Ericsson picks Juniper Networks, not Cisco, for 5G optical transport

Ericsson is working with Juniper Networks and ECI Telecom on end-to-end 5G solutions. (Pixabay)

Ericsson is partnering with Juniper Networks and ECI Telecom to create an end-to-end optical transport solution for 4G and 5G traffic from cell sites all the way to network cores.

The news is notable because Ericsson formed a wide-ranging partnership with Cisco three years ago, but instead chose Juniper to help build out its optical transport platform. Cisco also does business in the optical transport space, but Juniper and Ericsson have worked with each over the past 18 years.

Ericsson will pair Juniper's edge and core packet transport technologies, which includes the MX and PTX series platforms, with its Router 6000 backhaul product to enable connectivity between radio cell sites and operators' core networks.

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Ericsson will also integrate and sell Juniper's SRX Series Services Gateway network security system while offering its Router 6000 and microwave products as backhaul options for 5G optical transport network rollouts.

Ericsson is also adding to its optical transport platform for metro with a new partnership with ECI. With ECI in the fold, Ericsson said it would be able to deliver improved optical transport solutions for service providers, as well as infrastructure customers.

The transport solutions from Juniper and ECI are fully interoperable with Ericsson’s transport portfolio and will be managed by the same Ericsson management and orchestration solution, which Ericsson said will simplify the overall management and control of 5G across the radio, transport and core network.

The management and orchestration platform will also provide integrated software-defined networking (SDN) control for Ericsson, Juniper and ECI nodes, enabling automated network control for applications such as network slicing and traffic optimization.

“Our radio expertise and knowledge in network architecture, end-user applications and standardization work put us in an excellent position to understand the requirements 5G places on transport," said Fredrik Jejdling, executive vice president and head of business area networks at Ericsson, in a prepared statement. "By combining our leading transport portfolio with best-in-class partners, we will boost our transport offering and create the critical building blocks of next-generation transport networks that benefit our customers.”

Strength in numbers

Ericsson's partnerships with Juniper and ECI Telecom will allow it to better compete with rivals such as Nokia and Huawei. In July, Ericsson announced it had returned to profit for the first time since 2016. Over the past two years, Ericsson has trimmed its workforce by 20,000 jobs and cut more than $1 billion in costs.

Juniper also gone through several lean years, but it's banking on increased software revenues and its distributed telco cloud to boost its fortunes going forward.

As operators prepare to roll out their 5G services and applications next year, vendors are partnering up to try to cash in. Cisco and Samsung are one recent example while Verizon has teamed up with Apple and Google on 5G streaming.