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By Supantha Mukherjee
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - International Business Machines Corp on Thursday became the latest U.S. technology company to launch a cloud platform directed at telecom operators deploying 5G and signed up Nokia and Samsung as partners.
A cloud platform uses software instead of physical equipment to do network functions, helping telecom operators to build 5G networks faster, reduce costs and sell customised services to business clients.
The U.S. government has been pushing big U.S. companies to get more involved with 5G - a technology which promises to enable everything from self-driving cars to remote surgery and more automated manufacturing.
Companies such as Microsoft and Amazon have launched their own cloud platforms targeting telecom operators.
Collaboration, not competition, is the way forward as customers will consume from more than one cloud service provider, be it Amazon or Microsoft, Howard Boville, IBM's senior vice president for Hybrid Cloud, told Reuters.
IBM will supply services to its telecom partners to run their networks and also to assist them in selling custom products to their customers, he said.
Under its new Chief Executive Arvind Krishna, 109-year-old company is splitting itself into two public companies to focus on high-margin cloud computing business.
Before becoming CEO in April, Krishna was heading IBM's cloud business and was the key architect behind its $34 billion acquisition of cloud company Red Hat last year.
IBM's cloud for telecom is built using technology from Red Hat and has signed up 35 partners, including network equipment suppliers and software vendors to build an ecosystem.
The pandemic has accelerated the desire for every company, not just telcos, for digital transformation and there has been a massive uptick to this approach, Boville said.
More than a dozen clients are already testing its new telco cloud.
(Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee, European Technology & Telecoms Correspondent, based in Stockholm. Editing by Jane Merriman)