Thursday, July 7, 2005

Belgacom Mobile Selects Siemens for Network Evolution

Proximus (Belgacom Mobile), Belgium's largest mobile operator, selected Siemens Communications for the evolution of its core network under a four-year upgrade plan. Financial terms were not disclosed.

In a first step, Proximus will introduce the Siemens high-performance PowerMSC (Mobile Switching Center). This will enable Proximus to reduce the current number of network elements.

In a next step, Proximus will migrate its existing Home Location Register (HLR) base towards Siemens' next generation HLR innovation platform. The HLR base is the database that contains all the subscriber details, such as phone numbers, accompanying services and the current location. Currently, this database is switch-based. The new platform is server-based: updates or new service introductions can be carried out in as short as one night. Similarly, queries e.g. about the usage of foreign mobile networks, will only take a few seconds to be answered.

In the final implementation phase, Proximus will introduce Siemens' next generation, ATCA-based media gateway to complete the step-change to a full release 4 architecture. In this architecture, the existing PowerMSC will evolve to full fletched MSC Servers, centrally handling call control, whereas the actual traffic is handled decentralized by the state-of-the-art ATCA mobile media gateways.

EU Telecom Rules: Commission Takes Action Against 11 Member States

Eleven European countries have failed to implement properly EU telecom rules and hence the European Commission has initiated action against them to insure implementation. The key issues at stake include the independence of the national telecoms regulator, the requirement of number portability and of comprehensive subscriber directories, designation of "universal service" providers, and the availability of the European emergency number 112. The eleven countries are Czech Republic, France, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Finland.

The European Commission published a list of specific telecom regulatory issues for each country.

"The EU rules opening up national telecommunication markets must be fully and correctly implemented if European consumers and business users are to get the full benefits of competitive electronic communications services such as high-speed internet connections and affordable mobile communications," commented Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding.
  • In February 2003, the European Commission officially adopted a New Regulatory Framework that requires national regulators in EU member states to review and/or adapt policies governing electronic communications by 24 July 2003. The framework covered regulations for fixed and mobile wireless networks, cable television networks, satellite networks, and IP networks, whether used for voice, fax, data or video. Specific directives address unbundled access to the local loop, differentiating between existing metallic loops and new optical builds, while guaranteeing universal service and affordable access for all citizens. The Commission also defined a market for wholesale broadband access, covering "bit-stream" services and equivalent wholesale services provided over other infrastructures that permit the transmission of broadband data in both directions. In addition, the new framework defined a market for Voice call termination on individual mobile networks, enabling termination prices from fixed locations to mobile networks to be analyzed and regulated.

Current Attracts Strategic Investors for its BPL

Current Communications, a start-up based in Germantown, Maryland, attracted strategic investment from Goldman, Sachs & Company, Google, and The Hearst Corporation, one of the nation's largest diversified communications companies. The financing also included additional investments from two of Current's existing investors, EnerTech Capital and Liberty Partners (the company's principal stakeholder.

Specific financial terms were not disclosed, although a report in The Wall Street Journal reported the investment at about $100 million.

Current is a developer of Broadband over Powerline technology and services. Its BPL system is capable of providing multi-megabit speeds to every electrical outlet in a home or business without the need for rewiring. The technology could also be used to transform a utility's electric distribution system grid into an intelligent network, remotely monitored, managed and secured in real time. This could be used to manage electricity supply and demand more effectively.
  • In March 2004, Cinergy Broadband and Current Communications Group begin offering broadband over power line (BPL) services in the greater Cincinnati, Ohio area. A subsequent expansion was planned for Northern Kentucky and Indiana.

  • In February 2004, The FCC proposed new rules aimed at promoting broadband over power lines (BPL). Specifically, the new rules would:

    * require BPL devices to employ adaptive interference mitigation techniques to prevent harmful interference to existing users, such as public safety and amateur radio operators. These techniques would enable BPL devices to cease operations altogether, dynamically reduce transmit power, and/or avoid operating on specific frequencies to prevent harmful interference;

    * develop a public database that would include such information as location, operational frequencies, and modulation type of BPL devices, which will facilitate the resolution of interference issues in a timely fashion;

    * seek comment on specific RF measurement guidelines for BPL devices and other carrier current systems. These guidelines will ensure that emission measurements for these systems are made in a consistent manner. While the Notice addresses RF measurement guidelines, it does not propose any changes to existing applicable emission limits.

i2Telecom Offers $24.99 Unlimited Global Calling

i2Telecom International announced a $24.99 per month global calling plan that offers unlimited calling throughout the USA, Canada and to more than a hundred major cities around the globe. i2Telecom features its "VoiceStick," a portable VoIP product that can convert any computer into a VoIP telephone simply by plugging into any USB port. i2Telecom also features an "i2Bridge" capability that convert any cellphone into a VoIP device.

Zhone to Acquire Paradyne for $180 Million

Zhone Technologies agreed to acquire Paradyne Networks, a supplier of broadband loop carriers (BLCs) and Ethernet access equipment, in a stock swap valued at approximately $180 million.

Paradyne supplies a family of IP-based broadband access solutions, including BLCs, DSLAMs, Ethernet in the First Mile bonded solutions, IADs, and CPE. The products support both residential triple play solutions and business class bonded SHDSL, ADSL2+, T1/E1, and DS3 bonded solutions for LAN extension and cell site data backhaul applications.

Zhone's networking solutions include its Single Line Multi-Service architecture, Multi-Access Line Concentrator (MALC), "Raptor" ATM/IP DSLAMs, Residential Gateways , "GigaMux" Optical Transport Systems and Zhone Management System.

Under the deal, Zhone will issue 1.0972 shares of Zhone common stock for each outstanding share of Paradyne common stock, and each option, warrant and other security exercisable or convertible into Paradyne common stock will be assumed by Zhone and become exercisable or convertible into Zhone common stock, with appropriate adjustments based on the merger exchange ratio. Based on Zhone's closing price on 07-July-05, the transaction is valued at $3.917 per Paradyne common share. On a fully-diluted basis, the current stockholders of Paradyne will own approximately 36.8% of the combined company and the current stockholders of Zhone will own approximately 63.2% of the combined company.

Zhone's said the acquisition woul bolster its position in next generation Broadband Loop Carrier access network solutions. The deal would also strengthen Zhone's balance sheet with a larger net cash balance.

The combined company would serve twelve of the top twenty-five U.S. Independent Telephone companies, including five of the top ten as well as two of the top three U.S. cable operators and leading U.S. competitive carriers. Also of significance, the transaction will scale operations in every operating region with complementary key accounts in EMEA, APAC, Japan and CALA.

"Together, Zhone and Paradyne will deliver a broad array of products that allow carriers to extend their current access networks," said Mory Ejabat, chairman and chief executive officer of Zhone.

Zhone also announced that revenues for its second quarter are expected to be slightly higher than the guidance previously provided of between $29 million and $30 million. Other than these slightly higher revenues, Zhone expects its results to be in line with previously provided guidance.

Paradyne also announced that revenues for its second quarter are expected to be slightly higher than guidance and that EPS and gross margin percentage will also slightly exceed guidance.

Paradyne is based in Largo, Florida. Zhone is based in Oakland, California.
  • In July 2004, Paradyne acquired Net to Net, a privately-held supplier of DSL access equipment based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Among its offerings, the company supplied a bonded SHDSL platform and a line of "Network Extenders."

  • In April 2004, Zhone acquired Sorrento Networks Corporation, a supplier of metro-optical transport and access products. San Diego-based Sorrento Networks' GigaMux product family consists of access, metro, and regional optical networking systems. Its customer base and market focus includes cable TV operators, telecom carriers, and service providers.

  • In February 2004, Zhone Technologies acquired the assets of Gluon Networks, a start-up based in Petaluma, California for approximately $7.0 million. Gluon had been developing next-generation converged switching systems for service providers.

  • In November 2003, Zhone Technologies completed its merger with Tellium, a publicly traded developer of core optical switching systems.