Cisco’s 5G pitch: Private 5G, 5G SA Core network, optical backhaul and metro infrastructure

At MWC 2022 in Barcelona, Cisco revealed its Private 5G market strategy together with partners.  It was claimed to usher in “a new wave of productivity for enterprises with mass-scale IoT adoption.”  Cisco’s 5G highlights:

  • Cisco Private 5G as-a-Service delivered with global partners offers enterprise customers reduced technical, financial, and operations risks with managing enterprise private 5G networks.
  • Cisco has worked in close collaboration with two leading Open RAN vendors to include O-RAN technology as part of Cisco Private 5G and is currently in customer trials with Airspan and JMA.
  • Multiple private 5G pilots and projects are currently underway spanning education, entertainment, government, manufacturing, and real estate sectors.
  • 5G backhaul and metro infrastructure via routed optical networking (rather than optical transceivers like those sold by Ciena)

Cisco Private 5G:
The foundation of the solution is built on Cisco’s industry-leading mobile core technology and IoT portfolio – spanning IoT sensors and gateways, device management software, as well as monitoring tools and dashboards. Open Radio Access Network (ORAN) technology is a key component of the solution. Cisco is working in close collaboration with ORAN vendors, JMA and Airspan, and is currently in customer trials utilizing their technology.

Key differentiators of Cisco Private 5G for Enterprises:

  • Delivered as-a-Service: Delivered together with global service providers and system integration partners, the offer reduces technical, financial, and operational risks for enterprise private 5G networks.
  • Complementary to Wi-Fi: Cisco Private 5G integrates with existing enterprise systems, including existing and future Wi-Fi versions – Wi-Fi 5/6/6E, making operations simple.
  • Visibility across the network and devices: Using a simple management portal, enterprise IT teams can maintain policy and identity across both Wi-Fi and 5G for simplified operations.
  • Pay-as-you-use subscription model: Cisco Private 5G is financially simple to understand. With pay-as-you-use consumption models, customers can save money with no up-front infrastructure costs, and ramp up services as they need.
  • Speed time to productivity: Businesses can spare IT staff from having to learn, design, and operate a complex, carrier class private network.

Key Benefits of Cisco Private 5G for Partners:

  • Path to Profitability for Cisco Partners: For its channel partners, Cisco reduces the required time, energy, and capital to enable a faster path to profitability.
  • Private Labeling: Partners can private label/use their own brand and avoid initial capital expenses and lengthy solution development cycles by consuming Cisco Private 5G on a subscription basis. Partners may also enhance Cisco Private 5G with their own value-added solutions.

“Cisco has an unbiased wireless strategy for the future of hybrid work. 5G must work with Wi-Fi and existing IT environments to make digital transformation easy,” said Jonathan Davidson, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Mass-Scale Infrastructure Group, Cisco. “Businesses continuing their digitization strategies using IoT, analytics, and automation will create significant competitive advantages in value, sustainability, efficiency, and agility. Working together with our global partners to enable those outcomes with Cisco Private 5G is our unique value proposition to the enterprise.”

The concept of private networks running on cellular spectrum isn’t new — about 400 private 4G LTE networks exist today — but Cisco expects “significantly more than that in the 5G world,” Davidson said. “We think that in conjunction with the additional capacity or also the need for high-value asset tracking is really important.”

During a MWC interview with Raymond James, Davidson said, “Mobile networks aren’t mobile for very long. They have to get to a wired infrastructure,” and therein lies multiple roles for Cisco to play in the telco market.

Cisco’s opportunity in the telco space includes the buildout of new backhaul and metro infrastructure to handle increased capacity and bandwidth, its IoT Control Center, private networks, and the core of mobile network infrastructure.

“We continue to be a market leader in that space,” Davidson said, referring to Cisco’s 4G LTE and 5G network core products. More than a billion wireless subscribers are connected to Cisco’s 4G LTE core, and it plays a central role on T-Mobile’s 5G standalone core, which serves more than 100 million subscribers on a converged 4G LTE and 5G core, he added.

Davidson also expects Cisco’s flattened infrastructure, or routed optical networking, to gain momentum in wireless networks. But first, a definition. For Cisco, optical refers to the technology that moves bits from point A to point B, not optical transceivers.

“Our belief is there is going to be a transition in the market towards what we call routed optical networking. And this means that takes traditional transponders and moves them from being a shelf, or a separate box, or a device, and turns them into a pluggable optic, which you then plug into a router,” he said.

That’s where Cisco’s $4.5 billion acquisition of Acacia Communications comes into play.  In October 2021, we reported that Cisco’s Acacia unit is working together with Microschip to validate the interoperability of their 400G pluggable optics components – Microchip’s DIGI-G5 OTN processor and META-DX1 terabit secured-Ethernet PHY and Acacia’s 400G pluggable coherent optics.

The second phase of this type of network transformation involves the replacement of modems that exist in optical infrastructure with routers that carry pluggable transponders, Davidson added. The third phase places private line emulation onto that same infrastructure.

Supporting Comments:
“DISH Wireless is proud to partner with Cisco to bring smart connectivity to enterprise customers through dedicated private 5G networks. Together, we have the opportunity to drive real business outcomes across industries. We’re actively collaborating with Cisco on transformational projects that will benefit a variety of sectors, including government and education, and we’re working to revolutionize the way enterprises can manage their own networks. As DISH builds America’s first smart 5G network™, we’re offering solutions that are open, secure and customizable. Teaming with Cisco is a great next step, and we look forward to offering more innovative solutions for the enterprises of today and beyond.”
— Stephen Bye, Chief Commercial Officer, DISH Wireless

Cisco is busting the myth that enterprises can’t cross Wi-Fi, private 5G and IoT streams. Enterprises are now tantalizingly closer to full visibility over their digital and physical environments. This opens up powerful new ways to innovate without compromising the robust control that enterprises require.”
— Camille Mendler, Chief Analyst Enterprise Services, Omdia

“Developing innovative, customized 5G private network solutions for the enterprise market is a major opportunity to monetize the many advantages of 5G technology. Airspan is proud to be one of the first leading Open RAN partners to participate in the Cisco Private 5G solution and offer our cutting edge 5G RAN solutions including systems and software that are optimized for numerous enterprise use cases.”
— Eric Stonestrom, Chairman and CEO, Airspan

“This partnership opens a world of new possibilities for enterprises. With simple downloaded upgrades, our all-software RAN can operate on the same physical infrastructure for 10+ years—no more hardware replacements every 36 months. And as the only system in the world that can accommodate multiple operators on the same private network, it eliminates the need to build separate networks for new licensed band operators.”
 Joe Constantine, Chief Technology & Strategy Officer, JMA

“5G marks a milestone in wireless networking. For organizations, it opens many new opportunities to evolve their business models and create a completely new type of digital infrastructure. We see strong demand in all types of sectors including manufacturing and mining facilities, the logistics and automotive industries, as well as higher education and the healthcare sector. As a leading Cisco Global Gold Partner, we are excited to help drive this evolution. Thanks to our deep expertise, international capability, and close partnership with Cisco, we can support companies in integrating Private 5G into their enterprise networks,”
— Bob Bailkoskiis, Logicalis Group CEO.

“NEC Corporation is working on multiple 5G initiatives with Cisco. We have a Global System Integrator Agreement (GSIA) partnership for accelerating the deployment of innovative 5G IP transport network solutions worldwide. Work is in progress to connect Cisco’s Mobile Core and NEC’s radio over Cisco’s 5G Showcase in Tokyo, a world leading 5G services incubation hub. Leveraging NEC’s applications, Cisco and NEC will investigate expanding the technical trials including Private 5G in manufacturing, construction, transportation, and others.”
Yun Suhun, General Manager, NEC Corporation

Industry Projects Underway
Cisco is working together with its partners on Private 5G projects for customers across a wide range of industries including Chaplin, Clair Global, Colt Technology Services, ITOCHU Techno-Solutions Corporation, Madeira Island, Network Rail, Nutrien, Schaeffler Group, Texas A&M University, Toshiba, Virgin Media O2, Zebra Technologies and more. See news release addendum for project details and supporting comments.

Final Thoughts:

Radio access networks themselves are between $30 billion and $40 billion a year. Depending on who you talk to, optical (networking) can be between $10 billion and $15 billion a year. And then routing is below $10 billion a year,” Davidson said.  “Our belief is that the optical total addressable market will start to shift over time as routed optical networks become more prevalent, because it will move from the optical domain into the optic transceiver market,” he added.

Finally, although Cisco repeatedly insists it has no interest in becoming a RAN supplier, it remains strongly supportive of Open RAN. The RAN market “is still closed, it’s locked in, even though there are standards,” he said.

“People do not do any interoperability testing between vendors, which is fundamentally changing with open RAN” because operators are forcing vendors to make their equipment interoperate with open RAN implementations, Davidson concluded.

References:

https://investor.cisco.com/news/news-details/2022/Cisco-Brings-the-Promise-of-Private-5G-to-Enterprises-Together-with-Global-Partners/default.aspx

https://www.sdxcentral.com/articles/news/cisco-exec-solidifies-telco-infrastructure-pathways/2022/03/

Microchip and Cisco-Acacia Collaborate to Progress 400G Pluggable Coherent Optics

Additional Resources:

One thought on “Cisco’s 5G pitch: Private 5G, 5G SA Core network, optical backhaul and metro infrastructure

  1. Hughes Network Systems announced the award of an $18 million contract from the Department of Defense (DoD) to deploy a standalone 5G network at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Washington state. The Other Transaction Agreement (OTA) was issued through the Information Warfare Research Project (IWRP) consortium, a collaboration to engage industry and academia to develop and mature technologies in the field of information warfare that enhance Navy and Marine Corps mission effectiveness. Hughes will serve as the prime contractor connecting the base with a secure 5G network to support operations, maintenance and flight traffic management. The Hughes 5G network will utilize spectrum from DISH Wireless, the only carrier capable of providing the right combination of low band, mid band, and high band (mmWave) spectrum. This work is part of on-going DoD 5G experimentation led by the Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

    “Over the course of this three-year project, we will demonstrate for the U.S. Department of Defense how 5G infrastructure from Hughes – including a packet processing core, radio access, edge cloud, security and network management – can power the resilient networking necessary to transform base operations,” said Dr. Rajeev Gopal, vice president, Advanced Programs, Hughes. “Today’s walkie-talkies, paper-trails and telephone conversations will be replaced with a private, secure 5G network over which air station processes and systems will be automated and continuously optimized. What’s more, the standalone, standards-based configuration – including O-RAN standards for flexibility – will connect seamlessly anywhere on the planet using Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and Geostationary Orbit (GEO) satellite connectivity.”

    “DISH is delivering the connectivity for this private 5G network, providing engineering services, support and access to our spectrum portfolio,” said Stephen Bye, chief commercial officer, DISH. “As we build our own network, we’re proud to team with Hughes in this important project to deliver a fast, secure, reliable network to serve the U.S. Department of Defense and support mission-critical functions.”

    “This award is a testament to Hughes leadership in engineering and managing smart networks that enable the military to exchange information with the right people at the right time with an any-network approach that’s hardware agnostic and transport independent,” said Rick Lober, vice president and general manager, Hughes Defense. “We look forward to showcasing our capabilities in secure management of a 5G stand-alone deployment with advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning for ongoing enhancement and increasing efficiencies.”

    The deployment, which began in September 2021, leverages Zero Trust Architecture (ZTA) and meets National Security Administration (NSA) Commercial Solution for Classified (CSFC) requirements. Working together on the project, with Hughes as the integrator, are: Boingo Wireless, Cisco, Dell, DISH, JMA Wireless and Intel.

    https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/hughes-selected-to-deploy-private-5g-network-for-dod-301505964.html

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