HPE Aruba wants to make private 5G easier for the enterprise

  • HPE Aruba's new private 5G portfolio aims to simplify deployment for the enterprise

  • The portfolio is based on its acquired Athonet core

  • Eventually, HPE hopes to integrate the management for private 5G with existing Wi-Fi and SD-WAN networks under one platform

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) Aruba just unveiled a new private 5G portfolio, purpose built for the enterprise. The idea is to give enterprises a simplified configuration with everything needed to deploy a private 4G/5G network.

A private 5G network utilizes the same network solutions, encoding schemes and often the same spectrum as public 5G. The main distinction lies in its exclusivity; private 5G is dedicated to a single organization, which boosts security and availability for specific locations like campuses or hospitals.

The new HPE Aruba Networking Enterprise Private 5G portfolio includes a 4G/5G core, HPE ProLiant Gen11 servers, SIM/eSIM cards, 4G/5G small cells and dashboard. New 4G/5G small cell radios from HPE provide indoor/outdoor coverage, eliminating the need to integrate and use a separate management tool from a third-party vendor.

“We've taken the dashboard we've made it more like Wi-Fi, using a lot of the same terminology, the same look and feel so that it's easier for network admin to get on and start managing it,” said Gayle Levin, head of wireless product marketing at HPE Aruba Networking.

The setup will also allow communications service providers to quickly deploy private 5G networks for their customers.

The goal is to make it “much easier” to go out and deploy enterprise private 5G across large and remote sites in industries like manufacturing, healthcare, public venues and education, Levin told Fierce Network.

The integration follows HPE’s 2023 acquisition of private cellular technology provider Athonet. HPE's private 5G portfolio is built around Athonet’s core. It also includes cloud-native and automated subscriber management, deployment management, core monitoring and radio monitoring, with future plans for integration with HPE Aruba Networking Central.

Levin told Fierce Network, “Ultimately, our goal is to be able to manage private 5G the same way you manage Wi Fi and really bring those two together for greatest greater simplicity.”

HPE's strategy is similar to other private 5G approaches, like that of Nokia, offering a full stack that includes its own core (Athonet), as well as radio and orchestration layer elements, said analyst Will Townsend of Moor Insights & Strategy.

A strong part of HPE's strategy, he added, is its go to market sales motion – “offering enterprises that are standardized on its enterprise Wi-Fi access points, routers and switches an easy way to add private 5G networking as an extension into OT and other environments that are ideally suited for cellular.” 

Global ambitions

The private 5G portfolio supports interoperability with shared spectrum for private enterprise use, such as the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum in the U.S., and globally where regulatory frameworks allow (starting in 2025).

According to Levin, in regions like Europe, Japan and Korea, HPE will be able to let enterprises take more ownership of the solution because they're not getting spectrum from the operator.

“It allows them to ramp up much more quickly and with less complexity,” she said.

Levin noted the solution also complements and even augments existing Wi-Fi-based managed services. The 5G network can be used as a failover for other connections, like a wired SD-WAN, or it can be designated for specific use cases, such as back-end applications in a sports arena, to take some traffic away from legacy networks.

Townsend said operational environments like manufacturing, warehousing, transportation and logistics stand to benefit from cellular's more “deterministic connectivity, massive device support and security enhancements in the 5G 3GPP standard.”

One of the biggest hurdles to adoption, he added, has been “the myriad of paths to get there - as a service, in a box, pick your flavor of core & radio, etc. I believe that HPE has great potential to demystify the journey given its approach.”

Right now, most private 5G networks run in parallel to existing networks. But ultimately, Levin said the goal is to unify them under the same management.

“The Nirvana is having an integrated under the same management, our roadmap is to have everything integrated in HPE Aruba networking Central,” she continued.

Essentially, one day there will be a single platform for managing everything: wired and wireless, private 5G and SD-WAN.