Nokia buys Comptel to improve its SDN orchestration story

The push into IoT and vertical market ‘adjacencies’ is a critical element of Nokia’s turnaround plan, but another aspect is the creation of a standalone software business. It has been making acquisitions to support this, and the latest is the €347m cash bid to acquire Comptel.

Also based in Finland, Comptel is a communications software specialist whose technology will bolster Nokia’s Applications & Analytics business. In particular, this long-time Nokia partner will extend its new parent’s capabilities in service orchestration for the telco cloud, and real time analytics for the mobile BSS (business support system).

These are areas where competition is fierce – Ericsson has also been buying up specialist firms as the network vendors face challenges from IT players like IBM, Oracle and Amdocs – the last of these has stolen a march in telco SDN with its close alliance with AT&T for the latter’s ECOMP orchestration would-be standard.

Nokia said Comptel would enhance its portfolio “by adding critical solutions for catalog-driven service orchestration and fulfillment, intelligent data processing, customer engagement, and agile service monetization.”

Nokia expects to combine Comptel’s technology with its own OSS/BSS, analytics, CloudBand and Nuage offerings to increase its ability to support end-to-end orchestration of NFV and SDN deployments. It will be better able to help operators close the loop between service assurance and fulfilment, and automate the creation and management of complex service offers for mobile consumers, multiplay customers and the IoT.

“The timing of the Comptel purchase is important as our customers are changing the way they build and operate their networks. They are turning to software to provide more intelligence, automate more of their operations, and realize the efficiency gains that virtualization promises,” said Bhaskar Gorti, president of Nokia’s Applications & Analytics group.

Nokia’s offer represents a premium of 28.8% on Comptel’s closing share price on February 8, and while a counterbid could emerge, Nokia noted that several major shareholders have already agreed to sell their shares.

Comptel was founded in 1986 and employs more than 800 people in 32 countries. It claims it processes 20% of the world’s mobile usage data and orchestrates communications and digital services for more than 2bn end users a day. CEO Juhani Hintikka said that, combined with Nokia, it will be “an agile and innovative player which can challenge current market leaders head-to-head”.