A month or so ago, when Amdocs announced its Actix acquisition, I wrote a blog post hinting that the BSS specialist was treading into waters that many folks would say were way out of its depth. Even with Actix, the Amdocs heritage is decidedly NOT telco network-centric. To think that acquiring a RAN optimization platform would give it the chops to compete with the likes of Ericsson, NSN, Huawei or Alcatel-Lucent – even Samsung or NEC – was borderline crazy.
This week, I traveled to San Diego for the Amdocs InTouch customer event. I ate and drank in the Southern California sunshine, and I came back with a different perspective. Seriously, sunshine and fruit of the vine notwithstanding, I got to speak with folks from Actix. I got to hear from Eli Gelman (Amdocs’ CEO) and other Amdocs subject matter experts on why the combination of Amdocs, Actix and, most recently, Celcite will form a potentially sharp thorn in the side of the aforementioned radio network equipment providers (NEPs).
To be clear, much of what I heard was not necessarily the stuff from which revolutionary insights emerge. In fact, most of the rationale put forth was fairly straightforward. However, the information shared was self-ware – and it was comprehensive.
- I heard that Amdocs is one of the few vendors with the professional services heft to compete with the capabilities that Ericsson, NSN, et al. can bring to a large LTE optimization project.
- I heard that Actix is vendor-neutral, and thus has no horse in the race to sell more radios.
- I heard that Actix is being used by AT&T, as well as by many other operators, to validate the deployments that incumbent radio suppliers will claim to be optimizing.
- I heard that the customer information (i.e., subscriber management and billing data) resident on Amdocs’ platforms can produce powerful implications for tying network optimizations to improvements that drive customer experience in a much more meaningful way than is possible today.
Pretty standard fare, right? Still, maybe the elegance in these arguments is in their simplicity.
- Maybe, if operators are already relying on Actix as a check and/or balance to the optimizations that their radio vendors are doing, then adding Amdocs services know-how and pulling in back-office data is a real differentiator.
- Maybe if CIOs are increasingly sitting at the table with CTOs when equipment purchase decisions are being made, then an optimization partner with IT in its company DNA can be an attractive option.
- Maybe if Ericsson can buy its way into a leadership position with OSS/BSS and IT services, Amdocs can pull the same trick with respect to wireless network optimizations.
Of course, this is all speculation right now. The fact is that technology expertise matters to operators… regardless of the domain. So, in order to compete with equipment vendors in network optimization, Amdocs will have to demonstrate its chops – most likely on a small scale at first – and it is not clear that Amdocs can pull this off. Lest we forget, while Amdocs is cutting its networking teeth, the NEPs of the world will continue their charge into Amdocs’ backyard.
In short, however, the main point to be made in all this speculation is that Amdocs has an interesting story to tell. And that story is likely to play out in the NEPs backyard too.