Cisco Still Doesn't Want a RAN
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