FierceVoIP Honors SPIRIT DSP as One of “Fierce 15” VoIP Companies of 2005 2005 Fierce 15
AND THE 2005 WINNERS ARE
Today, I am pleased to announce the second annual Fierce 15, our list of the top emerging companies in the VoIP industry for 2005. Much has changed in VoIP over the past year. There are dozens of new VoIP service providers and hardware and software vendors. We’ve also seen shifting attitudes on VoIP regulation and taxation, as well as the arrival of a new FCC chairman. In fact, the industry’s entire landscape is vastly different from 2004. Once populated almost exclusively by startups, the VoIP market has now been joined by giant telcos and MSOs, as well as nearly all major telecom infrastructure vendors. On the software side, giants such as Microsoft and Google are showing a keen interest in VoIP.
Yet small, fierce companies still have a big role to play in shaping VoIP’s future. These businesses are the prime innovators and trendsetters–the ones to watch. It’s the fierce firms that will evolve VoIP from its current status as a low-cost alternative to PSTN telephony into a pervasive communications medium with functions and features integrated into virtually all aspects of daily life.
Wireless VoIP (wVoIP) is one such technology. Several of the companies on this year’s Fierce 15 are laying the groundwork for future wVoIP systems. These services will first augment, then eventually replace conventional cellular telephony, leading to new opportunities for providers, equipment manufacturers, software developers, content suppliers and others. VoIP is also paving the way to new horizons in IP conferencing, presence, document sharing, rich collaboration and a variety of other communications technologies. As Michael Stanford, Intel’s director of VoIP strategy, recently observed, “VoIP is a beachhead, so to speak, of services over IP.”
VoIP has come a long way in just a few years, defying the expectations of even the savviest telecom industry analysts. While no one can tell just how fast the industry will evolve over the next several years, it’s safe to say that this year’s Fierce 15 winners will play a major role in the shaping the industry’s future.
Based: Ottawa, ON, Canada
Why It’s Fierce: Atreus offers innovation, flexibility and scalabilitywith a first-of-its-kind software collection that helps service providersscale their VoIP business by streamlining service delivery–includingservice design, development and commercial deployment. Atreus’ VoIP provisioningsolution delivers pre-packaged, multi-service, multi-vendor support forindustry-leading VoIP vendors, including, BroadSoft, Cisco, IP Unity,Sonus, Sylantro and VocalData. As VoIP becomes increasingly commoditized,Atreus believes that providers will need to retain customers and become more competitive by bundling complementary IP services with VoIP.
What To Look For: Atreus will help providers meet their rapid growth plans with its service provisioning library that bundles everything from VoIP and messaging to IPTV and desktop applications.
Based: Grand Haven, MI
Why It’s Fierce: Azulstar has established itself as a strong leader in metro WiFi/WiMax networks and services, with a heavy focus on VoIP. The company built the US’ first citywide WiFi network during 2003 across the city of Grand Haven, Michigan. The public/private partnership currently operates with thousands of customers and has grown to encompass surrounding cities. Earlier this year, the company made waves by launching the world’s first metro-wide Voice over WiFi telephone service in Rio Rancho, New Mexico.
What To Look For: Azulstar says it’s preparing to deploy the latest WiMax technology in its ongoing effort to cover more metro areas with WiFi and wVoIP service.
Based: Santa Monica, CA
Why It’s Fierce: Through its WiFi technology and alliances with VoIP providers, Boingo Wireless is fiercely making wVoIP an everyday reality. The company recently partnered with VoIP leaders Skype and Vonage to enable wVoIP service from thousands of hotspots. The company is currently developing a version of its end-user WiFi connection software for use on cell phones and other wireless devices. The software provides signal sniffing, network profile management, 802.1x log-in authentication, WiFi Protected Access (WPA) and virtual private network (VPN) data encryption.
What To Look For: More hotspots and additional VoIP provider alliances.
Based: Mississauga, ON, Canada
Why It’s Fierce: BorderWare has taken a leadership role in securing VoIP at the application layer. While the industry has been discussing potential VoIP security risks, including SPIT, identity theft, fraud, DoS attacks, voicemail bombing and phishing, BorderWare developed a product to address these security challenges. In fact, BorderWare launched the first SIP-based security product, SIPassure, to secure and manage dynamic, real-time SIP communications. SIPassure allows enterprises to deploy real-time messaging, voice, data, video and other SIP based applications securely and with confidence.
What To Look For: More innovative VoIP security solutions.
Based: Kirkland, WA
Why It’s Fierce: Founded by cellular pioneer Craig McCaw, Clearwire offers wireless broadband access for subscribers in California, Florida, Texas and several other markets. Clearwire focuses on its system’s plug-and-play aspect, claiming that subscribers are able to install the service in minutes without the help of a technician or installer. An alliance with Bell Canada proves that the company has its eye on VoIP service. Clearwire has received investment from Intel and Bell Canada.
What To Look For: More service area rollouts, along with the possibility of offering Bell Canada VoIP service within the US.
Based: Boca Raton, FL
Why It’s Fierce: CopperCom provides a comprehensive softswitch solution for carriers making the complex transition from legacy to next-generation services and those deploying leading-edge IP networks from the ground up. CopperCom’s Class 4/Class 5 softswitch platform, the Converged Switching eXchange, is architected specifically to support both legacy and next-generation IP-based services. CopperCom has one of the largest installed bases of IOC and CLEC customers in the next-generation softswitch industry. The company’s growing customer base in the service provider market includes a number of significant wins, such as the recently announced, multi-year deployment at Iowa Telecom (with over 260,000 lines).
What To Look For: More business from carriers transitioning into VoIP technology.
Based: Bedford, MA
Why It’s Fierce: Empirix’s Hammer test systems are ubiquitous in network equipment manufacturers’ and carriers’ labs. The technology plays a significant role in ensuring that VoIP devices and services deliver solid performance before they are marketed to enterprises and consumers. Empirix also provides VoIP infrastructure monitoring solutions that have been adopted by providers such as Cox Communications and PowerNet Global. Most recently, Empirix began marketing its Hammer-based test systems to enterprises deploying VoIP, helping to ensure that VoIP applications and networks are properly integrated and perform well in an enterprise’s own environment.
What To Look For: Expect Empirix to make even more sales to carriers and enterprises as VoIP continues to transform the telecom landscape.
Based: New York
Why It’s Fierce: The Fierce 15 usually doesn’t include companies that are limited to a single geographical market, but we’ve made an exception in the case of M5 Networks. That’s because this firm does its job so well that it serves as a role model for similar businesses in other locations. M5 focuses on being the best at one service: providing a hosted VoIP phone system to the New York Metro Area’s SMB market. Business owners, CTOs and CFOs turn to M5 to avoid buying or maintaining a phone system and the phone lines connected to it. M5, which serves over 350 clients and 8,000 end-users, has increased its client base by more than 50 percent in just under the last 12 months. As of December 2004, M5 had captured 85 percent of the New York-metro market for hosted VoIP and 10 percent of the estimated $60 million US market.
What To Look For: Expansion into other markets or, perhaps, a takeover by another VoIP hoster.
Based: Sunnyvale, CA
Why It’s Fierce: With its rollout of voice-optimized WLAN technologies, Meru Networks is positioning itself to become a wVoIP leader. The company’s WLAN System offers the reliability, scalability and security necessary to deliver converged voice and data services over a single WLAN infrastructure. The technology offers businesses, universities and healthcare organizations the predictable bandwidth and over-the-air QoS required to support current and future wireless applications.
What To Look For: With new, WLAN-enabled devices (handsets, dual-mode phones, PDAs) arriving on the market at competitive prices, Meru is well positioned to ensure that enterprise and service provider WLAN infrastructures are ready to support these services in a scaled fashion.
Based: New York; Sophia Antipolis, France
Why It’s Fierce: Popular Telephony stands out as fierce because it is the first company to deliver a server-less peer-to-peer communications technology. The company’s Peerio product has the potential to revolutionize the telephony industry, moving the business from a “centralized” architecture to a “distributed” architecture. Peerio’s middleware, residing at the core of the endpoint (a PC or telephony device), enables all telephony features and functionality to be shifted to the network’s edge. This is made possible by the use of Peerio-intelligent endpoints — plug-and-play devices that connect with each other using server-less technology in a fully protocol-agnostic manner.
What To Look For: Getting telecom manufacturers to embed Peerio technology into their products to make them P2P and VoIP-enabled.
Why It’s Fierce: SPIRIT bills itself as “the Bell Labs of Russia.” That description may be a bit over the top, but isn’t entirely inaccurate. After all, SPIRIT’s Moscow office is a fusion of Russian R&D talent, including 80 engineers and 15 Ph.Ds. This knowledge pool, combined with international business experience, allows the company to deliver high quality software products for telephony, VoIP, hands-free conferencing, speech processing, audio, and other applications in the field of digital signal processing. SPIRIT is the biggest eXpressDSP software house in Europe. The firm delivers embedded voice and communication products and consulting services to the world’s leading telecommunication equipment and semiconductor suppliers, as well as collaboration software vendors. SPIRIT’s clients include Agere, Atmel, Ericsson, Furuno, Hyundai, Kyocera, LG, NEC, Nortel Networks, Panasonic, Philips, Samsung, Siemens, Texas Instruments, and Toshiba. Seven of the world’s top semiconductor vendors have installed SPIRIT software directly into their silicon products.
What To Look For: Expect SPIRIT’s business to keep snowballing. The company’s current development projects include adding voice technology to an Oracle enterprise collaboration suite, Macromedia’s Breeze software and an Ericsson public safety call center product.
Based: Campbell, CA
Why It’s Fierce: Sylantro is the leading supplier of VoIP application feature servers, which are used by tier one, two and three service providers to deliver advanced business and consumer VoIP as well as integrated communications services. The company supports a hosted model that allows service providers to deliver unique, “sticky” services that provide more compelling value than premise-based PBX equipment or POTS replacement services. The company aims to help service providers execute on two key strategies: progressive migration from PSTN to VoIP and to dramatically increase services revenue from broadband.
What To Look For: As VoIP providers move beyond the PSTN stage, Sylantro is positioned to offer them the technology to create integrated communications services.
Based: Middletown, RI
Why It’s Fierce: Using WiMax technology and antennas perched on skyscrapers, TowerStream provides wireless broadband network services to subscribers in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston and Providence, Rhode Island. By partnering with Vonage, TowerStream showed that it’s thinking fiercely about wVoIP. TowerStream is also striking a blow for SMBs by providing an access alternative beyond the services provided by telcos and cable companies.
What To Look For: TowerStream is developing a beta trial of mobile VoIP over WiFi for consumers in New York City.
Based: San Jose, CA
Why It’s Fierce: When it comes to VoIP infrastructure providers, it’s hard to find any vendor, regardless of size, with a product line as comprehensive the one offered by Veraz. Veraz Networks has made its mark as a major provider of softswitch-based communications services and toll-quality packet telephony solutions for carriers. In fact, over 700 carriers in 140 countries use the company’s technology. Veraz’s extensive product line includes the ControlSwitch softswitch and service delivery platform, the I-Gate 4000 family of media gateways and third-party application servers and media servers. The flexibility of Veraz’s softswitches and media gateways allow users to interconnect any application to any device, both legacy and IP-based and ranging in size from 10,000 to millions of subscribers.
What To Look For: Veraz recently updated its ControlSwitch with additional elements for management of subscribers, services and device mobility.
Based: Sunnyvale, CA
Why It’s Fierce: Zultys views the telephone as a device that can be shaped and molded into whatever users need. Yet the company has also gained widespread recognition for rolling out highly integrated products that are easy to provision, administer and use. Zultys’ aim is to remove the complexity of VoIP deployment, allowing businesses to focus on their core competence instead of spending weeks configuring voice applications on their data network. The company’s solutions are well designed for streamlining the installation process, straight from the box. There are no complicated servers to configure, no highly specialized professional services to employ and no third party gateways or software required for a fully functional enterprise solution.
What To Look For: Zultys is a prime candidate for a takeover by a large telecom equipment maker. The company acknowledges that while it is regularly approached by venture capitalists and potential business partners, the right opportunity has not yet materialized.