Nokia strives to be 'vendor of choice' with SON acquisition

Nokia Networks (NYSE:NOK) will gain self-organizing network (SON) expertise with the purchase of Eden Rock Communications, helping the Finnish vendor fulfill its vision to become the "vendor-of-choice" in that arena.

Through the acquisition, which is expected to be completed during the third quarter of 2015, Nokia aims to boost its multivendor SON radio optimization capabilities.

"With this combination of capabilities, we will effectively address a key customer pain point--automated optimization of heterogeneous networks in a multivendor environment," said Peter Patomella, vice president, customer experience management (CEM) and operations support systems (OSS) at Nokia Networks, in a press release. "By combining our products into one, we will accelerate the delivery of a compelling solution for this problem and provide best-in-class network performance and customer experience."

Based in Bothell, Wash., a suburb of Seattle, Eden Rock's SON solution worldwide is deployed with about a dozen large commercial networks, and there's a backlog in terms of interest from operators. In the U.S., T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) has deployed Eden Rock's SON technology nationwide to improve network services.

Eden Rock CEO Charles Immendorf, who plans to stay with the company after the acquisition is finalized, told FierceWirelessTech that Nokia has its own iSON Manager technology and a much larger team of engineers, which should help it scale and meet the demands of more operators that are interested in deploying the technology.

A number of things are novel about Eden Rock's solution, according to Immendorf.  The company started talking with operators four or five years ago about SON to understand their needs and one of the first things they found out was "there was a lot about SON we didn't know," he said. There was a pretty broad spectrum of use cases and capabilities, so the company's engineers created an open platform where it's easy to create, customize, develop, validate and deploy SON modules.

Eden Rock now has a large tool box of SON modules and the ability to go from concepts to deployment on a new module very, very quickly. "Head to head, our modules will outperform anyone in the industry," he said.   

Terms of the deal were not revealed. In the release, Patomella noted size of the optimization and SON market is expected to exceed $5.45 million (€5 billion) globally by 2018.

As a part of the acquisition process, Eden Rock will spin off a new company with its spectrum sharing solutions, technology and patents. Developed in conjunction with several government programs, the technologies enable LTE networks to coexist in the same spectrum with government communications systems, radar systems and/or external mobile networks. 

Eden Rock, which has more than 20 patents and 70 pending, employs about 50 people, almost all of whom are in R&D. Primary competitors include Cisco, Amdocs, Huawei and Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC).

At Mobile World Congress 2015, Nokia Networks unveiled its iSON Manager, a centralized SON solution. The company also has launched a cloud-based OSS/CEM business model that delivers the Nokia iSON Manager software to operators "fast and flexibly," according to the company. In 2014, Nokia won the GSMA award for implementing and integrating SON solutions with Telefonica O2 UK.

Teaching networks to be self-aware is one of the pillars of Nokia's Technology Vision 2020, and one of the first steps toward automation in networks is SON. SON represents a predominantly local form of automation based on the principles of self-configuration, self-optimization and self-healing. Using simple rules based on radio engineering knowledge, SON increases operational efficiency and improves the network experience through higher network quality and better coverage, capacity and reliability, according to a Nokia white paper.

For more:
- see this Puget Sound Business Journal article
- see The Street article
- see the release

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