Can NSN Offload Its Carrier Ethernet Assets?
When NSN announced its restructuring program in November 2011, the vendor identified Carrier Ethernet -- the former Atrica assets, acquired in 2007 -- as a line of business that would either be "targeted for exit (possibly through divestment) or put in maintenance mode." So: either sold, shut down or mothballed. (See NSN Unveils Its Kill List and Analysts: NSN Focus Makes Sense.)
Other lines of business have been snapped up, including NSN's fixed access broadband and WiMax businesses, but as yet there's no word about Carrier Ethernet. (See NSN to Sell WiMax Biz , Adtran to Buy NSN's Broadband Unit, DragonWave to Buy NSN Unit and Nokia Siemens to Acquire Atrica.)
An informal survey of attendees/exhibitors here generated two main responses to the question (posed on the show floor by Light Reading): "Who might buy NSN's Carrier Ethernet business?"
The most popular response was that NSN would likely not find a buyer, even at a very low price. There is not much to gain in terms of the product portfolio and customers, while commitments to NSN customers, such as Orange (NYSE: FTE), and the cost of taking on the associated staff might not make such an acquisition worthwhile. (See Atrica Plugs Into France Telecom.)
Several vendor executives with knowledge of NSN's assets and relationships, though, suggested that if any company was to make a move, it would be Juniper Networks Inc. (NYSE: JNPR), a longtime NSN partner and the lead partner in the duo's Carrier Ethernet Solutions joint venture, which was formed in June 2009 and which unveiled its Carrier Ethernet Transport 2.0 (CET) collection about a year ago. (See NSN, Juniper Update on Carrier Ethernet, Juniper, NSN Launch Joint Venture and Trilliant Buys SkyPilot.)
At the heart of Juniper's potential interest would be the Aspen management system that came from Atrica and which was developed by the joint venture to manage not only NSN's Ethernet access switches but also Juniper's MX metro Ethernet service routers.
Juniper "could do with a management system -- that's something it's not so good at," stated one opinionated executive at the show (on condition of anonymity).
Juniper, which this week unveiled a new access router targeted initially at the mobile backhaul market, said it doesn't comment on such issues. NSN confirmed that the Carrier Ethernet business was one of those identified for either "exit or maintain" mode, but said it couldn't comment on any specific developments. (See Juniper Takes MPLS Into Mobile Access and Has Juniper Missed the Backhaul Boat?)
— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading