This self-organizing network solution provider wants to make customer experience data count for more
CellMining announced today that they have succeeded in raising $5 million, closing their Series A funding round. Leading the round was Lazarus Israel Opportunities Fund. In their announcement to the press, the company has stated that they will utilize the funds to reach out to new markets and continue developing their capacities.
“With subscribers demanding a seamless user experience, and with data-hungry apps making ever greater demands on network capacity and availability, MNOs [mobile network operators] are under enormous pressure to maintain a flexible and responsive network,” said Brian Abrams, partner at Lazarus.
The Israel-based company was co-founded in 2013 by CEO Greg (Giora) Snipper, VP of Strategy and Business Development Omer Geva, Head of Research Jose Cohenca, and CTO Shmuel Morad.
According to CellMining, their technology has already been incubated by a cell operator in Israel, running live optimizations on multi-technology (2G, 3G, 4G) networks. They also participated in Microsoft Ventures’ 2013 accelerator program.
Focusing on the subscriber data
At its core, self-organizing network (SON) solutions work to help networks operate smoothly, coordinating the transfer of huge quantities of users on their networks as they move around from one location to another.
This can be exceedingly tricky as each cell tower has a limited capacity, often requiring one tower to hand off to another. Adding further to this juggling act is the balancing between various technologies (2G, 3G, 4G), network equipment providers (Nokia, Huawei, Ericsson) and other operators that play key roles in keeping this clock ticking.
The company takes a different approach than many in this increasingly active space, focusing on what they call the subscriber focused network data that is gleaned through Call Data Records (CDR). According to CellMining, one of the advantages of basing their analytics on the CDR is that they are able to abstract the specific data pertaining to how the customer experienced the service from the other noise that would otherwise turn up in another kind of network radio analysis.
“Some of the networks can apply self healing solutions, but on the day-to-day basis, you have to coexist with other generations of the same networks, or outside the network,” says VP of Marketing Assaf Aloni to Geektime, explaining the need for a centralized solution. He adds that, “Distributed SON will only be applicable for self healing or optimization of the LTE of the NEP. If the operator’s environment is a mix of vendor, technology, and operators, which they all are, then they need a centralized SON solution that can orchestrate all of the elements.”
Because there is subscriber data involved, the solution is installed on premises with by their partners. They are looking at the cloud as a method of providing their service, which has been delayed due to privacy and security concerns, but could be a great way to offer their service to a wider range of clients.
From the brief overview of CellMining’s technology, it would appear that they are able to utilize the data on subscribers to build profiles and do prioritization of those types of users according to certain needs. This could mean awarding VIP status to certain types of users, although how this would be divided up is uncertain at this point. There are some obvious uses for this type of service for emergency vehicles or others who should be first in line at a cell tower.
This type of Subscriber Network Analytics Technology has an interesting role to play in how mobile network operators manage their services and keep the gears of communication greased. Aloni says that, “The customer experience (CX) stakeholders can do very little to understand how the subscriber feels about their calls, but CellMining can give them that data to create a more complete customer satisfaction map.”
In looking at their competitors, they are facing off with big name actors like Nokia’s Eden Rock/Alcatel-Lucent, Amdocs with their range of solutions, and Intucell from Cisco.
CellMining appears to be taking a different approach into a very underrated area of mobile technology. Their move to analyze the CDR directly as their primary focus for identifying problem areas that are ripe for optimization is a change from others like Cellwize who are also bringing new ideas to the SON arena.
In looking at their competition, it would seem that all of the players are shifting from analyzing the network data to that of the consumer experience. This makes sense after having spoken with different sources in the industry who have noted the value of this kind of information in their optimization services.
While the absolute number of companies working in this field remains relatively small, it is likely that there will be continued investment. At the beginning of this month, Cellwize was able to raise $24.5 million, which included a $10 million credit from Viola Credit.
As IoT and other technologies with a significant reliance on mobile networks (so all of them) continue to come out, we can expect to see more resources going into building up the backbone of mobile networks, with solutions like this one from CellMining playing a very important role going forward.