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AI/Automation

Leading Lights 2021: The Finalists

On behalf of Light Reading's editors, it is once again my pleasure to announce this year's shortlist for the annual Leading Lights Awards.

Now in its 17th year, the Leading Lights is Light Reading's way of recognizing the innovation in and continued evolution of the global communications industry.

Before we get to the finalists, let me first thank everyone who took the time to submit entries and tell us about the companies they work for and the products and strategies that are making a difference in the industry. The competition is tough and the companies making it this far should be proud.

The judging process

The judging process is always a challenge wherein we apply some objective methodology to what is essentially a subjective process. Of course, we simply can't put everyone through to the final round and, no, we have nothing against your company personally. The awards judging process does evolve a little each year and this year we've made sure that each category had more than one judge and that our editors were constantly collaborating with industry analysts and subject-area experts.

The judges for the finalist round included Light Reading editors Fiona Graham, Jeff Baumgartner, Iain Morris, Alan Breznick, Kelsey Kusterer Ziser and Mike Dano, as well as our all-star contributors Nicole Ferraro and Roz Roseboro. We also had the help of an excellent panel of guest judges. These included Dell'Oro VP Jeff Heynen, Patterson Advisory Group CEO Jim Patterson, Omdia Principal Analyst James Crawshaw, Heavy Reading Principal Analyst Jennifer Clark, Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Sterling Perrin, Mobile Ecosystem Managing Director Mark Lowenstein and Tantra Analyst Principal Prakash Sangam.

One last programming note: We started the 2021 Leading Lights with 26 categories but dropped two – Outstanding Optical/IP Networking Components Vendor and Outstanding Use Case: Cable Business Services – because they lacked the volume of entries required to make it a good contest.

What's next

Coming up: The Leading Lights winners will be announced via an online video on October 1, 2021. A Leading Lights "after-party," to celebrate the contest's finalists and winners, will be held during the week of October 26, 2021, to coincide with our editorial staff's tradition of attending and covering Mobile World Congress Los Angeles. We've booked a venue for the after-party and will reveal those details in the coming weeks.


The shortlist

But before that happens, we need to get on with the business of revealing the finalists our editors and guest judges have picked for the Light Reading Leading Lights Awards. The shortlist is below, so start scrolling:

Best Deal Maker

Awarded to the company that has consistently demonstrated good timing, judgment and execution in high-profile acquisitions, partnerships, joint ventures and other multi-company financial or strategic arrangements.

  • Amdocs
  • ATX Networks
  • DZS
  • Juniper Networks

Best New 5G Core Product

Awarded to the vendor that has launched the most innovative 5G core product during the past year.

  • Amdocs
  • Jio Platforms
  • Mavenir
  • NEC Corporation
  • NetNumber
  • Nokia
  • Radcom
  • VMware

Best New Cable Tech Product or Service

Awarded to the vendor or network operator that has launched the most innovative cable technology product or cable-powered service during the past year.

  • Calix – Calix DPx, part of the Intelligent Access EDGE Software Connectors portfolio
  • Casa Systems – vVideo
  • CommScope – RD2322 RxD
  • Harmonic – CableOS Cloud-Native Core Platform
  • Synamedia – Media Edge Gateway ATSC 3.0 Receiver
  • Technetix Group – XGT gigabit modular outdoor multitaps

Best New Cloud Product or Service (Network Operator)

Awarded to the network operator (telco, cloud, cable, etc.) that has launched the most innovative cloud-native product or service during the past year.

  • Alkira – Alkira Network Cloud
  • BSO – BSO Cloud Connect
  • Cox Communications – Cox Edge
  • PacketFabric – PacketFabric Cloud Router
  • Spectrum Enterprise – Unified Communications (UC) Omnichannel

Best New Open RAN Product

Awarded to the vendor that has launched the most innovative open RAN product during the past year.

  • Altiostar – Altiostar containerized 5G Open vRAN software suite
  • Amdocs – Amdocs SmartRAN
  • Casa Systems – Apex 5G Evo
  • Cohere Technologies – 2x Spectrum Multiplier xApp for the Telco Cloud
  • Mavenir – Fully Containerized, Open Virtualized RAN (vRAN)
  • NEC Corporation – 5G Radio Unit (RU)
  • Parallel Wireless – Open RAN
  • VMware – VMware Telco Cloud Platform RAN
  • Xilinx – Xilinx Zynq RFSoC DFE

Best New Optical Networking/IP Product

Awarded to the company that has launched the most innovative optical networking or IP product during the past year.

  • DriveNets – DriveNets Network Cloud Multiservice solution
  • Fujitsu Network Communications – Fujitsu Semi-Active Fronthaul Transport Solution
  • Infinera – Infinera GX Series G42 Compact Modular Platform
  • IP Infusion – IP Infusion's OcNOS-OTN network operating system, based on Cassini
  • Marvell Technology – 400G DR4 silicon photonics platform solution
  • MaxLinear – Keystone 5nm PAM4 DSP
  • PacketFabric – PacketFabric Cloud Router
  • Ribbon – Apollo TM400_2
  • RtBrick Inc – Disaggregated BNG (Broadband Network Gateway) Routing Software

Best New Video/Media Product or Service

Awarded to the company that has launched the most innovative streaming video or other media product or service during the past year.

  • Minerva Networks – Minerva Smart Highlights
  • Orange – Immersive Now
  • Qwilt – Edge Cloud for Content Delivery
  • Radisys – Engage Speak2Bot
  • ThinkAnalytics – Super-aggregation with ThinkAnalytics

Company of the Year (Private)

Awarded to the privately held firm that stands out from its competitors, innovates constantly, makes investors proud and makes employees happy.

  • Altiostar
  • Cellwize
  • Celona
  • Colt Technology Services
  • Cujo AI
  • DriveNets
  • Innovium
  • Parallel Wireless
  • Plume
  • Windstream Wholesale

Company of the Year (Public)

Awarded to the publicly listed firm that stands out from its competitors, innovates constantly, makes investors proud and makes employees happy.

  • Amdocs
  • Boost Mobile
  • Ciena
  • Comcast Business
  • CSG
  • Fortinet
  • Marvell Technology
  • Ooredoo Group

Most Innovative 4G/5G Business Service

Awarded to the company that has launched a leading, innovative service delivered on 4G or 5G networks for business customers during the past year.

  • Betacom – Betacom 5G-as-a-Service
  • Cradlepoint – Cradlepoint's Second Generation "5G for Business" Product Portfolio
  • Global Telecom – Fixed Wireless for 5G
  • RedShift Networks, Inc. – RedShift Networks 5G Security
  • Wind River – Wind River Studio
  • Zyxel Communications – Zyxel launches first true nationwide 5G

Most Innovative 4G/5G Consumer Service

Awarded to the company that has launched a leading, innovative service delivered on 4G or 5G networks for consumers during the past year.

  • Casa Systems & Telus – 5G Multicast Demo
  • Orange – Immersive Now

Most Innovative Hybrid Networking Strategy

Awarded to the company that has outlined and clearly communicated an innovative, market-leading hybrid networking technology strategy during the past year.

  • Amdocs
  • Gluware
  • Technetix Group

Most Innovative SD-WAN Product/Service Evolution

Awarded to the company that has outlined and clearly communicated how its SD-WAN product or service has improved and kept changing in the past year to help deliver a superior SD-WAN experience to its customers.

  • Aryaka
  • Colt Technology Services
  • Fortinet
  • Hughes Network Systems
  • Juniper Networks
  • Masergy Communications
  • VMware

Most Innovative Service Provider Cloud Strategy

Awarded to the network operator or service provider that has outlined and clearly communicated an innovative, market-leading cloud strategy during the past year.

  • Colt Technology Services
  • Deutsche Telekom Technik
  • Plume & Liberty Global
  • Telstra Smart Wi-Fi powered by Airties Cloud

Outstanding Digital Enablement Vendor

Awarded to the next-generation OSS/BSS/CX, analytics or digital commerce systems vendor that stands out from its competitors, innovates constantly, helps set the industry trends, makes investors proud and makes employees happy.

  • Amdocs
  • Comarch SA
  • CSG
  • Cubic Telecom
  • LotusFlare
  • MATRIXX Software
  • Mavenir
  • Netcracker Technology
  • Subex

Outstanding Test & Measurement Vendor

Awarded to the communications networking test and measurement, monitoring or assurance systems vendor that stands out from its competitors, innovates constantly, helps set the industry trends, makes investors proud and makes employees happy.

  • ECSite
  • EXFO (Twice!)
  • Incognito Software Systems
  • Juniper Networks
  • Keysight Technologies
  • LightRiver
  • MultiLane
  • RedShift Networks
  • VIAVI Solutions

Outstanding Use Case: Customer Experience

Awarded to the company that used its communications technology or network to deliver a superior customer experience, bringing value to individuals or communities in the past year.

  • IntelePeer
  • IP Infusion
  • Juniper Networks
  • PAC Fiber (with Adtran)
  • Plume's Consumer Experience Management Platform
  • Spectrum Enterprise
  • Synamedia

Outstanding Use Case: Edge Computing

Awarded to the company that can articulate a compelling example of how it delivered edge computing solutions – either network or customer-facing – that helped make a difference in a customer's business during the past year.

  • American Tower
  • DE-CIX
  • HGC Global Communications
  • Rafay Systems
  • Qwilt

Outstanding Use Case: Private Wireless Networks

Awarded to the company that can share the most compelling example of building and/or operating a private wireless network on behalf of a corporate or municipal customer during the past year.

  • Boingo
  • Celona (Twice!)
  • Cradlepoint
  • Federated Wireless
  • Mavenir
  • SK Telecom

Outstanding Use Case: Service Provider AI/Automation

Awarded to the company that is using automation and/or artificial intelligence in an innovative way to improve network performance, customer service or business operations.

  • Altiostar
  • Capgemini Engineering
  • Cellwize
  • Ericsson
  • Juniper Networks and Orange Poland
  • Polystar
  • Red Hat and Turkcell
  • STC and MYCOM OSI
  • Tata Consultancy Services

Outstanding Use Case: Service Provider IoT

Awarded to the service provider or other company helping customers change the way they do business with innovative Internet of Things devices and services.

  • BT
  • Cognitive Systems
  • Digi International
  • MachineQ

Outstanding Use Case: Service Provider Security (can include SD-WAN)

Awarded to the network operator, cloud provider or other service provider that can articulate a compelling example where they helped provide exceptional security products or services to a customer during the past year.

  • Comcast Business
  • Murphy USA
  • NoviFlow
  • Open Systems

Person of the Year

Awarded to the communications industry individual, at any corporate level, who made an unmistakably big difference in your company's performance, character, community or culture in the last 12 months.

  • Glo Gordon, CEO, Matrixx Software
  • Jamie Jefferies, VP and GM, International, Ciena
  • Barry Napier, CEO, Cubic Telecom
  • Charlie Vogt, President and CEO, DZS
  • Ken Xie, Chairman and CEO, Fortinet

Congratulations to everyone who has made the shortlist and thank you to everyone who entered the Leading Lights. In the coming weeks, the Light Reading team will write about the finalists and provide some insight into the shortlisted submissions.

Light Reading Hall of Fame

We need a bit more time to vet the Hall of Fame suggestions. The inductees to the Light Reading Hall of Fame, which seeks to recognize several individuals – the famous and infamous – for their remarkable contributions to the sector, will be announced in December.

— Phil Harvey, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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