Nokia Networks and Telecom Italia have signed a two-year agreement to scout out startups, looking for partners to help them advance software-defined networking (SDN), network functions virtualization (NFV), the radio access network (RAN), and self-organizing networks (SONs).
The pair will evaluate startups “mainly but not only in Silicon Valley,” according to their joint announcement yesterday.
They’re each looking for new technologies they can implement in their respective portfolios. They will also conduct proof-of-concept experiments with, and potentially invest in, the startups.
The companies, which have worked together for nearly two decades — Nokia has been one of the main infrastructure suppliers for Telecom Italia’s mobile broadband network — claim that joint scouting of startups can maximize the chances of discovering relevant companies and optimizing the outcomes. Among various joint initiatives, they’ve collaborated in active antenna development and implemented innovative software capabilities in Telecom Italia’s service operation center.
Perhaps they’ve observed AT&T’s track record. AT&T historically limited its vendors to just two for each “domain” of technology, but in February 2014 it began implementing its Domain 2.0 initiative to get more startups and innovative technologies into its mix.
Nokia competitor Ericsson recently went on record saying it was in the market for more startup acquisitions. The vendors’ rivalry could be headed for another level: Nokia is on track to acquire Alcatel-Lucent in 2016, competing against the newly aligned Cisco-Ericsson partnership.