A startup that uses open source components to offer a software-defined private 5G-as-a-service hopes to attract businesses with an architecture it says is as simple as Wi-Fi.
Called Ananki, the company requires few businesses to deploy the service: Customers tune small 5G cellular radios on site, route them to a cloud network running Ananki software, install SIM cards on the enterprise hardware that will be included in the service, and automate Ananki remotely configures radio stations and provides SIM cards.
The service includes a dashboard and API for customizing the implementation and provides round-the-clock support.
This is a change in the pace of private 5G offerings on the market at the moment, which require expanding internal 5G knowledge or hiring external experts, contracting with 5G spectrum service providers or licensing themselves, and negotiating connections to the core network.
“I don’t think they want it to be just like Wi-Fi, in part because it’s a bit of a rifle approach to kill,” said Gartner analyst Bill Menezes. “What they are really trying to do, at least from my point of view, is to make the organization as seamless as possible to adopt private 5G.” This is a potentially big attraction for IIoT and Industry 4.0 users, to whom Ananki has explicitly directed its initial marketing materials.
The advantage of private 5G over the latest Wi-Fi is twofold. First, because the 5G spectrum is licensed, its users do not have to compete with others for unlicensed bandwidth, as is the case with Wi-Fi. And second, 5G small cells cover larger areas than Wi-Fi, Menezes said.
Ananki is part of The Open Networking Foundation (ONF), a non-profit industrial consortium that promotes open source wireless infrastructure technology and is supported by major telecommunications and technology providers, including Google and Intel.
Ananki’s service includes several of ONF’s open source technologies, including Aether, its 5G end platform that provides a framework for managing both licensed and unlicensed connectivity. It also uses an open-source ONF software-defined core (SD-Core), a software-defined radio access network (SD-RAN), and a software-defined platform (SD-Fabric) to support these aspects of deployment.
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