Sources: Operax Scores With Tier 1 Carriers
Light Reading has learned that the Swedish firm is already working with BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), Orange (NYSE: FTE), and Telecom Italia (TIM) on their NGN projects, and is being put through its paces by a number of other European incumbent operators.
While the engagements at BT and Telecom Italia are believed to have been brokered directly, the company's involvement with France Telecom came through partner Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC), which landed an as yet unannounced IMS deal with the French national carrier last year. (See FT Picks Ericsson for IMS.)
Operax declines to comment on the identity of its customers. CEO Anders Lindén says only that his company is working with some major carriers on their NGN projects, but that non-disclosure agreements prevent him from talking further. Ericsson says it can't discuss any work it might be doing with France Telecom.
So what is it that makes Operax so interesting to Europe's major operators? It seems the company has beaten the rest of the market, including the likes of Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA), Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU), and Nortel Networks Ltd. , in developing important bandwidth management technology that service providers will need if they are to deliver multiple IP-based services –- VOIP, IPTV, videoconferencing, online gaming -– to their broadband customers.
Operax has concentrated its efforts on developing a bandwidth management platform for fixed-line operators based on standards developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) -- namely TISPAN (Telecoms & Internet Converged Services & Protocols for Advanced Networks). TISPAN has focused on extending the IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) standards -- developed originally for mobile operators -- to make them relevant to wireline carriers, and on developing a reference architecture for PSTN carriers planning to migrate to IP-based networks. (See The Role of IMS in PSTN-to-VOIP Migration and ETSI Issues NGN.)
The specific TISPAN function on which Operax has focused is the RACS (Resource Admission Control Subsystem). In a nutshell, the RACS is responsible for vital functions such as policy control, admission control, and network resource management, and enables carriers to apply these controls on a per-session basis. (See Operax Talks Up QOS, Who Makes What: IP-Based Services Control, BT Guru Picks Holes in NGNsand Policy Control Heats Up.)
According to Graham Finnie, Senior Analyst at Heavy Reading, those are vital functions. "Those are critical capabilities. They'll be in the 'must have' list for the major fixed-line carriers, and they'll want something that's standards-based."
And Finnie, who has been following IMS and NGN developments closely, believes Operax has a head start with its RACS technology. "As far as I know no one else has a RACS product that is ready and deployable. All the big vendors say they're working on a RACS-based product but I don't think any of them actually have anything out in the market yet," says the analyst.
Operax is a privately-held company that has raised $23 million in five rounds from Nordic Venture Partners Management ApS , Innovacom , and Emano AB .
— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading