Ericsson and Cisco aim to strengthen partnership with new Wi-Fi solution

After a tricky first year, the pair attempt to boost their strategic partnership by launching Evolved Wi-Fi Networks, which includes pre-integrated solutions based on Ericsson and Cisco products

Ericsson and Cisco aim to strengthen partnership with new Wi-Fi solution

Ericsson and Cisco have kicked off 2017 by launching a new Wi-Fi solution, called Evolved Wi-Fi Networks (EWN), aimed at boosting their strategic partnership first announced a year ago. The partnership has had something of a rocky first year with some commentators wondering whether Ericsson poor 2016 financial performance might endanger the deal.

The partnership, unveiled in November 2015, aimed to bring in US$1 billion of new business each a year by 2018, essentially by supplying each other with sales leads. The partnership aimed to offer customers the best of both companies: routing, datacentre, networking, cloud, mobility, management and control, and global services capabilities.

The idea was to form an alliance that avoided the two fighting each other for areas of business, and instead enabling the two companies, in theory, to provide a stronger bulwark against rivals Huawei, ZTE and the newly combined Nokia/Alcatel-Lucent giant. It also avoided a merger, which would be costly and time consuming, and which would almost certainly be blocked on competition grounds in many territories.

Ericsson brings its strength in wireless infrastructure and Cisco in wired and wireless IP solutions for enterprises. The shift away from hardware to virtualisation, network orchestration solutions, SDN/NFV, services, cloud computing and the Internet of Things are where the two can complement each other most.

To date, the two companies report that over 250 active customer engagements have now started to turn into won deals. More than 60 deals, spread around the world, are in IP (routing and transport) and services. The companies announced deals with 3 Italy, Vodafone Portugal, Aster Dominican Republic and Cable & Wireless in Caribbean in 2016.

Evolved Wi-Fi Networks
Evolved Wi-Fi Networks (EWN) combines Ericsson's 3GPP access, core networks and applications with Cisco's Wi-Fi portfolio, to provide reliable Wi-Fi to Ericsson's mobile, cable and other industries customers. The offering will include pre-integrated and verified solutions and will offer a range of benefits, including:

Indoor Small Cells: combining indoor Ericsson access networks with Cisco® WLAN enables deployment in venues of both Wi-Fi and cellular connectivity.

Operator Wi-Fi: allowing operators who have outdoor Ericsson access networks to use Cisco WLAN to offer access to their subscribers.

Traffic Steering: integrating Cisco WLAN with either Ericsson macro or indoor access networks via Ericsson's unique Real Time Traffic Steering feature enables operators to steer users between mobile and Wi-Fi access networks, ensuring the best end-user experience.

Core Network Integration: integrating Cisco WLAN into Ericsson packet core using trusted configurations will allow operators to offer all their core network services over Wi-Fi for multimode devices. Ericsson's Wi-Fi Calling capabilities already deliver seamless voice mobility over Cisco WLAN.

Rima Qureshi, Head of Region North America with responsibility for the strategic partnership with Cisco, Ericsson, said: "Our strategic partnership brings together the capabilities of two leading players in networking, mobility and cloud, creating the best end-to-end solutions and opportunities for our customers.

“By adding Wi-Fi solutions into the partnership, we will enable our customers to offer best-in-class Wi-Fi in their networks, complemented by our leading 3GPP portfolio and services organization."

"With Wi-Fi traffic predicted to grow to 50 percent of the total IP traffic by 2020, a top priority for service providers is to deliver the best possible connected experiences to their customers," said Yvette Kanouff, SVP & GM of the Service Provider Business Unit, Cisco. "Through our extended strategic partnership with Ericsson, we are committed to providing Wi-Fi solutions of the highest quality performance and reliability."

The design and deployment of solutions based on the new offering will be handled by Ericsson's services organisation, with full product support from Cisco. Ericsson's capability to offer worldwide services will allow operators to adopt new business models and expand into new markets. EWN can be offered as a fully managed service with the global reach of more than 180 countries. This enables faster rollout times and ease of adaption of the solution.

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