Cradlepoint Gets Private 5G, Cellular Network Offering Off The Ground With A Little Help From Partners
The wireless specialist’s new NetCloud Private Networks was created and developed in partnership with a group of Cradlepoint partners that helped the company bring forth its private networking offering and boost enterprise adoption of private 5G and cellular networking, executives tell CRN.
Cradlepoint’s latest release, NetCloud Private Networks, only exists thanks to an elite group of channel partners that helped the wireless specialist develop its private networking offering, according to Cradlepoint’s channel executives.
NetCloud Private Networks, unveiled in January, is a fully packaged private cellular network offering that uses existing network infrastructure investments to simplify the complexities of private cellular network ownership that have been a roadblock to broader enterprise adoption of cellular technologies, such as 5G.
Cradlepoint in March 2022 kicked off its Private Cellular Networking (PCN) user group to get partners engaged up-front in the ideation and development process. The intimate group of 14 partners was able to see the product in person, discuss which capabilities they’d like to see and provide feedback, said Lisa Wight, vice president of global distribution and partner program for Cradlepoint.
The result was NetCloud Private Networks, an offering targeted at lean enterprise IT environments that are looking for a private network to complement, or in some cases, replace their Wi-Fi in locations where their network isn’t secure enough for specific applications, like those in health care, education or smart city settings. NetCloud Private Networks is packaged for simple deployment so that partners and end customers don’t have to cobble together products from a number of vendors on their own, said Steve Benvenuto, vice president of Americas partner sales at Cradlepoint.
“Even though this solution itself is simple, the services wrap-around on this is significant. All the way from the assessment of all the networks and everything that is going to be connecting to the network, implementation, financial analytics [and] managed services, it’s a tremendous services opportunity for partners,” he said.
Industrial Networking Solutions (INS), a Richardson, Texas-based Cradlepoint partner, is in the business of deploying private 4G and 5G networks for IoT environments and industrial applications, such as refineries, warehouses and ports. Private cellular is a “perfect fit” for the solution provider, said Richard Rogers, CEO of INS.
“We have a practice around cellular edge devices like Cradlepoint had been selling historically, and we’ve been putting infrastructure in these kinds of environments for 25 years using copper, fiber optic cable and Wi-Fi here or there. Private cellular is a very viable option and we’re having a lot of success selling and implementing it,” he said.
INS is a member of Cradlepoint’s PCN user group and has had the opportunity to evaluate and give its feedback on the first version of NetCloud Private Networks, Rogers said. “We can also see the road map that’s coming, and it’s based on a lot of feedback from people in the user group,” he added.
The information gathered from the PCN user group also fed into the NetCloud Private Networks Partner Specialization, Cradlepoint’s Wight said. INS, for its part, has already earned the new specialization.
“[Partners] have access to dedicated curriculum and hands-on labs. We also have a prerequisite around things like, ‘Can they do network architecture design and planning? What about the cellular access point installation? Are they CPI certified?’ By doing that, we make sure that the customers are getting what it is that they actually need,” Wight said.
The 14 partners involved in the user group have either earned or are currently going through the NetCloud Private Networks Partner Specialization process, Wight said.
Private cellular networking is complicated and can be a heavy lift for some partners. But NetCloud Private Networks and its accompanying specialization demonstrate that Cradlepoint realizes it can’t simply release the product to its entire channel and take a hands-off approach, INS’ Rogers said.
“They’re committed to this as a solution. And partners selling it are not just somebody who’s trying to be opportunistic and sell some parts, but they can really stand behind it,” he said.
Wi-Fi and cellular is not an either/or conversation, said Matt Addicks, senior solutions marketing manager of Private Cellular Networks for Cradlepoint. Rather, there will be several wireless technologies in the enterprise that will eventually converge, he said.
“We need to make it easier for enterprise customers, managed service providers, systems integrators and resellers to manage all of that and wrap their own professional services all around that as well,” Addicks said. “With our existing channel ecosystem, there’s adjacent opportunities across all environments—especially smaller locations.”
Cradlepoint a year and a half ago began moving into 5G with the launch of its 5G portfolio and 5G Specialization for partners that more than 90 solution providers have achieved and more than 50 more are in the process of achieving. NetCloud Private Networks marks the next step in that journey, Benvenuto said.
“We’re increasing total addressable market, increasing services opportunities, increasing solution opportunities, and it’s all surrounded with ecosystem partners that we go to market with as well,” he said.
Cradlepoint’s NetCloud Private Networks will be added to Ericsson Private Networks offerings as a complement to Ericsson Private 5G, according to the Boise, Idaho-based company. The first version of NetCloud Private Networks provides LTE support for the US CBRS spectrum and is available now through select channel partners. Support for 5G and other international spectrums will follow later in 2023, the company said.