Mavenir acquires ip.access to add 2G/3G support for open RAN

Mavenir has acquired ip.access, the U.K.-based small cell provider specializing in 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G-ready solutions. The purchase price was not disclosed.

The acquisition immediately gives Mavenir some talking points that rival Parallel Wireless has been boasting about for years – the ability to support earlier generations that are in need of open Radio Access Network (RAN) solutions as much as anyone else – perhaps more so, because Parallel claimed no one else was meeting their needs.

Still, it’s not really an apples-to-apples comparison, according to Mavenir’s Aniruddho Basu, SVP, GM of Emerging Business.

“Mavenir has the full end-to-end network stack while Parallel Wireless is a specific domain player for radio access – so it’s not really apples to apples in terms of competitive play,” he said. “That said, with the acquisition, Mavenir’s radio and RAN portfolio will become a unified Multi-G single RAN approach based on Open RAN principles across 2G to 5G.”

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As for where the company sees the highest demand for legacy network support, he said in most geographies today, service providers have 2G and 3G layers supporting subscribers, services and devices. While some have plans to sunset 3G over time, most believe that 2G will have a long shelf life (e-call, IoT devices, terminals on GPRS/Edge etc.) and some geographies have a robust 3G base that they intend to migrate to 4G over time.

“Therefore, it is safe to say that support for legacy G’s is needed in most geographies and brownfield/incumbent service providers,” Basu said. “In the pre 4G/LTE days, the U.S. market had disparate 3GPP and 3GPP2 based tracks – however, we see a need in rural markets, and also Tier 2 and Tier 3 service providers for supporting older generation RATs.”

The deal also extends and complements Mavenir’s enterprise portfolio for private networks – private LTE and Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS), as well as adding non-traditional networks to its client list, such as in the areas of aviation and maritime. It also allows for cross-selling opportunities in the combined customer footprint for greater share of pocket and the entire portfolio, he said.

According to ip.access CEO Richard Staveley, subscribers in many networks and geographies need GSM and 3G service with LTE even as 5G is introduced. Staveley, who joined the company in 2018, was global VP of sales and partnerships at Ubiquisys until 2013, when it was acquired by Cisco, where he led service provider sales for small cells and Wi-Fi.

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The CBRS/OnGo initiative in the United States and shared spectrum initiatives in Europe are but a few of the potential opportunities, according to Nick Johnson, founder and CTO of ip.access.

“It’s not just consumer services anymore, but industrial private networks, professional closed group networks for financial, healthcare, leisure and hospitality, among many others. We look forward to applying our long experience in private networks to complement Mavenir’s existing portfolio in serving this hugely expanded customer base,” Johnson said in a statement.

ip.access will operate as a business unit within Mavenir’s Emerging Business group and is expected to develop synergies with Mavenir’s OpenRAN, Cloud Core, Edge and Analytics suites for both the communications service providers (CSPs) and enterprise/industry segments.