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Leading Lights Finalists 2014: Best New Product (Mobile)

Dan Jones

Diversity is the key to this year's field of Best New Product (Mobile) finalists, with the common theme being that they all address real issues for carriers and consumers in the cellular sphere. (See Leading Lights 2014: The Finalists.)

Let's run down the pack:

Amdocs Inc. -- Self-Optimizing Networks (SON) solution
Amdocs got its self-optimizing start through the acquisition of Actix and Cellcite in 2013. It parlayed these smarts into its Self-Optimizing Networks (SON) solution this year.

Deployed with several major operators around the world, the SON system is focused on better managing available capacity on the mobile radio access network.

The company claims that in real-world deployments of its SON system, operators have seen data throughput increase by 10%, dropped or blocked calls reduced by 20% and increases in operational efficiency of more than 80%.

Cambridge Communication Systems Ltd. (CCS) -- Self-Organising Small Cell Backhaul
Cambridge Communication Systems Ltd. (CSS) has landed a big fish with its small cell backhaul system. The UK company says the first implementation of the technology is being deployed by China Mobile Communications Corp. in one of the first small cell deployments in that massive market.

CSS has a microwave radio system that supports multiple connections and can be installed quickly with one unit per lamp post. The system uses "self-healing" and "self-organizing" links, which the company says cuts down radio management costs if or when more small cells are added to a pole.

CCS says it is also conducting commercial pilots with other Tier 1 mobile operators.

Citrix Systems Inc. -- ByteMobile Insight
ByteMobile Insight is a data analytics system collating data on carrier networks on everything from applications to location to experience metrics to transaction records. Utilizing so-far underused metrics to improve user experience is a growing trend for mobile operators.

"Citrix is addressing a gap in the market for an analytics solution that can be quickly deployed to collect and correlate usage data from multiple sources and translate that into ready-to-use, well visualized, à la carte insights for any non-technical stakeholder in the organization to use," said Heavy Reading senior Ari Banerjee at the launch of the system earlier this year.

Nokia Networks -- Centralized RAN
Nokia's Centralized RAN is aimed at dealing with one of the most difficult problems facing mobile operators: How to build denser LTE networks to support large gatherings of users without running into interference issues.

The system links multiple LTE basestations to work directly with one another to reduce interference between neighboring cells. The capability also improves the download speed and helps to extend smartphone battery life because devices no longer need to transmit at high power to cut through the interference.

Nokia claims that Centralized RAN can double the uplink capacity in existing LTE networks and achieve up to ten times faster uploads at the cell edge.

Openwave Mobility Inc. -- DynaMO
Making money from mobile data while providing a service experience that keeps their subscribers happy and spending is a top priority for mobile operators, while mobile video downloads and audio streaming are the amongst the fastest growing traffic types on mobile networks.

So Openwave's latest builds on its network optimization history to reduce core network traffic for the operator and boost the customer experience for audio and HD video.

The company claims that the system, which it calls "NFV-ready," can detect and optimize more than 70% of mobile video traffic on a network and reduces audio data on the network by up to 50%.

Opera Software ASA -- Opera Max

Opera's Max app might be the easiest sell in this year's finalists for twitchy users obsessed with going over their monthly data allowance. The app sends all data requests from -- including audio and video -- to its "Max Savings Cloud," which compresses and optimizes the data streams and routes them back to the user's device.

Opera says if a smartphone user pays $40 a month for a 1GB data plan, using Opera Max can allow them to consume up to 1.5GB per month at the same cost.

'Nuff said, really.

SpiderCloud Wireless -- Dual-Band UMTS/LTE Radio Node
SpiderCloud Wireless is the leading startup in the emerging enterprise small cell market right now. The company has worked up a system with a controller that acts as a brain for 3G and 4G radio nodes to ease deployment, management, and interference issues with these coverage-boosting indoor systems. (See Know Your Small Cell: Home, Enterprise, or Public Access?.)

SpiderCloud is being used by Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) for enterprise deployments in the UK and the Netherlands. The startup is hoping to announce more carrier deals soon.

The dual-band UMTS/LTE radio node is the latest commercial offering from SpiderCloud. The company is planning to follow that with dual-band LTE trials later this summer.

Vasona Networks Inc. -- SmartVISION
Startup Vasona Networks formed to try and address the problem of lack of insight into problems happening at the radio access network (RAN) end of mobile networks. "A lot of carriers have very little visibility into what's happening in their network in real-time," Biren Sood, CEO of the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company told Light Reading in 2013.

The company's latest offering, SmartVISION, is a centralized management console that uses its SmartAIR edge application controller to better manage large 3G and LTE radio deployments. SmartVISION is a system that can scale to tens of thousands of cells for 3G/LTE network operators and is deployed at the network operations center to manage SmartAIR. The console gives carriers analytic tools to improve customer experiences with real-time rate control based on better and more timely insight into cell congestion and session latency.

The Leading Lights winners and 2014 Hall of Fame inductees will be unveiled at the Leading Lights awards dinner, to be held the evening of Tuesday, June 17 at Chicago's Adler Planetarium. (For more details, see Bumper Year for the Leading Lights Awards.)

Stick around on Wednesday for the second day of Light Reading's Big Telecom Event, taking place at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers on June 17-18. (Details and the agenda are on our show site, Big Telecom Event.)

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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