AT&T is working with Ericsson’s Cradlepoint to serve the wide area network (WAN) needs of enterprises with the benefits of 5G.
The new solutions combine AT&T's nationwide wireless network and data plans with Cradlepoint’s wireless routers, adapters and software.
Cradlepoint was an early SD-WAN player. The company has focused on wireless connectivity as part of an SD-WAN, which overlays software on top of various connections, whether they be MPLS, internet broadband or wireless. The software optimizes the WAN, choosing the best connection at any given time on a dynamic basis. And the various connections act as backups to each other.
Cradlepoint provides the devices to add wireless to the connectivity options. The company has been working with AT&T for several years.
Todd Krautkremer, chief marketing officer with Cradlepoint, said, “What’s new is 5G.” He said that in the past, wireless routers at the enterprise were not built for gigabit speeds. “What happens when the network is faster than a gigabit on the wireless side?” said Krautkremer. “And with 5G and mmWave you could have multi-gigabit on the wireless side.”
Cradlepoint has developed what it calls a “clean slate design” device — the R1900 5G mobile router — for enterprises. It has WAN interfaces for both fiber and 2.5 gigabit Ethernet. The device also uses a different processor and modem design, especially built for 5G.
AT&T is also offering Cradlepoint’s W-Series wideband adapters to provide a cloud-managed 5G modem that works with SD-WAN architectures.
Krautkremer said with 5G routers and adapters, “the WAN is no longer a bottleneck.”
For AT&T’s part, it is also offering Cradlepoint’s NetCloud Service, which is a software platform for the wireless WAN. It integrates with existing VPN and SD-WAN systems. And AT&T is offering to manage the Cradlepoint devices and software for enterprises.
Recently, AT&T said it was offering 5G fixed wireless for business customers, using Cradlepoint and Sierra Wireless routers.
The term “fixed wireless access” has been used in the wireless world for a number of years. It’s typically used to describe wireless installations in rural or suburban areas that are unserved with broadband. It’s a little confusing to use the term in regard to enterprise branch locations that are going to use a carrier’s 5G network.
Krautkremer said its work with AT&T means “I’ve got a fixed asset like a building, and I’m connecting that via cellular. They’re using the mobile network to connect fixed sites not just mobile users.”
Recently, Robert Boyanovsky, AT&T’s vice president of enterprise mobility, talked to Fierce about serving 5G to enterprises. “It’s really easy to provision a wireless circuit nationwide with our nationwide coverage. Your alternatives are going to be to work with fiber companies or other broadband companies and piece together various ISPs to deliver a kind of nationwide solution,” he said.