Leading Lights Finalists: Private Company of the Year

10:25 AM -- Now that the Leading Lights finalists have been selected, here's the rationale for our picks in the private company of the year category:

  • ip.access Ltd. -- The company's femtocell technology fixes indoor coverage problems for mobile operators, and it's at heart of AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s Microcell service, which is the largest femto rollout in the US. But that's not all ip.access has going for it. The company also has a thriving GSM picocell business, and just scored a contract with Bharti Airtel Ltd. (Mumbai: BHARTIARTL) for its nanoGSM picocell. The company recently secured a research and development facility in Pune, India, with 15 engineers, and it plans to add 25 more by the end of the year.

  • LightSquared -- If bold and brazen risk-taking were enough to make our finalist list, well, that would explain LightSquared's appearance here. But the company didn't make the list just for its cojones. This new Long Term Evolution (LTE) venture has a potentially disruptive business model for the next generation of mobile broadband networks in the US. LightSquared stands apart from other LTE carriers because it plans to offer wholesale capacity on its network to other service providers.

  • Metaswitch Networks -- The company made it clear this year that it wants to do more than its traditional business of selling VOIP gear, application servers, and protocol stacks. In March, it splashed out an unknown amount on AppTrigger Inc. , which gave Metaswitch a ticket to the service broker market and some street cred in the hot Service Provider Information Technology (SPIT) space.

  • OpenCloud Ltd. -- The application server and service broker specialist is getting traction this year, particularly through its relationship with Nokia Networks . Customers include BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA), Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD), and T-Mobile International AG . And recent M&A activity shows just how hot this SPIT sector really is: Metaswitch nabbed AppTrigger, Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL) snapped up Convergin , and Amdocs Ltd. (NYSE: DOX) acquired jNetX Inc. So we wonder, is OpenCloud next?

  • Openet Telecom Ltd. -- Ruffling the feathers of bigger competitors is always a good sign in a private company in a growing technology sector, and Irish mediation and policy control specialist Openet has done just that. The firm is under legal attack from Amdocs, which has sued Openet for patent infringements in its FusionWorks mediation platform. Openet has some big-time customers in AT&T and Orange (NYSE: FTE), and has recently been rumored to be an acquisition target for Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO).

  • Sequans Communications -- Building on its WiMax heritage, the French chipmaker has expanded into making chipsets for LTE devices as well. So, Sequans is well placed since it has a foot in both 4G camps. A feather in its cap for the LTE market is its role in supplying device chips for China Mobile Communications Corp. 's TD-LTE showcase in Shanghai earlier this year. And in the WiMax market, a Sequans chipset powers the High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498) Evo WiMax smartphone.

  • Stoke Inc. -- The network gateway company has positioned itself to help mobile operators alleviate capacity constraints in their core networks. That's a good place to be, considering how fast mobile data traffic is increasing for all mobile operators. But Stoke doesn't stop at today's 3G mobile data networks, as it also has in its bag of tricks gateway products for LTE base station aggregation as well as femtocell aggregation. And it has LTE heavy-hitter NTT DoCoMo Inc. (NYSE: DCM) as a strategic investor.

    — Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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