Starent Hushes on Sprint Deal
Wireless router startup Starent Networks Corp. is keeping tight-lipped on the prospect it has scored its most prolific deal to date with U.S. carrier Sprint Corp. (NYSE: FON).
Last year Unstrung reported that Starent appears to have struck an OEM agreement with Canadian incumbent Nortel Networks Ltd. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) for the use of its packet data service node (PDSN) kit. Scuttlebutt suggests Nortel’s new PDSN 16000 product is in fact an OEM version of Starent’s ST 16 Intelligent Mobile Gateway (see Starent May Have Nortel Win).
PDSNs are packet core network devices used in CDMA network systems. In their next-generation guises, they add sophisticated service creation, billing and IP traffic management capabilities to this strategic point in the network (see Having a Flutter on the GGSNs).
In December, Nortel was confirmed as PDSN supplier of Sprint’s CDMA2000 1xEV-DO network, part of a $3 billion network supplier agreement (see Sprint Invests in EV-DO).
Analysts believe such a scenario therefore points to a potentially lucrative win for Starent.
“Nortel essentially announced the PDSN 16000 through its win with Sprint,” notes Peter Jarich of Current Analysis. “If we presume that this is an OEM from Starent –- and most people do –- then it’s got to be registered as a win for both Nortel and its partner."
Starent declined to comment. A spokesman for Sprint confirmed that the PDSN agreement with Nortel is still in place following its $35 billion merger with Nextel (see Sprint, Nextel Confirm Merger).
Starent is no stranger to Sprint, having already announced a deal at the carrier’s partner, Virgin Mobile USA LLC. Operating as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), Virgin leases spectrum from Sprint and boasts the country’s fastest growing CDMA subscriber base (see Starent Confirms Virgin Deal).
A high-profile deal at Sprint would eclipse the startup’s eight other previously announced wins (see Starent Zapps Into Europe , Starent Wins at Verizon PR, Starent's Startup Double-Up, China Unicom Picks Starent, Starent Wins Vivo Deal, Rural Cellular Picks Starent, Starent Wins at US Cellular, and Starent Networks KDDI).
Data services platform startup NetSpira Networks SL is also a likely winner of any Sprint deal. Last year the company announced a partnership with Starent to supply its “Enhanced Charging Solution” to the wireless router vendor. The kit aims to enable operators to create, rate, and bill for data services without needing to upgrade their transport infrastructure (see Starent, NetSpira Do Billing).
— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung