Small cells

Cisco Shuttering Small Cell Biz – Report

Cisco is this month shutting down its small cell portfolio after years of trying to buy, or partner, its way into the market, according to analyst firm Current Analysis.

The analyst firm, which is now owned by GlobalData Plc, has issued a research note stating that Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) has confirmed that its 3G and 4G small cell products will be phased out by the end of July and that the networking giant is also altering its partnership with enterprise small cell startup SpiderCloud Wireless . The startup will be able to sell its products direct through Cisco channels, but Cisco won't be selling or rebranding its gear. (See Slide Show: Cisco's Small Cell Bureau.)

Getting out of the licensed spectrum small cell business could help to pep up Cisco's relationship with Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC): The small cells sector was the only area of the radio access network (RAN) market in which Cisco was active, and SpiderCloud is a direct competitor to Ericsson. (See Cisco to Resell SpiderCloud's Small Cells.)

"Cisco's in-house, licensed-spectrum, small-cell business hadn't demonstrated meaningful market momentum after years of operation," said analyst Ed Gubbins in his research note. "Ending the lives of these products rationalizes what had become a business in limbo."

Nonetheless, Cisco had invested significant amounts of time and money into small cells. Most notably, it bought UK-based Ubiquisys for $310 million in April 2013, although many staff were cut in 2015. (See Cisco Buying Ubiquisys for $310M and Cisco to Axe Half of Ubiquisys Staff – Rumor.)

This doesn't mean, however, that, Cisco is definitely and entirely out of the small cell market. The company could use SpiderCloud's unlicensed 3.5GHz CBRS gear to connect to its WiFi access points, allowing enterprises to create private LTE networks.

In addition, the Current Analysis analyst suggests Cisco could also consider developing virtualized small cells as it becomes possible to deliver more RAN functionality in software.

At press time, Cisco had not returned a request for comment.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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