CellGlide Targets GPRS Woes

U.K.-based CellGlide has today launched a new software product targeting carriers and intended to improve the dire quality of service offered on current GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) mobile phone networks (see CellGlide Manages GPRS).

The firm's Priority Access (PA) Manager application is aimed at service providers who want to be able to offer their customers a guaranteed service level for applications such as WAP downloads, email, Web browsing, and picture messaging (MMS) running over GPRS networks.

The management application is intended as a complement to the company’s Mobile Traffic Shaper (MTS), a traffic management box that sits at the edge of the GPRS core network and allows the network manager to prioritize the bandwidth available for services, based on available cell capacity, traffic type, and subscriber profiles. This hardware was introduced in February at the 3GSM World Congress.

Recently, Unstrung highlighted the poor quality of service levels in most GPRS networks today (see Wireless Nets Suck, Says Expert and Radcom Looks to Ease the Pain). “I couldn’t agree more with those views,” says CellGlide CEO Liron Langer. “There is a need for additional functionality that can ensure quality of service. GPRS quality cannot be left to chance. For GPRS to succeed, operators have to deliver predictable, reliable, and billable services.”

The company’s PA Manager product aims to enable carriers to launch applications that can generate instant revenue streams. “Priority Access GPRS services range from a mix of wireless access services to mission-critical business applications,” comments Langer. “This could include point-of-sale solutions, real-time data feeds to mobile devices, or push-to-talk applications. We believe it will provide mobile operators with the opportunity to realize immediate short-term increase in ROI.”

Langer adds that the last year has seen a marked shift in carrier attitudes toward GPRS service quality levels. “Operators today are more aware of the inefficiencies that exist in the network layer. This is a domain that is technology-driven. Operators understand that they need these products.”

Cyneta Networks Inc. in Plano, Texas, is the only company currently developing technology similar to CellGlide's. However, as demand for such technology builds, analysts expect CellGlide to face possible competition from traditional infrastructure players such as Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), LM Ericsson (Nasdaq: ERICY), Juniper Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: JNPR), Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), and Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT), each of which could either buy its way into the market or develop its own product.

CellGlide managed to sneak in at the foot of Unstrung's Top 25 Startups listing in July of last year. Since then, the VC-backed business has completed its first successful live test with Israeli carrier Cellcom, where detailed analysis of service quality degradation in GPRS networks under so-called ‘hotspot’ conditions was carried out. Service quality was tested in both its ‘natural’ network state and with mobile traffic shaping in use. CellGlide claims that, under normal conditions, Cellcom customers were experiencing response delays from mobile data in the range of 11-20 seconds, while the use of mobile traffic shaping equipment reduced that figure to 4-6 seconds.

The company is now in talks with “a number of major tier one European and Asian carriers for commercial rollout, following successful trials,” according to Langer. CellGlide hopes to have a similar product available for the developing EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for Global Evolution) market later this year.

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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