Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Cisco and IBM Team on Speech-Enabled Contact Centers

IBM and Cisco will jointly deliver speech-enabled self-service solutions for contact centers. The solution combines IBM's WebSphere Voice Server product and Cisco's Customer Voice Portal. The companies said they would leverage open standards, including Voice XML and J2EE. These solutions enable contact centers to provide low-cost speech-enabled self-service transactions to their customers, such as transferring money from a checking account, submitting insurance claims, changing cellular phone plans, making hotel and car reservations or finding the nearest store location using speech automation -- functions that frequently required a live agent in a contact center.

Telefónica Deploys Acme Packet's SBCs

Telefónica de España has selected Acme Packet's Net-Net session border controllers for its hosted business and residential VoIP offering throughout Spain. Financial terms are not disclosed.

The Acme Packet session border controllers are interoperating with Telefonica's existing infrastructure, Ericsson's Engine Multimedia, a complete, all-IP and SIP solution with an open architecture based on IMS, the 3GPP standard. The Acme Packet session border controllers are providing access control and complete network topology hiding at all protocol layers for confidentiality and attack prevention. The denial of service (DoS) protection includes session agent DoS protection for protecting the service provider's infrastructure (e.g. SIP servers, softswitches, application servers, media servers or media gateways) and session border control DoS protection, an autonomic self-protection against malicious and non-malicious DoS attacks and overloads.

To extend its service reach, Telefónica is utilizing features including overlapping address support using VLANs, SIP-H.323 interworking, and hosted NAT traversal. They are now able to connect with previously incompatible networks, such as those using different versions and configurations of H.323, as well as traverse existing data firewalls at the customer premise, both immense challenges to offering secure, high-quality interactive IP communications.

Live trials of both the residential and the business services have been underway for several months and production deployment is planned for later in the second quarter of this year.

Comcast Reaches 7.4 million Cable Modem Subscribers

Comcast added 414,000 cable modem customers in Q1 giving it a total of 7.4 million subscribers, representing a penetration rate of 18.3% of available homes. Average monthly revenue per subscriber was $42.81 in the first quarter of 2005, a slight increase from the first quarter of 2004 and a 1.8% increase from the $42.06 reported in the fourth quarter of 2004. Comcast High-Speed Internet service revenue increased 32.5% to $925 million. Some additional highlights from Comcast's Q1 report:

Comcast Cable reported revenue of $5.1 billion for Q1, representing a $453 million or 9.7% increase from the $4.7 billion in the first quarter of 2004.

Video revenue increased $178 million or 5.6% to $3.4 billion in Q1.

Comcast Cable added 200,000 new digital customers, giving it a total of 8.8 million subscribers.

Digital cable penetration reached 41.1% of basic subscribers. Basic cable subscribers declined 29,000 during the first quarter of 2005.

Pay-per-view revenue increased more than 18% driven by movie and event purchases through the Comcast ON DEMAND service. Pay-per-view revenues have increased each of the last six quarters reflecting the strong consumer appeal of the ON DEMAND service.

Comcast has deployed a combined 1.6 million set-top boxes with DVR and/or HDTV programming capability, an increase of more than 1 million in the past year. More than 428,000 or 25% of these advanced set-top boxes were deployed in Q1, generating an incremental $5 to $10 of monthly revenue per box.

Cable phone revenue declined 3.1% from Q1 2004 to $173 million in the first quarter of 2005. The decrease in revenue reflects a decline in cable phone customers during 2004. Comcast Cable reported 4,000 net new cable phone customers in the first quarter of 2005 including the addition of more than 7,000 Comcast Digital Voice customers (Comcast's phone service using IP technology), offset by a decline in the number of Comcast's circuit-switched telephone customers as we transition to focus on marketing Comcast Digital Voice.

CAPEX increased 8.5% to $883 million from the same period last year.

Taiwan's Chunghwa Reaches 3.2 Million ADSL Subscribers

As of 31-March-2005, Taiwan's Chunghwa Telecom was serving 3.2 million ADSL subscribers, up by 132,000 for the quarter. Total Internet subscriptions numbered 3.87 million. The number of fixed-line subscribers was 13.26 million. The company also serves 8.17 million mobile subscribers.

NETGEAR Sees 23% Year-over-year Growth

NETGEAR reported Q1 revenue of $109.0 million, a 3.7% increase as compared to $105.1 million for the fourth quarter of 2004, and a 23.3% increase as compared to $88.4 million for Q1 2004.

Net revenue in the first quarter of 2005 derived from North America was $51.1 million, the Europe, Middle East and Africa, or EMEA, region was $47.0 million, and the Asia Pacific region was $10.9 million.

Non-GAAP gross margin in the first quarter of 2005 was 33.0%, as compared to 32.9% in the prior quarter and 31.1% in the year ago comparable quarter.

OIF Delivers Two Common Electrical I/O Agreements

The Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF) completed two Implementation Agreements (IAs) relating to Common Electrical I/O technology.

The first, CEI 11G-LR, addresses 11 to 13 Gbps applications over backplanes. This IA responds to the industry's move toward higher speed electrical signaling, driven by system vendors' desire to quadruple the bandwidth of existing systems without increasing the number of backplane traces.

The second IA, CEI Protocol (CEI-P) is a new protocol designed for use with the fast electrical interfaces developed by the CEI project team. A key feature of this new protocol is the Forward Error Correction (FEC) capability, which is tolerant of burst errors and substantially improves the error rate performance of a link. The FEC has the capability to improve the channel's bit error ratio by as much as 12 orders of magnitude.

The two new agreements build upon the existing CEI IA published last quarter that addressed 6 Gbps short and long reach and 11 Gbps short reach applications.

France Activates 890,000 ADSL Access Points in Q1

In Q1 2005, 890,000 ADSL access points were added across France. This includes lines served by France Telecom and the unbundled lines served by other carriers. The total number of ADSL access points in France (including unbundled lines) has now topped 7.2 million, up from 4.1 million a year earlier. As of 31-March-2005, France Telecom had 5,150,000 ADSL lines in its home market, of which 3,364,000 were serviced by its own Internet service and 1,787,000 were using third party ISPs.

Some highlights from the carrier's quartely report:

The number of residential telephone lines served by France Telecom in its home market was 27,419,000, roughly flat from a year earlier. Its market share of local calls was 70.9% compared with 75.2% a year earlier, and its market share of long-distance calls was 58.1% compared to 59.4% a year earlier.

Consumer Service revenues were down -3.0% on a comparable basis, linked to the 12.6% fall in revenues on residential telephone calls, with an 8.9% reduction in telephone traffic volume (switched voice), reflecting the losses in market share and the downturn of the overall fixed telephony market (measured at interconnection).

France Telecom now has 245,000 home VoIP users.

Elsewhere in Europe (Spain, Netherlands and UK), France Telecom has 1,682,000 broadband users, up from 745,000 a year earlier.

In Q1 2005, CAPEX increased significantly (+29.4% compared with the same period in 2004) and represented 10.0% of revenues. France Telecom Group attributed the rise to the rapid deployment of broadband, both fixed and mobile, notably with the launch of EDGE (to open at mid-year, with objective to cover 85% of the French population). In most of the other European countries in which Orange is present, UMTS and/or EDGE openings are planned for mid-2005 at the latest.

In broadband, France Telecom Group is upgrading its access network (RE-ADSL, ADSL 2+) and rolling out TV-over-DSL and VoIP services. In Spain, the UK and the Netherlands, France Telecom is rolling out unbundled packages. In Poland, the Group continues to rapid development of its ADSL offering.

France Telecom reported Q1 consolidated revenues of EUR 11.62 billion, compared with EUR 11.23 billion a year earlier, representing an increase of 3.5% on an actual basis and 1.0% on a comparable basis.

AMCC Reports Rise in Revenue

Applied Micro Circuits Corporation (AMCC) reported quarterly revenue of $64.2 million up 5% sequentially and up 36% year over year. The net loss on a GAAP basis was $5.3 million or $(0.02) per share.

"We were pleased with our progress in the March quarter. Revenue increased sequentially and the company realized the benefits of our improved cost structure," said Tom Tullie, AMCC's Chief Operating Officer.

Alcatel reports Q1 Revenues of EUR 2.6 Billion

Alcatel reported Q1 revenues of EUR 2.607 billion, up from EUR 2.515 for Q1 2004 but down from EUR 3.806 billion for Q4 2004. Operating profit amounted to EUR 107 million, representing a 4.1% operating margin and a 27% increase over the same period last year.

Serge Tchuruk, Alcatel's Chairman and CEO, said "In the fixed line business, we confirm our expectations of a rebound in the second half, following a second quarter which will continue to be weak. This rebound should materialize as triple play generated revenues more than offset the decline in traditional products, leading to stable revenues for the full year."

Some highlights:

Fixed communications

First quarter revenues decreased by 9.1% to EUR 987 million from EUR 1,086 million in the same period last year. The decline in revenues is primarily due to an expected and temporary slight loss in market share in access due to a product shift, and a higher than usual seasonality impact in traditional voice switching. This decrease is not yet offset by growing revenues in IP, optics and applications, and, to a lesser extent, maintenance services and NGN replacement business. The optics business turned in a particularly strong performance, driven by some rebound in the submarine activity, and next generation metro core optics, which has now registered 20 customers. The IP activity continued to grow at a rapid pace, driven by strong demand in all geographical regions. Volumes in DSL lines reached 3.9 million during the first quarter. Alcatel now has 15 large customers for its new IP DSLAM, launched in Q3 2004.

Mobile communications

First quarter revenue increased by 27.9% to EUR 789 million from EUR 617 million in the same period last year. Radio infrastructure continued to show strong growth in emerging markets, in particular China, Russia, India and Brazil. The market for 3G indoor coverage is developing in Western Europe and Telefonica Spain has selected Alcatel to deploy its 3G Indoor Solutions. In mobile core, a very strong activity in the traditional MSC technology has been registered to support the capacity expansion of the installed base and the upgrade of traditional networks to 3G. In NGN-IMS, in addition to the strong success in the U.S. for 2G and 3G with T-Mobile, Cingular, and Dobson, very significant commercial activity was registered outside the U.S. with twelve field trials and many positive prospects. Applications also grew significantly, driven by worldwide video/music services deployment in 2.5G and 3G, as well as sustained growth in convergent payment solutions.

Private communications

First quarter revenues were stable at EUR 848 million compared with EUR 849 million in the same period last year. In the enterprise market, revenues were impacted by a slow uptake in voice services. Despite this slow start, market share was maintained in IP voice which represented one third of enterprise voice shipments. Genesys turned in a solid performance maintaining its leadership position in all markets. Satellite revenues were weak due to a low backlog in the commercial telecom activity. Revenues in vertical market applications continued to grow. In particular, rail signalling networks showed strong growth, largely driven by main lines activities, in Western and Eastern Europe, leveraging the ETCS (European Transport Control System) technology. Integration services grew, driven by a strong backlog in safety and security systems both in the transport, energy markets and in the public sector.

Marconi Not Selected for BT's 21CN

Shares in Marconi fell 40% on Thursday following news that the company had not been selected for BT's 21st Century Network. Marconi, which had been a traditional supplier to BT, currently generates about a quarter of its business from the carrier. Marconi will continue to supply equipment and services to BT under the various, multi-year frame contracts it has in place.

"This is a disappointing outcome from a very competitive tender process. Our products performed extremely well technically, but we have been unable to meet BT's commercial requirements," said Mike Parton, Marconi's CEO.

The decision is likely to impact employment levels at the firm..

BT Selects Vendors 21st Century Network (21CN)

BT announced eight preferred vendors for its 21st Century Network, an ambitious undertaking in which it plans to invest up to £10 billion over the next five years to migrate to a fully-converged, packet network.

Access -- Fujitsu and Huawei have been chosen in the access domain which will link BT's existing access network with the new 21CN.

Metro -- Alcatel, Cisco and Siemens have been selected as preferred suppliers for metro nodes which provide routing and signalling for 21CN's voice, data and video services.

Core -- Cisco and Lucent will be 21CN's preferred suppliers for core nodes providing high capacity and cost efficient connections between metro nodes.

Softswitching -- Ericsson has been selected in the i-node domain -- in essence the intelligence that controls the services.

Optical Transmission -- Ciena and Huawei have been chosen in the transmission domain. BT plans to deploy Ciena's optical switching and transmission and Ethernet transport platforms.

BT said the selection of these eight suppliers will allow dozens of smaller and innovative subcontractors to become involved in the delivery of the 21st Century Network, attracting significant new investment and employment to the UK.

BT expects to conclude contractual agreements with named preferred suppliers for 21CN over the summer.
  • In June 2004, BT outlined a five-year timetable for migrating its circuit-based voice services to IP. The mass migration of customers from PSTN to IP will begin in 2006 and, by 2008, BT expects a majority of the transformation will be completed. BT's 21CN initiative aims to migrate the company's existing multiple, service specific networks to a single converged multi-service IP based network. It includes work towards increasing the bandwidth of services provided over the copper access network as well as the trials of FTTP.