Image: Prostock-Studio, Getty Images/iStockphoto

Partnerships, acquisitions and mergers are vital elements propelling modern-day businesses toward growth. With 5G technology currently enhancing user experience for several use cases such as the Internet of Things, virtual reality, augmented reality and ultra high-definition videos, partnerships by 5G system integration providers with telecom operators are already on the rise.

Aiming to harness the potential of 5G, IBM; Casa Systems, a company focusing on 5G transformation; and Enea, a firm offering 5G data management and mobile network security, have announced their partnership.

The partnership will see each company contribute towards building an efficient private 5G network, allowing operators and enterprises to build and deploy their own platforms for better reliability, scalability and network security. The move will also aim to deliver ultra-low latency with reduced end-to-end delivery costs and create a path to 5G network deployment with centralized control and edge-based delivery intelligence.

What this partnership will bring

With the global 5G infrastructure market estimated to hit $9.26 billion USD in 2022 and $81 billion USD by 2027, at a compound annual growth rate of 54.37%, IBM, Casa Systems and Enea understand the need for key collaborations in the industry. Their partnership may be what they need to have a solid footprint and compete favorably with other 5G key players such as AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Vodafone, among others, in the market.

Also fueling this partnership is the growing application of 5G across key industries such as healthcare, energy and utilities, manufacturing, financial services, and defense. These industries increasingly depend on the agility of 5G to keep critical systems and applications up and running. However, IBM, Casa Systems and Enea believe there is a potential security risk inherent in the wide adoption of 5G and wish to create a private 5G solution that will be more reliable and secure.

SEE: Mobile Device Security Policy (TechRepublic Premium)

To achieve this, all three parties will bring separate technological innovations to the table to deliver a secure private 5G network for businesses. The partnership will have Casa Systems, through its Axyom Software Framework, bring end-to-end 5G wireless solutions that will address the coverage and capacity needs of public and private networks.

The deal will see IBM provide its Cloud Pak for Network Automation, enabling network operation and automation. This will also help cloud service providers transform their networks, evolve to zero-touch operations, reduce operating expenses, deliver services faster and advance telcos’ zero-trust strategy.

Enea, on the other hand, will deliver security advancements through end-to-end encrypted communications and subscriber data management without vendor lock-in through its open-shift model.

Apart from the above individual contributions, all three organizations are currently working on a customer proof-of-concept collaboration in Dallas. According to the parties, this move will enhance subscriber data management, built-in security, interoperability and multi-access 5G.

Additionally, IBM said it’s working with Casa Systems to build open radio access network solutions to address private 5G use cases. The two aim to enable service providers and enterprises to build solutions that are much more flexible and resilient to change.

The companies claim ORAN will provide carriers the ability to use quality network components without worrying about vendor lock-in and high cost while still delivering key benefits, including flexibility, agility and scalability of the network.

Furthermore, due to the high deployment of 5G in applications using robotics, artificial intelligence, IoT, 3D printing and augmented reality, the companies believe the manufacturing sector will be the largest beneficiary of the partnership. IBM, Casa Systems and Enea also claim the collaboration will see manufacturing move from mass production to massive customization.

Where does this leave other big 5G players?

Every huge partnership, merger or acquisition in the tech industry, in one way or another, has an impact on the market. In the case of this partnership, to what extent will it affect other prominent players in the 5G market?

Since 5G went mainstream, there has been news of investments made by numerous telecom service providers in the development of next-generation network infrastructure. These investments aim primarily at enabling providers to build a sizable consumer base.

Additionally, the big industry participants are actively concentrating on mergers and acquisitions to strengthen their position in the international market. For instance, T-Mobile and Ericsson signed a contract in September 2018 to support T-Mobile’s 5G rollout in the United States.

Similarly, Intel announced earlier in the year that it has acquired private 5G network provider Ananki. Intel said the deal with the startup would help it focus on commercializing private 5G services based on open-source network technologies.

Further, major market players are spending a lot of money to buy the required spectrum. The corporations believe such investments will improve their overall portfolios and grow their subscriber base worldwide. For instance, BT Group Enterprise (EE) division purchased 40 MHz of 3.4 GHz spectrum (3,540–3,580 MHz spectrum frequencies) in 2018 for about $426.5 million. The business intends to use the spectrum to offer enhanced internet services in the U.K.

With all of the mergers, acquisitions and partnerships playing out across the 5G industry, IBM, Casa Systems and Enea will be facing a strong battle in trying to have a major influence in the 5G market.

In terms of more 5G-related news, the GSMA urged a quicker 5G rollout across Europe while  Las Vegas and NTT deployed the largest private 5G network in the United States.

Subscribe to the Innovation Insider Newsletter

Catch up on the latest tech innovations that are changing the world, including IoT, 5G, the latest about phones, security, smart cities, AI, robotics, and more. Delivered Tuesdays and Fridays

Subscribe to the Innovation Insider Newsletter

Catch up on the latest tech innovations that are changing the world, including IoT, 5G, the latest about phones, security, smart cities, AI, robotics, and more. Delivered Tuesdays and Fridays