Sunday, February 6, 2005

WebEx Deploys Sonus Networks

WebEx Communications is deploying Sonus Networks' Open Services Architecture (OSA), including its GSX9000 Open Services Switch and the Insignus Softswitch, in its data centers to deliver new IP-based conferencing services to its customers. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Actelis Raises $23 Million for Copper-Pair Bonding

Actelis Networks, a start-up based in Fremont, California with R&D in Israel, raised $23 million in Series D funding for its access technology that bonds copper pairs for delivering fiber-quality service over existing copper lines. Actelis' systems allow carriers to deploy ultra fast broadband at distances up to 18Kft (5.5km) and beyond from Central offices or Remote Terminals.

Actelis said recent standard specifications put forth by IEEE and ITU-T are critical milestones in the global market development of ultra high-speed broadband over copper. Actelis' MetaLIGHT 50, 1300 and 130 platforms are compliant with G.998.2 (Ethernet transport) similar to the IEEE 802.3ah EFM standard, while its MetaLIGHT 100E and MetaLIGHT 1500 platforms are compliant with G.998.3 (multi-service), which includes a Time-Division Inverse Multiplexing (TDIM) bonding protocol that was contributed to the standard by Actelis.

The new funding was led by ATA Ventures and included Innovacom Venture Capital, Dupont Capital Management, The Carlyle Group, Walden International, New Enterprise Associates and Vertex. To date, Actelis has raised close to $100 million

Jasomi and RADVISION Partner on Conferencing

RADVISION and Jasomi Networks announced an alliance aimed at increasing the penetration of integrated video, voice, instant messaging (IM), and data conferencing services across corporate networks. The companies are working on joint solutions to deliver Microsoft-powered voice, video, and data conferencing, while overcoming firewall and NAT (Network Address Translation) traversal issues.

RADVISION's iVIEW Communications Manager and viaIP multimedia conferencing unit integrate with Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2005, Windows Messenger, Active Directory, Outlook Calendar and the forthcoming Istanbul live communications client. Jasomi supplies NAT transversal technology.

RIM Provides SIP Integration for BlackBerry Enterprise

Research In Motion (RIM) is working with Nortel to enable full-featured, SIP-enabled business communications over wireless local area networks (LAN). The companies are focusing on providing interoperability and integration between RIM's BlackBerry enterprise platform and Nortel's Multimedia Communications Server (MCS) 5100. Enterprise customers would be able to use RIM's new BlackBerry 7270 to securely access IP telephony, corporate e-mail and other business applications via the wireless LAN.

The BlackBerry 7270 works in conjunction with BlackBerry Enterprise Server v4.0 and BlackBerry Mobile Data Service, providing push-based integration with Microsoft Exchange and IBM Lotus Domino. The BlackBerry 7270 supports IP telephony that essentially extends desktop phone functionality to a BlackBerry wireless handheld, allowing the user to place and receive calls.

Separately, Research In Motion announced an alliance with 3Com targeting Blackberry Enterprise Server integration into 3Com's IP-PBX and WLAN switching gear. This integration is also based on SIP.

Philips Releases Mobile Multimedia Processor

Royal Philips Electronics released its new "Nexperia" Mobile Multimedia Processor for smartphones. The device, which provides video, graphics, imaging, audio and security functions for feature-rich mobile handsets, is based on an ARM9 processor.

Sony Ericsson, who already deployed previous Nexperia generations in its smartphone family using Symbian OS and UIQ user interface, has selected new Philips processor for future Symbian OS phone products.

Freescale Acquires Assets of PrairieComm

Freescale Semiconductor the assets of PrairieComm, a privately-held developer of 3G baseband technology. Financial terms were not disclosed.

PrairieComm, which is headquartered in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, offers software, system-on-chip designs and platform designs for cellular communications, including CDMA, TDMA, GSM and UMTS. About 120 employees are joining Freescale as part of this transaction -- 60 in India and 60 in the United States.

Nextel Accepts FCC Spectrum Swap

Nextel Communications formally accepted the FCC's plan to exchange spectrum that potentially interferes with public safety communication systems.

The multibillion dollar deal is expected to end years of legal wrangling.
  • In December 2004, Sprint and Nextel Communications announced their plans to merge into a larger wireless and integrated communications service provider. The two companies currently serve more than 35 million wireless subscribers and 5 million additional subscribers through affiliates and partners.

FCC Requests 2006 Budget of $304 Million, up 8%

The Federal Communications Commission is requesting $304,057,000 for its fiscal year 2006 funding. This compares to $281 million appropriated for FY 2005, an increase of 8.2%.

The FCC said the requested FY 2006 funding level will cover mandatory increases for salaries and benefits and inflationary increases for office space rental, supplies, printing, postage and contractual services. The budget level also includes funds to allow the FCC to consolidate and upgrade commission-owned facilities at Columbia, Maryland; to provide for critical enhancements to the FCC's major electronic filing systems; to implement a government-wide automated human resources system; and to fund additional staff to assist with program oversight associated with USF audit activities.

Vodafone Shuffles Senior Management

Vodafone announced several senior management changes. Bill Morrow, currently Chief Executive of Vodafone UK, was appointed President of Vodafone K.K. Shiro Tsuda will become Executive Chairman and Chairman of the Board of Vodafone K.K. and with Bill Morrow, will lead the next phase of the development of the company. Tim Miles, at present Managing Director of Vodafone New Zealand, will become Chief Executive of the UK business.

Shiro Tsuda joined Nippon Telephone and Telegraph Public Corporation (now NTT) in 1970, becoming General Manager of the Company's Mobile Communications Division in 1990, helping to establish the mobile phone project that later became NTT DoCoMo. He later served as the company's Senior Vice President and Network Division Director, where he headed the launch of FOMA, the world's first 3G mobile network based on W-CDMA technology in October 2001.

Bill Morrow previously held various management positions at Pacific Bell before becoming a Director at Airtouch in 1995. He then became Chief Technical Officer of Proximus -- Belgium. For the last eight years he has been a part of the Vodafone Group. He was made Vice President, Technology Strategy, in March 2000 and in 2001 he became Vice President and Country Manager, Vodafone Japan. Tim Miles joined Vodafone New Zealand in 2001 as Director of Business Markets and was appointed Managing Director of Vodafone New Zealand in 2002.

NetCentrex to Add Support for IMS

NetCentrex plans to enhance its softswitching platform with IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) compliant interfaces by the summer of 2005. NetCentrex already supports a range of full IP-based multimedia services for mobile service providers, including Mobile-Fixed Converged VPNs and Interactive Multimedia Servers for Video & Voice, Video & Voicemail and a Video Service Broker for broadband and UMTS networks.

The enhanced IMS support positions NetCentrex to serve the UMTS service provider market throughout the transition from first generation UMTS R99 networks, to interactive media over a packet bearer (UMTS phases 5 and 6), expected for 2007-2010. Cellular service providers could deploy NetCentrex infrastructure components on their current networks with the assurance that this packet infrastructure will evolve seamlessly to support the expected roadmap of UMTS services and networks.

"Once the DSL network has been upgraded to support fixed multimedia services, the next priority becomes convergence with the mobile network, beginning with seamless video-communications between broadband lines and UMTS phones, and evolving into a universal mobile terminal which uses the WiFi or Bluetooth network at home or in the office, and the GSM or UMTS network while on the move," says Pierre-Yves Le Berre, VP of Business Development, NetCentrex.
  • In September 2004, NetCentex announced that it had exceeded 1 million Class 5 end-to-end VoIP CPE-based lines. The company said its carrier customers were currently activating over 3,000 lines per day. This figure included Fastweb, its largest residential triple play VoIP deployment worldwide.

Nokia Venture Partners Changes Name to Bluerun Ventures

Nokia Venture Partners has changed its name to BlueRun Ventures announced the first close of a third venture fund focused on early stage companies in the IT, mobile, and consumer electronics markets. The group will continue its close relationship with Nokia Corp., which continues as limited partner (LP) backing the new fund and is joined by other institutional investors. A second closing is anticipated in the first half of 2005.

Targeted to reach $350 million by mid-year 2005, the new fund brings the total amount under BlueRun Ventures management to $1 billion. As an early stage fund, BlueRun Ventures will invest mostly in Series A and B financing, with an initial investment ranging from $2 to $8 million.

Nokia Venture Partners' portfolio companies have included Airgo, Bitfone, Cornice, PayPal, Wavemarket and WiderThan.

Mobilitec Raises $12.1 Million for Mobile Content Delivery

Mobilitec, a start-up based in San Mateo, California, raised $12.1 million in Series C financing for its software for mobile content deliver. Mobilitec's mPower includes components for media downloading, digital rights management and streaming. Mobilitec said it now has 20 wireless carrier customers, including Vodafone.

The new funding was led by Canaan Partners and included new investor Duchossois Technology Ventures, as well as existing investors AIG Orion and Lucent Venture Partners.
  • Mobilitec is headed by Margaret Norton, who previously served as the General Manager and Senior VP of the Service Provider division of Octel Communications (later acquired by Lucent Technologies).

Vendors Form VoIP Security Alliance

A new industry group called the VoIP Security Alliance has been formed to help organizations discover, understand and mitigate VoIP security risks. The group plans to host discussion lists, offer white papers, and sponsor VoIP security research.

Some of the charter members include 3Com, Alcatel, Avaya, Codenomicon, Columbia University, Ernst & Young's Guiliani Advanced Security Center, Insightix, NetCentrex, Qualys, SecureLogix, Siemens, Sourcefire, Southern Methodist University, Spirent, Symantec, the SANS Institute and Tenable Network Security.

The group believes that as VoIP deployments become more widespread, the technology becomes a more attractive target for hackers, increasing the potential for harm from cyber attacks. The emergence of VoIP application-level attacks will likely occur as attackers become more familiar with the technology through exposure and easy access.

TippingPoint, a division of 3Com, is providing an administrative service in forming VOIPSA, recruiting members and facilitating VOIPSA meetings.

Straitshot Secures $5 Million for Layer 2 Services

Straitshot Communications, a start-up WAN provider based in Seattle, closed $5 million dollars in a private placement for a connectivity service that is promoted as an economical replacement for Frame Relay and MPLS. The Straitshot network uses a Layer 2 architecture that aggregates the access networks of leading national and regional providers. The network delivers private WAN connectivity with QoS. Straitshot physically aggregates these access networks at regional co-located facilities (POPs). It connects all of its regional aggregation POPs through a private backbone.

The new funding was led by Brookstreet Securities Corporation.
  • Straighshot is headed by Robert Hogan, who previously was President and co-founder of TeleAmerica, which was later part of a sale to Pacific Bell; and co-founder of TCI, a telecom equipment company which was sold to Inter-tel.

Cbeyond Deploys BroadSoft for SIPconnect Trunking Service

Cbeyond Communications is among the first business VoIP service providers to deploy BroadSoft's SIP-based BroadWorks Business Trunking application to offer network-based enhanced hosted VoIP services to IP PBX users. The application enable enterprises to complement IP PBX features with network-based VoIP and multimedia features hosted by service providers such as Cbeyond. These advanced features can include voice VPN, auto-attendant, attendant console, call center functions, unified messaging, voice mail, click-to-dial, conferencing and video (see related release, titled BroadSoft Unveils Missing Link in Bridging Existing Telecom Infrastructure with Next-Generation VoIP Applications).

The solution enables access from on- premises IP PBXs, PBXs, or Key Systems without the extra cost of PSTN gateway devices. The application also can link together IP PBXs from different vendors installed across a business customer's various office sites.

NEC Unified Solutions Launches UNIVERGE IP for Mid-Market

NEC Unified Solutions introduced a Linux-based IP voice communications platform for small and medium-sized businesses. The NEC UNIVERGE SV7000 MPS is a full-featured SIP-enabled telephony server that provides call-control for up to 750 IP stations. Customers can deploy any of NEC's enterprise communications applications including unified messaging and the company's OpenWorX) Communications Portal and UNIVERGE MA4000 management suite. The platform can also be used as a high density media controller or gateway for off- premise analog station and trunking support and in remote office configurations as a survivable stand-alone module that automatically assumes control of branch office connectivity should a first direct connection be cut. The mid-market platform also supports ISDN PRI, ISDN BRI and analog COT trunking.

Bellster Changes Name to fwdOUT has changed the name of its recently-launched, non-commercial Bellster directory service to fwdOUT following complaints from BellSouth.

fwdOUT enables phone line sharing between users of Asterisk, the open-source PBX. Parties using fwdOUT can route calls over the Internet to a shared phone line located near the call recipient, regardless of distance, and in return these parties share their own phone line with any other fwdOUT users wanting to place calls in their locality.

"The BellSouth request really helped us in thinking through a better descriptor for this new capability of empowering users to 'forward out' to the PSTN," said Jeff Pulver, Chairman of Enterprises. "The fwdOUT concept is 'disruptive' in the best sense of the word, and my hope is that as word of fwdOUT spreads, the network will grow to a point where it can deliver free, non-commercial calls to the public-switched telephone network all over the world." noted that there are 1,000 registered nodes on the fwdOUT network, enabling calls to be routed through various cities in the U.S., Canada, Russia, France, Italy, UK, Norway, Germany, Argentina, Brazil, Australia, Philippines, and New Zealand. The service was announced last month.

Mitel Unveils Desktop Communications Navigator

Mitel introduced a telephony endpoint supporting both SIP and its own MiNet protocol. The Mitel Navigator features an embedded full-duplex microphone and speakers for hands-free or conference calling. Mitel Navigator can also be integrally linked to the "Mitel Your Assistant", which is a suite of tools delivering presence, collaboration, video and instant messaging with knowledge, call and directory management. It can also be used with Microsoft's Live Communications server and Istanbul client to enhance the telephony-enabled desktop experience

ICANN Considers New Registrars for .net Domain

ICANN has engaged Telcordia Technologies to review and assess the applications submitted in response to the .NET Request for Proposals. ICANN will complement the Telecordia team's capabilities with an international panel of DNS experts to contribute to the assessment effort.

ICANN said it would conduct an open and transparent procedure for designating a "successor" registry operator for the .net domain. The current registry agreement between ICANN and VeriSign will expire on 30 June 2005.
  • In August 2004, The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California has issued an order dismissing VeriSign's anti-trust claims against ICANN, the organization responsible for coordinating the Internet's root server system management, IP address space allocation, protocol identifier assignment, generic (gTLD) and country code (ccTLD) Top- Level Domain name system management. The court tossed out VeriSign's anti-trust claims and held that VeriSign has not alleged and cannot allege that the "co-conspirators" named by VeriSign controlled ICANN's board. The court also held that VeriSign has not alleged and cannot allege (based upon the ICANN Bylaws) that those Supporting Organizations within ICANN's structure that include VeriSign competitors dominate ICANN's board.

Consumer Groups Submit USF "Fair Share Plan" to the FCC

A group of consumer organizations called the "Keep USF Fair Coalition" has filed a "Fair Share Plan" for Universal Service Fund (USF) collection with the FCC.

The FCC is considering changes to the way it collects money for the USF. Currently consumers pay a percentage of their long distance service bill each month. The FCC is considering switching to a monthly flat fee based on telephone numbers.

The coalition argues that under the current revenue system, high volume long distance users pay the most, while those who use less pay less. It believes the new system under consideration would shift the burden of paying for Universal Service to those who use the system the least.

The "Fair Share Plan" proposes to expand the USF contribution base to include all revenues derived from telecommunications, including services using VoIP. It proposes to establish a contribution factor cap to be applied to the revenue-based approach; carriers would still be assessed based on revenues up to that cap amount, and would still have the right to charge their end users a USF recovery charge not to exceed the percentage they are charged. The balance of the funds needed to support USF would come from a numbers-based charge. Another plan under consideration, the 50/50 Plan would use numbers to recover one-half of the total USF, while with the "Fair Share Plan's" numbers component would recover only the residual amount needed to meet the demands of the fund, ensuring that the funding burden is not placed on those least able to contribute at higher levels -- low-volume, elderly, rural, minority, disabled, and low-income residential consumers.
  • Every year, the nation's universal service fund (USF) pays out approximately $673 million for low-income programs and about $3.0 billion to support high-cost rural services. There are additional programs to provide Internet access to schools and libraries, as well as to support rural health initiatives. The USF is paid for by taxes to interstate switched access minutes, which are now in rapid decline.

Mahi and Mintera Announce 40 Gbps ROADM Solution

Mahi Networks, a supplier of multi-service metro transport and switching solutions, and Mintera, a supplier of 40 Gbps transport technology, announced the completion of interoperability testing that paves the way for increased DWDM capacity and performance in the metro-regional market. The companies have completed verification of the Mahi Vx7 Multi-service Core Transport System (MCTS) to support a capacity of 1.28 Tbps by leveraging 40 Gbps wavelenghts. The companies are also announcing an alliance, integrating Mintera's 40 Gbps transponder technology into the Mahi Vx7.

The development enables service providers to migrate their installed base of Mahi Vx7 systems to 40 Gbps transponders when required. No common equipment or line optics upgrades are required.
Sixteen-node Vx7 ROADM rings are supported with 40 Gbps transponders across all 32 wavelengths -- there are no new restrictions on node count, span loss, or ring circumference with the implementation of 40 Gbps capability.

The companies predict that bandwidth requirements in the metro are about to explode as telco's and MSOs rush to build out optical networks in support of triple-play services. In North America alone, multiple metro ROADM RFPs are expected to complete within the next 12 months.
  • In June 2004, Mahi announced its acquisition of Photuris, another start-up based in New Jersey. It developed an automated optical transport system for high-capacity metro and regional DWDM networks. Its platform features a “Versicolor�? capability that integrates four functions on a single optical line card: WDM demux/mux at the system input/output; fully flexible, reconfigurable OADM wavelength switching (any wavelength to any port, independent of any other wavelength); per-wavelength power balancing; and real-time per-wavelength optical power monitoring.

  • Also in June 2004, Mahi Networks closed $70 million in new funding.

Chelsio's 2nd Gen 10GbE Adaptor Drives Prices to $1,295

Chelsio Communications announced its second generation family of 10GbE and iSCSI adapters at prices as low as $1,295 in volume -- a new industry price point that is expected to speed the adoption rate for 10Gb Ethernet in enterprise applications.

Chelsio's T210 Protocol Engine and N210 Server Adapter are software-compatible upgrades from the first generation T110 and N110 cards, respectively, which has been shipping since early 2004. Additionally, Chelsio is debuting its T204 Protocol Engine, a 4-port Gigabit Ethernet Protocol Engine targeted for storage applications not yet requiring 10Gb performance.

The N210 server adapter is available in high volume for $1,295. The T210 Protocol Engine, the only 10GbE adapter shipping today with TCP/IP offload (TOE) capability, is volume priced at $1995. The T204 is volume priced at $895. Chelsio said it expects to halve these prices every twelve months.
  • In January 2005, Chelsio Communications, a start-up offering 10-Gigabit Ethernet server adapters and protocol acceleration technology, has completed its third round of private venture funding, raising $25 million. At the time, Chelsio said it has seen a steep revenue ramp of over 300% quarter-to-quarter growth since introducing the industry's first 10Gb Ethernet adapters with protocol offload capability in early 2004. Chelsio's third round was led by INVESCO Private Capital and includes new investor Hotung Capital Management. Existing venture partners Sequoia Capital, New Enterprise Associates, Global Catalyst Partners, Pacesetter Capital Group, Horizon Ventures and Abacus Capital are all participating in the new round. The latest round of funding raises the total investment in Chelsio to $55 million.