Home5GHPE intros private 5G with home-made core and third-party RAN (Airspan to start)

HPE intros private 5G with home-made core and third-party RAN (Airspan to start)

Following Cisco’s soft-launch at the start of the month – and also leapfrogging it with an immediate commercial release – rival IT vendor Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) has announced a new private LTE and 5G system for serious-minded enterprise usage, including in the prized Industry 4.0 market. Like with the Cisco offer, and unlike the historical position of cellular-native providers, HPE emphasised how 5G will dovetail with Wi-Fi for enterprises.

Unlike Cisco, which withheld detail about the provenance of the radio (RAN) and core componentry in its 5G launch (saving up for MWC next week), HPE confirmed US vendor Airspan Networks has been onboarded in the system already, with other RAN suppliers to be pre-integrated in due course. The cellular core, meanwhile, is its own work. It is understood Cisco will go the same way; Siemens, by contrast, has suggested it will author both network elements.

As another comparison, AWS is onboarding both third-party core and RAN suppliers in its new private 5G offering; Microsoft, by turn, has bought-in the various pieces itself. The HPE 5G Core Stack, dubbed as “private 5G technology from HPE”, is described as “open, cloud-native, [and] container-based”. It is being offered in both a dedicated on-site setup, where the core network is bundled with its Edgeline system, and a hybrid version with user plane functions at the edge and control functions in the cloud.

It noted the all-edge incarnation will be preferred, generally, by critical and remote operations (“military, shipping or oil and gas”), and the hybrid edge-cloud setup will tend to be the default for less-sensitive industrial disciplines (“where low latency is (remains) key to supporting critical applications, such as in a hospital”, it said, but where the need to physically isolate business data is not an imperative, it implied).

The Palo Alto firm said it has brought “new capabilities for private networking”, including modular operation, intelligent automation, a self-service portal, and “agile configuration”. It is also offering “change management”, it said. Automated operations are managed by HPE’s Service Director service orchestration tool, which offers a self-service portal for enterprise users, plus an advanced portal for network admins, such as system integrators and, importantly for HPE’s channel strategy, for telcos.

Testing has been done with multiple RAN vendors of the HPE’s 5G Lab in Fort Collins, Colorado. Japanese service provider OPTAGE is using HPE’s private 5G solution for local 5G testbed implementations, HPE has announced. The new cellular module is being offered as-a-service, based on usage, within HPE’s GreenLake cloud subscription service, bundled with the Edgeline series of compute and storage hardware. It said the per-usage billing reduces risk and capital investment.

HPE is also promoting private 5G alongside its (Aruba) enterprise Wi-Fi products, noting easy roaming between the two with its Aruba Air Pass service. It said: “Although 5G far surpasses Wi-Fi in terms of wide area coverage, Wi-Fi has the edge when it comes to cost-effective, indoor connectivity… Customers can enjoy the best of both with seamless interworking across both private 5G and Wi-Fi.”

Tom Craig, vice president and general manager at HPE’s communications technology group, commented: “With our leadership in both enterprise and cellular connectivity, HPE is the perfect partner to help customers deploy private networks that are future proofed for today’s data-first reality. Together, HPE’s private 5G solution and Aruba Wi-Fi technology promises a complete private networking solution that helps to optimise the working environment.”

Henrik Smith-Petersen, chief sales and marketing officer at Airspan Networks, said: “We are seeing an explosion of enterprise interest in private networks, providing tremendous opportunity for innovation…. HPE offers customers a tremendous set of end-to-end 5G and open RAN solutions, including critical 5G enterprise use cases.”

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