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In an exclusive interview during the Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2021, Telecom Review got to know more about Protei through its VP marketing & business development Vladimir Freinkman. This company is a well-reputed international telecommunication systems vendor operating in Russia, Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East & North Africa (MENA).

Can you tell us briefly about Protei’s line of business and solutions?

In Protei, we have different lines of business and different products for about four or five different target markets. Our traditional business line is the solution for mobile operators. Currently, we offer 2/3/4G network core elements, VAS, private LTE, roaming management solutions, among others. We invested in the core elements development, because we see demand among both established telecom operators and greenfields who don't want to depend only on one giant player.

Second product line is originally derived from fixed networks; there are NGN and IMS solutions. Our product line includes traditional engines such as softswitches, media gateways, SBC both for corporate markets and operators.

We also have a full stack of solutions for MVNOs/MVNEs and Private LTE/5G intended for enterprise customers because it's also a growing market.

Another product line we would like to mention is mainly related to smart/safe city area. This product line includes several products for Command/Control Centers, PSAP, ecall solutions and we are now preparing to expand our activities in this area too.

How has the MENA presence of Protei evolved over the years?

We started our MENA business around 2008, and in 2009 we established our branch there. We started from a couple of small projects in Jordan, but right now, our geographical presence in the Middle East particularly includes about 10 countries. The total global footprint of Protei includes 33 countries as of now, and we expect it to increase to 35 in the nearest months as we complete couple of projects in other countries.

For MENA region, we completed one project for Korek Telecom in Iraq, where we delivered SCP, as well as some other VAS, and last year we completed the voicemail renewal project with DU in the UAE.

How can Protei contribute to the digital transformation of telecom carriers and enterprises in the years to come?

We are directly contributing to this trend by providing our Private LTE core as well as M2M connectivity management solution that may be deployed by enterprise customers or by operators for enterprise customers. We see huge demand and very serious competition on this market because corporates are more flexible in choosing vendors for this segment and many new solution providers are coming.

Having many years of experience in signaling and our expertise within telecoms, it was quite easy for us to complement the product line and bring solutions that are successfully competing on this market. We see that Private LTE/5G is the crucial part of any industry digitalization project because without connectivity layer you cannot do anything for digital transformation project. It is very important to have the network reliably conveying information between devices and corporate information systems.

That is why we are developing this part of our portfolio. In addition to field-proven 4G Private LTE core, this year we provide 5G-ready private core which means it support both 5G NSA and 4G. End of next year, we are set to have 5G standalone core to benefit our customers.

We see now that 5G proposition is a little bit ahead of real demands of corporations, the situation is that there are very few real business cases where 5G is the only way to solve the task, and number of such cases is so solid to push enterprise customers to spend more money on 5G. That's why we insist on evolutionary way of the Private LTE/5G networks roll-out. Companies should start to trust automated processes from some simple cases such as telemetry and industrial safety as well as CCTV and AR-assisted operations before going on more complicated tracks like unmanned vehicles/loaders or robots.

What is the commitment of Protei in line with MWC 2021’s key theme ‘Connected Impact’?

We see that industry customers will form serious part of the market in the nearest future as the number of automated devices will grow much faster than the number of connected humans. Almost everybody who wanted to connect is mostly connected now, even in developing countries, but for devices, there is a very strong movement forward and growth of connected device is the mainstream now. Huge variety of solutions to connect automated devices, wearables and other unmanned things are demanded by the market.

Those solutions (e.g. private networks) may be demanded both by enterprises themselves and by operators willing to provide services for their enterprise customers. Even in Europe, you see the commitment of the government with special regulation for private networks that should simplify their mass rollout in the nearest future. Apart of the network core, few special technical solutions are needed such as M2M connectivity management platform, because the device cannot say to the customer care team that something goes wrong and the customer should have a tool to track and monitor the huge number of devices. And this is what we are ready to propose as well.

Hence, we need to provide the solutions that will be affordable and suitable for different customers in terms of capacity licensing, reliability and pricing. That is why we see the need to continue developing this part of our product line. Our commitment is to complete the development of the private 5G portfolio and form the full spectrum of network core and connectivity management solutions for enterprise market.

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