Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Stanford Researchers Develop Silicon Germanium Modulator

Researchers at Stanford University have developed a solid-state optical modulator made of silicon and germanium described as a major breakthrough in optoelectronics. The discovery promises a small, low-cost means of converting light beams into data streams on chip at high rates.

Conventional wisdom held that a germanium-based modulator was impossible. The key to the discovery was in understanding how the "Stark" effect, which occurs when a strong electric field causes an atom to change a wavelength of light, can be made to work in materials compatible with chip manufacturing. Silicon and germanium both belong to a group of materials where the electrons do not appear favorably arranged for the Stark effect. The researchers found that that when germanium layers are properly situated in a crystal with silicon, their electrons do not "leak" from useful levels into useless ones. They claim this effect actually works as well as in any current modulator--and better than many, paving the way for silicon germanium based modulators compatible with standard telecommunications wavelengths.

The breakthrough, which was announced in the October 27th issue of the journal Nature, was made by a research group headed by David A. B. Miller, the W. M. Keck Foundation Professor of Electrical Engineering at Stanford, and his colleague James Harris, the James and Ellenor Chesebrough Professor in the School of Engineering at Stanford.

Telecom Italia Readies "Superphone" and IPTV Launch

Telecom Italia and TIM announced plans to launch fixed-line to mobile video-calling and image transfer services beginning in December. Under the "fixed/mobile" packages, Telecom Italia fixed-line videophones and TIM UMTS phones can video call one another.

The companies' videophone plus UMTS phone package will be available at rates starting from EUR 199. Starting in November, the companies will also allow customers to make calls at reduced prices between their home phone and three cellphone numbers of their choice and vice versa (Teleconomy Famiglia and TIM Famiglia).


In the second phase of its convergence strategy starting in 2006, Telecom Italia plans to launch the "Superphone" -- a combination home phone and cellphone. It will use UMA (Unlicensed Mobile Access) technology to connect to home ADSL fixed-line networks over WiFi, and work as a GSM, GPRS or EDGE phone outside the home. Calls are charged either as fixed-line or mobile calls, depending on the environment where calls are made and the customer's price plan.


By the end of December, Telecom Italian plans to introduce IPTV over ADSL home service. The company said its IPTV trials are now almost complete and that the service is scheduled for rollout in 21 Italian cities by the end of the year.

The Group is also developing technologies to distribute this content to mobile terminals. A recent non-exclusive agreement between TIM and Mediaset has paved the way for the commercial launch in Italy - the first in the world - of digital terrestrial TV service to mobile phones implementing DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcaster Handheld) technology. Starting in 2006, TIM will offer Mediaset programmes on mobile phones at a level of quality similar to that of the digital terrestrial standard.


Telecom Italia said it plans to invest EUR 10 billion in convergence activities over the period 2005-2007, representing 17% of turnover, the highest rate among the telephone operator in Europe.
  • In July 2005, Telecom Italia launched free trials of its new IPTV service in Rome, Milan, Bologna and Palermo, and said it remains on track to launch commercial services in 21 cities across the country this autumn. The commercial service will feature live TV, including Serie A TIM and B TIM Italian football, top Italian basketball, a VOD library of 600 films plus 30 new films per month, reality shows and other special events. Initially, the IPTV service will be delivered over 4 Mbps ADSL connections on Telecom Italia's network.

  • Telecom Italia's key technology partners include:

    Alcatel, which is supplying ADSL access devices and its Open Media Suite set top box video entertainment TV distribution platform.

    Microsoft, which is providing its Microsoft TV IPTV Edition software

    Pirelli Broadband Solutions, which is supplying intelligent modular routers for home networking, including multiple high-speed Internet connections, VoIP and Wi-Fi via the set top box.

  • In December 2004, Nokia and Telecom Italia reported progress on a project to drive forward mobile and fixed network service convergence. A key target of the project is the development of VoIP and other services, such as video sharing and push-to-talk, that can be provided over both mobile and fixed networks. The Nokia IP Multimedia Subsystem core network infrastructure enables Video Sharing and other rich multimedia services.

  • Nokia is incorporating Kineto Wireless' UMA (Unlicensed Mobile Access) Network Controller into its network convergence solutions for wireline and wireless operators.

QUALCOMM Completes CDMA2000 1xEV-DO Rev A Call

QUALCOMM reached a milestone in the development of CDMA2000 1xEV-DO Revision A networks and handsets -- the completion of an end-to-end call.

The Rev. A standard represents the next evolution of the EV-DO technologies that support the 3.1 Mbps forward and 1.8 Mbps reverse link data rates and higher system capacity required for next-generation wireless multimedia.

QUALCOMM completed the test calls using equipment based on its Cell Site Modem (CSM) CSM6800 chipset for base stations and the Mobile Station Modem (MSM) MSM6800 chipset for mobile handsets.

Siemens Invests in GlooLabs for Remote Access to Home Media

Siemens Acceleration in Communications has made an equity investmnet in GlooLabs, a start-up offering software for remote access to multimedia content. GlooLabs' GlooNetT is a Java-based platform that allows digital media stored on a home computer to be accessed remotely through any Internet-enabled computer, mobile phone, or PDA. The funding will allow GlooLabs to expand its product portfolio and ramp-up operations for large scale customer deployments.

Siemens said seamless access to personal media and other data has become considerably important in the converging computing and home entertainment environments. GlooLabs' architectural approach overcomes the current gap of desktop and browser based solutions by allowing end users to retrieve media files stored on various mobile devices and view or play it on any other networked device.

A public demonstration site for GlooNetT is available at the GlooLabs' website.

BT Outlines IPTV Plans Combining Broadband with Digital Terrestrial

BT outlined its vision for nationwide next generation TV delivered over broadband and incorporating digital terrestrial channels. BT, which previously disclosed plans to use Microsoft TV IPTV Edition, announced its selection of Philips to supply set top boxes. Every set top box will include a personal video recorder (PVR) capable of storing up to 80 hours of programming and capable of delivering High Definition content.

BT said its service will be a world first combining access to digital terrestrial channels, an extensive video on demand library, "catch-up" TV and a range of interactive services.

BT is planning a commercial launch across the UK from late summer / autumn 2006. Trials are slated to begin next spring / early summer.

BT's next generation TV service will be available to BT customers without the need for a subscription fee. Services available at launch or shortly afterwards will include:

  • Entertainment on demand -- an extensive library of movies, TV and music all available instantly

  • Catch-up TV -- programmes from the previous seven days broadcast schedule will be available on demand without the need to record.

  • Flexible payment -- no mandatory subscriptions. Pay-per-view options

  • Personal Video Recorder capable of storing up to 80 hours of programming

  • More than 30 digital terrestrial TV channels

  • Communication services -- instant messaging, chat and video telephony on TV

  • Interactive services -- online games, retail opportunities and community services

"We see next generation TV as a vital element of our vision for home entertainment. In an increasingly converged world, BT customers will be able to benefit from the combination of television, communications and the internet," Ian Livingston, chief executive BT Retail.

Verizon Adds 389,000 BB Customers, Cites Initial Take-up at FiOS

Verizon Communications reported Q3 oerating revenues of $19.0 billion, up 5.4% on a comparable basis from $18.1 billion last year. Q3 revenues at Verizon Wireless increased 14.2%, or $1.0 billion, to $8.4 billion, year-over-year. Q3 revenues on a comparable basis at Domestic Telecom were $9.4 billion, a 0.7% decrease compared with the third quarter 2004. Domestic Telecom revenues in the third quarter 2005 were flat with the second quarter 2005 on a comparable basis. Some highlights:


  • 1.9 million net customer additions, up 14.6 percent; 49.3 million total customers, up 17.0 percent; churn (customer turnover) of 1.3 percent

  • Total quarterly revenues of $8.4 billion, up $1.0 billion, or 14.2 percent -- the 13th consecutive quarter of double-digit year-over-year revenue growth increases

  • Operating income margin of 21.8 percent

  • Total churn rate, a key measure of customer loyalty, was 1.3 percent for the third quarter 2005, down from 1.5 percent in the third quarter 2004. Churn in the retail post-paid segment -- a base of 45.7 million customers -- was 1.08 percent in Q3 2005.


  • 4.5 million total broadband connections (DSL and Verizon FiOS data lines), including a company-record 389,000 net new broadband connections

  • Average monthly revenue per residential customer up 4.6 percent to $51.61

  • Data revenues up 10.9 percent to $2.2 billion

FiOS: FiOS activity is underway in 15 states, passing a cumulative 2.5 million homes and businesses. The company remains on track to pass 3 million homes and businesses by the end of the year with FiOS data services. The company said it plans to pass an additional 3 million homes and businesses with FiOS data services next year -- for a total of 6 million homes and businesses passed by year-end 2006. In the 35 markets where Verizon has been actively selling FiOS data services for more than six months, market penetration is approximately 12.4%-- an improvement over DSL penetration rates over longer timeframes. FiOS TV, where available, offers all-digital programming with more than 330 channels.

Total Connections: Verizon's total customer connections -- which include wireline switched access lines, wireless customers, and wireline and wireless customers using broadband connections (EV-DO, DSL or FiOS) -- increased to 103.5 million at the end of the third quarter 2005.

Switched access lines: 49.7 million at the end of the third quarter 2005, a decline of 6.2 percent compared with the end of the third quarter 2004. This has been more than offset by the increases of 42.3 percent in wireline broadband connections and 17.0 percent in total wireless customers over the same period.

Alvarion Cites Growing WiMAX CPE Shipments

Alvarion shipped 5,000 BreezeMAX PRO subscriber units, out of 10,000 ordered, since the WiMAX-compliant device became available in September 2005. Alvarion said the BreezeMAN PRO CPE was designed to 802.16-2004 specs, and that it intends to seek certification from the WiMAX Forum as quickly as possible.

OPNET Launches WiMAX Model Development Consortium

OPNET Technologies is forming model development consortium focused on WiMAX (802.16).

"The purpose of our WiMAX model development consortium is to establish a framework that is shared by leading industry and government organizations," stated Taylor Salman, Director of Business Development for OPNET. "The result will be a powerful simulation modeling suite for WiMAX network planning and design."

The consortium is led by OPNET and includes representatives from several leading technology companies, with Motorola participating as a Founding Member.

DOJ Approves SBC/AT&T and Verizon Mergers with Conditions

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) cleared the pending mergers of SBC/AT&T and Verizon/MCI with a short list of conditions. These include divesting connections to about 350 commercials buildings where each of the telecom giants would have monopolistic control. The Department of Justice said it coordinated with the FCC to investigate objections to the mergers.

The DOJ noted that Verizon, Verizon and MCI are the only two firms that own or control a direct wireline connection to hundreds of buildings in the metropolitan areas of Washington-Baltimore; Boston; New York; Philadelphia; Tampa; Richmond, Virginia; Providence, Rhode Island; and Portland, Maine. Therefore, in the absence of new entry, the merger would eliminate competition for facilities-based local private line service to those buildings.

Similarly, according to the complaint against SBC, SBC and AT&T are the only two firms that own or control a direct wireline connection to certain buildings in the metropolitan areas of Chicago; Dallas-Fort Worth; Detroit; Hartford-New Haven, Connecticut; Indianapolis; Kansas City; Los Angeles; Milwaukee; San Diego; San Francisco-San Jose; and St. Louis. Therefore, in the absence of new entry, the merger would eliminate competition for facilities-based local private line service to those buildings.

Under the terms of the settlements, Verizon and SBC must each divest connections to more than 350 buildings in their respective territories, to a single buyer in each city, generally using long-term leases commonly used in the telecommunications industry, known as indefeasible rights of use or "IRUs."

As part of its investigation, the DOJ's Antitrust Division considered numerous product and geographic markets and evaluated all overlaps between the merging parties. The Division took into account competition from cable companies as well as emerging technologies such as VOIP.

The Division also considered changing regulatory requirements such as the FCC's Triennial Review Remand Order (TRRO) and efficiencies that the parties claimed would result from the mergers.

Both mergers are still awaiting clearance from the FCC, as well as from a number of states.

France Telecom Reaches 6.9 Million DSL, 142,000 MaLigne TV, 484,000 VoIP

France Telecom reported Q3 2005 revenues of EUR 12.26 billion, up 3.8% compared to EUR 11.82 billion on an actual basis in Q3 2004. However, the revenue growth was offset by a fall in earnings at TP and on a 7.4% decline in business services, prompting the carrier to cut its outlook for the rest of the year. Some highlights:

ADSL: As of 30-Sep-2005, there were 4.0 million customers in France (+61.2% year-on-year) and 2.9 million ADSL customers for the rest of Europe (up 74% year-on-year). In the third quarter of 2005, the Group had a 56.3% market share for new ADSL customers in France, compared to 42% of new ADSL customers in Q3 2004.

LiveBox: Over one million "Livebox" sold in France in early October, with sales picking up pace and a target of 1.5 million by the end of 2005. The LiveBox unifies home networks, provides the ADSL connection, VoIP, TV service, photos, music, etc. France Telecom has 134,000 LiveBox customers outside of France.

VoIP: As of 30-Sep-2005, there were 484,000 VoIP customers in France, and the new "Atout Telephone" range, which was launched in August, had 591,000 customers at the end of September. There were 67,000 VoIP customers outside of France.

TV-over-ADSL: As of 30-Sep-2005, there were 142,000 MaLigne TV customers in France (up 106% in 9 months) compared to 116,000 at the end of June, with deployment continuing (8.5 million households connectable by the end of September) for a target of over 180,000 MaLigne TV customers by the end of 2005. France Telecom will be introducing PVR capability for high-end set-top boxes. A VOD service was launched this week.

Mobile Services: As of 30-Sep-2005, there were 70 million customers (up 17% year-on-year) and in revenues on the Personal Communication Services segment in the third quarter of 2005 (up 10.1%, or up 6.7% on a pro forma basis).

Broadband Mobile: As of 30-Sep-2005, there were 643,000 Broadband mobile customers, including 424,000 in France; superseding earlier forecasts for 500,000 customers by the end of 2005

IP VPN: As of 30-Sep-2005, there were 375,000 "Business Everywhere" customers (up 22% year-on-year), alongside a 60% increase in IP-VPN connections in one year for the "Enterprise" segment.

CAPEX: CAPEX for Q3 was EUR 1.403 billion or 11.4% of revenues, compared to 9.9% in Q3 2004.

NeXT Converged OffersA new "Family Talk" package that offers unlimited calling between fixed and mobile users has 18,000 customers. An Orange/Wanadoo UK home broadband offer will provide 2 Mbps service for GBP 10.

Access Lines The total number of lines (including full unbundled lines) was 27.4 million, compared to 27.5 million a year ago.

Voice Market Share: Consumer voice market share in France was 69.8% for local, compared to 73.8% a year ago. Consumer LD market share was 58.8%, compared to 60.3% a year ago.

Enterprise: Enterprise sales declined 7.4% to EUR 1.879 billion. Fixed line telephony in France declined 10.4% compared to a year ago, while IP VPN acess, DSL and business outsourcing grew.

Alcatel Revenues Rise to EUR 3.289 Billion

Alcatel reported Q3 2005 revenue of EUR 3.289 billion, an increase of 8.8% over the same period last year at a current EUR/USD exchange rate. Operating profit was EUR 278 million, an 8.5% operating margin. Net income (group share) was EUR 266 million, with EPS at EUR 0.19, including EUR 0.07 of net one-time capital gains. However, citing higher investment costs in its mobile division and weaker sales in China, Alcatel trimmed its margin target for the year.

Serge Tchuruk, Chairman and CEO, said: "We were particularly pleased to see our fixed communication revenues start increasing again, as anticipated, reversing a four year decline. Also satisfactory was the continuation of our strong performance in mobile communications where revenues grew by 22%, way above the market for the fifth consecutive quarter. At the same time, the revenues of the private communications business were down by 3% year over year as a weak satellite market offset gains in enterprise and transport."

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Motorola and Intel Team on Mobile WiMAX (802.16e)

Motorola and Intel plan to collaborate on specification efforts within the WiMAX Forum in order to advance the use of mobile WiMAX technology, based on the proposed IEEE 802.16e standard, for both fixed and wireless broadband applications.

In addition to working jointly to advance WiMAX standards, the companies plan to work together on interoperability testing of Motorola mobile devices, network equipment, and customer premises equipment with Intel products.

"WiMAX is beginning to deliver on its promise to provide broadband wireless access to businesses and consumers, and the promise of full mobility is around the corner with the anticipated ratification of the 802.16e standard," said Scott Richardson, general manager of Intel's Broadband Wireless Division.

"We believe 802.16e is going to be the way to go for both fixed and nomadic applications," said Dan Coombes, chief technology officer, Motorola Networks.

AT&T Name Lives On Following SBC Merger

SBC Communications will adopt the AT&T name and brand following the expected completion of its acquisition later this year.

At close, the new company will unveil a new logo. After completion of the merger, the transition to the new brand will be heavily promoted with the largest multimedia advertising and marketing campaign in either company's history, as well as through other promotional initiatives. At close, the company will also announce the stock market ticker symbol it intends to use.

"The AT&T name has a proud and storied heritage, as well as unparalleled recognition around the globe among both businesses and consumers," said Edward E. Whitacre Jr., chairman and CEO of SBC Communications.