Light Reading

AsiaInfo Takes On BSS Giants in Europe

Ray Le Maistre

BARCELONA -- Mobile World Congress -- The CEO of China's leading BSS systems vendor AsiaInfo-Linkage Inc. believes his company can break into the European Tier 1 operator market in 2013 and put the traditional providers of BSS systems under significant pressure in the following years.

Talking to media and analysts here in Barcelona, Steve Zhang outlined the company's plans to build on its Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT) success with China's three main operators, which took its revenues to nearly US$550 million in 2012, by developing an international business for its billing, charging, CRM (customer relationship management) and business intelligence software.

The company started to build its EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) team in early 2012 and recently officially launched its product suite in the region earlier this month. (See AsiaInfo-Linkage Launches BSS Suite in EMEA.)

Zhang believes the capabilities and applications, such as real-time self service and personalized service offerings based on usage analytics data, that AsiaInfo-Linkage has developed for China Mobile Ltd., China Telecom Corp. Ltd. and China Unicom Ltd. are ready-made for major European operators looking to use their back office systems to create new service offerings and deliver a better level of customer experience.

There's no doubt that the company has an approach, which includes cloud-hosted BSS, that would provide something different for service providers in EMEA. But, Light Reading asked the CEO, how likely is it that operators would swap out their incumbent BSS systems (a complex process) for software from a new provider from China? Aren't service providers most likely to use AsiaInfo's proposition as a stick with which to beat their existing suppliers, such as Amdocs Ltd., Comverse Inc. and CSG Systems International Inc., in order to get lower prices and greater functionality?

"I think we can get a foot in the door with standalone modules," which can work with incumbent BSS systems, noted Zhang.

Then, added Alex Hawker, the company's recently-appointed corporate vice president and general manager for EMEA, that will be followed with "real revenues. There are operators we are talking to now in EMEA that need a new billing engine or a new rating engine."

If AsiaInfo remains a listed company, that kind of revenue recognition will be easier to track. But the company's ownership status is set to change. Zhang says that the privatization process that has been in the works for some time now is "getting close to a conclusion," though Zhang noted that the prospective new owners are backing the international growth strategy.

Whether EMEA's operators will warm to its proposition is another matter.

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

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