Sunrise Telecom believes that its role in the service provider network is not simply about providing modular test equipment--something it has done for years to address both cable and telcos--but also improve the efficiency of the service provider's technican workforce. Leading this charge is Bahaa Moukadam, CEO of Sunrise Telecom.
FierceTelecom Editor Sean Buckley caught up with Moukadam to talk about his first year on the job and how Sunrise is evolving its product portfolio to address the diversity of network access testing needs, but making service providers more efficient.
FierceTelecom: Bahaa, after serving as Sunrise's VP of marketing, you were appointed as President and CEO last year. Talk to us about the first year on the job.
Moukadam: From a top level, the company was going through a number of challenges last August and then we had a pretty quick accomplishment over the last three quarters, in Q4, Q1 and Q2. During those quarters, we introduced a lot of new products and we also made a lot of changes in the company in terms of the management team and our focus on customers, our focus on quality and basic things we needed to improve. At the same time, we were able to get to profitability pretty quick in Q4. Also, we got a lot of positive feedback and customers are taking a look at Sunrise more and more and are impressed with our overall execution and a lot of our products primarily around carrier Ethernet, wireless backhaul testing and some of the innovations around DSL services. Then, there's also a whole segment that we address on the cable TV.
We have focus that's tied all of this all together (that) is more about how do we help customers improve their workforce activity, because that's becoming almost like a common thread across the service provider industry. One of the key drivers for cable operators and traditional service providers as they start going after business services and bundling, their question is how can we do it effectively and quickly? At the same time, they don't want to spend a lot of money in an environment where the technology is getting so complicated without corresponding improvements in the skill sets of the technicians. In some cases some people who are skilled in one technology are asked to help on another technology and there's a learning curve that goes along with that. Our focus is how we can make our customer a lot more productive and efficient as they do a lot of upgrades throughout their network in terms of services and the network backbone.
FierceTelecom: Speaking of growth, Sunrise just had its third straight quarter of positive EBITDA. Do you attribute that profitability to some of the new products, new management changes or a mix of things?
Moukadam: It's a mix of things, but as we move ahead it's really mostly tightening up on expenses that weren't really critical to grab the business. We really tightened up a lot of legal and financial expenses. Also, we reoriented our workforce and we continue to invest in R&D and product marketing where the domain experts live. Now the next phase we're going into is to beef up our sales channel capability to make it a lot more effective to get a broader footprint in the industry. It's really a combination of different things.
FierceTelecom: On the product side, Sunrise just debuted a new DSL handheld test set--the UDSL--that can support multiple flavors of DSL. How has that product been resonating with the customer base and what drove you to put that product out?
Moukadam: So our product evolution with our new UDSL product here reflects our leadership in DSL from the beginning with one of the first modular test sets for DSL. Over time, DSL technology evolved to get more and more bandwidth with ADSL2+, VDSL and VDSL2. You also had a set of different chipset manufactures that had flavors within the same standard and interoperability issues. What we have done is to address those needs is the creation of our modular platform so when a new flavor of DSL came along we offered a new module for our MTT product. This allowed our customers to preserve their investments in the platform, but also be able to upgrade as different varieties of DSL rolled out over the years.
Now you have this environment where ... there was no other way to do it because you did not know what next flavor or standard. It's becoming even more critical because technicians go into an environment and either to do troubleshooting, maintenance or an install expect to be exposed to various flavors of DSL on the network. Instead of having the technician carrying multiple testers or multiple modules, we took all of the knowledge and expertise and the fact that technicians need to conduct service level testing, so we combined all of those capabilities in a palm sized tester that's extremely easy to use.