German NFV startup Core Network Dynamics is on the cusp of securing a major service provider contract that would cover about 80 million customers.
Spun off from Germany's Fraunhofer Institute in 2013, Core Network Dynamics GmbH (CND) is pioneering a new approach to network design that would see core network capabilities deployed at the very edge of the network, or even on customer premises. (See NFV Startup Could Challenge Incumbents .)
Taking advantage of software and virtualization technologies, the company -- which counts just 13 employees -- is among a crop of startups that are challenging the traditional way of building networks.
Until now, it has been working with service providers in a testbed environment, but that looks set to change this year.
"Last year we were increasingly receiving requests to go into live production," CEO Carsten Brinkschulte tells Light Reading. "A few operators doing an RFP process with us are considering using this instead of Huawei or Cisco."
In response to these developments, CND recently introduced a new version of its OpenEPC product that has been designed to work in a commercial environment. Brinkschulte says the latest iteration offers improved performance and stability over the previous design. (See NFV Startup CND Aims for Commercial Biz.)
"One RFP we think we are now in the process of winning is an 80-million-user deployment for mainstream services," he says.
Although he would not provide specific clues regarding the identity of that player, Brinkschulte did reveal that CND has been in talks about commercial deployments with players in Asia and one in the US.
CND has played down its potential to challenge equipment giants like Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) and is trying to focus its commercial activities on particular use cases, including Internet of Things deployments and public-safety networks.
"These are two areas where we feel we have an edge," says Brinkschulte. "[Bigger] rivals may be too slow and have too much legacy and maybe feel it is not the greatest opportunity just yet."
CND is already providing technology to a European military authority, which is using a backpack-like device so that a mobile core network can actually be moved around.
Similar functionality could be introduced in police cars by government authorities looking to overhaul old-fashioned TETRA networks, CND has previously argued. Should one police car be damaged in an accident, others including core network capabilities would ensure there is no disruption to services.
But the move from a testbed environment into what Brinkschulte calls "live production" networks will force CND to implement some huge organizational changes.
"You need to have support people in the company, do more marketing and sales -- it's a different animal," says Brinkschulte. "We are transforming into a commercial company."
That could entail raising funding from investors -- something CND has not done since the original Fraunhofer spinoff.
The company says it will team up with systems integrators to provide the level of support that commercial customers would demand.
— Iain Morris, , News Editor, Light Reading