The Smart Techie was renamed Siliconindia India Edition starting Feb 2012 to continue the nearly two decade track record of excellence of our US edition.

May - 2009 - issue > Top 10 most promising technology companies

Stoke: Stirring the Mobile Broadband Market

Jaya Smitha Menon
Friday, May 1, 2009
Jaya Smitha Menon
Vikash Varma, CEO of Stoke was quick to pick the market moves. As a leader who has a successful track record of building businesses from the early stages to market leadership, Varma understood that the market for fixed mobile convergence was still evolving and the market needed more time to open up. Instead of waiting for the market to come to him, Varma repositioned Stoke as a maker of next generation multi-access gateways for the mobile broadband infrastructure market. Thanks to this repositioning strategy and redrawing of its development roadmap, Stoke plays an important role for the carriers as they look to improve the economics of data service offerings on their current 3G networks, and as they transition to all IP infrastructures as part of their migration to 4G networks like LTE. .
Mobile broadband is experiencing amazing growth due to rapid uptake of smartphones like the iPhone, Blackberry, laptops with 3G modems, and increasing usage by the customers. The popularity of social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace adds significantly to the usage growth. The challenge for mobile carriers is the massive growth in data traffic on their mobile networks, which ironically are not architected for this level of data traffic.

The financial crisis has put a lot of limitations on capital expenditure for network expansion and build-out of new 4G networks like LTE and WiMax. Countries have delayed auction of 4G spectrum because they cannot get reserve price for the spectrum and carriers do not have access to the capital to bid for these licenses. Those that already have 4G licenses are handicapped by budgets to build-out the network and lack of availability of 4G equipment. Consequently, the focus for carriers is to do more with what they already have in place, i.e. existing 3G networks. For starters, operators have to reduce the traffic on their RAN, Backhaul, and core infrastructures in order to keep the cost of delivering service as low as possible. “We see this year as the ‘year of offload’, which means offloading traffic onto the fixed line broadband infrastructure via femtocells and interworking with other wireless networks. The benefit to operators can be tens of millions of dollars in savings per quarter,” explains Varma.

On the Platter

Today Stoke has adapted its next generation multi-access gateway to meet the needs of carriers. Its solutions are focused on helping carriers extend the life of existing 3G networks by focusing on four main areas including offloading Internet traffic (which forms bulk of the mobile data traffic) from the 3G RAN; building gateways to aggregate and secure femtocell traffic (used to enhance coverage in 3G network); enabling interworking between Wi-Fi, WiMax, and 3G networks to enhance service coverage and offload traffic from 3G networks; and also by enabling consumer and enterprise subscribers to seamlessly move between different wireless access networks, enhancing a mobile operator’s offering.

Varma says that the company has designed the gateway especially for the mobile broadband market. In the past, routers and edge gateways for wireline (IP) networks were designed with large forwarding capacity or data plane because their focus was on moving large amounts of data quickly. The mobile networks have traditionally had very different design considerations. They were designed with large control planes to handle the signal requirements of large numbers of customers, but had limited forwarding capacity because each user required only limited bandwidth (typically 384K on 3G networks). In today's mobile broadband networks, we need a more balanced architecture with large forwarding capacity and large control plane. In addition, gateways are expected to have much smaller form factor and be more energy efficient. What differentiates the Stoke Session Exchange SSX- 3000 is the multi-function capability in the highest performance, highest density per rack unit device in the market today.

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