Cisco and Juniper jump into the 4G packet core

John Mazur/Ovum
16 Feb 2010

OvumJust in time for the Barcelona Mobile World Congress, both Cisco and Juniper have made separate announcements regarding new 4G evolved packet core (EPC) offers.

Neither company has LTE radio access products, nor have they played leading roles in 2G or 3G mobile, but the pair now plan to take the 4G mobile core by storm. End-to-end IP and robust mobile traffic forecasts play to their strengths, but will mobile operators be prepared to abandon current supplier road maps?

Mobile operators have traditionally preferred total solution bids where a large radio access network (RAN) vendor functions as the systems integrator, designing and rolling out the network and procuring third-party equipment only as required.

But now, explosive mobile data forecasts and a shift to end-to-end IP infrastructure have operators rethinking their procurement strategies. Router suppliers are eager to move up the value chain and grow margins by offering leading-edge, feature-rich solutions rather than just playing a supporting role in mobile backhaul and Internet routing.

Their routing technology arsenals are augmented by a variety of network appliances and capabilities to enforce fair use policies, security, and tools to optimize network resources: just what will be needed if our mobile data forecast predictions pan out.

By focusing mainly on LTE RAN technology and best-effort data, some traditional mobile suppliers may have left a gap for new entrants to exploit, but others such as Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson are already in LTE EPC trials. Still, by splitting RFPs between RAN and advanced mobile packet core, mobile operators could select the best of breed from both worlds and avoid internal conflicts between radio and network teams.

Mobile operators are already issuing RFPs specifically for mobile backhaul, linking the RAN with the mobile core.


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