Ericsson is teaming with Juniper Networks and ECI Telecom to create an optical transport solution that will be able to deliver 4G and 5G traffic all the way from the cell site to the core. By joining forces the companies say they can now offer service providers an end-to-end transport solution that can be managed with “single pane of glass” visibility.
This isn’t the first time Juniper and Ericsson have partnered. The companies have worked together for nearly two decades. However, it is interesting that Ericsson forged an optical transport partnership with Juniper because the Swedish company already has a wide-ranging alliance with Cisco that it created in late 2015. Cisco competes with Juniper in optical transport. In the Cisco and Ericsson arrangement the two companies pledged to work together on products in the wireless networking and cloud areas.
As part of the Juniper partnership Ericsson said that its Router 6000 backhaul product will work with Juniper’s edge and core products, including its MX and PTX Series. The MX and PTX Series support mobile infrastructure for 10G/100G/400G optical transport. Also included in the deal is the Junos OS software including Junos Node Slicing, Juniper Telemetry Interfaces, and an open, standards-based hardware-accelerated 5G control user plane separation (CUPS).
The partnership extends to ECI Telecom, which provides elastic networking nodes for metro transport.
Nishant Batra, head of network products at Ericsson, said that the company is working with Juniper instead of Cisco because in the IP transport area Cisco has several products that overlap with Ericsson. “Unfortunately, the overlap in the transport area is evident,” Batra said, adding that Cisco and Ericsson decided to change the partnership to focus on areas where there is no overlap.
Batra added that Juniper has a high-end IP routing portfolio for the data center and the edge that naturally complements Ericsson’s products. “We can put it all together and have an end-to-end IP portfolio,” he said, adding that Ericsson’s network management and orchestration software will run on top so that operators can automate the network for applications like network slicing and traffic optimization.
As part of the Cisco-Ericsson partnership, the two firms said they would share patents, develop products together, and potentially generate $1 billion in revenue for each side by 2018.
However, by November 2017, Ericsson had told investors that it would not meet that $1 billion revenue figure. Ericsson CEO Borje Ekholm also said that Ericsson was more focused on figuring out its own strategy rather than working on its partnership with Cisco.
Ericsson also unveiled some additional tools for its 5G portfolio of products including spectrum sharing software and a group of RAN products that includes baseband and radio processors. The company said this portfolio of products will make it easier for service providers to distribute their RAN functions. Batra said that the RAN portfolio will make it possible for operators to have different network topologies. For example, an operator might want to deploy a cloud-RAN hub in the city but then have an elastic RAN hub outside the metro area. “If an operator decides that some part of compute needs to be in a data center in a virtual environment, this will cater to it,” Batra said.