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M&A Interest in NSN's BSS Assets Builds

Ray Le Maistre
3/5/2012
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Nokia Networks looks likely to attract bidders for the business support systems (BSS) assets the vendor put up for sale late last year.

When the European firm announced its reorganization in November 2012, it identified a number of product lines that were no longer core to its future, some of which it has already sold. (See Can NSN Offload Its Carrier Ethernet Assets?, NSN to Sell WiMax Biz , Adtran to Buy NSN's Broadband Unit and DragonWave to Buy NSN Unit.)

That "Kill List" included its BSS line of business -- essentially its "charge@once unified" charging and billing engine and its legacy pre-paid charging product, "charge@once select." (See NSN Unveils Its Kill List and NSN to Cut 17,000 Staff.)

Now Light Reading has learned of at least one Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT) firm that's seeking to raise private equity cash to bid for NSN's BSS assets, while others on the show floor at last week's Mobile World Congress 2012 believe there might also be interest from telecom software players who would like NSN's customer list and IT players without their own charging capabilities, such as IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM).

While no potential price has been ventured, NSN's billing and charging platform is used by more than 300 service providers that collectively serve more than 550 million customers. That's a lot of potential business for other companies that, unlike NSN, want to focus on the back-office billing/charging/marketing engine and/or develop mobile wallet capabilities.

Iris Heinonen, head of marketing and communications at NSN's Business Solutions division, told Light Reading that she couldn't comment on whether any companies had expressed any interest or done due diligence on the BSS line of business. But "if there is a buyer, then we may well sell it."

She did note, though, that NSN had continued to develop the unified charging/billing platform, a new version is being launched in April and operators continue to be migrated from NSN's legacy pre-paid billing platform to the unified platform.

Heinonen said NSN had decided there were now "limited innovation" possibilities for NSN with the unified platform. "We don't need to own it -- that's not core for us. The feedback from our customers is that they want us to focus on our CEM [customer experience management] developments. We are focusing on the systems that are gathering and using the data from a service provider's BSS systems," stated the NSN executive, who added there had been a great deal of interest from operators in the CEM On Demand capabilities the vendor was promoting at Mobile World Congress (interest that was witnessed firsthand by this editor on a number of occasions). (See NSN Launches CEM On Demand and AlcaLu, NSN Turn Up CEM Volume.)

For more on CEM, check out our Customer Experience Management Briefing Center and these recent items:

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

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