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February 11, 2008
Sonus Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: SONS) today announced a new gateway product aimed at bridging the divide between femtocells and IP-based core networks. (See Sonus Intros Mobile Access Node.)
The new mobilEdge Wireless Access Node expands the company's SIP signaling expertise into the fast-growing femtocell market, providing support for 2G GSM and 3G UMTS femtocell and picocell access points.
The new product is also compliant with development of the LTE and SAE efforts within the 3GPP, the company says.
The mobilEdge platform combines technology from its GSX switching products with technology acquired from femtocell specialist Zynetics last year. (See Sonus Buys Zynetix for $13M, Sonus to Buy Zynetix , and Sonus May Eye Niche Acquisition.)
While providing femto support will be key in targeting a new, fast-growing opportunity, the company hopes to differentiate itself primarily with its support for SIP and IP networking. Sonus CTO Vikram Saksena says the product was designed to help service providers drive their networks to an all-IP core.
"In 2006, we were talking to a lot of carriers about the evolution of their networks and how they saw femtocells fitting in with the core network," says Saksena. "They want to minimize investment in legacy switching and evolve quicker to an IP infrastructure."
Saksena says the ultimate goal of service providers is to avoid turning femto traffic into a circuit-switched connection altogether: "Once you packetize traffic, you should keep it in a packet form."
The news build on Sonus's focus on the wireless market and femtocells in particular. (See Sonus, IP.access Partner, Sonus Unveils GSM Strategy, and Sonus Targets Femtocells.)
Windsor Oaks Group LLC analyst Teresa Mastrangelo says, "I definitely think it's a smart move for Sonus. It's helping them to move into a new area. It lets the industry know they want to be a player on the mobile side and lets them know they're serious about the mobile market."
While Sonus already has some wireless customers, one analyst thinks the company may have trouble getting the message out that it's not just a wireline play.
Current Analysis analyst Peter Jarich says, "The problem they'll run into is that most customers don't think of Sonus as a wireless player. It's difficult for anyone that doesn't sell base stations to sell their wireless story."
Sonus is working on interoperability testing with femtocell suppliers now and, according to Saksena, expects the mobileEdge products in carrier deployments in the second half of the year.
— Ryan Lawler, Reporter, Light Reading
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