Expand. Contract. Expand.
That's been the pattern over the past few years for Tekelec, which today announced plans to acquire policy control company Camiant for $130 million and divulged it closed its acquisition yesterday of subscriber data management Blueslice Networks for more than $35 million.
News of these acquisitions comes three years after Tekelec sold off its money-losing Switching Solutions Group, which primarily sold softswitches, applications and gateways. Tekelec sold the business, made up of its previous Santera Systems LLC and Taqua Inc. acquisitions, to GENBAND (which subsequently spun off Taqua).
The news that Tekelec is now buying Camiant, however, doesn't come as a huge surprise, given policy control has become a hot area of late. As more subscribers and more applications get online, network operators need to better monitor and control their experiences to ensure these users and services are getting the network resources they have paid for, and have the ability to act if some users are taking more than they deserve. While the idea of service providers using such tools for fair use, it raises red flags for some network neutrality advocates. Still, I think it's pretty well understood that some level of policy management and control is not only justifiable but is in fact becoming a requirement.
"The mobile market has really come out of nowhere in the last 12 to 18 months in having to start managing the traffic on their networks," Jonathon Gordon, director of marketing at Allot Communications, which sells deep packet inspection gear that is used in policy-related applications, told me for a January INTERNET TELEPHONY article I did called "Policy Management Keeps on Truckin".
Indeed, as Tekelec points out in its release today, mobile data traffic is expected to grow at almost five times the pace of mobile data revenue from 2009 to 2013.
"The prospect that network growth could consume revenue faster than operators can generate it marks a new phase in the industry's maturation," Randy Fuller, vice president of business development at Camiant, said last year. "... there are definite opportunities for mobile operators to use rate plan structures to help solve this problem and that users are receptive to creative alternatives."
As for Blueslice Networks, which Tekelec acquired yesterday, I have to be honest, I don't recall having ever heard of them. But Tekelec informs us that Blueslice's evolved Subscriber Data Management solutions are in use 19 customers worldwide and address mobile (2G, 3G, IMS and LTE), VoIP, FMC and M2M applications.
Anyway, this deal also ties into a strategy to help service providers more effectively manage their networks to optimize bandwidth and support new services to help them keep and add customers, grow revenues, and justify further network investment.