Cradlepoint CEO: Ericsson’s $1.1B Acquisition Will Help Company Compete Against Cisco Meraki

“Cradlepoint provides the most graceful pathway to 5G for enterprise customers that want to pursue an LTE investment today. Cisco Meraki is still generations behind on LTE … With the acquisition by Ericsson … it’s easy to see how we can dramatically improve our lead in 5G,” Cradlepoint CEO George Mulhern told CRN.

Expanding WAN Limits

Wireless edge networking specialist Cradlepoint in September revealed that Swedish telecom equipment giant Ericsson would be acquiring the company for $1.1 billion. Under the terms of the deal, Cradlepoint will become a fully owned subsidiary of Ericsson, landing in the company’s Business Area Technologies and New Businesses unit, while continuing to operate under its existing brand, the companies said.

Boise, Idaho-based Cradlepoint has been focused on unlocking the power of LTE and next-generation cellular technologies, such as 5G, for business customers through its robust channel ecosystem. The provider has been especially busy helping businesses get back up and running with connectivity in new places as the COVID-19 pandemic forces new use cases that require a connection, like outside and curbside services. The combination of Ericsson’s existing 5G Enterprise portfolio, which includes dedicated networks and a global IoT platform, and Cradlepoint’s WAN edge services will help the company continue to compete against Cisco Meraki in the wireless LTE space and further the soon-to-be combined company’s focus on 5G and edge connectivity, Cradlepoint CEO George Mulhern told CRN in an interview.

Here’s what Mulhern has to say about the Ericsson deal, competing with Cisco Meraki, and the future 5G opportunities for the channel.

How will the combination of Ericsson's equipment with Cradlepoint's wireless solutions further 5G and edge connectivity for enterprise customers?

This acquisition, which does not close until later in Q4 2020, will build on Cradlepoint leadership in the emerging Wireless WAN market. Specific to 5G, many of its disruptive capabilities related to [fixed wireless access] and IoT will require integrating customer edge and carrier core – even more deeply than [Multi-protocol label switching] MPLS does today. It clear that the Ericsson/Cradlepoint combination will be in an excellent spot to lead the market in this area. Of course, Private Cellular Networks will also benefit significantly from an end-to-end solution that spans the EPC (core) to the UC (edge).

Will the deal help Cradlepoint to continue to compete with the likes of Cisco Meraki?

We are competing effectively today and winning deals against [Cisco]. The pending Ericsson acquisition will only improve our position. Keep in mind, Cradlepoint has moved the goal post from LTE to a Pathway to 5G for the enterprise, which is what any CIO cares about if they are committing millions for a WAN upgrade right now. We have the only 5G for business solutions on the market today, and we have plans to aggressively certify with carriers around the world over the next 12-18 months.

Today, Cradlepoint provides the most “graceful” pathway to 5G for enterprise customers that want to pursue an LTE investment today. Cisco Meraki is still generations behind on LTE and has no published path to 5G. With the acquisition by Ericsson, who has over 180 5G agreements in place with carriers today, it’s easy to see how we can dramatically improve our lead in 5G. We have an opportunity to deliver future Wireless WAN Edge solutions that are more intelligent and more integrated to the carrier 5G service. This will unlock the transformational value of 5G for enterprise WANs.

What can partners expect in terms of channel strategy changes as a result of the acquisition by Ericsson?

While the deal does not close until later in Q4, intuitively, partners can see the answer is “significantly.“

[Since] the acquisition does not close until later this year, we will come back to CRN at that time with more details.

Will Cradlepoint still continue to have an enterprise focus since Ericsson is largely focused on service providers?

One hundred percent, Cradlepoint will continue to have an enterprise focus. An enterprise channel is one of the primary rationales behind the acquisition. Ericsson understands the value of having a vibrant enterprise channel for 5G, IoT, and Private Cellular Networks in the future.

How will the deal help create new revenue streams for the channel around 5G services?

The wireless WAN market, which evolves enterprise WANs to connect people, places, and things over a predominantly wireless last mile, is the next big wave of WAN transformation on the heels of SD-WAN. 5G is the catalyst and will be a critical technology to many CIOs as they create a more pervasive, agile, and fiber-fast WAN for the future. As with any market disruption or transformation, the channel will play a huge role in helping customers develop strategies, understand choices, and implement solutions. All of these activities drive new revenues and improve margin over legacy equipment sales.