Athonet scooped the award for Best Solution for Growing Smaller or Independent Networks at the Global Mobile Awards 2016 held during Mobile World Congress last week (22-25 February 2016) based on its Software Mobile Core product.
By leveraging its LTE virtual Enhanced Packet Core (EPC) solution including VoLTE, VoWiFi and eMBMS, Athonet has successfully enabled customers worldwide to deploy solutions simply, cost-effectively and in record time.
It is the industry's most efficient mobile core solution, which can be deployed in fully virtualised environments (NFV), enterprise data centres or on standard off-the-shelf servers. Among the deployments of Athonet’s LTE Mobile Core considered for the award were:
• Connecting The Next Four Billion - deploying Malawi’s first LTE network in record time in a highly cost effective manner enabling one of the poorest countries in the world to bridge the digital divide
• Mission Critical Enterprise Deployment – deploying a mobile core network for Enel, the multinational electric power utility, to cover one of the largest power plants in Europe and provide ultra-low latency mission critical coverage for Internet-of-Things, machine-to-machine communications, real time video, safety at work applications, etc.
• Defence & Public Safety – deployment by the Finnish Government, a pioneer in mobile communications, in conjunction with Airbus, of Athonet’s fully software based evolved packet core to create a dedicated MVNO for defence and public safety
• Audio/Video Broadcasting - deploying a private LTE network dedicated to serving Rai Way, Italy’s state-owned transmission and broadcasting network provider, within the large area covered by EXPO 2015 World’s Fair in Milan.
“We are proud to be recognised by the industry as leaders in distributed and dedicated network solutions with our cost effective and easy to deploy complete LTE mobile core. This creates new markets for LTE based networks that were previously not possible. I’d like to thank all my colleagues at Athonet for their hard work as well as all our clients and partners for their support,” said Karim El Malki, chief executive officer at Athonet.
“This confirms our vision that the software IS the network. I would like to thank all the amazing people who have been working with us to bring this vision to life,” added Gianluca Verin, chief technology officer of Athonet.
Speaking to Wireless at Mobile World Congress after winning the award, Stefano Cocco, Head of Sales at Athonet, explained that the company was expanding into new sectors. ‘We are now moving from just targeting the public safety and emergency services market to the mobile network operator (MNO) and MVNO market.
‘The MVNO solution can be used for mission critical networks by organisation that cannot afford to invest in traditional core solutions from big mobile equipment vendors and which do not want a hosted network option. So, we are trying to address this base with our core platform and SaaS approach, where they can pay monthly for the actual users they have of the network.’
He continued: ‘In the past in the emergency services market, they said; don’t talk to us about LTE, we don’t have the devices. Now the devices are cheaper and the idea of the emergency services jumping directly to LTE is becoming a reality. The infrastructure and eNodeB base stations for LTE are cheaper now too compared with PMR (professional mobile radio) systems.’
Cocco points to the Malawi project mentioned above. ‘They cannot afford to spend millions to support just 2-3,000 users on LTE, so our solution works for them. We are working on several similar prospects where there are new small operators with some spectrum, but which need to begin their LTE networks on a small scale.’
Athonet also initially targeted the ‘campus’ network concept providing dedicated hotspot networks for enterprises, campus, utilities and the like. This enables MNOs to offer customers something different, rather than just fighting it out with their competitors with the price of Sims and data packages.
Cocco says: ‘These users get a dedicated service. The traffic stays inside the enterprise’s firewall; they can define their own policies and so on. This is a strategy we got from the big names, such as Vodafone, who want to offer these dedicated networks.’
He adds that Athonet’s other big focus at the moment is its MBMS (Multimedia Broadcast Multicast Services) proposition for video broadcasting. ‘But we are taking a different approach to the big names,’ says Cocco.
‘The big names want to upgrade the full network to MBMS, but our approach is to only upgrade in the areas where it makes sense, for example, in a big stadium. Upgrade the base station that serves the stadium and broadcast video to the people in the stadium. We are offering this solution with Nokia,’ reports Cocco.
Another example of how Athonet technology can save customers money is its collaboration with Italian energy company Enel, which owns power companies in Italy and Spain. Enel has 800,000 M2M Sims in use on its infrastructure.
‘That’s a lot of Sims for a very small amount of traffic, but Enel spent a lot of money every month for these services as it all adds up,’ points out Cocco. ‘They have now changed the business model. They set up an MVNO, implanted our MVNO core, and bought traffic from Telcom Italia. They got back their investment very quickly. I believe this kind of approach will be replicated in other areas,’ he says.
Athonet was founded with the vision that as mobile broadband became a reality, the explosion in voice and data traffic would require a completely new network paradigm based on a highly distributed software based network with intelligence everywhere.
Its mobile core was created from the ground up as a completely software based solution to combine the simplicity of IP and cloud-based architecture with the rapid advances in processing power coming from the computing industry.
Athonet provides a complete software-based mobile packet core solution (EPC/PC) which also includes a Home Subscriber Server (HSS), Home Location Register (HLR), Voice-over-LTE (IMS for VoLTE), Voice-over-WiFi (WiFi calling) and LTE Broadcast (eMBMS). It is designed for centralised or highly distributed deployments in Tier 1 mobile operators, challenger telcos, governments and public safety or mission critical applications.