BARCELONA – Mobile World Congress 2013 – Ericsson AB CEO Hans Vestberg kicked off his company's annual Barcelona bash early Monday morning with partnership, customer and product announcements and then fended off questions about M&A activities.
Presenting to analysts and the media at the company's "village" in the MWC showgrounds on the western outskirts of Barcelona, Vestberg announced:
A new 4G/LTE broadcast video solution set to be used by Verizon Wireless and Australia's incumbent operator Telstra Corp. Ltd. that incorporates technology based on three standards: HEVC (High Efficiency Video Coding), a video compression standard that promises reduced bandwidth requirements for video delivery compared with MPEG-4 AVC; MPEG DASH (Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP), for the adaptive delivery of video to end user devices; and eMBMS (Evolved Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Service), a 3GPP standard that enables broadcast services over wireless spectrum, so reducing the strain on radio access channels and backhaul connections. For more details, see this news release.
A deal to be the exclusive provider of evolved packet core (EPC) technology for Telefónica UK Ltd. (O2 UK), as well as supplying 50 percent of the operator's radio access network (RAN) upgrade for 4G/LTE. For the packet core, Ericsson is supplying EPC capabilities on its SSR Smart Services Router (developed on the acquired Redback IP routing platform) plus SGSN (serving GPRS support node)/Mobility Management Entity (MME) capabilities on its Blade System. Vestberg noted that Ericsson now has 89 contracts for the SSR router. For more on the O2 UK deal, see this press release.
A partnership with SAP AG to develop a suite of cloud-based enterprise M2M applications, which can then be sold by operators to their corporate customers. The duo are packaging Ericsson's Device Connection and Service Enablement platforms with SAP enterprise IT applications based on the company's HANA platform. For more details, see this press release.
The CEO also talked about various portfolio and technology developments introduced and announced during the past year, including the increasing focus on OSS/BSS (following the acquisitions of Telcordia and ConceptWave), greater market traction with the Smart Services Router, video-related activities (underpinned by the technology brought on board with the acquisition of Tandberg TV) and its Service Provider SDN initiative. (See Ericsson Gets Trendy for MWC.)
With so much recent activity based around technologies on which Ericsson has spent billions of dollars in acquiring, does this mean Vestberg is looking to make further major acquisitions to keep the innovation ball rolling at the company? Or is the M&A streak now over?
In answer to Light Reading's question, Vestberg rightly pointed out that there is much innovation and R&D focus on the company's core mobile infrastructure competencies and not just around acquired attributes.
But he also noted that Ericsson's M&A strategy is to "fill gaps" with purchases. "I'd rather put $1 billion into R&D or services development, but if an acquisition can speed up time to market we will look at M&A," he noted.
With so many gaps filled, an obvious focus for Ericsson's next deal would be around SDN/virtualization technologies that could hasten the vendor's developments in the emerging key area of network functions virtualization (NFV), where it is has products in the pipeline but also where it is trailing the likes of NEC Corp. (See V Is for Virtualization.)
— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading
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