HPE acquires private cellular network provider Athonet (Italy) to strengthen HPE Aruba’s networking portfolio
Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) today announced the expansion of its connected edge-to-cloud offering with the acquisition of Athonet, a private cellular network technology provider that delivers mobile core networks to enterprises and communication service providers. Combined with the HPE telco and Aruba networking portfolios, Athonet will put HPE at the forefront of a growing market that is predicted by IDC to increase to more than $1.6 billion1 by 2026.
Based in Vicenza, Italy, Athonet has more than 15 years of experience delivering 4G and 5G mobile core solutions to customers and partners globally. Athonet is an award-winning technology pioneer with more than 450 successful customer deployments in various industries, including leading mobile operators, hospitals, airports, transportation ports, utilities, government and public safety organizations.
With enterprises facing complex connectivity challenges across large and remote sites, private 5G offers high levels of coverage, reliability and mobility across campus and industrial environments. It also augments the cost-effective, high-capacity connectivity provided by Wi-Fi. The incorporation of Athonet’s technology will allow HPE to deliver private networking capabilities directly to enterprises as part of HPE’s Aruba networking portfolio, while also enabling communications service providers (CSPs) to quickly deploy private 5G networks for their customers.
“Telco customers are looking for simpler ways to deploy private 5G networks to meet growing customer expectations at the connected edge,” said Tom Craig, global vice president and general manager, Communications Technology Group at HPE. “At the same time, enterprise customers are demanding a customized 5G experience with low-latency, segregated resources, extended range and security across campus and industrial environments that complement their existing wireless networks. With the acquisition of Athonet, HPE now has one of the most complete private 5G and Wi-Fi portfolios for CSP and enterprise customers – and we will offer it as a service through HPE GreenLake.”
HPE expands private 5G solutions for both telcos and the enterprise:
HPE will integrate Athonet’s technology into its existing CSP and Aruba networking enterprise offerings to create a private networking portfolio that accelerates digital transformation from edge-to-cloud. The networking portfolio will provide the following benefits:
- Enhanced private networks that combine the high capacity of Wi-Fi with the coverage and mobility of 5G
- Accelerated private 5G deployments that improve agility and innovation to help telco B2B teams and enterprise customers
- New enterprise revenue streams for telcos with differentiated services leveraging 5G and Wi-Fi
- Alignment of costs to revenues with consumption-based models for enterprises and telcos through HPE GreenLake, reducing the risk of entering new markets
- Management of operational complexity and cost efficiency with 5G orchestration and zero-touch automation to deliver new workloads from edge-to-cloud
With 5G investments running into the billions of dollars, CSPs are looking for simple ways to meet customer needs and drive new B2B revenue by deploying both edge compute and private 5G networks. The addition of Athonet’s software to HPE’s telco portfolio enhances one of the broadest communications portfolios in the market, which serves a base of more than 300 customers across 160 countries and connects more than one billion mobile devices worldwide. Building on its existing private 5G solutions, HPE’s enhanced offering for CSPs will support private 4G and 5G networks and include telco-grade orchestration and automation capabilities. These capabilities will help launch new B2B services that meet growing customer expectations for the connected edge.
“Athonet was founded to provide customers with private 4G and 5G solutions that deliver carrier-grade reliability and performance to suit their increasing and more challenging connectivity needs,” said Gianluca Verin, CEO and co-founder of Athonet. “We are excited to join HPE and combine our highly skilled teams as we expand our joint service provider offerings for the rapidly growing private 5G market and build on HPE’s strategy to be the leading edge-to-cloud solutions provider.”
Private 5G offers enterprises new capabilities that are ultra-secure, easy to deploy and manage, ready for highly specialized applications such as robotics and industrial IoT, data networks and pipelines, and security systems facilitation. The acquisition of Athonet strengthens Aruba’s connected edge portfolio, providing the unique and highly sought-after ability to deliver fully integrated Wi-Fi and private 5G networks. Integration with Aruba Central will enable network managers to administer Wi-Fi and private 5G through a single pane of glass and bring to bear the power of AI-powered insights, workflow automation, and robust security.
HPE GreenLake, HPE’s edge-to-cloud platform, will offer Athonet private 5G offerings, combining all costs for Wi-Fi and private 5G into one single monthly subscription with no capital expenditure. Flexible consumption options, including HPE’s networking as a service, mean private 5G networks can be deployed with reduced risk, little upfront investment and scaled according to demand.
HPE portfolio integration and availability:
HPE will integrate Athonet’s solutions with its existing telco software assets and plans to make them available to customers some time following the close of the transaction. HPE will also integrate the solutions with the Aruba networking portfolio in the near future. The transaction is expected to close at the beginning of the third quarter of HPE’s 2023 fiscal year, subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions.
About Hewlett Packard Enterprise:
Hewlett Packard Enterprise is the global edge-to-cloud company that helps organizations accelerate outcomes by unlocking value from all of their data, everywhere. Built on decades of reimagining the future and innovating to advance the way people live and work, HPE delivers unique, open and intelligent technology solutions as a service. With offerings spanning Cloud Services, Compute, High Performance Computing & AI, Intelligent Edge, Software, and Storage, HPE provides a consistent experience across all clouds and edges, helping customers develop new business models, engage in new ways, and increase operational performance. For more information, visit: www.hpe.com
Media Contacts for U.S. & Canada:
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Analysis from Channel Futures:
While HPE already offers a 5G cloud-native software core, Athonet gives deeper in-house capabilities to more quickly and directly deploy private 5G networks.
“Given HPE’s Wi-Fi and security assets – like Aruba – I’d say this makes a clear play to simplify management for key enterprise digital assets. And this is the kind of issue that enterprises are often bringing up to us,” Omdia chief analyst of enterprise services Camille Mendler told Channel Futures. (Omdia and Channel Futures share a parent company, Informa.)
Patrick Filkins, IDC‘s research manager for IoT and telecom network infrastructure, said Athonet can give HPE customers an improved option for deploying a private 5G network together with Wi-Fi. Filkins said that integrated portfolio could well serve an enterprise that has already done the heavy legwork of building a Wi-Fi network.
“This is a very complicated task, and one the enterprise itself controls. They don’t want to start from scratch or be forced to have someone else tinkering in their systems, so this acquisition will hopefully provide some assurance to enterprise customers that the vendors will help ensure their customers can repurpose work they’ve already done to integrate a new network technology, and hopefully new use cases,” Filkins said.
Filkins said the acquisition will immediately improve the HPE 5G core and gradually work its way into Aruba portfolio improvements. For example, HPE will integrate Athonet into the Aruba Central network management platform.
“Specifically, we expect HPE/Aruba to over time release follow-on solutions which help enterprises manage the two technologies seamlessly. Enterprises are not interested in deploying both 5G and Wi-Fi networks in a silo. They want a combined solution that can help tackle the integration and management issues from a single pane. This means you’ll see HPE’s telco and Aruba teams working together more closely over time,” Filkins said.
Mendler said one might see a U.S. equivalent in Celona, despite Athonet’s age (founded 2004) compared to that of Celona (founded in 2019). Filkins added that although many vendors provide private and public LTE/5G cores in the U.S., most run their headquarters abroad. He pointed to Cisco and Microsoft-acquired Mavenir, Affirmed Networks and MetaSwitch as 5G core providers in the U.S.
“However, from a competitive standpoint, Athonet competes globally against Nokia, Ericsson, Mavenir, Microsoft Azure, Cisco, etc., among others,” Filkins told Channel Futures. He described Athonet as “no slouch” in the wireless market. He calls the company’s customer base deep, though consisting of smaller customers. HPE said in an announcement that Athonet has performed 450 customer deployments in various verticals. Athonet’s customers include SpaceX, which uses a private cellular network in Antarctica.
Filkins called the Athonet technology offerings “relatively advanced for 5G.” For example, the cloud-native 5G core meets almost all of 3GPP‘s listed functions. He also said Athonet’s core augments HPE’s 5G core offerings.
“The cloud-native part means it can be deployed fully on-site, fully in the cloud, or in a hybrid format. This should cover any scenario the customer wants. [Athonet] has specialized in selling mobile core software to enterprises, and smaller, regional operations for years. It knows the needs of the enterprise well,” Filkins said.
Athonet CEO and co-founder Gianluca Verin said his team looks forward to joining HPE. Moreover, he said he wants to enhance HPE’s goal of being “the leading edge-to-cloud solutions provider.” Verin worked in support and solution engineer positions at Ericsson for eight years before starting Athonet.
HPE’s GreenLake edge-to-cloud services platform will host the private 5G service. HPE executives have said GreenLake as-a-service consumption model will “simplify” enterprises’ entrance into 5G and lower risk.
“I think this is an important step HPE is taking. For the most part, private 5G and Wi-Fi networks have been offered as point solutions, but HPE/Aruba intend to do the ‘under-the-hood’ work to make them as integrated as possible, which is what enterprise customers want,” Filkins said.
In December, HPE said 80% of its top 100 customers have adopted the GreenLake platform. The vendor is also equipping Aruba partners to deliver its network-as-a-service offering.
When HPE unveiled a private 5G offering one year ago, an executive said HPE preferred to go to market though system integrators, telcos and service providers rather than straight to the enterprise. HPE’s telco business serves 300 customers across the world, the company said.
AWS Integrated Private Wireless with Deutsche Telekom, KDDI, Orange, T-Mobile US, and Telefónica partners
In addition to Telco Network Builder, AWS today announced its Integrated Private Wireless that acts as an infrastructure bridge for network operators that want to offer a private network service tapping into AWS’ infrastructure to end users. This allows AWS to connect incoming customers interested in a private network platform with the #1 cloud service provider’s telecom partners.
“We are really just connecting the customer with the telco, then that relationship is between the two of them,” said Jan Hofmeyr,VP of Amazon EC2. Initial telecom partners include Deutsche Telekom, KDDI, Orange, T-Mobile US, and Telefónica. Enterprise customers shopping for private wireless services will be able to purchase an installation from one of those participating operators. “The relationship is directly between the customer and the telco,” Hofmeyr said, noting that the resulting private wireless network will then run atop the AWS cloud.
Hofmeyr said that AWS’ goal is to provide customers with an easy set of options that will allow them to deploy or operate a private network in a manner that meets their needs and abilities. “Right now this is their ask, [it’s] helping us make this onboarding easier, and that’s exactly what we’re focusing on. In the future, we’ll continue to listen to what their needs are and continue to support that,” Hofmeyr added.
This new private network offering is different from AWS’ Private 5G platform that it initially unveiled in late 2021, and has since updated. That platform integrates small cell radio units, AWS’ Outposts servers, a 5G core, and radio access network (RAN) software running on AWS-managed hardware. AWS also handles the spectrum management of this service.
AWS will act as the portal, but telcos will be the managed service providers for the network on behalf of those enterprises or smaller service providers, the company said. As with the telco network builder, AWS will provide a dashboard for monitoring performance and modifying it as needed.
“That’s one of the friction points we saw as we started looking at the private network space,” said Ishwar Parulkar, chief technologist for the telco industry at AWS, in an interview. “There are a lot of enterprise customers who really don’t care about all of this. They just want to be able to use the network and run some applications on top. That’s one of the primary values that we bring with this: lifting that undifferentiated work away from them and managing it in the cloud.”
For Amazon, telcos represent a prime business opportunity: as carriers build new networks with increasing reliance on software and cloud services, Amazon is positioning itself as a tech and cloud partner to help run those services better and more cheaply. It’s been interesting to watch how it has worked to build trust among a group of businesses that have at times been very wary of big tech and the threat of being reduced to “dumb pipes” as tech companies lean on their own architecture and technology advances to build faster and cheaper services that compete directly with what carriers have and plan to roll out. As one example, the company is clear to call these new products “offerings” and not services to make clear that it is not the managed service provider, the carriers’ role.
“We’ve been on this journey for a few years now in terms of really getting the cloud to run telco networks,” said Parulkar. “Our goal here is to make AWS the best place to host 5g networks for both public and private. And on that journey, we’ve been making steady progress.”
For carriers, they are now in a world where arguably communications is just another tech service, so many of them believe that running them with less costs and in more flexible ways will be the key to winning more business, introducing more services and getting better margins. Whether carriers want to wholesale work closer with Amazon, or with any of the cloud providers, for such services, will be the big question.
“There’s nothing like it;” AWS CEO announces Private 5G at AWS re-Invent 2021; Dish Network’s endorsement
AWS Telco Network Builder: managed service to deploy, run, and scale telco networks on AWS
Dell’Oro: Market Forecasts Decreased for Mobile Core Network and Private Wireless RANs
According to a newly published Dell’Oro Group report, Mobile Core Network (MCN) market growth will be decreasing. Worldwide MCN 5-year growth is now forecasted at a 2% compounded annual growth rate (CAGR), compared to our January 2022 forecast of 3% CAGR.
“The July 2022 forecast is more conservative than the January 2022 forecast due to industry headwinds, including supply chain challenges, higher inflation, an impending recession, Mobile Network Operators’ (MNO) challenges to increase revenues, and regional political conflicts,” said Dave Bolan, Research Director at Dell’Oro Group. “As a result, we reduced the 2022 to 2026 cumulative revenue forecast by 6 percent, decreasing revenues by $3.2 B. The July 2022 cumulative revenue forecast (2022-2026) is now $50.3 B resulting in a 2 percent CAGR.
“We are tracking the number of 5G Standalone (5G SA) MBB networks that have been launched commercially by MNOs. In the first half of 2022, only three new 5G SA networks were launched, KDDI in Japan, DISH Wireless in the US, and China Broadnet in China bringing the total deployed around the world to 27 MNO 5G SA MBB networks,” Bolan added.
Additional highlights from the MCN 5-Year July 2022 Forecast report:
- Year-over-year (Y/Y) MCN revenue growth rates for each year in the forecast are positive but will decrease each year; by 2026, Y/Y revenues will be essentially flat.
- MCN market CAGR forecast by industry segments we expect 5G MCN to be 21 percent, 4G MCN -20 percent, IMS Core 2 percent, and the User Plane Function (UPF) required for Multi-access Edge Computing (MEC) 67 percent.
- The North America and China regions are expected to have the lowest CAGRs, while Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), and Asia Pacific without China regions are expected to have the highest CAGRs.
Dell’Oro Group’s Mobile Core Network & Multi-Access Edge Computing 5-Year January Forecast Report offers a complete overview of the market for Wireless Packet Core including MEC for the User Plane Function, Policy, Subscriber Data Management, and IMS Core with historical data, where applicable, to the present. The report provides a comprehensive overview of market trends by network function implementation (Non-NFV and NFV), covering revenue, licenses, average selling price, and regional forecasts for various network functions. To learn more about this report, please contact us at [email protected]
In a related Dell’Oro “Private Wireless Advanced Research Report,” Stefan Pongranz states that private wireless radio access network (RAN) shipments and revenues are coming in below expectations, resulting in another decreased forecast.
“We have not made any changes to the potential market calculations and still estimate private wireless is a massive opportunity,” said Stefan Pongratz, Vice President at Dell’Oro Group. “At the same time, the message we have communicated for some time still holds – we still envision the enterprise and industrial play is a long game. This taken together with the fact that the standalone LTE/5G market is developing at a slower pace than previously expected forms the basis for the near-term downgrade,” continued Pongratz.
Additional highlights from the Private Wireless Advanced Research Report:
- Private wireless projections have been revised downward to reflect weaker than expected progress with private wireless LTE and 5G small cells.
- Total private wireless RAN revenues, including macro and small cells, are projected to roughly double between 2022 and 2026.
- Standalone private LTE/5G is now expected to account for a low single-digit share of the total RAN market by 2026.
Dell’Oro Group’s Private Wireless Advanced Research Report with a 5-year forecast includes projections for Private Wireless RAN by RF Output Power, technology, spectrum, and region. To purchase this report, please contact us at [email protected].
Dell’Oro Group is a market research firm that specializes in strategic competitive analysis in the telecommunications, enterprise networks, data center infrastructure, and network security markets. Our firm provides in-depth quantitative data and qualitative analysis to facilitate critical, fact-based business decisions. For more information, contact Dell’Oro Group at +1.650.622.9400 or visit www.delloro.com.
Industry Headwinds to Decrease Mobile Core Network Market Growth, According to Dell’Oro Group
Private Wireless Forecast Adjusted Downward, According to Dell’Oro Group
Quortus: IT Decision Makers Very Interested in Private Cellular Networks
New research commissioned by LTE and 5G network solutions provider Quortus indicates that enterprise IT decision makers are becoming increasingly interested in private networks as an answer to productivity and efficiency woes caused by poor connectivity. Almost two-thirds (63%) of US and European enterprises have suffered reduced productivity and efficiency due to weak and unreliable public network connectivity.
Private cellular networks are 3GPP-based cellular networks offering a combination of low-power wide-area (LPWA), broadband LTE and even “massive” scale, ultra-reliable 5G connectivity for exclusive use by private parties. Deployed and managed separately of public cellular networks, they offer improved security, reliability and control.
The research, which surveyed 260 IT decision makers from the U.S., U.K., Germany and France, found that nearly two thirds (63%) of respondents said that weak and unreliable connectivity results in reduced productivity and efficiency at their enterprise. Further, a staggering 91% of them believe such limitations are directly tied to the limitations of macro public networks.
The research concluded that a fifth of enterprises do not believe the quality of their existing connectivity will support their future digital ambitions. Many enterprise IT leaders are looking for alternative options. 97% of them are ready to invest more money to ensure better connectivity.
The survey findings, published in an exclusive report ‘Build, don’t buy: the road to private networks‘ highlight the perceived inadequacies of public fixed and mobile networks:
- 91% of enterprise respondents believe the limitations of their existing connectivity is squarely tied to the limitations of macro public networks
- The major limitations of public networks frustrating enterprises include weak security, restricted network speeds and limited available network capacity limiting innovation
- 97% of organizations are ready to invest more money to ensure better connectivity, and almost half (47%) would increase current budgets by 10% if it reduced existing fears and limitations and helped drive operational efficiency
- A fifth of enterprises do not believe the quality of their existing connectivity will support the achievement of their future digital ambitions
“Enterprises, until recently, have had to rely on public macro networks for broadband connectivity,” said Neil Dunham, VP of sales at Quortus. “Our study reveals significant levels of frustration with the inherent limitations of macro networks. Too often global enterprises are finding that the quality of connectivity they receive is decided by an enterprise’s location, relative to network sites and the number of users relying on them.”
Dunham continues: “This burgeoning excitement towards private networks is seeing enterprises consider their options when it comes to build, design, and deployment. The key areas of motivation amongst enterprise IT decision makers include a willingness to benefit from specialist vertical knowledge and expertise, not being limited by a public operator’s footprint or service capability and need for bespoke requirements now and in the future. Only private networks can offer a truly bespoke connectivity solution to guarantee appropriate levels of performance, reliability, security and control for all global enterprises.”
Quortus also explored how those enterprises already working on establishing private networks at their facilities are doing so or intend to do, finding that 23% of enterprises surveyed currently operate their own network, while third (33%) would prefer to build their own network with the help of specialist partners, rather than buy it directly from a public operator.
Some of the major findings include a mission to build and not buy
The Quortus study revealed that many global enterprises are taking the safeguarding of high-quality connectivity into their own hands by building and operating private cellular networks.
- Almost a quarter (23%) of enterprises surveyed currently operate their own network
- A third (33%) would prefer to build their own network with the help of specialist partners, rather than buy it directly from a public operator
- The top perceived enterprise benefits of private networks include greater security, increased performance and tighter network control.
Reports from industry organization Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) supports Quortus’ research. The GSA in August said it is tracking at least 370 companies around the world that have been or are investing in private mobile networks, with 5G deployments beginning to gain momentum. The data suggests that manufacturing is an early adopter of local area private mobile networks, with 79 identified companies holding suitable licenses or involved in known pilots or deployments of LANs or probable LANs. Mining follows second, with ports also actively trialing/deploying local area private mobile networks.
“Our study reveals significant levels of frustration with the inherent limitations of macro networks. Too often global enterprises are finding that the quality of connectivity they receive is decided by an enterprise’s location, relative to network sites, and the number of users relying on them.”
“As this study shows, strong and reliable connectivity is a significant enabler to greater operational efficiency, enhanced service innovation and better productivity. It is therefore no surprise that enterprises are evaluating their future needs so closely and evaluating alternative means of supply.”
Quortus is a pioneering UK company that is changing the mobile communications world using the best IT principles to create innovative mobile communication software that is easy to deploy, manage and scale. The company has created a software defined core network technology platform and a suite of products that covers 3GPP 4G, 3G and GSM standards, in addition to taking the lead with emerging technologies such as 5G, Mobile Edge Computing (MEC), Private LTE and cellular core network virtualization.
Majority of global enterprises suffer reduced productivity and efficiency due to poor connectivity
Quortus research indicates ‘burgeoning excitement’ for private networks
Quortus Partners with TLC Solutions for Private 5G Network Radio Solution