Sunday, August 28, 2005

Morton Bahr Steps Down as President of CWA

Morton Bahr will step down as President of the Communications Workers of America (CWA). Bahr, who led the union for 20 years, is only CWA's third president since its founding in 1938. He won election as CWA president in 1985, a year after the breakup of the AT&T Bell System which had employed a half million workers.

During the union's 67th annual convention this week in Chicago, Larry Cohen was elected president of the CWA. Cohen has served as executive vice president of the CWA since 1998, after serving as assistant to President Bahr and director of organizing the previous 12 years. A native of Philadelphia, Cohen began his union work as an unrepresented state worker in New Jersey, where he led the successful drive that brought 36,000 state workers into the CWA union.

D-Link Launches Wireless 3G Router for Mobile Broadband over Cellular

D-Link introduced a Wireless 3G Mobile Router that offers subscribers of wireless carriers the ability to share 3G wireless broadband access at speeds up to 2.4 Mbps with Ethernet and 802.11g connected stations from anywhere a compatible 3G mobile signal is available.

The D-Link Wireless 3G Mobile Router will come equipped with a built in Cardbus slot for the insertion of a 3G wireless notebook adapter interface for EVDO, UMTS, Flash-OFDM and HSDPA networks. The router will also feature two USB 2.0 ports, one for providing wireless broadband access when used in conjunction with a USB enabled 3G mobile cell phone and another port for optional print server functionality. The unit will include a built-in 10/100 Mbps switch to connect up to four Ethernet-enabled networking devices as well as an integrated 802.11g access point for wireless LAN support. Security includes WPA, support for 802.1x, and NAT firewall functionality.

Intelsat to Acquire PanAmSat for $3.2 Billion

Intelsat agreed to acquire PanAmSat for $25 per share in cash, or $3.2 billion, creating a larger satellite company that will be a leader in the digital delivery of video content, the transmission of corporate data and the provisioning of government communications.

PanAmSat brings a video-centric customer base, including leading providers of cable TV programming, while Intelsat's historical strength has been in providing core telephony and advanced data services to developing and underserved regions around the world.

PanAmSat owns and operates a fleet of 25 satellites that transmit a total of 1,991 television channels worldwide, making the company a leading carrier of standard and high-definition signals. In total, the company's in-orbit fleet is capable of reaching over 98% of the world's population through cable television systems, broadcast affiliates, direct-to-home operators, Internet service providers and telecommunications companies.

Intelsat, which was established in 1964 as the first commercial satellite provider, currently operates a fleet of 27 satellites.

The combined company will have coverage in more than 220 countries and territories. The shared resources will enable the new company to offer its customers expanded coverage with additional back-up satellites, supporting fiber networks and enhanced operational capabilities.

Following the merger, the company is expected to have pro forma annual revenues of more than $1.9 billion and to maintain significant free cash flow from operations, providing significant resources for capital expenditures and debt service.

Intelsat has received financing commitments for the full amount of the purchase price from a group of financial institutions led by Deutsche Bank Securities Inc., Citigroup Global Markets Inc., Credit Suisse First Boston LLC and Lehman Brothers Inc.

"The combination of Intelsat and PanAmSat creates an industry leader with the ability to provide competitive communications and video services to consumers and businesses," said David McGlade, Chief Executive Officer of Intelsat.
  • Earlier this month, PanAmSat's new Galaxy 14 satellite was successfully launched by a Soyuz-Fregat rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Galaxy 14 is a 1790-kilogram Star 2 Bus model satellite with 24, 36-MHz C-band transponders. It is the second in a series of three C-band satellites being constructed by Orbital Sciences for PanAmSat. Although designated a back-up satellite, the all C-band spacecraft is designed to deliver digital video programming, HDTV, VOD and IPTV service throughout the continental U.S.

  • In June 2005, Intelsat Americas-8 (IA-8), a high-power satellite built for by Space Systems/Loral (SS/L), was successfully launched on a Sea Launch Zenit-3SL rocket from the Odyssey Launch Platform, positioned on the equator in the Pacific Ocean. The IA-8 satellite carries 28 C-band and 36 Ku-band transponders, as well as 24 Ka-band spot beams and will have total end-of-life power of 16 Kw -- making it one of the most powerful communications satellites to date. The satellite will provide coverage of North and South America, Alaska, Hawaii and the Caribbean from its orbital slot at 89 degrees West longitude.

  • In August 2004, a consortium of investment funds announced plans to acquire Intelsat in a transaction valued at approximately $5 billion, including approximately $2 billion of existing net debt. Investors included Apax Partners Worldwide LLP, Apax Partners, Inc., Apollo Management V, L.P., MDP Global Investors Limited and Permira Advisors, LLC.

IDT Spectrum Files for IPO

IDT Spectrum, which holds licenses for a large and broad collection of commercial fixed wireless spectrum in the United States, filed an SEC registration statement for a proposed initial public offering (IPO) of its Class B common stock.

The company is developing a fixed wireless network platform that will integrate wireless spectrum with operational management capabilities and a flexible architecture to serve the specialized backhaul and telecommunications connectivity needs of a variety of customers, such as cellular phone network providers, commercial enterprises, government agencies and first-responders.

WR Hambrecht + Co. is acting as the lead manager of the offering.

Adelphia Deploys Ciena Optical Ethernet for Distance Learning Network

Adelphia Communications has deployed Ciena's optical Ethernet platforms across western New York to interconnect 106 school districts serving 189,000 students with a wide range of applications for distance learning, including video conferencing and broadband data networking. The deployment is based on multiple optical Ethernet platforms from Ciena, including the CN 4300 Managed Optical Services Switch; the CN 2200 Managed Optical Ethernet Multiplexer; and the CN 2101 WaveSplicer, a passive CWDM Optical Add/Drop Multiplexer hardened for outside plant locations. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The new distance learning applications are an initiative of the Western New York Regional Information Center (WNYRIC), a regional public education organization that delivers a variety of computer and networking services to support instructional and administrative functions of five Board of Cooperative Educational Services regions.

eDonkey Surpasses BitTorrent as World's Largest P2P Network

eDonkey 2000 has overtaken BitTorrent to become the world's largest P2P file trading network, according to an updated analysis of worldwide Peer-to-Peer (P2P) traffic from CacheLogic.

While BitTorrent remains extremely popular in Asia
(with the notable exception of South Korea, where 92% of all P2P
traffic is eDonkey), European, North American and Latin American
users have shifted to eDonkey for the vast majority of file trading.

The data for this study was obtained through CacheLogic's Streamsight
Analysis Network Program, which enables analysis based on actual
packet data and traffic levels obtained from ISPs worldwide.

"CacheLogic has noted a significant shift in the balance of traffic
levels associated with the main P2P protocols through our unique
access to actual Web traffic data throughout the world," said Andrew
Parker, Chief Technology Officer for CacheLogic. "Over the last six
months, the traffic levels for the eDonkey protocol have grown to a
level greater than that of BitTorrent. Such file-sharing applications
continue to be the single largest traffic burden on ISP networks."

Cisco Enhances IOS for Catalyst 6500 Switches

Cisco Systems released several Internetwork Operating System (IOS)-based software enhancements for its flagship Catalyst 6500 Series switches. Specifically, Cisco has evolved its existing IOS software for the Catalyst 6500 switches so that modular Cisco IOS subsystems now run in independent, self-healing processes. This has the following benefits:

  • Minimizes unplanned network downtime through faster fault containment and recovery with Process Fault Containment and Stateful Process Restart features;

  • Simplifies software changes through subsystem In-Service Software Upgrades;

  • Enables process-level, automated policy control by integrating Cisco IOS Embedded Event Manager (EEM). This feature uses an intelligent network to help IT managers automate time-consuming tasks, thus saving time.

Cisco IOS Software Modularity for the Catalyst 6500 Series switches will be delivered on the existing Cisco IOS 12.2SX release. It is expected to be available in Q4 CY05 on the Catalyst 6500 Supervisor Engine 720 and in Q1 CY06 on the Catalyst 6500 Supervisor Engine 32.

Korean National Supercomputing Center Deploys Force10

The Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information (KISTI), Korea's national supercomputer center, has deployed Force10 Networks' TeraScale E-Series in an international grid network to connect the country with scientists and researchers worldwide via the Global Ring Network for Advanced Applications Development (GLORIAD).

The Force10 TeraScale E600 is the foundation in an international grid network that connects Daejon, Korea, with Seattle. In addition, the E600 is connected to the Korea Research Environment Open Network (KREONET2), a high performance government-funded network that provides scientists with supercomputing resources and enables the exchange of science and information technology data.

SAMSUNG Demonstrates WiBro Handovers -- 802.16e

Samsung Electronics demonstrated Wireless Broadband (WiBro) Hand-over technology that allows devices to be connected seamlessly to Internet servers or other networked devices while commuting or moving at speeds up to 60 km/h.

Wireless Broadband (WiBro) is based on Mobile WiMAX technology developed by Korea 's Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute (ETRI) and industry players. In February 2002, the Korea government allocated 100 MHZ of frequency spectrum in the 2.3GHz bandwidth. In June 2004, Phase 1 of the WiBro became standardized. iBro offers an aggregate data throughput of 20 to 30 Mbps and the base station of the WiBro network covers a radius of 1 km ~ 5 km.

Samsung said it is the first company in the world to demonstrate hand-over technology that is based on the WiMAX IEEE 802.16e standard.

This week, SAMSUNG is hosting its 3rd annual Samsung 4G Forum 2005 at Jeju Island, Korea, under the theme "Revolution of Radio Access & Key Technologies for 4G." The company expects a 4G mobile communications format to become commercially available around 2010. Its annual 4G Forums provide a forum for defining what the 4G vision should be.

Credit: Samsung

MCI Unveils Integrated Security Services Portfolio

MCI introduced its NetSec integrated portfolio of Managed and Professional Security Services spanning MCI's Internet "cloud" network to the enterprise premise "core" infrastructure. The new suite of global services delivers advanced, comprehensive threat intelligence and flexible security management for business and government customers.

MCI said that unlike other point-solution providers, its is the first managed services company to take advantage of a carrier's Internet backbone network and a global managed security services provider's customer infrastructure to deliver end-to-end security protection and management.

As part of its new portfolio, MCI's NetSec Managed Security Services include DDoS detection and mitigation, managed email content security, infrastructure threat monitoring and management for firewalls, intrusion detection and prevention for both network and host environments, vulnerability scanning and incident response. MCI is providing a Web portal for customers to monitor threat activity and navigate security risk within their environment.

MCI's NetSec Professional Security Services help large enterprise customers with complex requirements to identify security risk, set security policy and develop a security strategy. Solutions include a broad range of security assessments from application to wireless to VoIP, security reviews for policy and network architecture, security programs such as application lifecycle management and partner security certification and incident response and forensics.

Scientific-Atlanta and Microsoft Collaborate on IPTV Set-Top Boxes

Scientific-Atlanta and Microsoft announced that they are working together on IPTV set-tops for supporting initiatives such as SBC's Project Lightspeed.

The new line of Scientific-Atlanta IP set-tops, which will be integrated with the Microsoft TV IPTV Edition software platform, will support advanced codecs such as MPEG-4 Part 10/H.264 and VC-1 and will include standard- definition (SD), high-definition (HD), and whole home SD/HD digital video recorder (DVR) devices, as well as innovative gateway products that can serve an entire home with a single device.

Additionally, Scientific Atlanta said these new set-tops will support a "no new wires" strategy for operators, which will enable IP video to be delivered over existing coax cable already installed in millions of homes.

To help expedite the global implementation of IPTV services, country- or region-specific versions of the new Scientific-Atlanta set-tops will support U.S. or international standards.
  • SBC Communications has awarded IPTV set-top box contracts to both Scientific-Atlanta and Motorola. The contracts, awarded by SBC Services Inc., give equal market opportunity to both vendors and continue through the end of 2008. SBC provided a common set of specifications to both vendors to build the set-top boxes. At this time, SBC said it expects to use Motorola set-top boxes initially when it scales the service, with Scientific-Atlanta set-top boxes soon thereafter.

  • In March 2005, SBC awarded a contract to Scientific-Atlanta to provide IP video network equipment that would enable SBC to acquire, process, encode, and distribute digital media content to subscribers. SBC is currently testing this video network equipment as part of an SBC technical trial. Instead of using a traditional broadcast video system, in which all content is continuously sent to every customer's home, SBC companies will use a switched IP-video distribution system. In the switched IP-video network, only the content the customer requests is provided to the customer, freeing up bandwidth to be used for other applications.

National Semiconductor Debuts Video Decoder with RGB Conversion

National Semiconductor introduced a video decoder chip with an integrated 2:1 multiplexing (MUX) video switch that uses analog technology to convert standard and high-definition video (YPbPr) signals to a computer video (RGB) format.

The chip could be used to enable video output directly from consumer devices such as DVD players or game consoles to personal computer monitors. The chip also performs all the necessary sync processing to generate horizontal and vertical sync signals from standard (SD) and high-definition (HD) video formats.

XO Launches Wholesale Local Voice Residential Solution

XO Communications is broadening its Wholesale Local Voice services platform to support competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) that offer local and long distance services to residential customers in competition with the RBOCs. XO currently provides wholesale voice service for business-focused CLECs.

The XO Wholesale Local Voice services platform enables CLECs focused on residential customers to transition off of the RBOCs' unbundled network element platform (UNE-P) and utilize central office and transport services from XO.

XO offers its Wholesale Local Voice services platform through more than 950 collocation facilities in 70 metropolitan markets across the U.S. The XO platform provides a pre-determined block of capacity for telephone lines and a physical connection for transporting voice traffic from the XO collocation facility to the competitive provider's voice switch. Competitive service providers will need to provision local loops to their customers, but the platform eliminates the need for competitive providers to build costly switching facilities in every central office in order to provide services to their customers.

XO said its platform offers CLECs a more cost-effective alternative to building local network facilities and presents an opportunity to save between 15 and 30% over long-term wholesale agreements with the RBOCs.

Verizon Expands EV-DO Network and Cuts Prices

Verizon Wireless expanded its EV-DO wireless broadband network to seven new markets and cut the price for unlimited BroadbandAccess to $59.99 per month -- a 25% reduction -- for customers with any Verizon Wireless monthly voice plan. For non-voice customers, BroadbandAccess is available for $79.99 monthly access for unlimited use with a one- or two-year customer agreement.

New Verizon EVDO markets include Baton Rouge, LA; Charlotte and Raleigh Durham, NC; Denver; Louisville, KY; and San Francisco and Sacramento, CA.

The EV-DO network also supports V CAST service, Verizon Wireless' consumer multimedia service. V CAST enables consumers to access short video content on-demand, viewing current news, weather, sports and entertainment programming via a selection of V CAST-enabled phones. For $15.00 monthly access added to their Verizon Wireless calling plan, customers can get unlimited access to more than 300 daily updated video clips from leading news, sports, weather and entertainment content providers.

Verizon Signs 5 Additional FiOS Programming Deals

Verizon announced separate content agreements for it FiOS TV service with The America Channel, Blackbelt TV, Expo TV, LIME and the Pentagon Channel. Terms were not disclosed.

Verizon previously announced agreements with network groups such as NBC Universal Cable, Starz Entertainment Group, Showtime Networks, A&E Television Networks, Discovery Networks and Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., and is close to finalizing agreements with several other major content-partners.

Granite Ventures Raises $350 Million Venture Capital Fund

Granite Ventures has closed Granite Ventures II, a $350 million venture capital fund that will focus on investment opportunities in early-stage communications and software companies. In the past 13 years, Granite Ventures has invested in more than 80 companies, including Digimarc, DigitalThink, InfoGear, Internap, NetBoost, Nexabit, Siebel Systems, Sierra Wireless, SnapTrack, Tumbleweed Communications and Vignette.
  • Granite Ventures began as the early-stage venture capital group at Hambrecht & Quist in 1992.

ShoreTel Unveils 6th Generation IP PBX

ShoreTel unveiled the sixth generation of its distributed IP PBX voice solution, featuring a new Office Anywhere capability that supports mobile users irrespective of their location and the device they are using at the moment. ShoreTel is also enhancing its management and integration capabilities with integrated software distribution, media encryption, on-net dialing, and increased support of international operations. ShoreTel has also delivered two new telephone devices, a low-end IP phone and a 24-button programmable button box for operators and assistants.

The Office Anywhere feature makes its easier to contact mobile workers with only one phone number via the ShoreTel PBX . An employee's work identity and profile can be put on any device, including cell phones and PDAs, which eliminates the need for multiple phone numbers and voicemail accounts.

A native SIP interface in ShoreTel 6 allows the system to be expanded beyond what ShoreTel offers, such as using a Polycom conference phone or integrating with other phone systems. ShoreTel 6 is also supporting SIP-based WiFi phones. The SIP interface will also support residential access devices for teleworking, domestic and international trunking services, and BRI gateways.

The ShorePhone IP110 is an entry-level IP phone that can be used as a desktop device but is particularly suited to dorm rooms and open areas such as break rooms, hallways, and classrooms. It includes an Ethernet switch with PoE support, can be used as a one-way intercom, and has an optional wall-mount kit. There are six hard keys (transfer, conference, intercom, redial, voice mail, and hold), and a 1-line, 16-character LCD display.

The ShorePhone BB24 includes an Ethernet switch with PoE and supports power forwarding for one downstream device. It works in conjunction with the ShorePhone IP530 or IP560; up to four units can be daisy-chained together. It features 24 programmable multi-color buttons that also provide presence information about the monitored users. Up to six characters per button are displayed on the device's backlit LCD display.

ShoreTel 6 and the new ShoreTel handsets will be available in September. New ShoreTel 6 systems typically range from $650 to $850 per user, depending on configuration. Existing customers with support agreements receive this system upgrade at no cost. The suggested retail price for additional language packs is $995. The ShoreTel IP110 phone lists for $149, and the ShoreTel BB24 button box lists for $349.

See also