Wednesday, August 3, 2005

CWA Members Vote Strike Authorization at Qwest

Members of the Communications Workers of America working at Qwest Communications voted overwhelmingly to give CWA leaders authorization to call a strike if a fair contract cannot be reached. The current contract covering 25,000 CWA- represented workers at Qwest will expire at 12:01 a.m. on Aug. 14.

"CWA wants to reach a fair agreement with Qwest, but management must recognize that our members have made substantial sacrifices to help keep Qwest in business over a very rocky period," said Annie Hill, CWA District 7 Vice President. "Our members want Qwest to succeed, but we also expect management to come to the bargaining table with fair proposals, not excessive demands for shifting health care costs to workers and retirees, and demands for increased mandatory overtime work that force workers to spend even more time away from their families."

The CWA noted that this is the first full contract bargaining session since 1998. Two contract extensions were approved by CWA members in 2001 and 2003, in the wake of Qwest's serious financial difficulties caused by the previous management team headed by Joseph Nacchio.

WebEx Partners With NTT Communications in Japan

WebEx Communications has entered into an agreement with NTT Communications to launch a contact center solution for small and medium size businesses (SMB) in the Japanese market. The new Customer Connect solution bundles several enterprise-level contact center functions into a hosted solution. It combines NTT Com IP audio, automatic call distribution capabilities and the WebEx Support Center application. The service is offered as a turnkey, hosted contact center solution for SMBs. It features NTT Com IP Centrex for voice conferencing, automatic call distribution to quickly route calls to appropriate agents, interactive voice response for voice activated navigation and detailed logs for advanced reporting.

"The seamless integration of WebEx Support Center allows agents to easily escalate from a support call into a virtual hands-on remote support session," said Ray Villareal, vice president field operations and marketing at WebEx.

BellSouth Debuts Pre-WiMax Service

BellSouth has begun offering its FastAccess Internet Service powered by wireless broadband technology in Athens, Georgia. Pricing will range from $24.95 to $39.95 per month, depending on the speed selected and if the customer has BellSouth wireline service.

BellSouth said it plans to offer the wireless broadband in select Florida cities later this year.

NEC and Harris Settle Patent Infringement Claims

NEC reached a settlement with Harris in its lawsuit regarding infringement of its Digital Microwave Radio ("DMR") patent. Harris has agreed to take a royalty-bearing, non-exclusive license under NEC's Digital Microwave Radio ("DMR") patents. NEC has dismissed all other claims. The patent infringement lawsuits were filed in September 2004. Financial terms were not disclosed.

In addition with the settlement, Harris agreed to purchase from NEC, and NEC agreed to sell to Harris, certain PBX patents possessed by NEC. Also, the parties agreed to a patent cross license as to all other product categories.

Belgium's Mobistar Expands from Mobile to DSL

Mobistar, the second largest mobile operator in Belgium, has decided to make a strategic shift from a purely mobile operator to a fully convergent ISP with wireline facilities. Mobistar will deploy the Alcatel 7301 Advanced Services Access Manager DSLAM, managed by the Alcatel 5523 ADSL Work Station (AWS) and the Alcatel 5530 Network Analyzer.

Mobistar is part of France Telecom's Orange Group.
  • As of 30 June 2005, Mobistar had 2,867,522 active customers , 205,186 more than a year before, representing growth of 7.7%. The proportion of postpaid customers increased markedly to 39.8% of the active customer base, against 32.9% on 30 June 2004. According to its estimations, The company said it holds a market share of more than 33% of the mobile telecommunication business in Belgium.

Russia's VimpelCom Selects Alcatel Mobile NGN

VimpelCom, a leading international carrier operating under the "Beeline" brand in Russia and Kazakhstan, will deploy Alcatel's mobile Next Generation Network (NGN) solution in the Urals. Specifically, VimpelCom will deploy the Alcatel 5020 Spatial Atrium Softswitch, a multi-standard mobile call server for controlling distributed media gateways and managing call/session control for voice and data services. The project is scheduled for completion in Q3 2005. Financial terms were not disclosed.
  • In September 2004, Alcatel agreed to acquire Spatial Wireless, a start-up offering software-based and multi-standard distributed mobile switching solutions, for approximately US$250 million. Spatial's flagship product, Spatial Atrium, is a multi-standard mobile softswitch that controls distributed media gateways and manages call/session control for voice and data services. It works seamlessly in GSM/EDGE, 3G/UMTS and CDMA networks. It also enables an evolution to 3GPP Release 5 and Release 6 networks via software-only upgrades. The company said that its network architecture allows a mobile operator to invest in only a few Mobile Call Servers spread though a limited number of centralized control sites located in its largest traffic zones, while having a larger number of lower-cost Media Gateways located close to the access network to switch the traffic locally. Spatial's distributed solution is in commercial use and in market trials, with major GSM and CDMA operators in the world, in particular in North America, China, and India - with over one million ports deployed in 2004.

Motorola Seeks Enforcement via Telsim's International Roaming

Motorola is seeking to collect the international roaming and interconnect revenues of Telsim Mobil Telekomunikasyon (Telsim), the second largest mobile operator in Turkey, as a means of enforcing its approximately $2.5 billion arbitration claim against the company.

On June 13, 2005, a panel of arbitrators from the Zurich Chamber of Commerce issued a final award ("the Final Award") in the arbitration pending between Telsim and Motorola Credit Corporation ("MCC") concerning the amounts due by Telsim to MCC under the financing arrangements between the parties. Telsim had borrowed nearly $2.0 billion from Motorola for the financing of a Motorola-constructed cellular telephone system and has failed to pay Motorola despite the system's operational success.

Telsim has refused to pay Motorola. This week, courts in the United States and the United Kingdom granted Motorola's request to attach the international roaming and interconnect revenues Telsim has earned in those countries. As the result of the decisions from the U.S. and U.K. courts, Motorola will be able to attach and/or freeze the monies other carriers would have otherwise paid to Telsim for international roaming and interconnect services.

Motorola said that because its claim is not against the other carriers, this order will not effect international roaming and interconnect services.

Motorola also said that it will continue to aggressively seek enforcement of the judgment for $2.13 billion rendered on behalf of Motorola against the Uzan family of Turkey for perpetrating the massive fraud against Motorola relating to the Telsim loans.

Alltel Cites Wireless for Gains in Profitability

Alltel reported quarterly revenues of $2.3 billion, an 11% increase from a year ago. Net income (GAAP) was $402 million, a 53% increase. Net income from current businesses was $284 million, an 8% increase from a year ago.

Wireless revenue was $1.5 billion, a 16 percent increase from a year ago. Segment income was $307 million, a 17 percent increase.

Average revenue per wireless customer was $50.55, a 6 percent increase year-over-year and the highest ARPU in 5 years, driven by improvements in data revenue and quality customer growth. Post-pay churn was 1.58 percent, which was flat year-over-year.

Wireline revenue was $595 million, down 2 percent from the previous year. Segment income was $215 million, an 8 percent decline. The company added 36,000 broadband customers, bringing its total broadband customer base to 319,000. Average revenue per wireline customer was $66.83, a 1 percent increase.

Equity free cash flow from current businesses was $260 million. Net cash provided from operations was $465 million.

European Commission Adopts R&D Plan

The European Commission announced plans to invest € 1 billion to launch 276 new research projects in the field of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT). Over 1,300 proposals were submitted in response to the 4th Information Society Technology Call for Proposals under the EU's Sixth Research Framework Programme. 462 proposals met the quality criteria, of which 276 were retained.

The selected projects aim in particular to achieve industrial and societal breakthroughs in fields that are of strategic importance to Europe, and where it has recognized strengths. They include micro- and nano-electronics, mobile communications and broadband technology for accessing the internet. In broadband, research funding has been an incentive for European equipment manufacturers to make, over the past years, internet access in Europe faster and cheaper, thanks to optical network technology and low-cost ADSL modems.

In the coming five years, the Commission will also support new fields with high potential for industrial and commercial breakthroughs, such as:

  • cognitive systems that can sense and interpret real-world events and help humans deal with them;

  • improvements in the security and dependability of information and communication technology systems;

  • new applications that will affect our lives in health, transport, content creation, and in government administrations and services.

"Investment into research in Information and Communication Technologies is our best-bet contribution to growth and jobs. However, Europe continues to under-invest considerably into ICT research for lack of sufficient resources both at EU level and at national level. Today, half the ICT research projects proposed for EU funding have had to be turned down, despite meeting all the requisite quality criteria. If Europe wants to be part of the game of global competition for better ICT services, we need to step up our resources considerably," said Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding.

America Online Acquires Xdrive for Online Storage

America Online has acquired Xdrive, a privately-held provider of online storage and backup services. Financial terms were not disclosed. Xdrive manages an online, centralized storage platform that gives subscribers access to, and protection of, all their digital files.

Xdrive, founded in 1999 and headquartered in Santa Monica, California, will operate as a stand alone, wholly-owned subsidiary of AOL under the Digital Services business unit and continue to be based in southern California. The company has 34 employees.

The Xdrive unit, the Xdrive management team, and its talented, highly-skilled 34 employees will report to Gio Hunt, Senior Vice President of New Business Ventures, AOL Digital Services.

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