Open RAN vendor Mavenir acquired UK-headquartered small cell player ip.access for an undisclosed sum, a deal it claims will boost its offering for operators along with its private enterprise network credentials.
Mavenir is already serving 4G and 5G operators (including Vodafone Idea in India and Dish Network in the US) with open RAN kit but claims the market is now experiencing demand for equipment which can support older 2G and 3G networks.
Aniruddho Basu, SVP and GM of emerging business at Mavenir (pictured, left), told Mobile World Live “recent geopolitical changes have seen an increasing focus on potential vendor landscape changes…this means there will be more imminent swap-out opportunities and a higher possibility of introducing new vendors into the mix”.
For Mavenir to capitalise on the banning of Chinese incumbents Huawei and ZTE in certain countries, it needs to be able to lean on ip.access’ technology to offer what Basu calls a “multi-G network.”
“That makes us a much more compelling proposition as a single unified, single RAN provider.”
This is an approach rival Parallel Wireless has also been pushing over the last 12 months: its marketing literature claims it is “the only US company challenging the world’s legacy vendors with the industry’s only unified all G,5G/4G/3G/2G, software-enabled solution”.
But Basu argues Parallel Wireless is focused on the radio access side only, whereas Mavenir offers radio, core and OSS/BSS.
Established around 2000, ip.access has a headcount of approximately 115. It is headquartered in Cambridge and has around 80 R&D staff in India. It is expected the majority of staff will operate as a business unit within Mavenir’s Emerging Business group, although there may be minor reductions in duplicate administration and finance divisions.
Mavenir’s staff numbers around 4,000 and is headquartered in the US.
The pair previously worked together on the first live 4G open RAN network site in the UK, at the Royal Welsh Showground.
For Mavenir, the acquisition represents the latest move to shake up the traditional network vendor market with open RAN kit.
Vendors in the space claim open RAN offers operators a cost saving of almost 40 per cent over five years, greater supplier choice and flexibility in network deployment.
In a recent whitepaper Mobile World Live (MWL) whitepaper written on behalf of Mavenir, it was noted: “Open RAN’s advocates are welcoming the fact that operators could choose to use products from different vendors at the same base station. In the future, base stations will be transformed in the way that mobile phones were transformed, operators will be able to tap into the network infrastructure equivalent of an app store in order to deliver different services.”
Along with the heavily-hyped open RAN market, Basu said the ip.access deal will extend the vendor’s footprint in the enterprise and industry segments, particularly private networks using CBRS systems. “It’s essential we had a much more well-rounded portfolio that included small cells,” he explained, adding ip.access has new customers to offer in vertical industries including maritime and aviation.
Head of GSMA Intelligence Peter Jarich told MWL: “More than anything, this underscores two realities of Open RAN.”
“First, that 2G and 3G matter: the industry may be focused on the value that 4G and 5G solutions can bring, but operators still have legacy technologies in the field and those need to be a part of open RAN strategies”.
“Second, that open RAN may be the easiest/quickest fit in enterprise or private deployments where greenfield deployments have less legacy or integration baggage and can be justified by specific use cases.”