Tuesday, July 26, 2005

New Whitepaper: Swimming Upstream -- The Case for Higher Speeds

by Ikanos Communications

Business and residential subscribers are constantly demanding more bandwidth. With the Internet, where a wealth of content resides on the World Wide Web, most of this demand has historically been in the downstream direction. And that will certainly continue. But what has changed is that users are now accumulating and generating copious amounts of content of their own.

Users, carriers and equipment vendors alike have a long history of underestimating the need for speed. The root cause is innocent enough: keeping costs under control. But the inevitable "forklift" upgrades are disruptive and costly, which is quite ironic considering the original impetus involved cost savings.

The leading technology for delivering higher bi-directional bandwidth is Very-high-bit-rate Digital Subscriber Line (VDSL). VDSL was designed to take full advantage of a carrier's broadband infrastructure with its increasing fiber optic capacity to the node, curb or building/basement. And unlike other technologies, VDSL has the ability to deliver 100 Mbps symmetrical broadband bandwidth, which puts carrier services on par with LAN switching to the desktop. Significantly, no mass-market local loop technology has ever done that before.

GigaBeam Raises $8.6 Million for its "Wireless Fiber"

GigaBeam Corporation closed $8.6 million in financing through an offering of the company's 10% Series A redeemable preferred stock and common stock purchase warrants and a placement of its common stock and common stock purchase warrants. Several senior officers and board members, including Louis Slaughter, Chairman and CEO, and Douglas Lockie, President and CTO, participated in the financing.

GigaBeam supplies a line of "WiFiber" equipment that operates in the 71-76 GHz and 81-86 GHz radio spectrum bands. This portion of the radio frequency spectrum has been authorized by the Federal Communications Commission for wireless point-to-point commercial use. Use of these frequency bands for commercial use was pioneered by GigaBeam's founders. GigaBeam's technology, utilizing these large blocks of authorized contiguous spectrum, enable multi Gigabit-per-second wireless communications using Gigabit Ethernet interfaces. The current speed achieved by GigaBeam's WiFiber 2 and anticipated WiFiber G Series product lines is 1 Gbps. Future GigaBeam products are expected to be capable of 10 Gbps.

Level 3 Expands Backbone Support of Comcast Digital Voice Rollout

Level 3 Communications announced that it is now providing Comcast with underlying backbone support for the rollout of its new Digital Voice service/ Level 3 said its backbone support will allow Comcast's IP-based calls to travel along a privately managed network. This will extend the capability of Comcast's existing private, advanced broadband network, allowing the IP-based voice service to enjoy quality that may not be available from non-facilities-based VoIP service providers.

Comcast Extends Digital Voice Contract with AT&T

AT&T announced a new contract with Comcast that extends an existing agreement under which AT&T supports Comcast's new Digital Voice service. The new agreement establishes AT&T Global Wholesale Services as a key supplier of the nationwide transport and termination services for Comcast Digital Voice. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Industry Reaction to Ensign Bill

Verizon: "We applaud Senator Ensign for introducing legislation to bring our communications laws into the 21st century. The Ensign bill puts consumers first by enabling people to choose from the expanding array of choices made possible by changes in technology and the marketplace. This bill recognizes that the world has changed and consumer driven markets work better than those managed by the government." Peter B. Davidson, Verizon senior vice president for federal government relations.

BellSouth: "The Ensign proposal would bring telecommunications law up to date so that consumers can make their own decisions in the marketplace free of the heavy hand of government. When enacted this bill will enhance the deployment of broadband, bring more jobs and investment. It will speed the deployment of competitive video services and provide, at last, vibrant competition in video. Technology will flourish and consumers will be the winners. This legislation will need a companion bill on universal service to complete the package." Herschel Abbott, BellSouth vice president Governmental Affairs.

NCTA: "We commend Sen. Ensign for crafting legislation that seeks to promote competition and innovation and treats like services alike. Consumers benefit when market forces are allowed to work and all providers, regardless of technology, can compete in the marketplace without government policies that pick winners and losers. While there are specific provisions we would want to work on with Senator Ensign, this is an important and constructive step forward." Kyle McSlarrow, National Cable and Telecommunications Association, President & CEO

TIA: "As the information and communications technology industry continues to rapidly evolve, TIA especially supports the goal of establishing a firm foundation that is forward-looking in encouraging competition, investment, innovation and the deployment of next-generation technologies across all segments of the industry. We look forward to examining the proposed legislation in detail and commit to working with Senator Ensign and all of his colleagues in both chambers of Congress to ensure any final telecom reform legislation that emerges is built on these principles and establishes a national framework of limited regulatory oversight of the competitive and converging broadband communications marketplace." Matthew J. Flanigan, President, Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA)

CEA: "The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) commends Senator Ensign for introducing the Broadband Consumer Choice Act of 2005. This bill stands as pro-technology legislation that will advance the deployment of innovative broadband communications services. This comprehensive legislation will remove regulatory barriers and encourage investment in new communication and IP-enabled services. We strongly believe that a free-market approach will spur a revolution of new and competitive voice, data and video services. Under this bill, society will benefit from more competition and real choices in broadband. CEA believes that with intense competition and standard interfaces consumers will see new services and devices similar to when manufacturers were freed to offer choices from the standard black rotary telephone. " Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of the Consumer Electronics Association.

iBasis Carries 1.79 Billion VoIP Minutes in Q2

iBasis reported 1.79 billion minutes of use on its international VoIP network in Q2 , a 61% increase over the 1.11 billion minutes carried in the second quarter 2004, and a 2% increase over the 1.76 billion minutes in the first quarter 2005. Average revenue per minute increased to 5.3 cents per minute in the second quarter 2005, up from 5.0 cents per minutes in the first quarter 2005. Average revenue per minute is based on our reported net revenue divided by the minutes of traffic for the applicable period.

Overseas-originated calls accounted for 48% of revenue in the second quarter of 2005, compared to 47% in the first quarter 2005. iBasis ended the second quarter with 348 wholesale trading customers, up from 309 at the end of Q1 2005. New customers announced during the quarter included African carriers Globacom and Econet, Pakistani carrier Callmate Telips, and Australian carrier Telecorp.

Financially, iBasis reported Q2 revenue of $94.6 million, compared to $61.2 million for the second quarter of 2004. Net loss for the second quarter of 2005 was $0.8 million, or $(0.01) per share, compared to net loss for the second quarter of 2004 of $5.9 million, or $(0.13) per share. The company was cash flow positive for the quarter.

Verizon Sponsors VoIP Research at Columbia University

Verizon Laboratories is partnering with the Department of Computer Science at Columbia University to conduct two research projects on VoIP.

One project will be dedicated to exploring security technologies, while the other pertains to research in the area of Presence. Verizon said the results of both of these projects will have a large impact on future services offered by softswitches.

The research is being conducted under the direction of VoIP expert, Professor Henning Schulzrinne. A $120,000 Verizon grant has been presented to Schulzrinne by Stuart Elby, vice president of network architecture and enterprise services at Verizon Laboratories. Elby received his Ph.D. from Columbia in 1994.

Centillium Supports IMS in Entropia Chipset

Centillium Communications announced 3G-NGN, an advanced software suite for the company's pioneering Entropia III system-on-a-chip (SoC) processor. Entropia's advanced VoIP processor software adapts the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) architecture to support multimedia convergence services aimed at wireline and wireless next generation networks (NGN). Entropia can now support IMS Media Gateway Functions (MGF) for CDMA/3GPP2 or GSM/3GPP applications, along with all wireline requirements. In addition, Entropia supports IMS Media Resource Function Processors (MRFP), delivering such features as tones, unlimited announcements, conferencing and gaming.

Centillium's Entropia III solution integrates six SigmaPlus DSPs, plus four RISC network processors, and other advanced hardware blocks in a highly optimized architecture tuned specifically for voice convergence processing.


Luminous Secures Contract with China NetCom Shandong

China NetCom (CNC) Shandong has chosen the Luminous Networks' "PacketWave" Resilient Packet Ring (RPR, IEEE 802.17) and Pseudo-Wire based platforms for deployment in the cities of Quingdao and Yanzhou.

To meet the growing service needs of China's business and residential customers, service providers such as CNC Shandong must rapidly deploy packet-based networks. Rapid growth in residential broadband through Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) access, continues in double digit pace. This demand is driven by services such as IPTV, Internet Access and VoIP. Service providers' traditional network solutions such as SDH are not effective, either through cost or bandwidth utilization, in meeting the growing customer demand for packet-based services. Concurrently, businesses are increasingly looking to their service providers for Ethernet services such as Virtual Private Line and Virtual Private LAN.

CNC Shandong will use the Luminous platform to support rapid growth in residential broadband services and advanced business services, such as Virtual Private Line and Virtual Private LAN. CNC Shandong will primarily deploy the PacketWave E500 Series Packet Ring Access Platforms, which support speeds up to 2.5 Gbps, with both fixed and modular 10/100/1000 Fast Ethernet application connections.

In addition, the E500 Series support 8 and 24 port T1/E1 modules, as well as a DS3 module. Other solutions to be deployed include the PacketWave M-Series Packet Ring Switching Platforms, with up to 16 modular slots for services and multiple, sub-tending packet rings. CNC Shandong will also utilize the Luminous Networks Management System (LMS). Financial terms were not disclosed.

Conexant Sees Quarterly Revenue Rise 16% Sequentially

Conexant Systems said quarterly revenues grew 16% sequentially to $197.5 million, compared to previous expectations of $190 million. Conexant also achieved its targeted gross margin and operating-expense improvements during the quarter. As a result, the company reduced its third fiscal quarter net loss by more than 50% sequentially.

Gross margins in the third fiscal quarter increased to 38 percent of revenues from 35.3 percent in the prior quarter. The core net loss for the quarter of 2005 was $17.6 million, or $0.04 per diluted share, better than the company's previous guidance for a loss of $0.05 per diluted share.

"During Conexant's third fiscal quarter, the pace of our recovery accelerated and we were able to exceed our prior performance expectations," said Dwight W. Decker, Conexant chairman and chief executive officer. "In DSL, we saw greater-than-expected demand, with revenues growing more than 20 percent... During the quarter, we generated significant customer interest with the introduction of a family of highly integrated 'triple-play' VDSL and VDSL2 next-generation semiconductor solutions for both central office and customer premises equipment applications... Our Broadband Media Processing business revenues were up more than 15 percent, due in part to initial shipments for a new DIRECTV set-top box application."http://www.conexant.com

NetCentrex to Acquire NeoTIP for Session Border Controllers

NetCentrex agreed to acquire NeoTIP, a privately-held developer of
session border controllers, for an undisclosed sum.

NeoTIP, which is based in Lannion, France, offers a range of Session Border Controllers (SBCs) used in carrier networks. The company said claims more than 30,000 ports have been deployed to perform security and protocol translation for telephony and videoconference services in the network of a major European incumbent operator. International customer references include Telecom Brazil and Telecom Chile.

NetCentrex said the acquisition of NeoTIP would accelerate its product strategy. New network architectures such as IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) and TISPAN (Telecoms & Internet converged Services & Protocols for Advanced Networks) specify an elaborate network access layer for solving security, interoperability and QoS issues, opening up a new market for network access control devices. NeoTIP's SBCs provide the technology for both fixed and mobile networks.

NeoTIP's technology will be folded into Netcentrex IMS developments and in particular the P-CSCF (Proxy Call Session Control Function) component. It will also add new features to existing SBC functionality provided by the Netcentrex Business Services Suite and IP Trunking offerings, enhancing interoperability with IP-PBXs and adding security without increased complexity.

NetCentrex is based in Paris.
  • Neotip was founded in June 2003 by a team that previously worked for France Telecom Research and Development laboratories.

Telco Systems Acquires Integral Access

Telco Systems has acquired Integral Access, a developer of the carrier-class multi-service access platforms, for an undisclosed sum.

Integral Access offers a "PurePacket" platform, an IP-optimized system for next generation networks. It can be deployed as an access gateway for softswitch based architectures for VoIP and data services or with Class 5 central office switches. The system can be connected to the service provider's network using Ethernet based interfaces using L2 or L3 marking as well as TDM based interfaces such as DS1/E1 and DS3. The PurePacket system is designed for in-building, small campus, and co-location/central office-based deployment and service delivery.

Integral Access, headquartered in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, is a privately held company. The PurePacket system is currently deployed in more than 44 major U.S. metropolitan areas and 9 European regions.

Telco Systems said the acquisition would enable it to make further inroads with next generation network carriers, CLECs, and alternative service providers. The PurePacket platform compliments Telco Systems' existing IP product line, which includes solutions for Metro Ethernet Access Rings, Residential and enterprise VoIP, FTTx and WiFi backhaul.

Regulators Require France Telecom to Provide Access to Competitors

The European Commission will require France Telecom to provide its competitors with wholesale, nationwide high-speed access to its network for a transitional period of one year.

This regulatory measure, proposed by the French national regulatory authority for electronic communications, ARCEP, was authorised by the European Commission.

The measure will apply until competing network operators have built a sufficiently wide backbone network and a large enough customer base to enable them to invest further in regional broadband services.

The Commission asked ARCEP to review this market again within a year to fully take account of new market developments which could enhance competition in the wholesale nationwide broadband market in France.

The regulators believe that competition in this market will be facilitated if France Telecom is obliged to ensure internal accounting transparency between its wholesale network branch and its retail ISP entity, as the recent reintegration of Wanadoo into France Telecom may have potential consequences on retail competition.

"The measures authorised by the Commission today for a transitional period of one year should give market players legal certainty and confidence to invest more in regional broadband and local connection services over the next year," said Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding.

Senator Proposes a Broad Rewrite of the Telecom Act

Senator John Ensign (R-NV) proposed a bill that would eliminate the requirement that video service providers obtain a cable franchise agreement in order to provide video service. The legislation seeks to promote inter-modal competition between telcos and cable operators by making it easier for telcos to launch video services.

The proposed Broadband Consumer Choice Act of 2005 would also set federal consumer protection standards, and would assure consumer access to Internet-based phone service.

"We must not allow government regulations to be an anchor on the advance of technology if we want America to lead the world in the information age," said Ensign at a Capitol Hill press conference.

Key provisions of the Broadband Consumer Choice Act of 2005 include:

  • Deregulation: Federal, state and local governments would no longer have the authority to regulate the rates, terms, price or quality of any communications service.

    Federal, state and local governments would no longer have the authority to require any facilities-based communications service provider to provide third parties with access to its facilities.

    Federal, state and local governments would no longer have the authority to regulate the rates, terms and conditions, if any, on which a facilities based provider chooses to provide access to its facilities to a third-part provider.

    The bill would have no effect on Titles IV, V and VII of the Communications Act of 1934.

  • Seamless IP Mobility: The FCC may not take any actions that would impede "seamless mobility," which is defined as "the ability of a consumer to move easily and smoothly between IP-enabled technology platforms, facilities and networks."

  • Access to Content: A consumer may not be denied access to any content provided over facilities used to provide broadband communication services, and a broadband service provider shall not willfully and knowingly block access to such content by a subscriber unless (a) the content is deemed to be illegal, (b) such denial is expressly authorized by Federal or state law, (c) such access is inconsistent with the terms of the service plan, including bandwidth limitations and QoS constraints.

  • Walled Gardens: A broadband communications provider may offer to a consumer a customized content plan through its network and with providers of content, applications and other services, in order to differentiate its offering.

  • Access to Devices: A broadband service provider shall not prevent any person from utilizing equipment and devices in connection with lawful content and applications.

  • Access to Competitive VoIP services: A broadband service provider may not prevent a consumer from using VoIP applications offered by a competitor.

  • Video Services: A video service provider shall not be required to (a) obtain a State or local video franchise, (b) to build its video distribution system in any particular way, (c) to provide leased or common carrier access to any other video service provider.

  • Compensating Local Governments for Video Rights of Way: State or local governments may require a video service provider to pay on an annual basis a reasonable video service fee to compensate such local government for the cost that it incurs in managing the public rights-of-way used by the provider. This fee shall not exceed 5% of gross revenues. Rights-of-way disputes would be resolved by the FCC or by Federal courts.

  • Existing Video Franchises: Existing video franchises would be preempted by this legislation. Cable operators would be treated as video service providers.

  • Competition and Diversity in Video Programming Distribution: The bill would establish safeguards to prevent an MVPD programming vendor which has an attributable interest in an MVPD programming vendor or satellite broadcasting vendor from improperly influencing the decision of such vendor to set unfair prices or conditions for the sale of content to any unaffiliated MVPD. Special provisions are included to preserve and protect the competition and diversity in distribution of video programming, including live sporting events.

  • Satellite TV: No state or local government would have authority to regulate through franchise-agreements or other means Direct-to-Home satellite services.

  • Municipally Owned Networks: Any state or local government seeking to offer communications services must provide conspicuous notice of the proposed scope of the communications service, including cost, services, coverage areas, terms, architecture, etc., as well as describe any free or below costs rights-of-way, and preferential tax treatment, that the project might enjoy. Open bids must then be made available to non-government entities to provide such services on the same terms. In the event of identical bids, preference shall be given to the non-government entity. If the state or local government wins the bid, non-government entities shall have the ability to use the same facilities, and under the same conditions, as the state or local government. Existing municipally-owned networks are grandfathered, unless they substantially expand their current network or services.

  • Basic Telephone Service (BTS): Incumbent local exchange carriers would be required to offer basic telephone service (single line, traditional local calling area, access to 911, touchtone dialing and access to LD carriers) to business and residential customers throughout its territories, with rates capped at current levels, until January 1, 2010. After this date, the rates may be adjusted annually by an amount not to exceed any adjustment in the Consumer Price Index.

  • Federal Quality Standard: The FCC is given the authority to establish a Federal Quality Standard for basic telephone service (BTS) that uses technologies other than the PSTN, in terms of reasonable uptime, installation/repair intervals, and suitable voice quality. State commissions would enforce this Federal Quality Standard.

  • Billing Disputes and Other Rules: The FCC is given authority to develop rules regarding automatic dialing, cramming, slamming, E911, obscene or harassing calls; billing disputes; use of consumer proprietary network information; and disabled access. State commissions are given authority to enforce these rules.

  • Unbundled Copper Loops: Incumbent exchange carriers are required to provide unbundled access to copper loops on commercially reasonable rates, terms and conditions. ILECs are also required to provide central office collocation or virtual collocation for access to the unbundled copper loops. These obligations will terminate on January 1, 2011.

  • Number Portability: All communications service providers that use numbers or the successor to the system assigned by the North American Numbering Plan, shall provide number portability to consumers.

The full text of the proposed legislation is online (72 pages).http://ensign.senate.gov/static_media/072705_telecom_bill.pdf

See also