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Qualcomm's Vision for Smart Cities May Be Found in Their Cloud-Based RAN Automation Platform and Private 5G Partner Ecosystem Program

By Arti Loftus

Given the continuing rapid growth of IoT adoption and the innovation in developing sophisticated connected systems (at the edge and to the cloud), taking a broader view of how wireless networks will be planned, built, monitored, managed, and scaled makes sense.

IoT and Industrial IoT are notoriously fragmented, and this year at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where attendance is healthier than it has been in three years, Qualcomm is taking advantage of the gathering to introduce a new RAN Automation Platform and Partner Program.

With 5G investments in full swing, cybersecurity fears on the rise, and pressures on network operators and service providers to "monetize" massive Capex projects (including 5G infrastructure and acquisition of spectrum, Qualcomm is leaning into simplification through automation and End-to-End private network solutions that are pre-integrated and federated.

No longer just a "chips" company, Qualcomm continues to move in the direction of selling cloud-based solutions "to deliver the full potential of 5G in a full lifecycle way."

In their announcement, they describe this partner ecosystem solution as one which is driven by a comprehensive and repeatable process including cost estimation, RF planning, zero-touch provisioning, and operations with automated RAN optimizations and service assurance.

These moves will likely be embraced by organizations, agencies, and contractors focused on accelerating Smart Cities, an area Qualcomm has been investing in for years and was the focal point of a Qualcomm customer and partner event last September.

Smart communities – not just big cities but rural areas where IoT is improving everything from farming to public safety – are struggling with overlaps, vendor fragmentation, funding Capex, and funding Opex required to build, monitor, maintain, and scale often shared critical infrastructure.

Qualcomm's network management platform has been well-thought-through and includes:

  • Streamlined, repeatable processes that include cost estimation, RF planning to optimize network coverage and capacity, and zero-touch provisioning and acceptance to automatically configure the system.
  • Path to zero-touch operations with automated RAN optimizations and assurance maintain proper service and settings.
  • Horizontal single software interface integrated across the RAN and device partner components.

Leveraging pre-built profiles and project templates, including industry vertical use case frameworks, Qualcomm, and a charter group of participants, "customers will be able to optimize the platform to meet their needs based on pre-built profiles and project templates that are tailored by industry vertical and use cases. The system is designed to bring deployment and management time down to minutes instead of months and reduce the support needed from experts, saving critical time and resources."

In addition to this new solution, Qualcomm Technologies unveiled a 5G Private Network Partner Ecosystem Program with an impressive list of charter members.

Leveraging its technology leadership in developing high-performance 5G solutions for device and infrastructure products, Qualcomm Technologies, along with partners in this program, will offer an end-to-end 5G Private Network solution with full connectivity, tested across partner components; and documented in "blueprints."

The solution is designed to work with core networks, small cells powered by Qualcomm® FSM 5G RAN Platforms, and the device ecosystem.

"Qualcomm Technologies is at the forefront of simplifying the planning, deployment, and management of Private Networks powering the edge devices required for the digital transformation of industries," said Gerardo Giaretta, senior director, product management, Qualcomm Technologies, Inc. "We understand Private Networks are at the heart of global 5G proliferation, and through the development of our Qualcomm Private Networks RAN Automation solution and 5G Private Network Partner Ecosystem Program, we are committing to help simplify network management to achieve this objective."

Participating companies weighed in with the following quotes:

Askey 
"Askey has a long-term relationship with Qualcomm Technologies. We have collaborated with Qualcomm Technologies from LTE to 5G RAN Platform, and we supply Small Cell products to worldwide Tier 1 operators as well as the leading SI ODM partners," said Robert Lin, chief executive officer, Askey. "Askey 5G small cell is powered by the Qualcomm 5G RAN Platform, a high performance and low power solution for small cells, can provide our customers to accelerate the Industry 4.0 and will boost the deployment of private 5G networks for campuses, hospitals, offices, factories and other industrial locations in their digital transformation process."

Baicells
"We are very honored to be a partner of Qualcomm Technologies for the Private Network RAN Automation," said BaiWei, general manager, Baicells Int’l Market. "Qualcomm Technologies provided a very reliable solution for Baicells to develop a series of 5G gNBs, as always. We regard Qualcomm Technologies as a super trustful technology partner that we can together bring this Zero Touch Private 5G to multiple verticals globally."

Boingo
"Private 5G networks are poised to revolutionize enterprise connectivity. Boingo is at the forefront, providing large venues, enterprises and commercial real estate properties with a fully-managed, end-to-end private network solution that powers voice, data and IoT communications," said Michael J. Zeto III, chief commercial officer, Boingo. "As part of Qualcomm Technologies 5G Private Network Partner Ecosystem Program, we're pleased to bring our 20 plus years of network operation expertise to enterprises looking to leverage next generation connectivity to realize their operational goals."

Capgemini
"Our close collaboration with Qualcomm Technologies and the pre-integrated 5G Private Network solution will enable clients to boost their 5G-enabled digital transformation across key industry sectors. Capgemini combines its deep industry expertise and MEC platform with cloud-native microservices frameworks, for ready-to-launch industry 5G transformative use cases in client specific operational environments," said Fotis Karonis, group leader, 5G and edge, Capgemini. "Together with Qualcomm Technologies' leading 5G technologies and solutions, our aim is to simplify and accelerate transformation, drive innovation at scale, and achieve operational excellence to build future-ready connected businesses of tomorrow."

Casa Systems
"Deploying and maintaining a Mobile Private Network in a complex environment with multiple stake holders is a complicated exercise. Time-to-market and network quality are key factors that fundamentally impact the growth and success of the network," said Gibson Ang, vice president, technology and product management, Casa Systems. "Casa Systems' end-to-end Mobile Private Network solution combined with the Qualcomm® Private Networks RAN Automation Platform remove complex roadblocks allowing service providers and enterprises to more quickly deliver new innovation and connectivity benefits to users. We are delighted to be a part of Qualcomm Technologies' 5G Private Network Partner Ecosystem Program accelerating the path to an all-connected world."

Cognizant
"Cognizant is excited to be one of the first partners in Qualcomm Technologies' 5G Private Network Partner Ecosystem Program, enabling us to offer end-to-end, pre-integrated vertical solutions across various segments, such as Manufacturing, Energy & Utilities, Education and Life Sciences," said Vibha Rustagi, head of industry+ and IOT practice for North America, Cognizant. "Cognizant's deep knowledge and expertise of customers' challenges and proven track record of deploying leading edge IoT solutions at scale, when coupled with Qualcomm Technologies' best-in-class 5G RAN and 5G device ecosystem can offer our customers a compelling roadmap to realizing the true potential for 5G networks."

Foxconn Industrial Internet USA
"Foxconn Industrial Internet USA Inc. (FII-USA Inc.), a recognized world leader in 5G equipment manufacturing and end-to-end small cell solution provider, continues to leverage its 30+ years of experience to develop Private Network and 5G RAN compliant solution. FII-USA will join Qualcomm Technologies' 5G Private Network Partner Ecosystem Program, and work with Qualcomm Technologies to develop solutions and products for 5G private networks," said Steven Chang, vice president, 5G business development, Foxconn Industrial Internet USA Inc. "FII-USA is excited to be part of Qualcomm Technologies' 5G Private Network Partner Ecosystem Program, for the efforts to offer comprehensive solutions that simplify the planning, deployment, configuration, and management of private networks to realize the full potential of 5G."

Ingram Micro
"Ingram Micro is excited to play a strategic role in Qualcomm Technologies' 5G Private Network Partner Ecosystem Program and use our global leadership and expertise in channel partner enablement, as well as our market ready solutions and vendor ecosystem, to further the proliferation of critical infrastructure for global communities and vertical markets," said Mrinalini Lakshminarayanan, executive director, global product management, Ingram Micro Inc. 

Innowireless
"Thanks to the Qualcomm FSM100 5G RAN Platform technology, we successfully delivered our first Qucell branded commercial 5G small cell systems to one of the MNO customers," said Young-Soo Kwak, chief executive officer, Innowireless. "And with the expansion of 5G, interest in private networks is rapidly increasing, we are seeing more inquiries and requests for solutions from potential customers. Qualcomm Private Networks RAN Automation Platform is expected to be an extremely effective tool in efficiently and timely meeting customer supply and demands while concentrating on implementing our core competency in small cell solutions."

Mavenir 
"Mavenir is committed to the wider adoption of Private Networks in the Enterprise and Industry segments. We are pleased that our strong collaboration with Qualcomm Technologies will expand an ORAN based small cell portfolio, and that our MAVedge Private Network stack components will be available for interworking with all ecosystem partners," said Aniruddho Basu, executive vice president, emerging business, Mavenir. "This broader ecosystem will accelerate proliferation and adoption of Private Networks."

Radisys
"5G Private Networks are gaining traction across diverse industries, verticals and regulatory environments. Radisys is delighted to partner with Qualcomm Technologies to deliver a pre-integrated solution that leverages Radisys award-winning Connect RAN 5G software and Qualcomm Private Networks RAN Automation Platform to accelerate and ease the deployment of 5G Private Networks. We have had a long-standing partnership with Qualcomm Technologies supporting 4G and 5G deployments, and this joint solution for 5G Private Networks is a critical step forward for Industry 4.0," said Munish Chhabra, senior vice president and general manager, software and services, Radisys. "Given the diverse business and deployment needs of 5G Private Networks, Radisys CU/DU protocol software offers a rich Release-16 compliant feature set for FR1, FR2 comprising of CBRS, Network Slicing, MOCN, URLLC, IPsec, flexibility in software deployment, different split options, NPU form-factors and support for zero-touch provisioning via TR-069 and Netconf management interfaces."

Sercomm
"We have been working with Qualcomm Technologies for Zero-Touch femto cell installation since 4G era," said Ben Lin, chief technology officer, Sercomm Corporation. "Qualcomm Private Networks RAN Automation Platform makes the installation even easier from planning, deployment to network management. We are glad to be in Qualcomm Technologies' 5G Private Network Partner Ecosystem Program to enable industry to install 5G private network as easy as WiFi network."

Shenzhen GongJin Electronics
"As a long-term partner of Qualcomm Technologies, Gongjin has extensive cooperation with Qualcomm Technologies," said Mr. Hu Zumin, chief executive officer, Shenzhen GongJin Electronics Co., Ltd. "In the 5G private network market, GongJin looks forward to working closely with Qualcomm Technologies to develop more competitive products and contribute to the development of the 5G private network industry with its high performance, low power and other technical advantages."

Veea
"We are thrilled and proud to be actively supporting Qualcomm Technologies' 5G Private Network Partner Ecosystem Program. High-performance 5G solutions based on small cells powered by Qualcomm FSM 5G RAN Platforms combined with zero-touch operations with automated RAN optimizations and assurance will further drive 5G densification," said Mark Tubinis, chief commercial officer, Veea Inc. "It enables rapid and seamless deployment of 5G Private Networks, not only for large enterprises, but also for SMB/SME vertical markets including Smart Buildings, Smart Healthcare, Smart Retail, Smart Schools, Smart Hospitality, Smart and Precision Farming, and many more vertical markets including, eventually, Smart Homes. Veea will support and complement Qualcomm Technologies' cloud-based network management platform with a distributed edge computing solution for hyper converged networks that will provide for on-premises performance monitoring with data collection, processing, reporting and edge analytics, support for dynamic network optimization combined with application-based traffic shaping over LAN/WAN connections for mission critical and immersive applications, and much more."

Xingetra
"As a key 5G PN partner to the Qualcomm Technologies ecosystem, Xingtera delivers and services enterprises with 5G end-to-end solutions based on Qualcomm Private Networks RAN Automation Platform", said Yuqing Niu, chief executive officer, Xingtera Inc. "With our complete 5G PN solutions, we simplify the 5G PN network planning according to the industry-vertical-specific application, deploy the End to End solution that improves customer's operational efficiency significantly, and manage the networks for the daily operations intelligently. Our goal is to make our customers the technology leaders in their respective markets and drive ROIs for their business by the lowest total cost of ownership for their 5G PN."

Zyter
"As a Qualcomm Technologies technology partner, Zyter's SmartSpaces™ IoT platform is supporting the deployment of 5G Private Networks in factories, warehouses, hospitals, stadiums, airports, and rural areas where a high-bandwidth, low-latency network is needed," said Sanjay Govil, founder and chief executive officer, Zyter, Inc. "5G opens up many exciting possibilities with autonomous mobile robots, LiDAR-based analytics, AI-based cameras and more, data from which can be consolidated and displayed on Zyter's dashboard."

For more information on Qualcomm 5G RAN Platforms, visit https://www.qualcomm.com/products/5g


Arti Loftus is an experienced Information Technology specialist with a demonstrated history of working in the research, writing, and editing industry with many published articles under her belt.

Edited by Luke Bellos

Special Correspondent

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