazon's digital arm announcing a partnership with US telco Verizon to offer 5G connectivity with edge computing.

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