Cisco has revealed its intent to acquire Working Group Two (WG2), a Norwegian company that is said to have pioneered a cloud-native mobile services platform that’s fully application programming interface (API)-consumable and highly programmable.
Emerging from a Telenor laboratory in 2013, WG2 began after being frustrated with the inability to use mobile networks to conduct innovation, prompting a rebuild of the mobile network for a new age. The overarching goal of the firm 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 why mobile users haven’t seen much product innovation coming out of their telecom operator over the past few decades. It claimed mobile network machinery is “not just a beast, it’s also a beauty”, adding that mobile telephony is perhaps the most successful, distributed and standardised technology the world has ever seen. The big idea behind WG2 was to “bring out the beauty in the mobile networks and revitalise the entire industry”, making connectivity truly valuable again.
Backed by Telenor Group and Digital Alpha, a fund with a long-standing, strategic Cisco partnership, WG2 was spun out as an independent entity from Telenor in 2017. Today, the company comprises a team of 90 dedicated professionals, primarily software engineers based in Europe, Japan and the United States. In 2022, it helped customers deliver 527 million SMSs, make 354 million voice calls and transfer 33 petabytes of data.
To grow and prosper, WG2 said the telecom industry must strive for simplicity, global scale and programmability, and that it must also nurture marketplaces and ecosystems of developers to build global platforms, just like the tech industry at large.
Putting the acquisition into context, WG2 noted that Cisco will build on the as-a-service model to realise benefits for the full mobile industry, having already seen success with 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 entire spectrum of mobile use cases, WG2 was confident Cisco could provide simplified access to the company’s technology while enabling customers to focus resources on their core business and deliver new use cases faster.
For its part, Cisco said millions to billions to trillions of connected devices coming online was making IoT the single greatest digital business transformation that most of us will see in our lifetime. It said communication service providers must scale to support it, which means connectivity must be simplified for both deployment and management, and the mobile business service must evolve to become a much more lucrative offering.
Cisco noted that WG2’s platform uses the web-scale playbook and operating models, which makes it a natural fit with its Mobility Services Platform.
“WG2’s technology and team beautifully align with the same approach: simplifying the mobile network architecture to deliver a radically innovative mobile service,” said Masum Mir, senior vice-president and general manager at Cisco Provider Mobility, in a blog post. And with WG2 and the Cisco Mobility Services Platform, we’ll be able to boost 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 ground faster, as we work together to monetise their 5G investments,” said Mir. “The consumption model is simple and comprehensive, supporting all stakeholders. The end result is a mobility services platform that can dramatically simplify mobile network deployments, provide enhanced edge experiences, enable new and advanced use cases, as well as support simple application development.”