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Leading Lights Finalists 2015: Company of the Year (Private)

Light Reading received 16 strong entries for the best company (private) awards category, and whittling these down to a shortlist was no easy task. But we ultimately thought seven of the players made a strong case for getting through to the final round. Here are the shortlisted companies:

Affirmed Networks
A startup targeting virtualization, Affirmed Networks Inc. claims to have developed the industry's only virtual Evolved Packet Core product that has already been commercially deployed. The company has raised about $163 million in financing from investors including Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) (through its T-Venture arm) and Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) (through Vodafone Ventures). Its client list currently extends to more than 20 operators and it is working on about 40 trials with Tier 1 and 2 service providers around the world.

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Affirmed Networks' overriding message is that virtualization of the mobile network will allow operators to realize savings of 30% to 60% compared to using legacy technologies. Service providers are clearly taking note: Affirmed Networks doubled its customer numbers and bookings in 2014 and expects to repeat that feat in 2015.

BTI Systems
The Intelligent Cloud Connect platform developed by BTI Systems Inc. combines MPLS core routing functions with optical transport technology and is aimed at helping operators reduce costs, bolster efficiency and generally become more agile.

The product holds several specific attractions. For one thing, it is interoperable with equipment from leading vendors including Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) and ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063; Hong Kong: 0763). What's more, by using a single platform instead of separate MPLS core routing and optical transport systems, customers can expect to reduce total cost of ownership by more than 70%, according to BTI, and reduce their capital expenditure by a similar amount.

BTI serves as many as 380 customers, including the likes of Equinix Inc. (Nasdaq: EQIX), Rackspace , Interxion , CyrusOne , Pacnet , IPC and VKontakte, and appears to be going from strength to strength. Last year, its revenues were 18% higher than in 2013 and it has tripled its number of metro cloud customers in the past two years.

BTI has raised about $65 million in growth funding since 2011 from investors, including Bain Capital Ventures, BDC, Covington Capital and GrowthWorks.

Next page: Casa Systems and MBC

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