HomeInsightsSonus attempts to gain femto edge

    Sonus attempts to gain femto edge


    There seem to be a few bets being placed on femto cells at the moment, and one of them is coming from those companies that play in the IP core/ SIP space.

    Key here is that although a femto cell is nominally a part of the cellular network, really what it is is an extension of a broadband access network. Mobile operators that want to make a play with femto cells will need to backhaul the voice and data traffic through the DSL access network "back" to their own mobile networks, carrying the signaling, presence, HLR and all the service and subscriber specific information from their application servers out to the end device.

    That represents a new market opportunity for the core IP network players. One of those hoping to grab a piece of this action is Sonus Networks, which since February has been positioning itself as building a femto cell "ecosystem" to address these concerns. Part of that push has been the acquisition of GSM softswitch vendor Zynetix and partnerships with ip access, RadioFrame Networks and ThreeWay Networks (the soon-to IPO Airvana) – all of the latter being manufacturers of the femto cells themselves.

    What Sonus is saying is that managing the services that go out to the devices will take more than just plugging an IP MSC onto the side of an existing SIP core. There needs to be integration of that IP MSC technology within the core itself to ensure complete control of the services.

    Hassan Ahmed, ceo of Sonus, said that although this looks like a classic new opportunity in fact the lines are blurred between what is about femto specifically, and what is just about the business of IP core networking, with intelligent routing, security controls, etc etc

    Questioned on why the other IP core vendors couldn't just as easily offer those capabilities, Ahmed name-checked the experience Sonus has with the top five operators in the world – naming KDDI, Softbank, Verizon, and AT&T/ Cingular – and the headstart it has in the market.

    Operators who implement femto cellular solutions are likely to be those who have fixed broadband access as well as 3G networks. In Europe that means T-Mobile, Orange, O2, Telefonica, TeliaSonera, among others. Does Sonus have customers in these operators? Well if they do, they're not announced. And if they don't – the question is,  "Is the extension of IP to the broadband edge enough of a change to their system architecture to necessitate a new partner in the core?"

    Sonus Networks hasn't filed reports for three quarters from June 2006 and the full year 2006, and faces a delisting from Nasdaq, to be decided in July.