Cradlepoint wants to “set the bar on what a 5G for business solution looks like,” according to CMO Todd Krautkremer, and the company has scored Australia’s Telstra as its launch partner for a new portfolio of 5G connectivity solutions aimed at the enterprise market.
Customer trials are set to start in April, with Telstra utilizing Cradlepoint’s new W2000 Series 5G wireless adapters and its NetCloud management service. The W2000 is the sub-6 GHz version of the product, which offers both indoor and rugged outdoor hardware units; in addition to Telstra, Cradlepoint said that it expects W2000 trials with additional, unnamed operators to begin in mid-2020.
The W4000, which supports 5G at millimeter-wave spectrum and solves indoor-penetration issues via a rugged outdoor unit that can be directionally mounted to provide a link with the nearest mmWave cell site, is slated to become available in the third quarter of this year. Cradlepoint also has plans for a “field-upgradable pathway to 5G” via a 5G modular modem for existing Cradlepoint 5G Ready dual-mode routers. That modular modem is expected to make its debut later this year.
Cradlepoint says the new portfolio provides “a graceful pathway to 5G” for fixed wireless business networks; it is meant to enable carriers to rapidly put 5G enterprise-specific solutions in-market, at a point in 5G product development when enterprise-specific offerings are still rare. The company touted capabilities that include the ability to combine LTE, gigabit-LTE and 5G in a single wireless WAN; support for spectrum ranging from sub-6 GHz to mmWave; network lifecycle management integration and and interoperability with existing customer SD-WAN and router infrastructure.
Enterprise use cases for 5G are expected to be significant drivers of the 5G ecosystem, with one analysis predicting that the enterprise 5G market will rise at a compound annual growth rate of 42% through 2024. Carriers such as AT&T have pursued 5G roll-out strategies that first focused on 5G offerings for enterprise and then adding consumer network access. But 5G hardware, software and pricing plans for enterprise all need to meet different needs than that of the consumer market.
“You can’t take a 5G consumer hot spot … drop it into a branch bank and say, ‘Now you have a 5G connection,’” Krautkremer said. Supporting an enterprise network, he added, “is just inherently different” than consumer offerings, in terms of expectations of high reliability and performance, security and life-cycle management.
If a consumer customer service organization has to send out a truck for fix an issue in a home network, that’s one thing—but fixing a similar issue for a business with 1,500 branches is an entirely different proposition, Krautkremer added.
Telstra’s Mobility Executive Andrew Stormont echoed that concept.
“We know the networking needs of our business and enterprise customers are very different from consumers’, and this point was a determining factor in our decision to partner with Cradlepoint for our Enterprise Wireless 5G solution” Stormont said in a statement, going on to add that Cradlepoint’s “comprehensive approach, combined with Telstra network leadership and expertise, makes it easy for business customers to get up and running on 5G while providing full powerful management tools.”
Cradlepoint is approaching 5G for business with three aspects in mind, Krautkremer said: being cognizant of where bottlenecks occur once radio access has been upgraded to 5G speeds and making sure their routers can handle the faster speeds; ensuring satisfactory installation; and enabling monitoring, software upgrades and life cycle management according to enterprise needs. Krautkremer noted that the company is also putting together a mobile application, Cradlepoint Verify, that can be used by a carrier’s network of value-added resellers and third-party installers to ensure that the hardware is installed in the best location and orientation, and provide details about that installation, such as specific location with pictures.
“When they leave [a site], we will know and Telstra will know, what the signal strength was where it was installed, specific notes on the installation, and the address, because it’s all location-enabled. That becomes very powerful in terms of helping the network IT team know exactly what the quality of the installation was, and where the product was installed at a customer premise,” Krautkremer said.
A beta release of the app, on both Android and iOS, is expected in the second quarter.
As Cradlepoint brings the portfolio to market, Krautkremer said that the company will have to work very closely with individual operators. With 5G being rolled out in low-band, mid-band and mmWave, operators “are all over the map” with deployments, he added. What that means for Cradlepoint over the the coming year as it completes the initial portfolio launch, he said, is putting in the time and engineering work for meeting high enterprise standards for network technology across any network and any spectrum, right down to making sure that carrier sales teams understand the solution and the capabilities that the new portfolio provides for businesses who want to know more about 5G.
“We’re going to have to go and work very closely with carriers on this initial launch, to make sure it works well on their networks,” he said.