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Cisco, NEC partner to supply end-to-end LTE architecture


Cisco Systems may not have a long-term evolution (LTE) radio portfolio, but thatís not stopping it from trying to sell end-to-end 4G systems to global operators. The networking vendor has partnered with Japanís NEC to create a unified LTE equipment package, with Cisco supplying the evolved packet core (EPC) and the NEC contributing its base stations.

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Cisco doesnít necessarily need a radio partner to be successful. Itís managed to land two of the biggest LTE core contracts to date as an independent vendor (CP: AT&T IP domain goes to Cisco, Alcatel-Lucent and Juniper and Winners and Losers in VZWís LTE contest). But AT&T and Verizon Wireless tend to be the exception to the rule, having the scale and wherewithal to source different network elements from different vendors. Many of the worldís operators, particularly the vast number of smaller ones, look for end-to-end vendors, which would disqualify Cisco from their bids and make Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia Siemens Networks and Huawei the obvious choices.

But Cisco also has an attractive core portfolio. The ASR5000 is essentially the mobile core that Cisco acquired from Starent Networks (CP: Cisco incorporates Starent tech into NGN architecture) and can be deployed in any configuration: LTE, high-speed packet access (HSPA) and CDMA networks. Starentís CDMA core is the industry leader, but it reached its penetration by striking partnerships like the one Cisco is pursuing with NEC. Nortel began reselling Starentís packet data serving node (PDSN) to all of its CDMA customers.

The partnership will likely have little impact in North America, though. Not only is Cisco is strong independent player in the U.S. mobile core market, NEC has no North American market share in the mobile networks space. Its strength is in Asia, where its supplying some of worldís biggest LTE rollouts for NTT DoCoMo and KDDI.


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