OSS Firms Shake Up Market

Two new major deals in one of the hottest telecom software markets, inventory management, have shaken up the sector's status quo, with MetaSolv Software Inc. (Nasdaq: MSLV) and NetCracker Technology Corp. picking up the spoils.

NetCracker, not known for its enterprise-wide Tier 1 carrier deals, announced it had won a deal worth millions of dollars, which is big for an OSS contract, with "one of the world's leading telecommunications operators... NetCracker will become the inventory and services management platform for all of the operator's holding companies globally." (See NetCracker Scores Tier 1.)

Although NetCracker didn't, and wouldn't, name the customer, industry contacts confirmed the carrier as France Telecom SA (NYSE: FTE), which has about 125 million fixed and mobile customers in multiple territories. (See France Telecom Reports Q3 Results and Eurobites: Big Guns Fire Salvos.)

That sort of deal is normally the domain of market leader Telcordia Technologies Inc. or Cramer Systems Ltd., which has been collecting major European accounts, including a massive contract at BT Group plc (NYSE: BT; London: BTA) for its next-generation 21CN project. (See Cramer Dubs Dubois CEO and BT Awards Monster OSS Deal.)

Sector analyst Larry Goldman at OSS Observer says this is "a very significant win for NetCracker," one that shows the company can compete for the major Tier 1 accounts.

And not only compete, but see off Cramer, which was, confirms the company's product manager for solutions support, Robert Curran, in the shortlist for the France Telecom deal. Naturally, he questions how attractive the financial arrangements might be for the supplier, and whether the deployment will be as wide-ranging as suggested.

Whatever Curran's view, NetCracker is relatively well known by carriers, and, according to Stratecast Partners research for 2004, had 10 percent of the $310 million market. (See Report: OSS Minnows Have Muscle.)

Cramer, though, had 23 percent, and, as if to reassert itself as a dominant player in major accounts, Cramer today announced a deployment at Spanish incumbent Telefónica SA, alongside news of a system upgrade. (See Telefónica Picks IBM, Cramer and Cramer Updates Its OSS.)

In North America, MetaSolv continued its rehabilitation by announcing a multimillion-dollar deal for its inventory system, M6. (See MetaSolv Wins Big .)

Again, the vendor didn't and wouldn't, name the customer, but industry sources suggest the deal is with existing MetaSolv customer Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE: S). Details in the vendor's press release, noting the carrier customer's "wholesale cable partner initiative," also point towards Sprint. (See Cable Firms, Sprint in Fixed/Mobile Deal.)

MetaSolv is experiencing something of a revival this year and recently continued its positive news trend with a major deal in China and an activation system win at BellSouth Corp. (NYSE: BLS). (See MetaSolv Scores at BellSouth, MetaSolv Wins Big China Deal, and MetaSolv Turns a Corner.)

Today, its share price stands at $2.89, a marked improvement from the sub-$2 level of six months ago.

Elsewhere in OSS Land…

  • Joint venture telecom software and integration firm Mahindra British Telecom Ltd. (MBT) has acquired Texas-based telecom technology research firm Axes Technologies, which has facilities in MBT's home market of India, for $54 million. The move, which also gives MBT a footprint in the U.S., is regarded as a final step towards an IPO for MBT.

  • The analysts at OSS Observer reckon the market for commercial OSS systems (not including in-house and custom one-off developments) will grow from just over $13.1 billion this year to $18.7 billion in 2010. The fastest-growing segments include include real-time charging, service management, interconnect billing, inventory, and activation.

    Other OSS news of note:

    — Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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