Cisco’s Quiet Exit from WiMAX RAN Business

Cisco apparently has decided to leave the WiMAX radio-access networks (RAN) market. Many observers question why the company got into the space in the first place.

Cisco entered the WiMAX RAN business with its $330 million acquisition of Navini Networks in 2007. It was considered an odd move, because Cisco traditionally had focused on the IP networks for wireless operators rather than on radio base stations.

Evidently Cisco has decided to revisit its former strategy. In an email message to FierceBroadbandWireless, Cisco spokeswoman Jennifer Buchhalter wrote the following:

“After careful review, our mobility strategy is to focus on providing a radio-agnostic IP end-to-end mobile multimedia services network. Cisco will continue to focus on the packet core and to also focus on investment in radio technologies such as femtocells and WiFi. As part of this decision, we have decided to discontinue designing and building new WiMAX base stations. We believe the best way for Cisco to serve our customers is by delivering value at the edge and the core of our customers’ networks.”

Well, yes, that makes sense; but, again, it makes one wonder why CIsco pursued the digressive strategy that saw it acquire Navini for more than chicken feed back in 2007.

Was it just to jumpstart 4G RAN adoption, which now will be taken forward by LTE rather than WiMAX deployments? Cisco benefits from sales of IP cores that support 4G networks, and it’s conceivable that Cisco thought the market needed a push. (Intel has a well-established pattern of serving as a catalyst in nascent technology segments that it sees as integral to the sales growth of its own products, and Cisco is not averse to taking a similar tack.)

Nonetheless, it’s interesting that the Cisco spokesman doesn’t specifically address LTE. One might reasonably assume that Cisco has no need to get into turf wars with well-established LTE RAN vendors. It wouldn’t play to Cisco’s strengths, and that market doesn’t seem to need any pump priming.

Moving IP-based content, including video, across wireless operators’ networks should be enough for the data-networking colossus.

One response to “Cisco’s Quiet Exit from WiMAX RAN Business

  1. It came as a surprise to us, too. We were down to the wire, with a number of the new units (P4 or ‘Phase 4’ units) in field trial in the field and more units undergoing EVT (internal test and engineering evaluation), then this news …

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