Wednesday, October 5, 2005

ECI Telecom Nominates Rafi Maor as Next CEO

ECI Telecom announced that Doron Inbar will step down as President and CEO of the company at the end of 2005. Rafi Maor, currently the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the company, was nominated by the board of directors as the new President and CEO effective January 1 2006. Doron Inbar is expected to join the board of directors and will chair its strategy committee.

Prior to joining ECI last year, Maor spent nine years at Indigo N.V., where he served as President and Chief Operating Officer of the company. Following the acquisition of Indigo by Hewlett Packard in 2002, he served as General Manager of the HP/Indigo Division and Vice President at HP Corporate with worldwide responsibility for the product line. Prior to Indigo, Maor spent 20 years with Israel Aircraft Industries. Maor holds an Engineering degree from Tel Aviv University and is a graduate of the Advanced Management Program at the Insead Business School in France.

Commenting on the announcement, Doron Inbar said "After 22 years with the company, the last 6 of which as President and CEO, I felt that I needed a change and asked the board to step down and pursue new interests in my life. I am pleased and proud with the choice of Rafi Maor as the new CEO of the company."

Samsung's First Symbian Smartphones Powered By TI

Samsung Electronics is using Texas Instrument's OMAP platform and Bluetooth solutions for its first Symbian OS and Series 60-based smartphones, the SGH-D720 and SGH- D730.

The GSM/GPRS smartphones from Samsung will support feature-rich entertainment and productivity applications, including RealOne Player and Bluetooth multi-game and music maker. The phones will also feature a 1.3 megapixel camera with zoom, built-in flash, and camcorder functionality; MP3 Player; and Symbian Series 60 applications such as e-mail and synchronization via Bluetooth or SyncML.

The global smartphone market is currently experiencing rapid growth, with total shipments of Symbian OS smartphones in H1 2005 reaching the 14.5 million mark, up 191% from H1 2004 (source: Symbian Internal Data).

"Combined together, the Series 60 Platform, TI's OMAP platform and multimedia software, and Symbian OS form a powerful base for Samsung's SGH-D720 and SGH-D730 handsets, and further prove continued adoption of the Series 60 Platform," said Matti Vanska, Nokia's director of Mobile Software Sales and Marketing.

Global Crossing to Power GlobeTel's VoIP to Latin America

GlobeTel Communications, a telecommunications and financial services company with headquarters in southern Florida, will use Global Crossing's IP-based network to offer international cable companies and ISPs a customizable VoIP solution for clients located in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Starting in October 2005, GlobeTel will use Global Crossing IP Transit, Global Crossing VoIP Local Service and Global Crossing VoIP Outbound to provide international service providers with end-to-end VoIP from anywhere in the United States to Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and the entire Caribbean.

Global Crossing VoIP Local Service will provide GlobeTel's customers local numbers in the United States that end-users can dial at no charge. With Global Crossing IP Transit, calls to these numbers will be routed to Global Crossing's VoIP network through an IP-based connection. Global Crossing VoIP Outbound will then transport the packet-based voice traffic to Latin America and the Caribbean and complete the call.

Broadcom to Acquire Athena Semi for DVB-H, Wi-Fi

Broadcom agreed to acquire Athena Semiconductors, a fabless semiconductor company that specializes in mobile digital television tuner (including DVB-H) and low-power Wi-Fi technology, for approximately $21.6 million in cash.

Athena Semiconductors, which is headquartered in Fremont, California, developed a CMOS radio transceiver platform suited for (including DVB-H) and low-power Wi-Fi applications. The company has design teams in Bangalore, India and Athens, Greece. The group in India consists of 40 engineers, and the team in Greece consists of 23 engineers.

Broadcom said Athena's technologies would complement its existing mobile and wireless product portfolio, which includes mobile multimedia (including audio, video and 3G graphics), Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, VoIP, and 2G/3G cellular baseband solutions. DVB-H allows mobile handset users to view real time transmissions of news, weather, sports, and other video content. DVB-H services are in field trials around the world today.

Broadcom also highlighted the need for low-power Wi-Fi chipsets in a new generation of mobile devices, including cellular handsets, personal media players and handheld video games, for which prolonged battery life is a primary design consideration. Embedded Wi-Fi technology will enable these products with faster Internet services and real time peer-to-peer connectivity. Low-power Wi-Fi devices, when combined with VoIP technology, will also provide a "voice over Wi-Fi" solution.

"Mobile television is a very exciting technology, and we expect that by combining Athena's DVB-H tuner with Broadcom's mobile multimedia technology for H.264 decoding, we will create the core of an industry-leading mobile digital TV chipset," said Robert Rango, Senior Vice President & General Manager of Broadcom's Mobile & Wireless Group.
  • In January 2005, Athena Semiconductor and Samsung Electronics' Digital Media R&D Center announced the first three-transceiver Radio Frequency (RF) device for MIMO in a single integrated circuit (IC). Other products require multiple devices and therefore a larger footprint. The new single-device, called TRINI, leverages the "OptimRF" technology that Athena Semiconductors pioneered to build high performance CMOS RF transceivers at low cost. The newly developed, OptimRF-based three-transceiver ICs, supports data rates far higher than existing 802.11a/g standards-based equipment, increasing from 54 Mbps to more than 200 Mbps.

Verizon-MCI Merger Approved by Shareholders

MCI shareholders voted to approve the company's acquisition by Verizon. The companies are in the process of obtaining the remaining federal, state and international approvals.

The companies expect final closure of the transaction in late 2005 or early 2006.

"Today's vote brings us an important step closer to completing the MCI transaction," said Verizon Chairman and CEO Ivan Seidenberg. "We look forward to creating a company that is better able to compete in today's large-business and government marketplace, invest in critical infrastructure and offer the nation's most advanced broadband platform with next-generation multimedia services."

Marconi Partners with telephony@work for Hosted Contact Centre

Marconi will deploy Telephony@Work's hosted contact centre application, CallCenterAnywhere, in conjunction with its Impact SoftSwitch to deliver Impact UltraContact, a hosted contact centre solution designed for small to medium enterprises (SMEs).

Marconi Impact UltraContact is a hosted software application that handles all interaction between customers and the business including telephone, web-chat and email. It can deliver all the features of a contact centre including automatic call distribution, computer telephony interaction and interactive voice response; but as a hosted solution it does not require SMEs to make the expensive investment in time, money and expertise associated with rolling out a premises based contact centre.

Impact UltraContact is hosted by the service provider and is essentially rented to SMEs who are charged a usage based fee or a monthly rental amount, ensuring that the service provider has an ongoing source of revenue.

Newtel selects Marconi Softswitch + Newport Session Controller

Newtel Solutions, the largest independent Internet service provider and telecoms company in the Channel Islands, will deploy Marconi's full Impact Portfolio, which includes the Marconi Impact SoftSwitch and Newport Networks' 1460 Session Controller.

Newtel will exploit Marconi's ability to support IP interconnects to other carrier networks using SIP.

Newtel has been in operation since 1988 and was awarded Public Telecommunications Operators licenses in Guernsey in November 2002 and in Jersey in January 2003. Newtel provides services between the Channel Islands, the United Kingdom and beyond via telecommunications capacity contained within the Channel Islands Electricity Grid.

Amino Integrates H.264 STB with Alcatel, Kasenna, Orca and Thales

Amino announced that its single-chip IPTV set-top box for H.264 video now offers full integration with middleware from Alcatel, Kasenna, Orca Interactive and Thales. The AmiNET124, which was launched in June 2005, enables telcos to deploy H.264 IPTV services.

The AmiNET124 is powered by the Texas Instruments DM642 DSP for both H.264 decode and application software.

Amino said H.264 (also known as MPEG-4 AVC) compression codec allows TV streams to be sent across ADSL telephone lines with lower bandwidth.
  • Cavalier Telephone, a CLEC based in Virginia with 180,000 lines, has chosen Amino's AmiNET124 set-top box for its IPTV deployment.

NewCross Raises $5.2 million for Hosted IP Telephony Solution

NewCross Technologies, a start-up based in San Mateo, California, announced the completion of a $5.2 million series B round of equity financing to support its hosted IP telephony solution for service providers. Funding came from existing investors, which increased their equity stakes in the company. Columbia Ventures led the round that also included Consor Capital and Sterling Payot Capital.

The funds will be used for development, product launch, sales, and marketing. The company has also appointed Stanley P. Hanks Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. Hanks also serves as Chief Telecom Strategist for Columbia Ventures Corporation. Prior to joining CVC in 2003, Hanks had been a consultant to top tier venture capital organizations and their portfolio companies. A serial entrepreneur, Hanks has 25 years of experience as an executive in Internet and telecom startup efforts, including Enron Broadband, Genuity, and MFS Datanet.

UTStarcom Warns on Q3 Revenue

UTStarcom warned that revenues and profits for the third quarter 2005 will be below management guidance provided on August 2, 2005. The company currently expects total revenues of approximately $620 million to $640 million compared to its previous target range of $660 million to $680 million.

UTStarcom cited the delay in recognition of approximately $40 million in revenues related to a contract with Softbank BB for its mVision, IPTV solution for the revenue shortfall. Due to the high-margin nature of the mVision product, the company expects this delay to have a meaningful impact on overall gross margins for the quarter. In addition, overall third quarter gross margins were also negatively impacted by other factors, principally, the recording of additional warranty reserves in the broadband business segment. As such, gross margins are expected to be approximately 9% to 11%. Previous guidance called for gross margins in the range of 15% to 18%.

UTStarcom also said the it has determined that the fair value of some or all of its operating units may be below their book values. As a result, the company is currently conducting an evaluation of its goodwill for impairment. If the fair values of these operating units are concluded to be below their book values, the company will record a non-cash charge to write-off some or all of its goodwill.

UTStarcom also noted that it has received notice of a formal inquiry by the staff of the Securities & Exchange Commission into certain aspects of the Company's financial disclosures during prior reporting periods. The Company is cooperating with that inquiry.