AT&T teams with Cisco on simplifying FWA for business

  • AT&T is particularly bullish about FWA for business customers

  • AT&T and Cisco say they’ve come up with a new digital buying experience that makes it faster and easier for businesses to adopt FWA

  • Cisco’s Meraki MG52 and MG52E cellular gateways are at the center of the new offer

AT&T and Cisco say they’ve come up with a new digital buying experience that makes it faster and easier for businesses to take advantage of 5G fixed wireless access (FWA).

Cisco’s newest line of cellular gateways, the Meraki MG52 and MG52E, are the first true-5G standalone (SA) capable, discreet FWA devices to offer cloud-managed eSIM technology powered by Cisco IoT Control Center, according to the vendor.

The new devices will be available this summer — paired exclusively with an integrated wireless WAN service experience and provisioning from AT&T. Customers can plug the device into a power source and provision AT&T’s 5G connectivity through the Cisco Meraki dashboard.

“Together with Cisco, we are making it faster and easier than ever for companies to reimagine their networks and conduct business with next-level connectivity,” said Mike Troiano, SVP, product and pricing at AT&T Business, in a statement.

AT&T is pursuing a different approach to FWA compared to T-Mobile and Verizon, both of which are seeing success in taking on cable for home broadband customers using FWA. AT&T isn’t so bullish on FWA for consumers in their homes — it’s beefing up its fiber reach for that. But it’s definitely got its FWA sights set on the business segment.

In March, AT&T launched AT&T Internet Air for Business, a fixed wireless service aimed at small, mid-size and some large businesses. Unlike its consumer FWA product, it’s offered nationwide.

During AT&T’s Q1 earnings call, CEO John Stankey said one of the ways AT&T intends to meet connectivity needs for small and medium businesses is with AT&T Internet Air for Business.

“We believe this is a durable national play with business because it’s able to serve as a reliable 5G-powered primary internet connection, where fiber is not available in remote locations, when temporary access is needed or with small and medium businesses that don’t require always-on video streaming,” Stankey said, according to a company transcript.

“While it’s still early, we’ve been very pleased with the solid demand we’re seeing from businesses,” Stankey added.

Businesses don’t have the same characteristics as single-family homes, where people are downloading popular TV shows, watching Netflix or playing video games. Instead, companies tend to do more email and things like point-of-sale transactions.

Meanwhile, Cisco’s FWA products go beyond AT&T to include T-Mobile and Verizon as well.

T-Mobile is making the MG52 and MG52E available as part of its fully managed, end-to-end 5G FWA solution, and Verizon Business is partnering with Cisco to offer 5G FWA built around the MG52 and MG52E FWA devices.

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