Telecommunications network components supplier NMS Communications is betting on a buoyant Asia-Pacific wireless market and its purchase of a Lucent Technologies unit to prop up sagging sales. Bob Schechter, NMS chairman and chief executive, said the company had raised marketing efforts in selected Asian markets - including China, South Korea, Japan and the Philippines - to target growth in wireless systems, voice applications and packet infrastructure. He said that those steps were being taken because fundamental changes in the global telecommunications market, such as spending reductions and limited capital availability, had affected demand for its products. Most demand was in North America. Main competitors are Comverse, Dialogic and Glenayre Technologies. Massachusetts-based NMS, formerly Natural MicroSystems, provides hardware and software components, and services to systems integrators and major communications networking-equipment makers such as Nokia, Ericsson, Nortel Networks, Lucent, Motorola and Alcatel. NMS technologies, which are deployed in 65 countries, ensure compatibility between a variety of voice, data and Internet transmission standards. The slowdown in technology spending, particularly in the communications sector, resulted in a 40.8 per cent fall in NMS revenues for the first nine months of the year to US$59.41 million, compared with US$100.38 million for the same period last year. Mr Schechter said NMS was acquiring all the assets of Lucent's voice-enhancement and echo-cancellation business for US$60 million in cash, a deal expected to be completed by the end of the year. Apart from gaining essential technologies, that business will provide NMS with about US$50 million worth of annual revenue. The existing customer base for the Lucent systems is more than 100, including many of the world's leading communications service providers. On completion of the deal, NMS will also enter into a multi-year agreement to serve as exclusive supplier of stand-alone echo cancellation systems and sound quality equipment for Lucent. Voice-enhancement and echo-cancellation technologies enable wireless operators to differentiate services, avoid customer churn and encourage customers to place more and longer calls. According to research firm the Yankee Group, mobile infrastructure spending will exceed US$120 billion worldwide in 2004. It also projects the number of wireless subscribers worldwide to reach 1.3 billion by 2006, more than doubling the number of wireless subscribers in place last year. Mr Schechter said reaching mainstream customers in high-potential markets in Asia required a 'whole products' approach', which involved 'delivering systems based on NMS technologies, strategic partnerships with other technology, component and application suppliers, and best-in-class supply chain and integration partnerships'. Recently, NMS' voice-processing technology was chosen by telecommunications systems integrator IdeaWurx to power strategic SMS (short message service) businesses run by two of the Philippines' largest carriers - Globe Telecom and Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT). SMS allows for brief text messages created using a phone keypad and transmitted via cell phone. The NMS-based SMS system in the Philippines provides carriers with enhanced SMS functions by making it possible to access the SMS system of any mobile phone network operator using a landline phone. The Philippines has one of the highest SMS traffic rates in the world. Globe Telecom and PLDT each process an average of 90 million SMS text messages per day, accounting for 10 to 15 per cent of global SMS traffic. According to the GSM Association, an industry body formed by global system for mobile-based phone operators and equipment vendors, worldwide SMS traffic is projected to reach more than 200 billion messages sent this year. Steve Parsons, NMS director of product management for network solutions, said NMS had raised its commitment to providing voice-enabled Web platforms for service providers and enterprises by joining standards body World Wide Web Consortium.