Cisco Still Doesn't Want a RAN

It's a question that's come up a lot since Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) said it would acquire Starent Networks: What about the radio? Don't you need the radio piece of the network?

Cisco continues to say that no, it doesn't want or need a radio access network (RAN), thank you. In fact, the company contends that mobile operators are separating out the RAN in their requests for proposals (RFPs).

There's been a "decoupling of the radio RFP and the rest-of-the-network RFP," says Kittur Nagesh, Cisco's senior director of service provider marketing.

It's not a universal trend, says Gabriel Brown, an analyst with Heavy Reading. But he agrees that some operators have stopped caring if the radio network and the core network come from the same vendor. "Typically it's the technologically advanced, larger operators that are looking to separate out those domains," he says.

This gives Cisco the freedom to pursue an end-to-end story that combines the core network with the surrounding IP gear, ignoring the RAN. Those are the pieces Cisco feels will be important as mobile operators design networks for a future that will be heavily weighted toward multimedia traffic.

"It will call for tremendous scale end-to-end -- not just the evolved packet core part; it will call for tremendous intelligence end-to-end," Nagesh says. "Customers are realizing the infrastructure minus the radio access network is what is driving these business frameworks," Nagesh says.

That's the key part of all this to Cisco: becoming part of an operator's long-term strategy. "These core nodes can be integral to putting everything else together. The pullthrough is substantial. That's why it's important for Cisco," Brown says.

Brown had noted as much in a November Heavy Reading report, "Evolved Packet Core for LTE: Market Forecast & Competitive Analysis." "We believe that the transition to LTE and all-IP mobile broadband networks is so fundamental, so broad in scope, and so complex, that operators are looking to vendors to provide extensive, in-depth consulting and design services around the entire network architecture transformation process," he wrote. (See LTE Core Action Heats Up.)

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

lrmobile_shred 12/5/2012 | 4:44:40 PM
re: Cisco Still Doesn't Want a RAN evidently the author hasn't heard of Navini?
joset01 12/5/2012 | 4:44:39 PM
re: Cisco Still Doesn't Want a RAN



Whatever did happen to Navini and Cisco's WiMax effort? Worth a follow-up?


bwolmarans2 12/5/2012 | 4:44:37 PM
re: Cisco Still Doesn't Want a RAN

I think they're just running away from the reality.

"And I RAN, I RAN so far away" soon to be one of those catchy lightreading headlines?


rabadu 12/5/2012 | 4:44:37 PM
re: Cisco Still Doesn't Want a RAN

1. RAN != just Radio.

2. There are different types of radios. Femto, Pico, Macro.  Is Cisco staying away from all of them?

3. What about Cisco investment in IP.access - a RAN player?



desiEngineer 12/5/2012 | 4:44:32 PM
re: Cisco Still Doesn't Want a RAN

Interesting path cisco is taking.  It is true that LTE is an all-IP play and the surrounding network, whether mobile backhaul, infrastructure between mobile elements like eNodeB and the Serving and PDN gateways, the backend systems, etc., or the EPC elements.  That in itself is probably a $4B market.

But not having a RAN means you give up quite a bit, doesn't it?  Some more traditional RFPs have some of the EPC in the RAN side, especially where it is a migration strategy that spans 2G and EDGE.  Saying it isn't important is downplaying their weakness.

Ericsson has a good end-to-end story which makes it more compelling.  The disadvantage for cisco is that they are late, and the RAN is somewhat commoditized, so getting into the game now is definitely not good business sense.  cisco just has to play the cards they have, and make it sound like it was the plan all along.


spc_isdnip 12/5/2012 | 4:44:31 PM
re: Cisco Still Doesn't Want a RAN

Funny about Navini.  They had good phased-antenna technology, similar to WiMAX and LTE.  And after Cisco bought it, they were never heard from again.  A real shame.

freetoair 12/5/2012 | 4:44:29 PM
re: Cisco Still Doesn't Want a RAN Navini was/is a bunch of BS. The cisco people who evaluated just did not have the skillset. So Navini, albeit the overall investment in the company was very high, were very fortunate to get the price they did. 6 months later...well. If you had evaluated thier technology you would know that it was 95% bull. Good thing though that cisco has a bunch of those folks still working there. :-)
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