EE 5G festival claims cause a Ruckus

UK operator EE has claimed yet another 5G first but wireless tech company Ruckus Networks reckons it might have stuck its neck out too far.

Yesterday we reported that EE will be using its sponsorship of the Glastonbury music festival to market its nascent 5G offering by branding it the UK’s first 5G-connected festival. Eric Law, VP EMEA at Ruckus, saw the announcement but doesn’t seem to think all the hype is justified and may even be counter-productive.

“It is well known that mobile phones on the market today cannot make use of the 5G standard yet, which in turn means that attendees of this year’s Glastonbury Festival won’t be able to make direct use of the increased speeds and bandwidth the technology is set to offer,” he said.

“If 5G is to be used for anything at Glastonbury, it will likely be for mission critical applications such as connecting electronic payment devices and carrying live broadcast coverage, much in the same way it was at the 2018 Winter Olympics. This may have a positive impact on the mobile coverage of Glastonbury attendees, in that it will relieve some stress on the 4G network across the festival site, but it won’t deliver on the true promises of a 5G experience.

“With this in mind, proclamations of this sort threaten to undermine the true value and potential of the 5G era which we are soon to realise. By announcing that festival-goers will be able to access the network when it is technologically impossible, companies risk creating distrust in what is set to be a revolutionary technology.”

Over-marketing new technological generations is an issue endemic to the wireless industry. To date the most egregious offender in the current era has been AT&T in the US with its absurd use of ‘5G Evolution’ to describe its LTE-Advanced service. But since few people in the industry even seem to care about the damaging short-termism of all this over-promising, don’t expect it to end anytime soon.

Ruckus switches from Broadcom to Arris

A relatively minor act in the current TMT M&A frenzy sees fixed-line player Arris add Ruckus Wireless in a bid to diversify both its offering and routes to market.

Arris bid for Ruckus back in February when Broadcom revealed that it was a superfluous part of its Brocade acquisition. So the deal has taken around 9 months to push through, which is relatively quick by today’s standards.

The rationale is a familiar one in these convergent times. Telcos and other enterprise customers are increasingly diversifying their connectivity options to anyone looking to flog them stuff needs to do so too. Arris is now able to sex-up its cable offerings with some wifi and LAN switching action. What’s not to like?

To accommodate the strategic shift this acquisition entails Arris is creating a new enterprise networks business segment that will be led by the former COO of Ruckus Dan Rabinovitsj.

“This combination underscores our shared vision of achieving market leadership across wireless and wired networks in close partnership with our valued customers and channel partners,” he said.

“We’re very excited about the collaboration opportunities across our product portfolios to enable connectivity from the office to the home and to all the places in between. Joining Arris means we still do what Ruckus does best, but on a larger, global scale. I’m excited to lead the Ruckus Networks team into our next stage of growth and innovation.”

“I’m proud to welcome the 1,700 talented Ruckus Wireless and ICX Switch Business employees into the Arris family,” said Bruce McClelland, Arris CEO. “It’s an important milestone, not only for Arris but for our industries. Ruckus’ unmatched expertise in wireless and wired networking perfectly complements our growth strategy of driving towards a constantly connected, mobile future.

“The acquisition brings diversification to our portfolio, building on our strength in networking and helping us to serve new verticals. Ultimately, our combined portfolios and scale will help our customers and partners deliver a smart, simple connected world for billions of people.”

You can hear more from the dynamic duo, as well as some atmospheric music that seems to have been taken from a 1980s action movie, below and read some analysis of how the deal is likely to play out by Light Reading here.