The team that pioneered SMS and WAP takes new enabling product international.

Amadeus Capital Partners, the technology investor, today announced an investment of 11.5 million euros in Belfast-based AePONA Group Ltd, a provider of next-generation service creation platforms for fixed and wireless telecoms service providers. The investment is co-led with Dublin-based Trinity Venture Capital (part of the Reihill Venture Capital Group) and is the largest technology funding in Ireland this year. Existing investors and management also participated in this round. 

AePONA originated in 1995 as the Northern Ireland subsidiary of Aldiscon Ltd, the world’s leading supplier of text messaging technologies. Following the acquisition of Aldiscon by Logica in 1997, the subsidiary was retained by its original investors and renamed Apion Ltd. Apion went on to become a leading supplier of WAP gateway technology for GSM networks and, in 1999, its product assets were acquired for $250 million by and the remaining business, led by the same management, was relaunched as AePONA. Today, AePONA employs some 140 people in its Belfast headquarters and in offices in Dublin and Guildford. Its core technical skills include wireless data, SS7 protocol stacks, intelligent networks, switching and internet technology. AePONA is recognised worldwide as a pioneer in the mobile telecom software arena.

In the past three years, telecom operators have sought to boost revenues by reducing costs and exploiting existing infrastructure to produce convergent datacom and telecom services. To do this, operators require a set of technology enablers that support new services from existing networks and reduce technical complexity, service deployment and running costs. These enablers include application programming interfaces (APIs), based on the OSA/Parlay Standard. AePONA’s Causeway product is currently the market leading Parlay gateway and also allows operators to open their networks to developers creating new products and services integrating existing IT networks with the telecom network. Analysts anticipate the market for Parlay Framework technologies to grow to $900 million over the next five years.

AePONA, the market leader in this nascent sector, announced the world’s first commercial OSA/Parlay development in TIM’s (Telecom Italia Mobile) network in 2002 and has, since then, deployed its technology with leading operators including Orange and KPN. The company is now focusing on responding to interest from US and Asian operators and will use this investment to establish operations and local support for telcos in both regions. 

Commenting on the investment, Andrea Traversone of Amadeus, who joins the AePONA Board, says: “AePONA has developed world class technology that meets a real need among telecoms service providers trying to generate new income and reduce capital expenditure. The company is well positioned, as first mover, to capture significant market share of the Parlay gateway market. The management team, led by Gilbert Little, are veteran pioneers in the telecoms business and we have every confidence they will achieve their goals”. 

Brian Caulfield of Trinity, who also joins the AePONA Board, says: “We are delighted to back such an experienced management team with a product that meets a crucial business need for its customers. Causeway is a key enabler for the new services that telecom operators need to drive revenue and profit growth”.

Gilbert Little, AePONA’s Co-founder and Chairman says “AePONA has already established a leading position in the OSA/Parlay middleware market with live commercial deployments at Telecom Italia Mobile, KPN and Orange. This new investment will allow us rapidly to expand our sales, marketing and delivery capability and to capitalise on this fast emerging market”.