Mavenir does many of the same things as Ericsson, Nokia

The wireless industry often thinks of Mavenir as an open radio access network (RAN) vendor. That’s because Mavenir was an early open RAN leader. But the company, which now counts 5,500 employees, actually makes the bulk of its revenues from IMS core and packet core technologies.

Speaking with Fierce this week, two Mavenir executives wanted to make clear that the company is bigger than open RAN.

“We’re not a point solution player,” said Maryvonne Tubb, Mavenir’s SVP of global marketing. “We have things that Ericsson and Nokia have.”

She said Mavenir originally focused on the IMS core, and that has been the biggest contributor to the company’s revenue. “In the last few years we’ve grown the packet core. Then the RAN solution. That mix has been evolving,” said Tubb.

In fact, one of Mavenir’s biggest customers is T-Mobile, which uses Mavenir for its IMS mobile core services including voice, video and messaging.

John Baker, Mavenir’s SVP of business development, said the company has 39% global market share in the virtualized IMS core market. “On the packet core side, that’s a new growing business for Mavenir,” said Baker. “We are shipping as much packet core in terms of value as Ericsson is today. It’s essentially a combo core for 3G, 4G, 5G on the same packet core platform. It’s competing on price and functionality against Nokia and Ericsson.”

Mavenir, which bills itself as primarily a software provider, is also benefiting from the fact that operators are moving many of their workloads to the cloud. “Our solutions work on any cloud, private or public,” said Tubb.

Private wireless

The Richardson, Texas-based company is also dipping its toes into the private wireless action. It has an OnGo-certified CBRS offering that Baker said takes the virtualized platforms that Mavenir has and scales them down to run on small server platforms suitable for a private environment.

“We have added an out-of-the-box product,” said Baker. This includes a few servers, packet core software and SIM management along with radios.

The availability of CBRS spectrum is driving private wireless uptake in the U.S. But Baker said, “It’s still a global opportunity for us.”

Open RAN

Mavenir has made a name for itself as an open RAN leader. In late 2020 Mavenir CEO Pardeep Kohli said the company was establishing a new business unit that would develop hardware and software reference designs for open RAN radios with the goal of creating an ecosystem of radio vendors that will build open RAN radios for the specific needs of operators around the world.

Baker said, “We keep executing on that strategy. We are developing a portfolio of radios that is available to the industry. We launched eight sets at Mobile World Congress.

On the software side for the RAN, Mavenir is keeping extremely busy working with Dish Wireless as it prepares to launch its greenfield wireless network to meet a June deadline.

“We’ve been very focused on getting Dish up live with a complete 5G standalone network,” said Baker. He said Dish’s FDD frequency bands make it unique in terms of carrier aggregation and radio design. “If it wasn’t for software they couldn’t do it,” said Baker. “We’ve been working with AWS on cloudification of the RAN piece as well for Dish. Getting the RAN into the Amazon cloud.”

Mavenir is getting Dish’s CU and DU processing to run on the AWS cloud.

Baker said Mavenir currently has its RAN business split into three groups —  radios, RAN software and systems integration. The leaders of those groups all report to Kohli.

In all, Mavenir is involved in many areas of the wireless ecosystem, and it’s working with numerous operators as well as vendors. Aside from T-Mobile and Dish, other big name operators it works with include Rakuten, Bharti Airtel, DT, Vodafone U.K. and O2 Telefonica.

It also works closely with other vendors. For instance, in its work with Dish, it’s integrating with Nokia, which Dish chose for its 5G core.

“We don’t mind working with Nokia,” said Baker. “We integrate against any of the vendors’ core products. We’re working with Nokia, Ericsson and Huawei around the globe.”

Mavenir is also working with NTT Docomo to test and verify open RAN and vRAN systems. And NTT Docomo is eyeing the possibility of become a telecom vendor itself, similar to the way Rakuten Mobile created the new company Symphony to package and sell its learnings and technology related to open RAN.

Tubb said, “We consider this a really pivotal time in the industry.” She noted that legacy telecom vendors have been monopolizing the market, but things are changing with companies such as Mavenir, Symphony and NTT Docomo entering the market. “We’re on the edge of opening that market,” she said.