Advanced Technology Solutions moves forward in the region with intelligent network solutions for carriers, which add value to the traditional infrastructure. They also have a division for industries, finance and services with computing and telephony integration solutions. Every economic cycle benefits some players to the detriment of others. This was not the case with ATS (Advanced Technology Solutions), because it knew how to, or destiny made it, capitalize every moment, to boost a special field that was generally reserved to global companies such as Lucent, Nortel, Alcatel, Siemens or Ericsson. The history of this company dates back to 1991. “We devoted to telcos because we foresaw that the sector’s de-regulation generated an opportunity”, says Claudia Riviere, president and founder of the company. Riviere had managed Citibank’s systems and communications, so that her technical background would have opened many doors to her in any other technologic field, but she joined her brother, Julio, and this liaison led her the telco way. They began with voice processing and tone interaction systems until one business made them take a quantum leap. Nortel had committed to provide Telefónica and Telecom a phone repair system (114) but the developer failed. This was a first stage, a stage where telcos still had trouble with the technological legacy of the privatized phone company ENTel and with making the systems work within a mixture of telephone central and varied-quality connectivity that demanded the presence of an expert. The company that led the Canadian company on this territory was ATS, whose reward was its first world-class agreement. This period is referred to by Riviere as a stage where “everyone had a job opportunity”.
One-to-one and devaluation
The second stage, when the Argentine economy was dollarized, was also beneficial to ATS. They planned to take advantage of their communications knowledge to offer operators new businesses over the installed infrastructure. Many contracts were entered into at that time with the four mobile operators, but the most emblematic one was an implementation in Movicom, which needed a rater capable of changing plans quickly, whether paid or prepaid, with or without promotions, applicable to some regions or others, and which could vary according to time schedules. So much Latin passion outperformed the world-class Priority Call that was provided by BellSouth, and Movicom had to hire someone who could follow the business more closely: ATS. Naturally, devaluation encouraged them once again, for reasons easy to imagine, and nowadays, ATS is not able to recruit enough qualified staff to comply with the requirements of an ambitious plan of regional expansion that is under development. Since 1997, ATS operates in São Paulo, Brazil, and they expect to close distribution contracts in Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia very soon.
The art of adding value to networks, whether they are fixed or mobile, lies in providing them with the necessary intelligence to render new services. When it comes to mobile phones, this ranges from installing roaming services in the different technologies (See separate tendency Box) to providing services for companies such as virtual private networks. The mobile phone boom in the region offers business opportunities in Latin America for ATS. As of last year’s closing on June 30, 2004, ATS´earned profits in the amount of AR$ 8 million in Argentina and R$ 6 million in Brazil. But, while ATS expects to grow by 40 per cent in the country during next year, it foresees a rate higher than 120 per cent in the neighboring country, according to Riviere’s estimates.
The virtual private network system allows companies to dial a phone extension of the company from a mobile phone, as if employees were calling from the phone placed in their desks. Also, this enables the user company to administer, by means of a web interface, the expenses that it will bear and those that it will charge employees for their personal use of mobile phones, for example, where employees use the mobile phone after working hours.
BCP, an operator from São Paulo (acquired by América Móvil last year from Bell South for USD 625 million) sold the service to 7,000 companies which connected the service to approximately 100 thousand users. In turn, Claro, an operator of América Móvil in Río de Janeiro and other cities, acquired the system last year and has currently integrated 1,100 companies that applied virtual private networks to approximately 18,000 individuals. “What sets us apart is the fact that we produce systems for all technologies (CDMA, GSM, TDMA) so that we get closer to clients’ specific needs than the traditional world class companies”, Riviere says.
Standard tendencies in the region
Julio Pironio is the Software Development manager of ATS. When asked about the evolution of standards in the region, he explains that TDMA will gradually disappear and that GSM will replace CDMA in most cases, in light of the preponderance of three operators: Telmex, Telefónica, and Telecom Italia, which have adopted the European standard. The expert admits that CDMA excels GSM in some operations, such as the optimization of battery use as a way to use less power. However, he adds that the greater volume used by GSM reduced the cost of its terminals, an essential component of the cost of a mobile operation.
Which of the two technologies is better to build intelligent networks?
“We can work with both of them, but the advantage of GSM is that, as it is an open free-of charge standard, it allows to know and work on minimum details, making developments simpler and less costly”, Pironio says.