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Aruba, HPE Launch Solutions To Connect Telco 5G, Enterprise Wi-Fi

HPE and Aruba introduce a handful of new offerings, such as Aruba Air Pass and HPE 5G Core Stack that will let 5G and Wi-Fi 6 technology play well together at the enterprise edge.

Aruba and Hewlett Packard Enterprise are helping enterprises harness both 5G and Wi-Fi 6 technologies for the most seamless and easy connections, with less management for IT.

Aruba on Tuesday launched a new roaming service called Aruba Air Pass that lets cellular users securely and automatically connect onto Aruba enterprise Wi-Fi networks. The service, which provides a hand-off between cellular and Wi-Fi networks, will let telecom providers extend 5G into the enterprise for seamless Wi-Fi calling, said Larry Lunetta, Aruba’s vice president of WLAN and security solutions marketing.

"Telcos have done a great job of evangelizing 5G, but there's also a lot of confusion what the role of 5G will be short-term and long-term," Lunetta said. "But the concept that Wi-Fi 6 can be an on-ramp to whatever 5G materializes is very attractive to partners and enterprises."

[Related: Aruba Bests Cisco, Juniper Networks: Gartner Critical Capabilities Report 2019]

Aruba Air Pass helps users avoid quality of service issues and keeps all traffic secure. The service is built on Passpoint, a standard created by the Wi-Fi Alliance that lets mobile devices automatically authenticate on enterprise Wi-Fi networks using their cellular credentials. Air Pass is also used with Aruba Air Slice, a technology Aruba introduced in October that improves radio performance that Aruba also unveiled on Tuesday, Lunetta said.

Wi-Fi 6 technology will likely be the dominate radio access network to supply 5G services, Lunetta said. Using Air Slice, Aruba is extending Wi-Fi 6 to give enterprises a performance guarantee for specific applications, such as IoT and videoconferencing.

Enterprises want to be able to use multiple connectivity technologies, but they don't want to have to manage a lot of moving parts. Using W-Fi as the companion capability to 5G lets businesses use technology they already have in place.

Partners, on the other hand, can take advantage of Aruba's strong relationship between its Wi-Fi 6 technology and 5G, Lunetta said.

Layer 3 Communications, a Norcross, Ga.-based solution provider and Aruba Platinum Partner, is having conversations with its enterprise customers about how 5G will be able to penetrate walls and building materials easier and faster than previous cellular technologies.

"Having Wi-Fi as an on-ramp to 5G will increase the value of our customer's wireless infrastructure and encourage customers to upgrade to Wi-Fi 6," said Craig Wall, vice president and general manager, Western Region, for Layer 3. "The concept of Wi-Fi and 5G being able to work together is really great for us."

Aruba Air Pass gives enterprises an easier way to handle phone hand-off between the cellular and Wi-Fi network than deploying a separate, and often expensive, infrastructure that requires buy-in from the telecom provider who would operate that equipment, said Doug Minderhout, director of engineering for Layer 3 Communications.

"Using Air Pass and Wi-Fi 6, 5G clients that walk through the door can be simply pick up the infrastructure and authenticate," Minderhout said.

5G will help drive the wireless upgrade cycle for channel partners, Wall said. "[Wi-Fi 6] is really bringing new features, as opposed to just being an incremental upgrade in speed," he said.

Aruba's technology is a part of a significant portfolio of solutions within HPE. Aruba's parent company on Tuesday also launched its HPE 5G Core Stack, a set of microservices that can be assembled by a telecom provider on standard hardware to enable 5G capabilities for end users.

"We are looking at the world holistically between the telco world and the enterprise," Lunetta said. "We are providing the glue that makes that whole architecture come alive because not only can we take advantage of 5G from an edge perspective, but we can also deliver a seamless experience with what HPE is doing at the core."

Aruba this month announced that it is the first provider of Wi-Fi 6 access points that has certified its entire portfolio of products via the Wi-Fi Alliance.

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