Operator interest in WiFi higher than ever: Ruckus

Ruckus Wireless sees third quarter sales rise 17%. Company is "back on track" says CEO, and operator interest in WiFi at the highest level seen for a long time.

Ruckus Wireless saw sales grow 17% in the third quarter of 2013, with total revenue for the quarter at $68.9 million.

One aspect of interest to mobile network market watchers will be the company’s success in the service provider and mobile operator market.

Ruckus said it had added 20 service provider customers in the quarter, bringing its total number of SP customers up to 110.

Those included several Latin American mobile operators – Claro, Oi, Telefonica and TIM – who have signed Ruckus to provide multi-operator WiFi for the 2014 football world cup. The companu also signed four “Tier 1” cable operators in Latin America, Europe and Asia.

CEO Selina LO said that the company was also gaining market traction with its SmartCell Gateway (SCG) – which can be used both as a controller and in the enterprise as a managed service or cloud based wireless LAN service platform.

“We added new SCG customers, including a tier 1 MNO in Asia Pacific that has migrated from their internally developed Wi-Fi management system to our SCG, as well as a large cable operator in Western Europe,” she said. Lo added that

LO added that revenue from mobile operator customers can take longer to realise than from cable operators or smaller WiFi operators, because they have more challenges in finding sites and providing backhaul, etc.

CFO Seamus Hennessy added, “Depending on the size of the operator, especially with tier 1 operators, it can take a year for us before it really ramps up significantly…Some of them [operator contracts] are actually awfully larger than some of the activities we’ve closed to date. But it takes time. But what we do see is operator interest in deploying Wi-Fi in 2014 and 2015 is at the highest level we have seen in a long time.”

Lo said that the service provider market is still usually a straight fight between Cisco and Ruckus. “I think Ericsson in some accounts we do see them. They tend to be the more of the incumbent accounts. But most of the time it is Cisco and Ruckus,” she said.

In terms of product development, Lo said she initially expected “wave two” of 11ac equipment to be the products that actually replaced prior releases in service provider and large enterprise environments. “Wave one” 11ac would be more about preparing the market, she said. However, interest in 11ac has meant that she now expects to see 11ac sales in the first half of 2014, rather than later in the year.

The company’s next generation of beam forming technology, BeamFlex, would move beam forming on from being a purely chip-level technology to one that manages and selects from hundreds to thousands of antenna configurations, building out a database of what antenna patterns are best for each device, and in real time select the most optimum antenna pattern for each destination.

(Quotes from Seeking Alpha transcript)