ProQuent: Alive and Growing

ProQuent Systems, a wireless services platform vendor, has rejected rumors that it is in imminent danger of collapse and instead claims to be ramping up its commercial operations.

Unstrung contacted ProQuent -- formerly known as Avian Communications -- after “allipv4,” a mischievous poster on our message boards, suggested the company is struggling to raise new investment (read the post here).

In a phone interview ProQuent CEO Tom Hamilton scoffed at this idea. “On the contrary,” he said, “we’re actually expanding and have recently hired people to meet demand. We’re in the 60 [employees] range at the moment and will be taking on headcount in the next couple of quarters.”

ProQuent has developed what it calls an “IP Mobile Services Switching Point,” which sits off to the side of the GPRS Gateway Support Node (GGSN) or the Packet Data Serving Node (PDSN) in GPRS/UMTS and CDMA networks.

The switching point enables operators to create, rate, and bill for fancy new wireless data services without needing to upgrade their existing transport infrastructures.

“Unlike the traditional IP services approach, where services are built into the transport layer, we’ve taken the IN [Intelligent Network] approach. This means we can distinguish with fine granularity what’s going on with data flows all the way up to Layer 7,” said Hamilton. In other words, they help the carrier to monitor what URLs and picture messaging services you’ve been using and bill you accordingly.

Several GGSN and PDSN (a.k.a. wireless router) vendors are also targeting this space (see: Having a Flutter on the GGSNs), but Hamilton says operators aren’t looking to upgrade this part of their networks. “Some of the GGSN guys haven’t achieved what they wanted and are shifting to the services side without having the right capabilities. It’s important to distinguish between their marketecture and architecture,” he chuckles.

While ProQuent has not yet announced any paying customers, it claims to have several ongoing trials with European operators and hopes to announce a deal in the next three months.

Hamilton also said they closed new funding in February but are looking to top up the round before announcing it officially. Asked to comment on the valuation, he replied: “Let’s just say you get a lot more for your money in terms of execution than you would’ve a couple of years ago.”

— Gabriel Brown, Research Analyst, Unstrung

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