The News: Mavenir, a provider of end-to-end cloud-native Network Software Provider for Communications Service Providers (CSPs) announces that it has acquired ip.access Ltd, a 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G-ready small cell solutions provider. This acquisition seeks to improve Mavenir’s position in OpenRAN radio on three fronts:
- Communication Service Providers: Adding 2G and 3G capabilities to the OpenRAN portfolio
- Enterprise: Adding a full suite of enterprise radio solutions for Mavenir’s Private Network offerings, including OnGo/CBRS certified solutions
- Nontraditional Networks: Leveraging market leading software defined vRAN solutions for Aviation, Maritime, Rural and Remote networks with next generation solutions in the air, on land and at sea.
Mavenir Sharpens Geopolitical-Driven Prospects with ip.access Deal
Analyst Take: Mavenir is setting its sights on making mobile ecosystem inroads due in good part to geopolitical dynamics. I see the acquisition of ip.access as a shrewd move to advance Mavenir’s geopolitical-driven prospects across major CSP networks. Mavenir touted the acquisition as essential to adding 2G/3G capabilities to its mobile infrastructure portfolio, particularly augmenting its open RAN and small cell solutions.
Mavenir gains ip.access portfolio assets that encompasses two primary lines of business consisting of commercial communications networks deployed by communication service providers (CSPs), and private networks deployed with system integrators for critical infrastructure, security, and surveillance.
In the CSP arena, Mavenir declared the ip.access deal targets making inroads within networks that use Huawei and ZTE equipment today but need to imminently replace their Chinese suppliers with alternatives due to government mandates that classify China-based supplier sources as security risks in mobile network environments or at least there is substantial regulatory and legal presumption in that direction.
For example, after border skirmishes with China in May 2020, India’s government in August moved to phase out Huawei and other Chinese companies from the country’s CSP networks. Vodafone Idea, for example, is conducting new trials with Mavenir in Delhi as well as Ericsson in Pune and Nokia in Gujarat in order to replace Huawei.
Of note, Airtel is committed to maintaining its 2G network as it continues to fetch significant revenue. With ownership of ip.access 2G/3G assets, I foresee Mavenir plausibly improving its chances of broadening its presence and winning new business in the Airtel network.
By owning ip.access, Mavenir plausibly improves its prospects in the UK market, as it aligns with the UK government’s decision that mandates Huawei gear must be stripped out of UK networks by 2027 and its prioritization of using UK-bases suppliers to strengthen supply chain security and reliability. Switzerland’s Sunrise uses Huawei for its 5G network, although I would not be surprised to see the operator diversify its supply sources further out as it would coincide with European-wide governmental decisions to phase out or limit Huawei and China-originated sources of supply.
Mavenir Buys ip.access: Additional Key Considerations
Mavenir needed to acquire ip.access to also counter open RAN rival Parallel Wireless’ ability to assert it is the only U.S.-based company that provides unified 2G/3G/4G/5G software-enabled solutions.
By stressing that it is the only open RAN specialist capable of blending 4G/5G support with 2G/3G, Parallel Wireless gained a good deal of differentiation and marketing mileage in the nascent open RAN market. I expect Parallel will emphasize that it has time-to-market advantage over Mavenir in multi-G environments, particularly when factoring in the process of integrating ip.access assets into Mavenir’s portfolio. Naturally I fully anticipate Mavenir will counter that Parallel Wireless’ portfolio is confined primarily to delivering RAN applications, whereas Mavenir’s portfolio addresses a broader range of mobile networking requirements, including mobile core, advanced services, and digital platform capabilities.
I also look for Mavenir’s RAN rivals, including Parallel Wireless, Altiostar, Ericsson, Nokia, and Samsung to point out that the integration of ip.access into Mavenir has the potential to hit the snags and choppy waters that accompany many acquisitions.
Mavenir locks in ip.access’ presence in the AT&T Microcell residential 3G small cell network, Panasonic’s eXPhone solution for in-flight cellular service, and the PEAK disaster relief communications package.
In the private network market segment, Mavenir attains ip.access’ 2G, 3G, and 4G radio solutions that are already deployed across hundreds of private networks worldwide, including DECT Guardband, TVWS (Television White Space), LSA (Licensed Shared Access), and supporting small cell OnGo technology with its nanoCBRS solution.
Mavenir is making a solid bet targeting the private network segment as the private LTE and 5G network market is expected to reach $4.7 Billion in annual spending by the end of 2020, and is projected to reach nearly $8 billion by the end of 2023.
Mavenir Buys ip.access: Key Takeaways
Of concern, Mavenir will have some catching up to do in supporting the existing pre-4G requirements of CSPs. Mobile infrastructure/RAN rivals, such as Ericsson, Nokia, and Samsung, have it in their corporate DNA supporting 2G/3G networks stretching back decades. Likewise Huawei and ZTE command extensive 2G/3G deployment experience and I expect can plausibly claim a short-term competitive edge over Mavenir in the markets where they are not banned or restricted.
Of note, Mavenir’s acquisition of ip.access features the novel aspect of reaching back to add 2G/3G legacy capabilities to its portfolio, contrasting with the vast bulk of acquisitions that seek to integrate what can be characterized as forward-looking technologies. In this case, I believe the deal will yield a critical competitive capability for Mavenir over the mid to long-term.
Overall I see Mavenir’s acquisition of ip.access enabling the company to exploit geopolitical shifts in key markets such as India, UK, and parts of Europe to advance its overall mobile ecosystem proposition, particularly in areas like multi-G OpenRAN and small cells. Moreover, Mavenir gains immediate inroads into the enterprise private network and nontraditional network realms, further boosting its influence across the mobile industry. Now rivals will need to respond directly to Manevir’s purchase of ip.access.
Futurum Research provides industry research and analysis. These columns are for educational purposes only and should not be considered in any way investment advice.
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Image Credit: Mavenir
The original version of this article was first published on Futurum Research.
Ron is an experienced research expert and analyst, with over 20 years of experience in the digital and IT transformation markets. He is a recognized authority at tracking the evolution of and identifying the key disruptive trends within the service enablement ecosystem, including software and services, infrastructure, 5G/IoT, AI/analytics, security, cloud computing, revenue management, and regulatory issues.