Starent Shines On
The startup is to deploy its Samsung-branded GPRS Support Node (GGSN) and Serving GPRS Support Node (SGSN) within SK Telecom's (Nasdaq: SKM) new W-CDMA network, due for commercial launch by the end of this year (see SKT Picks Samsung, Starent). W-CDMA networks use some of the same elements as earlier general packet radio service (GPRS) networks. That is why Samsung can use this GGSN, which connects the IP network to the radio network enabling more sophisticated data services, in a 3G environment.
The contract follows earlier wins in the CDMA 2000 1x market with VIVO and China Unicom Ltd. (see Starent Wins Vivo Deal and China Unicom Picks Starent).
The deal comes as little surprise to market analysts, in light of Starent’s partnership with Samsung and the close ties both vendors have with the Korean carrier (see Starent Teams With Samsung and SK OKs Samsung, Starent PDSN).
“It is a natural extension of Starent’s relationships with both companies,” says Ken Rehbehn, principal analyst for wireless infrastructure at Current Analysis.
Despite the cozy background, the startup claims it has had to fight for its latest win. “There were a number of players that were invited to showcase their technology and knowhow,” comments Gennady Sirota, Starent's VP of products management and marketing. “A number of those players came from Europe and North America, and we had the opportunity to stand up against the top solutions.”
Sirota is unable to divulge exactly which players were involved, or comment on the financial details of the deal.
Current Analysis’s Rehbehn claims the win is a significant move for Starent in its efforts to dominate the startup space, but points to the challenge it is likely to face from incumbent vendors.
“In terms of units shipped, Starent is possibly now at the head of the line, but it has had to be very careful in differentiating itself as the only startup to offer both services. Cisco, for example, is very much involved in this market.”
Starent’s success comes at a time of mixed fortunes for startups in the wireless router space. Last month WaterCove Networks Inc. secured an OEM deal with Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) (see WaterCove Wins Alcatel), while other rivals appear to be struggling to establish themselves.
Tahoe Networks is rumored to be on the verge of shutdown following a spate of redundancies and dearth of contract wins (see Tata to Tahoe?); and Megisto Systems Inc. is keeping schtum following initial trial contracts last year (see Optimus Trials Megisto).
— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung