Thursday, November 3, 2005

XO to Sell Wireline Assets to Carl Icahn, Enter Wireless Broadband Business

XO Communications will sell its national wireline telecommunications business for $700 million in cash and use the proceeds to become a leading provider of fixed broadband wireless services to businesses and service providers.

The company said it has entertained several bids over the past few months for its wireline assets and that the winning bidder was Elk Associates LLC, an entity owned by XO's controlling stockholder, Carl Icahn.

XO currently is one of the largest holders of fixed wireless licenses in the 28 GHz-31 GHz spectrum range covering more than 70 U.S. major metropolitan markets.

Once the sale is completed, the wireless business will be debt-free and is currently expected to have in excess of $300 million in cash to fund its operations and for other corporate purposes. The company's wireless services have already been made available to businesses and wireless service providers in select markets and, using its cash position and new strong balance sheet, the company plans to launch its services on a wider basis in the near future. The transaction is anticipated to close in late 2005 or early 2006.

The "XO Communications" brand name will be transferred to the private company and thereby will remain with the national wireline telecommunications business. XO anticipates operating its fixed wireless business under a new name.

It is anticipated that the wireless and wireline companies will enter into commercial agreements to sell each other's products and services at competitive rates in order to take advantage of market opportunities.

"The action we take today will create a pure-play fixed broadband wireless provider that combines significant resources with in-depth industry expertise to meet the growing demand for high-bandwidth broadband wireless services," said XO CEO Carl Grivner. "The market opportunity to provide these services has emerged, and our new focus on fixed wireless communications will enable us to offer robust fixed wireless solutions to businesses, mobile phone companies, and wireline telecommunications companies."

Devicescape Launches Secure Wireless

Devicescape Software introduced a Secure Wireless Client 1.0 (SWC) for consumer electronic devices. The embedded software package helps office and consumer electronics manufacturers bring Wi-Fi client devices such as converged mobile handsets, digital cameras and digital televisions to market quickly.

Devicescape said its Secure Wireless Client 1.0 can be used in fixed-mobile convergence, where handsets can switch between Wi-Fi and cellular, depending on the available network. Additionally, with SWC, OEMs have technology that gives end users that ability to manage their Wi-Fi connections.

Key features of the portable source code include:

  • Wi-Fi security, including WPA/WPA2 personal and enterprise, and a broad range of authentication methods

  • Off-the-shelf integration with the Windows CE 5.0, Windows Mobile 5.0 and Linux operating systems, and portability to most other embedded operating systems

  • Incorporation of SWC into the Wi-Fi Alliance test bed, giving manufacturers a high level of assurance that their SWC-based devices will be readily certifiable. Devicescape's software is the gold reference standard for the Wi-Fi Alliance.

Devicescape's SWC comes with pre-validated support for the latest client Wi-Fi chipsets from Atheros, Broadcom and Marvell. Pricing for licensing the Secure Wireless Client 1.0 begins at $50,000 per project.

Devicescape noted that its Secure Wireless Client has already been incorporated into a number of product designs, including Palm's Tungsten PDA, a WiFi-enabled LCD-TV from Sharp; and a multifunction WiFi-enabled printer from Brother.

Siemens Invests in Idiro for Data Mining in Wireless

Siemens Acceleration in Communications made an equity investment in Idiro Technologies, a start-up based in Dublin, Ireland. Siemens was joined in this first round of funding by Enterprise Ireland, the state development agency focused on backing innovative Irish companies.

Idiro has developed a new data mining approach for Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) that allows them to gain knowledge about inter-user behavior. The platform can handle huge amounts of activity data. In a second step, Idiro uses so-called Social Network Analysis (SNA) to further analyze the data, arranging subscribers into social communities. This knowledge about communities and which role within them a subscriber holds enables MNOs to tailor their marketing campaigns and reduce churn.

NEC Tests HSDPA with Vodafone in Japan

NEC completed field trials of its High Speed Download Packet Access (HSDPA) platform with Vodafone K.K. in Japan. During the trial, Node-Bs and radio network controllers (RNC) based on NEC's HSDPA were tested, including high-speed Internet access among HSDPA-based 3G mobile terminals, consecutive data transmission and handover in a HSDPA service environment and flexible and variable change in transmission speed.

"The success of this trial highlights NEC's confidence in the performance of its commercial HSDPA system. Delivery of our HSDPA to commercial networks worldwide will begin this autumn. We also intend to carry out operation trials in Europe and Asia through the cooperation of local mobile operators to ensure its successful spread." said Ryuichi Takanohashi, General Manager of Mobile Solutions Operations Unit.

NEC's HSDPA system is jointly developed by NEC and Siemens. The companies said that over 90% of the world's 3G subscribers are
currently communicating with 3G network technology provided by Siemens/NEC.

Trust Digital Raises $9 Million for Mobile Security Software

Trust Digital, a start-up based in McLean, Virginia, raised $9 million in Series B funding for its enterprise mobile security software solutions.

Trust Digital's software resides at the edge of the network where Smartphones and mobile devices have access to corporate information. The policy-based software helps corporations eliminate the regulatory and financial risks associated with the accidental or malicious disclosure of data. The software secures all forms of data resident on mobile devices at all times, independent of the method of data transfer or synchronization. It also meets the U.S. government's FIPS 140-2 validated encryption criteria for every mobile devices, including laptop PCs.

The funding was led by new investor BCE Capital (affiliated with Bell Canada Enterprises). Current investors Core Capital and Avansis Ventures participated in the Series B funding round. The company said this investment comes directly on the heels of several key carrier and enterprise wins.

Trust Digital also announced a significant expansion of its successful mobile carrier initiative, leveraging its market leadership position to enlist the most innovative mobile carriers to become key suppliers of security to the mobile enterprise. As such, Trust Digital recently won a contract to provide enterprise security on all mobile devices for one of the largest U.S. wireless carrier's internal operations.

Time Warner Cable Selects RAD's Pseudowire for TDM over Metro Ethernet

Time Warner Cable has deployed RAD Data Communications' TDMoIP pseudowire technology to support its metro Ethernet service in its Houston, Texas market.

RAD's IPmux family of TDMoIP gateways enable customers to take advantage of Time Warner Cable's Ethernet services while providing integrated support for existing TDM services over the same Ethernet transport network. RAD's IPmux family supports TDMoIP pseudowires -- the ability to transparently transport TDM circuits such as T1 and T3 across Ethernet, IP or MPLS networks.

Cellular Backhaul

One of Time Warner Cable's first customers for integrated Ethernet and TDM access was a large, nationwide cellular telephone provider. With the Time Warner Cable service, operators have access to high bandwidth, low latency Ethernet connections for tower-to-MSC connectivity and use RAD's IPmux pseudowire solution to transport the TDM traffic across the same Ethernet link. Cellular traffic is extremely sensitive to latency and packet loss. RAD's ASIC-based IPmux ensures very low latency with jitter buffers starting at 0.5ms and adaptive clock recovery accurate to within 16 parts per billion. The link redundancy feature helps provide Time Warner Cable's customers with rapid failover and reliable TDM transport.

RAD said it has shipped over 30,0000 ports of its pseudowire solutions over the past several years.

Ericsson to test HSDPA with Vodafone in Tokyo

Ericsson successfully upgraded Vodafone K.K.'s commercial network in central parts of Tokyo to support High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA), as specified in Release 5 of the 3GPP standard, in order to test HSDPA with Vodafone K.K.'s live network. The software and hardware in the HSDPA-enabled base stations supports downlink bit-rates up to 3.6 Mbps and uplink rates up to 384 Kbps; however, this capability has not been enabled for Vodafone K.K. customers at this time.

The two companies have been jointly performing lab trials of pre-commercial HSDPA equipment since September 2004 and field trials have been continuing since early 2005.

Performance Technologies Names CEO

Performance Technologies named Michael P. Skarzynski as President and CEO, replacing Donald L. Turrell who earlier this year announced his interest in a leadership transition in order to pursue his personal interests.

Michael Skarzynski most recently served as a senior advisor to Hudson Abel Partners, LLP, an investment bank in New York. For the previous six years, Mr. Skarzynski has led as CEO, two ventures -- Xebeo, an IP broadband switch acquired by UTStarcom, Inc., and Predictive Networks, an application service provider offering a business intelligence and analytics overlay network. From 1992 to 1999, he held various executive roles at AT&T, Bell Labs and Lucent Technologies.

Festoon Plug-in Adds Video to GoogleTalk

Santa Cruz Networks launched a Festoon update enabling Google Talk users to see who they are talking to and to share applications. The company already offers a similar plug-in for Skype that has more than 2.75 million downloads and more than 40 million video call user minutes.

Festoon is available for no charge thanks to sponsors.