Cisco has revealed its intention to acquire Working Group Two (WG2), a Norwegian company said to have pioneered a cloud-native mobile services platform that is fully consumable by application programming interfaces (API) and highly programmable.
Emerging from a Telenor lab in 2013, WG2 began after being frustrated with the inability to use mobile networks to drive innovation, leading to a rebuilding of the mobile network for a new age. The overall goal of the company was to create a “radically innovative, radically simple and radically affordable” modern mobile core, something the company said was a key component in advancing the mobile industry.
WG2 said there’s at least one reason mobile users haven’t seen much product innovation coming out of their telecom operator over the past few decades. It argued that mobile network machinery is “not just a beast, it’s also a beauty”, adding that mobile telephony may be the most successful, distributed and standardized technology the world has ever seen. The big idea behind WG2 was to “bring out the beauty of mobile networks and revitalize the entire industry”, making connectivity truly valuable again.
Backed by Telenor Group and Digital Alpha, a foundation with a long-standing, strategic Cisco partnership, WG2 was spun off as an independent entity from Telenor in 2017. Today, the company consists of a team of 90 dedicated professionals, primarily software engineers based in Europe , Japan and the United States. By 2022, it helped customers deliver 527 million SMS, make 354 million voice calls and transfer 33 petabytes of data.
To grow and thrive, WG2 said the telecommunications industry must strive for simplicity, global scale and programmability, and that it must also nurture marketplaces and ecosystems for developers to build global platforms, just like the technology industry as a whole.
Putting the acquisition into context, WG2 noted that Cisco will build on the as-a-service model to realize benefits for the entire mobile industry, having seen success with the Internet of Things (IoT) and private networks. It said the as-a-service delivery model allows for consistent deployments, reduced complexity, global scale, programmability and continuous innovation and security management.
By expanding this model to cover the full range of mobile use cases, WG2 was convinced that Cisco could provide simplified access to enterprise technology while enabling customers to focus resources on their core business and deliver new use cases faster.
For its part, Cisco said the millions to billions to trillions of connected devices coming online made IoT the biggest digital business transformation most of us will see in our lifetime. It said communications service providers must scale to support it, meaning connectivity must be simplified for both deployment and management, and the mobile business service must evolve to become a much more lucrative proposition.
Cisco noted that WG2’s platform uses web-scale playbook and operational models, making it a natural fit for its Mobility Services Platform.
“WG2’s technology and team fit beautifully with the same approach: to simplify mobile network architecture to deliver a radically innovative mobile service,” said Masum Mir, senior vice president and general manager of Cisco Provider Mobility, in a blog post. And with WG2 and Cisco Mobility Services Platform, we will be able to increase our service edge deployment and API-first strategy for application development partners, enterprise customers and service provider partners.
“WG2 and Cisco have a unique synergy,” he said. “We share a common ambition to deliver a global, programmable mobile core as a service and are remarkably aligned to this shared vision.
“The goal? To enable our Communication Service Provider customers to cover the ground faster as we work together to monetize their 5G investments,” said Mir. “The consumption model is simple and comprehensive and supports all stakeholders. The end result is a mobility service platform that can dramatically simplify mobile network implementations, provide enhanced edge experiences, enable new and advanced use cases, and support simple application development.”
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