NFV Strategies

Cisco Lands One on Ericsson With Open vRAN Initiative

BARCELONA -- MWC 2018 -- If there was any lingering doubt that the relationship between Cisco and Ericsson was strained and nearing divorce, there isn't anymore.

Only two-and-a-bit years after the two giant vendors announced plans to team up and dominate the communications networking industry, Cisco effectively undermined the relationship here at MWC by announcing an initiative that competes in Ericsson's heartland of the radio access network (RAN). (See Cisco + Ericsson: From Soup to Nuts.)

The 'Multi-Vendor Open vRAN Ecosystem Initiative For Mobile Networks' is an initiative that aims to develop an alternative to single-vendor RAN offerings by introducing disaggregation and virtualization to the mobile access network domain: Cisco notes that there are already developments in this area but that currently there are "considerable gaps and challenges" that need to be addressed. (See Cisco Leads Multi-Vendor Open vRAN Ecosystem Initiative.)

Cisco isn't doing this by itself -- it has enlisted a set of partners, including Indian operator Reliance Jio, virtual RAN specialist Altiostar, Aricent, Intel, Mavenir, Phazr, Red Hat and Tech Mahindra.

Ericsson's CEO Börje Ekholm played it cool when asked about his reaction to Cisco's move during a presentation to analysts and the media Monday morning. "The Open vRAN initiative is something we will need to look into," he said, while also noting that the partnership with Cisco has not delivered as originally hoped during the past couple of years.

However, he also added that Ericsson is "still working with Cisco to find new areas" of cooperation.

In response to questions about why Cisco has adopted what could be construed as an aggressive position in relation to its partner, a company spokesman stated only that: "Cisco remains committed to our business partnership with Ericsson to advance next-generation networks, and we are exploring new areas of cooperation. Together we have teamed on over 190 successful customer engagements."

Neither company is saying that the relationship has been dissolved but it's hard to see how there's much life left in it now that Cisco is pecking away at Ericsson's core competency.

— Ray Le Maistre, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

COMMENTS Add Comment
komatineni 2/26/2018 | 7:54:30 PM
It's over honey. Well, it's never a marriage or even a relation except for some corporate top brass. Culturally Ericsson - Cisco are loggerheads and the competition or overlapping areas are aplenty. So guess finally there is some clarity
[email protected] 2/26/2018 | 7:05:59 PM
Not behind the back The original headlne for this article was

Cisco Goes Behind Ericsson's Back With Open vRAN Initiative


However, it was pointed out that Cisco had informed Ericsson of its plans to develop an alternative radio access network proposition, so the headline was updated so as to not suggest that Cisco had taken this step without informing its partner of the development.
bosco_pcs 2/26/2018 | 5:49:14 PM
Now you know why there was no M&A When they announced the JV, it was a near merger. Now you know why there was no merger
HardenStance 2/26/2018 | 4:10:26 PM
Yes, well,.... Yes, well, I got one over my maid this morning and left my hotel room looking like an absolute tip when I headed out to the Fira for MWC.

Inconsiderate, no doubt, but - whisper it - I can't say I'm overly concerned about facing her wrath.

Perhaps now we'll be spared any more toe-curling Head of Marketing video love-ins between the two parties to this most grim of arranged marriages. I've seen Iranian and Saudi Arabian police-extracted confessions where the "really, everything's fine" smiles of the accused were more convincing.

The final irony for me is that even taking ccount of Ericsson's heavily depleted state nowadays, I suspect they can still shrug off the latest in a long line of Cisco's woefully inept efforts at cellular radio leadership with the same effortless Swedish superiority of twenty  - never mind ten - years ago. 

Actually, that may not even be the final irony.

The real final irony may be that if his own quoted comments are to be taken literally, Börje Ekholm may somehow not realize that however daunting the pile of problems he faces, competition from Cisco in the radio space really isn't one of them.
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