Nokia Siemens aims for Top 3 in sales to carriers

One of the newest manufacturers to enter the carrier business in Canada carries an old name and says it’s unknown, but vows to be in the Top 3 soon.

Nokia Siemens Networks, formed by the merger April 1 of the Finnish handset maker Nokia’s business group and the carrier operations of German equipment manufacturer Siemens Communications, is barely a year old. Separately they had been selling to service providers for years, but the combined entity has yet to make its mark against Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent, Nortel, Cisco and others.

However, Canadian region head Mark VanderHeyden is determined to push them aside. “We will be a sizeable top player in the Canadian marketplace,” he vowed during a recent press demonstration of the company’s wireless capabilities.

When pressed, he said he wants to be in the Top 3 in sales “in the next few years.” In North America, he said, the company is in sixth place. Its status as relatively unknown – although its current products are a melding of the two division’s existing lines – give it an advantage, VanderHeyden insisted.

“People don’t know really know who Nokia Siemens is, so we’re hungry to get some business in Canada,” he said. “As the No. 2 global player, I can come in and say [to carriers] I want business, I need to grow our business.”

His targets are mainly the nation’s biggest wireless and wireline providers – Bell, Rogers, Telus, Shaw, Cogeco, Videotron. Not only is he trying to interest them in Nokia Siemens’ switches, routers and transmitters, he’s also pushing the company’s ability to take over and run some carrier operations. In October, for example, the company signed a five-year managed services contract with Deutsche Telekom worth almost 300 million euros, in which Nokia Siemens Networks will assume control of DT’s personnel service provider, Vivento Technical Services.

In addition to signing deals to install or upgrade gear with carriers around the world, Nokia Siemens announced its intention to buy Santa Clara, Calif.-based Atrica Inc., which specializes in Carrier Ethernet solutions for Metropolitan Area Networks. The company said the deal will allow it to offer end-to-end Carrier Ethernet Transport solutions.

Nokia Siemens Canada has about 100 employees, mainly in Vancouver (where the former Nokia employees were based) and Toronto (where the former Siemens staffers were headquartered). Before the merger, VanderHeyden had been CEO of Siemens Canada.

VanderHeyden and Graham Ellis, the company’s Atlanta-based marketing manager, who performed most of the wireless demonstrations for reporters, stressed Nokia Siemens is putting together technologies and solutions to help carriers increase revenues by reducing churn.

“Operators would prefer to have consumers consuming time and minutes on their networks rather than going to Internet-based applications such as Google Talk and Skype,” Ellis explained.

So, for example, the company is offering its Communications Suite which includes a PC-based softphone that supports messaging, VoIP, presence and video calling and sharing for consumers or business users over 3G or wired phones.

The application allows a user to save a video clip and forward it as an e-mail attachment. Operators will appreciate the suite because the suite, which takes advantage of IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem)-enabled mobile devices, Ellis said. However, VanderHeyden said he’s not sure that there are enough IMS applications on the market yet to make carriers say they have the technology.

The demonstrations were a mix of real and laboratory applications showing Nokia Siemens solutions that could work on a range of 3G and WiFi-enabled handsets communicating with each other or SIP-enabled fixed phones. Some of these could be sold by operators as a bundle of services, Ellis said.

For example, the company is working on a product called Mobile Meeting, now in proof-of-concept stage, a voice conference application which includes the ability to convert a slide to a compressed bitmapped image to save bandwidth when being sent to handset users.

Another idea in the proof of concept stage is dubbed a mobile digital video recorder, a TiVo-like capability to stream video to a handset.

While some of the capabilities shown are still being worked on, Ellis said the company has some 50 trials of IMS-based applications.

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