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In 2018, US software-based telecom networking provider, Mavenir, will continue to embrace disruptive, innovative technology architectures and business models that drive service agility, flexibility and velocity, the company's president told Telecom Review. Ahead of Mobile World Congress 2018, BG Kumar discussed Mavenir's recent projects and acquisitions that serve the telecom sector.

Mavenir recently launched its new virtualized Media Breakout Controller (vMBC). Can you outline what benefits this will provide for wireless operators?
Operators are challenged to remain profitable while facing the dilemma of investing in network capacity. Our vMBC enables operators to offload their biggest source of user traffic, OTT encrypted video, to the cloud as soon as physically possible. With nearly 80 percent of user data being video, our solution allows for the redeployment of network assets from the user plane. It offers the ability to host virtual routing, firewall and user plane data offload in a single white box routing platform that can be deployed anywhere at the network edge including cell sites, local datacenters and enterprises. 

Our goal is to transform network economics, and the vMBC is a cost reduction solution that can be combined with additional virtual functions that provide video optimization, caching and virtualized Base Band Units (vBBUs), all having a significant impact on the TCO.

Mavenir recently acquired Aquto in order to help mobile operators drive data monetization. What other key benefits will this acquisition allow Mavenir to provide for operators?
Data monetization is an ongoing challenge for operators. In many regions, while smartphone penetration is high, data penetration is low. With prepaid subscribers purchasing little or no data, operators are looking towards sponsors, which include advertisers, marketers and enterprises to buy data on behalf of subscribers.

Aquto's Sponsored Data Platform provides for this type of value exchange by building a bridge to the mobile advertising ecosystem. Aquto enables operators to offer their subscribers Sponsored Data, where users engage with content free of charge, or data rewards, where they can gain additional data, often referred to as a "top-up", for consuming specific content or engaging with the advertiser.

Since sponsored data monetization offers a revenue sharing model for operators, there's no capex or opex spent. Operators enjoy new revenue streams from sponsors, increased data monetization and up to a 15% increase in ARPU for prepaid subscribers. On top of increased revenues, we've found that 75% of users have a more positive attitude towards the operator and are less likely to churn when they have unused data rewards in their account. We believe we can rejuvenate the prepaid market with a true revenue generation solution for operators.

Mavenir was recently recognized for its Multi-ID. How is this platform benefiting operators?Multi-ID enables operators to generate new revenue streams and bring innovation and disruptive services to market quickly. For example, subscribers can now purchase additional lines without having to purchase a new device, so they can send and receive voice, video and messaging across multiple devices using a single number, regardless of which carrier they choose to use. "One number, one device, one network" can finally be a paradigm of the past.

Customers are accustomed to accessing their email on any device, from anywhere in the world, regardless of the ISP. Mavenir is creating a similar experience for voice and messaging.  Our Multi-ID solution allows service providers to create numerous new services and generate new revenue streams. The solution is an NFV-based software platform that brings carrier-grade capabilities such as quality of service, reliability and availability, and is available as a standalone platform, or as part of our broad suite of network solutions for mobile operators.

Video traffic is expected to continue to rise exponentially in the forthcoming year. Do you think the vMBC will help reduce backhaul transport costs?
Yes, this solution opens the door for operators to utilize previously excluded fronthaul solutions and to process the radio interface on COTS processors, which together will significantly reduce the operator's TCO. Our vMBC extends virtualization to the edge of the network and provides strategic differentiation by enabling local break out of user traffic, which is mostly video.

Additionally, the vMBC can directly replace cell site routers, since it shares the same physical dimensions, ensuring the integrity of the existing network with seamless integration into next generation MANO operational systems.

The solution also optimizes S-GW and P-GW functionality, while eliminating the overhead of double forwarding. Service providers can use the vMBC to augment and extend their existing gateway products, while minimizing user plane latency.

What do you think are some of the biggest challenges currently facing the NFV industry?
Over the next two years, we expect to see major advances in operational efficiency, cost reduction and service flexibility, despite many well-known NFV challenges.

One of the biggest challenges we see is that most of the NFVI's that are deployed by incumbent vendors are running on end of life platforms and cannot follow Openstack standards. This actually slows down the migration of existing networks to NFV and can cause operators to miss out on the expected opex and capex savings that NFV can deliver.

Can you outline to us what your primary objectives and goals are for 2018?
In 2018, we will continue to embrace disruptive, innovative technology architectures and business models that drive service agility, flexibility and velocity.

CSPs are facing erosion of both market share and ARPU, as consumer behavior is changing at such a rate that mobile networks are struggling to keep up. This changing environment is driving a need for a software-only approach that lowers costs, increases revenues and enables new business models. Mavenir is purpose-built to redefine mobile network economics for Communication Service Providers (CSPs). Our innovative solutions pave the way to 5G with 100% software-based, end-to-end, cloud native network solutions. 

Can you outline your strategy for 2018 in the Middle East, and how you performed in the region in 2017?
I'm pleased to report that Mavenir had a strong 2017 in the Middle East as operators are upgrading networks to NFV, introducing new services and planning for 4G/5G. While leveraging our customer's existing legacy networks, we were able to provide cost reduction and revenue generation strategies such as WebRTC, VoLTE and VoWiFi resulting in significant operator wins and activity. One of our most exciting projects in 2017 was for our Multi-ID solution, which we are putting in one of the biggest Tier-1 operators in the Middle East.

Our strategy in 2018 is to continue working with operators in the Middle East, delivering game-changing revenue generating services, and helping with the challenge of reducing operator opex and capex spent for their mobile data services with our fully NFV compliant solutions, including the vEPC.

Network security is another key priority for operators in the Middle East this year, particularly with the growth of messaging spam and fraud. We will continue to protect our customers' networks and their revenues with our advanced, machine-learning based network security suite.