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June 14, 2022
In a move that promises to accelerate its ability to deliver enhanced 5G networks, Qualcomm has acquired Cellwize. Qualcomm, which revealed the acquisition on Monday, reportedly paid $350 million for Cellwize, through terms weren’t officially disclosed.
Cellwize is an Israeli-based startup that offers what is regarded as a leading mobile network management and automation platform. Qualcomm had participated in a $32 million Series B investment in Cellwize in late 2020. Among others who joined in that funding were Intel, Samsung and Verizon. The investment helped to boost Cellwize Chime. The radio access network (RAN) orchestration platform launched months earlier to simplify the deployment and expansion of 5G infrastructure.
Keep up with the latest channel-impacting mergers and acquisitions in our M&A roundup.
In February of this year, Cellwize introduced Chime Hybrid, an automation and orchestration platform for emerging Open Radio Access Networks (O-RAN). Cellwize became an attractive acquisition target because of key providers that have deployed Cellwize Chime including Deutsch Telecom, Google Cloud, Telfonica and Verizon. Cellwize describes Chimes ’s architecture as open with open APIs designed to let operators add their own network applications.
Qualcomm’s Durga Malladi
“With Cellwize’s cloud-hosted management platform, we’re further accelerating the global adoption of Open RAN, reducing deployment time, automating operations, and increasing ease of use for customers across industries,” according to a blog post explaining the deal by Durga Malladi, general manager of Qualcomm’s 5G, broadband and RAN business.
Qualcomm, which already has a formidable network of ODM and OEM partners, will broaden its ecosystem with the Cellwize acquisition. Chime is also designed to orchestrate private 5G networks, meaning its partners also include system integrators.
“Together with our RAN platforms, device offerings and ecosystem partners, this cloud-hosted solution will make it easier and faster to plan, deploy, monitor, optimize, and provide automated operations for private networks to reach the full potential of 5G.” Malladi noted. “Operators and system integrators alike will be able to harness these capabilities to streamline and accelerate the value of 5G Private Networks to end users and span verticals.”
Malladi, who appeared in a podcast with Futurum Research principal analyst Daniel Newman on Monday to discuss the deal, elaborated. “We work with a large number of partners, but our customer happens to be system integrators, those who are in the business of operating, managing and running the network,” Malladi explained. “And the system integrator needs tools, they need automation tools, they need orchestration tools.”
Qualcomm can leverage Cellwize to create richer public and private 5G networks, Futurum’s Newman said. “If you can accelerate the infrastructure, it’s going to also pay dividends to the other business units that are trying to see 5G adopted more rapidly in the proliferation of the adoption across all the other parts of your portfolio,” Newman told
Malladi agreed. “And now we feel that it’s even more important for us to put together the complete picture as we enable these operators for the new business models that we just talked about,” he said. “In the end, everyone is looking for 5G, that 5G expansion beyond the smartphone base, and there are new devices that are definitely coming in. But these devices also need to be empowered by the kinds of networks that feed into that, that’s the place that we can actually truly offer a holistic solution to operators.”
While some industry leaders have voiced skepticism, O-RAN has gained broad support among network equipment providers, cloud hyperscalers and mobile operators. O-RAN promises to eventually eliminate lock-in to a specific platform by enabling interoperability.
ABI Research managing director Malik Saadi noted on LinkedIn: “This acquisition is key for Qualcomm as it complements the company’s offering in the RAN infrastructure and will help Qualcomm accelerate its strategic plan to become a key partner for operators in migrating their network from legacy systems to a true open RAN environment.”
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Jeffrey Schwartz has covered the IT industry for nearly three decades, most recently as editor-in-chief of Redmond magazine and executive editor of Redmond Channel Partner. Prior to that, he held various editing and writing roles at CommunicationsWeek, InternetWeek and VARBusiness (now CRN) magazines, among other publications.
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