Light Reading

Cisco, ip.access Prep Femto Combo

Michelle Donegan
LR Mobile News Analysis
Michelle Donegan
5/13/2008
50%
50%

Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) is jointly developing a femtocell offering for mobile operators with ip.access Ltd. , the home base station vendor in which it holds a stake, Unstrung has learned. (See Cisco Invests in ip.access.)

Collaboration between the femtocell vendor and the IP networking giant has reportedly already paid off with a big win at AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), according to industry sources and a report from ThinkPanmure.

The research and investment banking outfit suggests in its report that the AT&T deal could even lead Cisco to acquire ip.access.

An AT&T spokesman says only that the carrier is interested in femtocell technology "and we are testing it, with a view to a trial later this year. We have not been specific about which vendors we might or might not use," the spokesman added.

The success at AT&T, which has been confirmed by industry sources, gives ip.access its second major carrier scalp, following its RFP (request for proposal) success last year at Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD). (See Vodafone Picks Femto Vendors and Vodafone RFP Fuels Femtocells.)

Cisco is a strategic investor in ip.access, but the relationship involves more than just a stakeholding, and the companies are now actively working together to develop an extended femtocell solution that stretches from the mobile core network to the home base station customer premises equipment (CPE). That sort of integrated package would compete with the strategies of Nokia Networks and NEC Corp. (Tokyo: 6701).

But the extent of any product integration is not yet clear.

"We have a very positive partnership with Cisco... We are working closely with them to deliver an end-to-end femtocell solution that leverages both companies' strengths in wireless and IP technologies," says Andy Tiller, vice president of marketing at ip.access. "The whole solution that we're putting together will have some bits that are Cisco's and some bits that are ours."

But Cisco isn't ready to spill the beans yet about what it's doing with ip.access.

"We use direct investments such as the one in ip.access to gain market insight, to create linkages into adjacent markets, and to capitalize on go-to-market opportunities through complimentary organizations such as service providers," says a Cisco spokesman in an email response. "That's the extent of the relationship at this point."

The relationship with Cisco seems to have already helped ip.access to win a femtocell request for proposal (RFP) at AT&T, which has been widely reported. Unstrung sources can confirm the AT&T win, but not the reported size of the order.

ThinkPanmure's research note suggests ip.access has won a deal to supply AT&T with up to 7 million femtocell units priced at less than $100 each, with the total value of the deal coming in at $500 million or more. According to the research outfit, ip.access beat Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU), Nokia Networks , Airvana Inc. , and 2Wire Inc. to win the AT&T deal.

Unstrung sources are not convinced that the size of the initial order is as large as ThinkPanmure suggests. One source, who did not want to be named, believes ip.access won an order for femtocells that will be used in friendly user trials in two of AT&T's markets, and that other vendors will have a chance to bid again after the trial.

Cisco's pulling power
It's understood that Cisco -– and more specifically, Cisco's home gateway subsidiary Scientific Atlanta -- was instrumental in ip.access securing the winning bid in AT&T's RFP.

“It is widely rumored that it's the Scientific-Atlanta guys [at Cisco] who won this at AT&T, and that Cisco is doing the integration and using ip.access boxes,” says Stuart Carlaw, vice president and research director at ABI Research .

ThinkPanmure goes so far as to suggest the AT&T win could make ip.access an attractive acquisition for Cisco, which is already a strategic investor in the firm. Such a buy would follow other Cisco acquisitions of Linksys , Scientific Atlanta, and Navini Networks Inc. (See Cisco Buys Navini for $330M, Cisco Buying Linksys for $500M, Cisco to Acquire Scientific-Atlanta.)

Tiller at ip.access would not comment on AT&T, but said it was important to partner with a large equipment supplier.

"Operators are saying they want to buy their femtos from a large supplier," says Tiller. "They want to buy their femto access point from large companies. We provide the hardware and software that go into the CPE."

Ip.access has a partnership with Thomson S.A. (NYSE: TMS; Euronext Paris: 18453), for example, to integrate femtocells into home gateways. (See Thomson, IP.access Team and Femto Players Gun for Gateways.)

Working together
Tiller would not provide specific details on what kind of products ip.access is developing with Cisco. But we have some ideas of what the two companies could be planning.

There are three scenarios where Cisco and ip.access can collaborate: Cisco can act as a systems integrator for ip.access femtocell access points and gateways; the pair could develop a femtocell gateway together; or they could integrate ip.access femtocell technology into Cisco's CPE equipment. Of course, the companies could be doing a combination of these scenarios.

On the CPE side, an ip.access femtocell module could be integrated into Cisco's Linksys wireless networking platforms or the Scientific Atlanta set-top boxes. This strategy would fit with the partnerships ip.access and other femto vendors, such as Ubiquisys Ltd. , have formed with home gateway providers. (See Netgear, Ubiquisys Team and Netgear Gateway Goes Femto.)

Given Scientific Atlanta's reported involvement in the AT&T RFP, the CPE integration scenario seems the most likely joint product development for the two companies.

In a femtocell gateway, ip.access could combine its existing femto gateway with security gateway capabilities from Cisco that could sit on Cisco's 7600 edge router platform, for example. So, the ip.access element in the gateway would handle radio access management, which is what its existing gateway does, while Cisco would contribute the security, IP routing, and authentication.

Such a strategy would throw Cisco into the path of mobile packet core vendor Starent Networks Corp. (Nasdaq: STAR), which is busily developing just such a gateway product. (See Starent Intros Femto Solution.)

An end-to-end femto solution from Cisco and ip.access would be competitive with NEC's partnership with Ubiquisys, or Nokia Siemens's CPE partnership strategy, for example. (See NSN's New Femtofriend, NSN, Pirelli Partner, and NEC, Ubiquisys Team.)

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Unstrung

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Flash Poll
From The Founder
Then pick up your axe, put on your spandex trousers and get yourself down to Light Reading's Big Telecom Event (BTE). Kerrang!!!
LRTV Custom TV
Next-Generation CCAP: Cisco cBR-8 Evolved CCAP

5|5|15   |   04:49   |   (0) comments


John Chapman, Cisco's CTO of Cable Access Business Unit and Cisco Fellow, explained the innovation design of Cisco's cBR-8, the industry's first Evolved CCAP, including DOCSIS 3.1 design from ground-up, distributed CCAP with Remote PHY and path to virtualization. Cisco's cBR-8 Evolved CCAP is the platform that will last through the transitions.
LRTV Custom TV
Meeting the Demands of Bandwidth & Service Group Growth

5|1|15   |   5:35   |   (0) comments


Jorge Salinger, Comcast's Vice President of Access Architecture, explains how DOCSIS 3.1 and multi-service CCAP can meet the demands of the bandwidth and service group growth.
LRTV Custom TV
DOCSIS 3.1: Transforming Cable From Hardware-Defined Network to Software-Defined Network

4|29|15   |   03:48   |   (0) comments


John Chapman, Cisco's CTO of Cable Access Business Unit and Cisco Fellow, explains how DOCSIS 3.1 can transform cable HFC network to a more agile software-defined network.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Predicting Traffic Patterns for Quality Mobile Broadband

4|29|15   |   6:45   |   (0) comments


Accessing information ubiquitously creates complexity and creates heavy traffic onto the network, especially at large-scale events like sporting events or festivals. In this video, Huawei's Mohammad Hussain speaks to experts about how to predict traffic and improve user experience during periods of heavy traffic.
Between the CEOs
Ciena CEO: The Web-Scale Revolution

4|28|15   |   10:32   |   (3) comments


Light Reading CEO and founder Steve Saunders goes head-to-head with long-time Ciena CEO Gary Smith to discuss the impact of the web-scale players, the New IP and 'white box' networks.
LRTV Documentaries
Cox Eyes Cloud-Based Home Networks

4|27|15   |   05:30   |   (0) comments


Cox's Jeff Finkelstein explains how moving services to the cloud will let cable deliver services faster and eliminate constant hardware replacements.
LRTV Documentaries
CableLabs' Clarke Updates Cable Virtualization

4|23|15   |   05:41   |   (1) comment


Former BT exec now leading CableLabs' NFV and SDN efforts explains key role of open source and updates efforts to virtualize the home network.
LRTV Interviews
Ericsson's CTO Talks Transformation: Pt. II

4|23|15   |   08:19   |   (1) comment


In the second installment of an in-depth two-part interview, Ericsson's CTO Ulf Ewaldsson talks to Light Reading CEO and founder Steve Saunders about cultural change, network slicing and technology advances.
LRTV Interviews
Ericsson's CTO Talks Transformation: Pt. I

4|23|15   |   09:27   |   (3) comments


In the first installment of an in-depth two-part interview, Ericsson's CTO Ulf Ewaldsson talks to Light Reading CEO and founder Steve Saunders about the incredible transformation underway in the communications networking industry.
LRTV Documentaries
LTE Paves the Way for the 5G Revolution

4|20|15   |   4:20   |   (0) comments


Håkan Andersson, head of 5G product strategy of the Radio Business Unit at Ericsson, discusses the role of LTE, the US and other industry verticals in building a true 5G ecosystem.
LRTV Documentaries
The 3GPP's Road to 5G Standardization

4|17|15   |   4:43   |   (0) comments


Satoshi Nagata, chairman of the 3GPP's TSG-RAN group and a manager at NTT Docomo, explains the standardization process for 5G, as well as the biggest challenges and opportunities.
LRTV Documentaries
AlcaLu CTO Makes the Case for a New 5G Air Interface

4|16|15   |   3:54   |   (0) comments


Michael Peeters, CTO of wireless at Alcatel-Lucent, explains why 5G will require a new air interface to meet its diverse performance targets.
Upcoming Live Events
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 10, 2015, Chicago, IL
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
October 6, 2015, Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
November 11-12, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
A study run by Insights in Marketing and commissioned by Meredith shows the devices, channels and ways in which women are consuming content.
Hot Topics
No Service, No Problem: 5 Places That Want to Be Unconnected
Eryn Leavens, Copy Desk Editor, 5/1/2015
Astellia Highlights Customer Care Disconnect
Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-chief, 4/29/2015
Cisco's Robbins to Replace Chambers as CEO
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 5/4/2015
Sprint Maps Out Its Next-Generation Network
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 5/5/2015
Cyan Says It Wasn't Starving Before Ciena Bid
Dan O'Shea, Managing Editor, 5/5/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
Light Reading CEO and founder Steve Saunders goes head-to-head with long-time Ciena CEO Gary Smith to discuss the impact of the web-scale players, the New IP and 'white box' networks.
Many leading communications companies can claim to have undergone significant periods of reinvention during their histories, but none have been through more major ...
Cats with Phones
Cinco de Mayo Click Here
Cats With Phones says Happy Cinco de Mayo. Accessorize appropriately.