The venture, dubbed WorkingGroupTwo (WG2), is tasked with helping mobile operators use cloud-based platforms to launch new services, including Internet of Things (IoT) services.
Telenor is providing the platform’s technology, which is an open source, cloud-native, multi-tenancy, full stack mobile core network delivered as a service. The software behind the platform is a single code base built on multiple radio networks. Telenor operates mobile networks in 13 countries across Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, and Asia.
Cisco is providing a virtualized version of its evolved packet core (vEPC) and APIs into that packet core that will be available to the WG2 platform. Cisco will also provide go-to-market support for bringing WG2’s services to enterprise, commercial, IoT, and mass-market customers.
Down the road, Cisco plans to provide advanced versions and functionality of the mobile packet core, including containerization, control-user plane separation (CUPS), and network slicing. Security features include its Umbrella cloud-based enterprise platform, with plans to integrate other security products that belong to its Spark and HCS platforms.
The WG2 ownership structure calls for 5 percent to be owned by the board and employees, and the remaining stake split between Telenor and Digital Alpha. The latter is an investment firm with ties to Cisco.
Telenor executive Erlend Prestgard has been tapped to run WG2, and he hinted that the service is aimed at operators that might not have the resources to support their own cloud efforts or new entrants.
“Our aim for the new company is that it will bring the Internet ecosystem dynamics closer to the telco industry,” Prestgard said in a press release. “We want it to be easy to become an operator and to make new products. Our mission is to expose the powerful capabilities of operators to a wider community, and together with partners we hope to build products that consumers have never seen before.”
WG2 has built and will operate the network for operators. It will also handle the connectivity and integration needed for the platform to function. WG2 has partnerships with billing and operating support system (BSS/OSS) providers, and other systems to support roaming and logistics.
Operators taking advantage of the platform are charged an initial integration fee. Ongoing fees are tied to the number of connections an operator has running through the service.
Published reports indicate WG2 has signed up a European mobile operator that plans to use the platform to support a sub-brand.
Some established vendors offer similar cloud platforms targeted at mobile operators. Nokia earlier this year said it had put together an end-to-end 5G-ready platform that includes a network core, software-defined networking (SDN), and cloud support.
While linked financially, Prestgard also touted Cisco’s depth of experience in the software and telecommunications field.
“We were looking for industrial partnerships that could help bring the company forward,” Prestgard said of Cisco. “It was important for us that our partner understood the industry and contribute above and beyond financing. Cisco has a deep understanding of network, a deep understanding of the telecom industry, an amazing network of partners, and some seriously good engineers. We are a small company, but believe we have an interesting concept and technology. If we are to succeed we believe we need to leverage strong partners. Cisco is a very good match in that respect.”
Despite the near total ownership between Telenor and Alpha Digital, Prestgard said that with WG2 being an “independent company,” it has “the freedom to make choices that are best for the company, both on the customer and partner side.”