RealTime IT News

Acotel Targets U.S. Carriers, Media Cos.

Looking to replicate its success in Europe, Acotel, an Italian maker of wireless platforms for carriers and media companies, launched in the United States today.

The company, not to be confused with the French telecom equipment maker with a similar name, has established its U.S. base in Boston and a sales office in New York. The official announcement came at the CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment 2003 trade show in Las Vegas.

"We consider the U.S. market for mobile multimedia to be a unique opportunity," Nino Tarantino, Acotel's COO and U.S. general manager, told internetnews.com.

The 11-year-old company (which is publicly traded in Italy) operates in 20 countries. Its customers include IBM, Orange, Radio Hit Channel, Telecom Italia Mobile, Tiscali, Vodafone, and interestingly, the Vatican, which uses the Acotel's platform to distribute a daily message from the Pope.

One reason for targeting the United States now is wireless user trends. Four to six month ago, the United States lagged far behind Europe and Asia in subscriber numbers, Tarantino said.

But that's changing. The number of wireless users in the United States has topped 150 million, and operators are moving toward standards that support audio and video.

It's not just end users that prompted Alcotel to establish a presence here. The United States is home to world's largest radio and TV companies, key customers if Acotel is to succeed here.

"We're talking with some large media companies and hope to be able to announce something significant soon," Tarantino said.

For example, Acotel's platform can help a radio station could help a radio station conduct polling, run contests take requests over mobile phone, as well as notify listeners of promotions or when their favorite song is being played.

Likewise, TV stations, and professional sports leagues, could easily provide via subscription model sports news and updates. The revenue from such subscription services would be split between Acotel, the mobile carrier and the media company.

Among the factors making it easier to move into the United States, is Acotel's track record. Through its customer base, Acotel services more than 35 million end users, and enabled 340 million paid text and multimedia messages in 2002.