Cisco Teams Partners With Mobile Carriers To Boost 3G, 4G Adoption In The Enterprise

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Cisco Monday rolled out a new partner program aimed at pairing solution providers with mobile operators to drive adoption of small cell mobility solutions in the enterprise.

The new program, called Cisco Small Cell Enterprise Select, is designed to match up a Cisco channel partner with a mobile carrier, which will then certify and work alongside that partner to sell and deploy 3G or 4G LTE services inside the enterprise.

According to Cisco, the program will help Cisco solution providers and mobile operators accelerate the adoption of small cell technology within what it called an "untouched" enterprise market.

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"We're approaching the small cell market in a new and unique way that will keep costs down while allowing deployments to scale, creating the environment needed for enterprise small cells to cross the adoption curve chasm," said Ed Chang, vice president of Cisco's Small Cell Technology Group, in a statement.

Small cell technology is primarily used by service providers to scale and ensure the reliability of their 3G or 4G LTE networks, especially as those networks have to support mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Small cells work by acting as mini cellular base stations, allowing some of a network's traffic to be off-loaded onto them so service providers can increase capacity and optimize network assets.

Cisco bolstered its small cell lineup last year through its $310 million acquisition of Ubiquisys, a U.K-based manufacturer of 3G and 4G small cell technology.

While largely targeted at service providers, small cell functionality is becoming more beneficial to enterprises, Cisco said, especially as businesses grapple with trends such as BYOD. A recent study released by the San Jose, Calif.-based networking giant said that in 2013 only 4 percent of global business Internet traffic was mobile. But by 2018, Cisco said, that number will jump to 14 percent.

Cisco said it expects the majority of solution providers participating in the new Small Cell Enterprise Select program to be those already specializing in its indoor wireless LAN products.

Edward O'Connor, vice president of network sales at Total Communications, an East Hartford, Conn.-based Cisco partner, said he has definitely noticed a "migration" of small cell technology into the enterprise over the past few months.

"As mobile applications improve, we are seeing the technology going into the SMB market and the low end of the enterprise market. It's being embraced and it's giving customers a fair amount of flexibility," O'Connor said. "It's really sort of bubbled up over the past two or three months, as there are more and more mobile devices and more organizations embracing mobility and cloud-based services."

Cisco also said it will facilitate the match-making between its channel partners and the mobile operators participating in the program. At its Global Partner Summit in March, Cisco said it wants to start connecting its channel partners with its OEM and technology partners more frequently through a new online portal called the Cisco Marketplace.

Once a channel partner is paired up with a mobile operator, the partner will work directly with the operator to bring the small cell technology to market.

"Since the mobile operators own the licensed spectrum, the partners will work in collaboration with the operator to ensure that the deployments meet their guidelines and ensure SLAs are met," Cisco product manager Eric Vallone told CRN in an emailed statement.

Some of the Cisco technology involved in the new Small Cell Enterprise Select program, Cisco said, will include its Cisco Evolved Services platform for service providers, in addition to its Cisco Enterprise Universal Small Cells (USC) 7000 series stand-alone access points or Cisco USC 5000 series plugs-in for Cisco wireless access points.

Cisco USC will be activated and configured by the mobile operators in the program through Cisco's USC CloudBase software.


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