In an effort they’re calling Evolved WiFi Networks (EWN), Ericsson and Cisco announced today that they’re combining Ericsson’s cellular access and core products with Cisco’s wireless LAN, offering the combined package to service providers.
It’s not that radical a move, but it suggests that both sides are still finding their partnership fruitful. When Cisco and Ericsson teamed up in November 2015, an obvious first step was for Ericsson to resell Cisco routers and switches. Both companies have claimed the combination was an early success, with 200 customer engagements emerging within 11 weeks; now the partnership is expanding to include more product areas.
EWN promises to help improve indoor connectivity for cellular. Conversely, it could let carriers offer WiFi outdoors on Ericsson-based networks, the companies note.
The bigger implication is that traffic could be steered through whichever network is least congested. The ability to grab the best available network is part of the pitch behind Google’s Project Fi, a service that combines the cellular networks of Sprint, T-Mobile, and U.S. Cellular with WiFi connectivity.
That’s all on the access side. Ericsson claims there are benefits to the core-network side as well, such as the ability to offer core services over WiFi. Ericsson lists voice calling as one example.
Today’s announcement didn’t include any new products, but the Ericsson-Cisco relationship does include product development. At Mobile World Congress last year, Cisco noted that the companies had teamed with Intel and Verizon to develop a router for 5G networks.