Microsoft Enters the Mobile Data Business

The network functions virtualization (NFV) player Affirmed Networks is involved with helping Microsoft provide mobile data service for Windows 10.

Microsoft is working with the French cellular provider Transatel to offer mobile data service for laptops and tablets equipped with Windows 10. And Transatel, in turn, is deploying Affirmed Networks’ Mobile Content Cloud technology within Transatel’s point-of-presence in New York City.

According to Affirmed, Transatel’s ability to expand into the United States is due to the benefits of NFV as an architecture. Transatel has been a customer since July 2014, when it first deployed Affirmed’s virtual Evolved Packet Core (vEPC) to deliver services to European mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs).

MVNOs piggyback on existing cellular networks.

In the Windows 10 service, owners of laptops and tablets equipped with the operating system, a cellular broadband modem, and a Microsoft SIM card will be able to purchase prepaid 3G/4G-LTE data services. There are no long-term commitments required.

Transatel’s SIM 901 technology provides 3G/4G-LTE in 38 countries to date. The countries where cell data connectivity will be available on supported Windows 10 devices have not yet been announced.

Microsoft’s move into providing cellular data connectivity is similar to Google’s Project Fi, except that Google is acting as its own MVNO, piggybacking on Sprint and T-Mobile’s networks.  Microsoft is using Transatel, which works with Sprint and Tata Communications for GRX/IPX services as well as Cogent and Zayo for IP services.