Microsoft Targets Sale of More Telecom Cloud Services as 5G Gains Steam

Microsoft Corp. wants to sell more cloud services to telecom companies, enabling them to provide new products as wireless companies upgrade to the 5G network standard. 

The company is making its sales pitch for Azure for Operators at a meeting Monday for partners like AT&T Inc. and Telstra Corp and prospective customers. In addition to general purpose cloud-computing services, Microsoft wants to sell more products from two 5G telecom software providers it acquired this year: Metaswitch Networks and Affirmed Networks, which help operators run the new wireless system.

Fifth generation, or 5G, wireless will eventually be the main network for business and consumer devices, promising faster data speed, quicker response times and the ability to link a range of previously unconnected electronics. Microsoft wants telecom operators to use its cloud services to underpin their new products based on 5G’s improved capabilities. The software maker, the second-biggest cloud infrastructure seller behind Inc., said its cloud services can help providers save money on things like running applications, storing data and analyzing information coming from networks because it frees them from having to invest in their own equipment for those tasks. 

“We want to be able to help the operators run their overall systems efficiently,” said Jason Zander, executive vice president, Microsoft Azure. “One of our goals would be to help reduce the costs of running these networks. And the other thing is there’s exciting new business opportunities.”

The software maker’s focus on the telecommunications industry is similar to moves it has made to help retailers and health care companies develop new applications and modernize their businesses. While Microsoft has been at work on 5G services with AT&T, rival Amazon has apartnership with Verizon Communications Inc. Microsoft also said Verizon will partner with it on the new Azure effort. Other partners include Intel Corp., Samsung Electronics Co. and Hewlett Packard Enterprise. 

In March, Microsoft paid $1.35 billion for Affirmed Networks, which helps build virtual networks for telecom customers using 5G technology, people familiar with the matter said at the time. In May, the company agreed to buy Metaswitch, which sells high-performance cloud communication software to more than 750 network operators.


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