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Cisco Rolls Out Elastic Mobile Platform

Cisco Systems unveiled a new mobile core product aimed keeping pace with the rapidly growing scale of the mobile Internet as part of an effort to help carriers more dynamically manage both signaling traffic and throughput.

So far Verizon Wireless and Bharti Airtel have signed as customers for the new mobile core product.

Cisco, which has been quietly but steadily building its position in the mobile core market since its 2009 acquisition of Starent Networks for $2.9 billion, announced the ASR 5500 platform. The gateway is aimed at helping carriers handle both rising throughput needs as more and more HD content--particularly video--is consumed by consumers, and rising signaling needs as millions of smartphones, tablets and M2M connections get added to networks.

Service providers "need to be able to accommodate that bandwidth and signaling load all at the same time in a very cost effective way," said Kelly Ahuja, the senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's mobile Internet technology group.

Murali Nemani, Cisco's director of service provider mobility, said that the product will help carriers scale their networks to meet different kinds of demands throughout the day. "How do I address these demands without over-addressing these demands?" he said.

Cisco said its platform can help operators create an "elastic" core that can be expanded to handle different levels of signaling and throughput throughout the day, thus removing the need for carriers to engineer their solutions to handle worst-case traffic scenarios. Other vendors, including Movik, are trying to tackle this issue on the Radio Access Network front.

Cisco claims that the new ASR 5500 series will help carriers save up to 47 percent of the total cost of ownership, according to a study issued by ACG Research. Michael Kennedy, an analyst at ACG, said in a statement that the savings "are attributable to the Cisco ASR 5500's scale and integrated functionality that requires up to 65 percent fewer installed units."