Wednesday, November 9, 2005

RCN Tests 20 Mbps Cable Modem Service in Wash DC and Boston markets

RCN has successfully tested 20 Mbps high-speed data service over its cable networks in the Washington, D.C. and Boston markets.

Some highlights from the company's quarterly financial report:

  • Third quarter 2005 revenue of $138.8 million decreased 1.4% from $140.7 million in the third quarter of 2004 and 1.8% from $141.4 million in the second quarter of 2005.

  • Third quarter 2005 ending subscribers were approximately 411,000 versus approximately 429,000 in the third quarter of 2004 and approximately 413,000 in the second quarter of 2005.

  • Third quarter 2005 average revenue per customer (ARPC) was $102, an increase from $96 in the third quarter of 2004 and comparable to $102 in the second quarter of 2005.

  • EBITDA for the third quarter 2005 was $23.3 million versus $13.5 million in the third quarter of 2004 and $19.8 million in the second quarter of 2005.

  • Third quarter 2005 CAPEX was $17.5 million versus $11.6 million in third quarter 2004 and $11.5 million in second quarter 2005.

  • Increased RGUs by 8,000 sequentially

  • Increased penetration of higher-margin customers: bundle rate up approximately 2% sequentially to 67%; triple-play rate up approximately 1% to 38%

WiMAX Forum Members Demo Interoperability

The second WiMAX Forum Plugfest was held last week to identify interoperability problems and different interpretations of standards, foster open technical discussions, and help refine interoperability testing for future certification testing. Participants represented a wide spectrum of leading companies in the telecommunications industry, including Airspan Networks Inc., Alvarion, Aperto Networks, Axxcelera Broadband Wireless, Huawei Technologies, PicoChip, Proxim Wireless, Redline Communications, SEQUANS Communications, Wavesat Wireless Inc., WiNetworks and ZTE Corporation, along with test equipment vendors Invenova Corporation and Sanjole. Many of the participants demonstrated solid links with other participants in FDD and TDD implementations in the 3.5 Gigahertz (GHz) frequency spectrum, which allowed vendors to conduct testing at higher layers demonstrating video streaming applications. The average throughput over the air -- dependant on modulation schemes -- ranged from 2.7 Megabits per second (Mbps) to 7.2 Mbps.

The Global WiMAX Summit was also held last week in Beijing.

"WiMAX products are shipping and we expect to see strong momentum of rapid deployments around the globe. The growing list of 350+ WiMAX Forum members -- comprised of operators, equipment and chip suppliers and content providers -- continue to unveil new products and solutions. Currently, there are more than 150 pilot and commercial networks around the world," said Ron Resnick, president of the WiMAX Forum."

Westell Integrates Entropic Chipset for BB Gateway

Westell is using Entropic's c.LINK 270 chipset for its new line of home networking routers for IPTV and video delivery. Westell's UltraLine II is a broadband gateway that provides for delivery of full-motion video using built-in QoS, over a variety of LAN and WAN access delivery systems including Ethernet for FTTP, VDSL2, and Bonded ADSL2+. To simplify installation and eliminate the need for new wiring, a single connection links the UltraLine II to the customer's existing in-home coaxial cabling, providing 100 Mbps of network throughput around the home entertainment LAN, in addition to providing a WAN access link on the same coax at a different frequency.
Multi-room video sharing is supported.

NRTC Inks IPTV Deal With SES AMERICOM for Rural Telcos

The National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative (NRTC) signed a multi-year agreement with SES AMERICOM to offer IPTV services to nearly one thousand independent and local telcos across the U.S. using SES AMERICOM's "IP-PRIME" distribution platform.

The centralized, satellite-delivered IPTV solution originates from SES AMERICOM's IPTV Broadcast Center in Vernon Valley, New Jersey, where high-end video programming and content is received, processed, and then transported by SES AMERICOM's AMC-9 satellite to authorized video hubs nationwide. The NRTC IPTV offering is an end-to-end solution to the IP set-top, which includes conditional access and middleware and greatly reduces headend and video operations and equipment costs.

IP-PRIME will enable small telcos to distribute hundreds of television channels. The first NRTC member telcos expect to begin trials of IP-PRIME in January 2006. A full NRTC commercial launch of IPTV aboard the IP-PRIME platform is scheduled for the second quarter of 2006.
  • The AMERICOM-9 (AMC-9) satellite, which was launched in June 2003, is a hybrid C/Ku-band satellite based on Alcatel's Spacebus 3000B3 platform. The C-band payload features 24 - 36 MHz transponders, while the Ku-band payload features 24 - 36 MHz transponders.

Whitacre to Serve as Chairman & CEO of New AT&T

Edward E. Whitacre Jr., 64, will serve as the Chairman & CEO of the new AT&T. The SBC acquisition of AT&T is expected to close later this month. The company announced the following appointments for its senior management team:

  • James W. Callaway, 59, group president-merger transition.

  • James Cicconi, 53, senior executive vice president-external and legislative affairs, responsible for managing the company's public policy organization.

  • James D. Ellis, 62, senior executive vice president and general counsel.

  • Karen E. Jennings, 54, senior executive vice president-human resources and corporate communications.

  • James S. Kahan, 58, senior executive vice president-corporate development.

  • Rick Lindner, 50, senior executive vice president and chief financial officer.

  • Forrest E. Miller, 52, group president-AT&T, in charge of leading the national and global network, enterprise and consumer operations of the existing AT&T, as well as AT&T Labs. Miller will also help lead the integration of the two companies.

  • Randall L. Stephenson, 45, chief operating officer, retaining his current responsibilities and also helping integrate operations of SBC and AT&T.

  • Rayford Wilkins, Jr., 54, group president in charge of directory operations, international operations and the company's Sterling Commerce subsidiary.

In addition, the company announced that David Dorman, 51, current CEO and chairman of AT&T, will become president of the new AT&T and a member of the board of directors for a brief transition period, after which he will resign from both positions. Dorman will then continue as a consultant to the combined company.

Nortel Supplies Broadband in World's Tallest Residential Tower

Nortel has supplied a broadband network for Australia'sQ1 tower, which at 80 floors is the world's tallest residential building. Nortel's Ethernet switched infrastructure is provided to each apartment.

Q1, which is located in the Gold Coast resort town of Surfer's Paradise, features 526 apartments, 80 floors, conference facilities, ground floor retail outlets, sandy beach lagoon swimming pool, spa, sauna and fitness centre, and Australia's only beachside observation deck.

Bush Nominates Copps, Tate for FCC Posts

President Bush nominated Michael J. Copps, of Virginia, for a new five year term as FCC Commissioner from July 1, 2005. It would be Copp's second term in the post. Copps is a Democrat.

Bush nominated Deborah Taylor Tate, of Tennessee, to serve as FCC Commissioner for the remainder of the term held by former FCC Chair Michael Powell, who resigned earlier this year. This term expires June 30, 2007. Tate, who is a Republican, currently serves on the Tennessee Regulatory Authority and FCC's Federal-State Joint Conference on Advanced Telecommunications Services.

Agilent Lands $14.5 Million OSS Order with VSNL, Tata

Agilent Technologies announced a $14.5 million order with India's primary communications service providers Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (VSNL) and Tata Teleservices Ltd. (TTSL). The companies will use the Agilent OSS solutions to form their centralized network management system (CNMS) located in Mumbai. The CNMS will manage the service providers' international and nationwide telecommunications services, ensuring high quality of service and optimal customer satisfaction while streamlining network operations.

The deployment includes the Agilent OSS QoS Manager and NETeXPERT-based network management software products, services and support.

SkyTerra to Acquire the Remainder of Hughes Network Systems

SkyTerra agreed to acquire the remaining 50% of the Class A membership interests of Hughes Network Systems not already owned by SkyTerra from The DIRECTV Group for $100 million in cash.
  • In December 2004, SkyTerra Communications acquired 50% of a new entity that will contain the assets of Hughes Network Systems (HNS) in a transaction that values HNS at approximately $360 million. HNS, which is based in Germantown, Md., is a wholly owned subsidiary of The DIRECTV Group. After two separate divestitures completed earlier this year, HNS is primarily focused on providing broadband satellite networks and services to enterprises via its core enterprise Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) business. HNS' other businesses include Consumer DIRECWAY, Mobile Satellite and Carrier Networks, as well as the portion of the Spaceway satellite platform that is under development and that will not be used in DIRECTV's direct-to-home satellite video broadcasting business. The transaction did not include rights to the first two satellites designed for the Spaceway program, Spaceway 1 and 2, which have been redeployed to support DIRECTV's direct-to-home satellite broadcasting business and are scheduled for launch next year. However, the transaction does include rights related to the third Spaceway satellite which is currently under construction, as well as rights to a contemplated fourth Spaceway satellite.

  • SkyTerra Communications is an affiliate of Apollo Management, L.P., a New York-based private equity firm.

Micromuse Teams with Alcatel on IPTV BSS/OSS

Micromuse is participating in a demonstration of IPTV BSS/OSS on permanent display at Alcatel's Plano-based Operational Support Systems Integrations Laboratory.

The Alcatel IPTV BSS/OSS demonstration focuses on how service providers can construct their OSS to ensure faster and more accurate delivery and quality of triple play services through integrated next generation solutions for service assurance and performance management. As part of a complete OSS, Micromuse's Netcool suite, including Netcool/Realtime Active Dashboards and Netcool/Proviso solutions are integrated with other vendors products to provide end-to-end service assurance and performance monitoring of Alcatel's fabricated IPTV BSS/OSS environment.

Cisco Delivers 50,000 Broadband Remote Access Routers (B-RAS)

Cisco Systems has surpassed 50,000 routers deployed in more than 400 customers specifically for broadband aggregation, a networking solution area comprised of broadband remote access servers, or B-RAS, which deliver broadband services at the edge of a service provider network. Major customers that have deployed Cisco routers for broadband aggregation include Telefónica de España, EarthLink, Telecom Italia, China Network Communications Group and China Unicom.

The Cisco broadband aggregation portfolio includes the Cisco 7200, 7300, 7600, and 10000 Series routers.

PGA Launches Internet TV Channel with 800 kbps Streaming

The Professional Golfers' Association (PGA) is launching its own broadcast channel with 800 kbps video streaming over the Internet. The live and on-demand coverage of golf and related activities aims to be near broadcast quality video.

AT&T Invests in Clovis for Open OSS

AT&T has made an equity investment in Clovis Solutions, a start-up based in Petaluma, California, whose software-based solutions help to facilitate an open-network, open-architecture environment and provide a common-standard OSS platform for network nodes with common management plane practices. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Clovis has developed a System Infrastructure Software Platform (SISP) that enables communication customers to efficiently create embedded platform software. The components of SISP - Blade Director, System Director, and Management Director - are used by vendors to accelerate the design and development of a wide range of systems from simple incremental line cards (also called blades) to complex clusters as well as to drastically reduce the ongoing maintenance cost. The solution provides unique abstraction layers that make SISP both hardware and Operating System independent.

Additional investors include Sevin Rosen Funds, Walden International and American River Ventures.

BT Reports Growth in New Wave Service, 6.2 Million Wholesale DSL

BT reported quarterly revenue of GBP 4,822 million, up 5% in the quarter with the continued strong growth of new wave revenue more than offsetting the decline in traditional revenue. Some highlights:

The strong growth in new wave revenue continued and at GBP 1,439 million was 39 per cent higher than last year. New wave revenue accounted for 30 per cent of the group's revenue compared to 22 per cent in the second quarter of last year. New wave revenue is mainly generated from networked IT services, broadband and mobility. Networked IT services revenue grew by 31 per cent to GBP 918 million, broadband revenue increased by 76 per cent to GBP 350 million and mobility revenue increased by 33 per cent to GBP 65 million. Excluding Albacom and Infonet, the organic growth in new wave revenue was 25 per cent.

Networked IT services contract wins were GBP 0.8 billion in the second quarter. Total orders achieved over the last twelve months were GBP 8.2 billion. BT had 6.2 million wholesale broadband connections at September 30, 2005, an increase of 89 per cent compared to last year. During the second quarter BT announced commercial trials of higher speed services of up to 8Mbit/s which are set to begin at the end of November at 25 exchanges initially with a view to product launch in Spring 2006.

Revenue from the group's traditional businesses declined by 5 per cent (4 per cent excluding the impact of reductions to mobile termination rates and Albacom). This was a continuation of recent trends and reflects regulatory intervention, competition, price reductions and also technological changes that we are using to drive customers from traditional services to new wave services.

Consumer revenue in the second quarter was 5 per cent lower. New wave consumer revenue increased by 76 per cent, driven by the continuing growth of broadband. Traditional consumer revenue declined by 11 per cent year on year (10 per cent lower excluding the impact of reductions to mobile termination rates) reflecting the continued impact of Carrier Pre-Selection (CPS), wholesale line rental (WLR) and broadband substitution.

21st Century Network

BT reported progress on its 21st Century Network. The company is working on concluding the contractual agreements with eight preferred suppliers to build a converged core network. BT is auditing sites nationally, and is working to put in place a world class inventory management system to prepare for the installation of equipment from preferred suppliers. This process has already been completed in the Cardiff area, which will see the first live implementation of 21CN in the second half of 2006. The plan for national rollout is being discussed with industry through the communication forum, Consult21, and agreement is expected around the end of the current financial year. Trials for delivery of services over 21CN are continuing using equipment from BT's preferred suppliers.

CA Combines its Performance Mgt with OPNET's Capacity Planning

Computer Associates and OPNET Technologies announced a global sales and marketing agreement that combines CA's performance monitoring, trend analysis, and reporting solutions with OPNET's s modeling and capacity planning products. The OPNET products include its IT Guru platform with Server and Mainframe Modeling modules adapted for CA products, and OPNET's Application Characterization Environment. The agreement also includes terms for OPNET and CA to cooperate in offering professional services and support.

The combination enables enterprises to more effectively implement business-critical and/or delay-sensitive applications -- including Web services, VoIP, and video -- across distributed server and mainframe systems. Customers can simulate "what-if" scenarios to model changes in workload, as well as in server (Windows) and mainframe (z/OS) hardware and software configurations, across the enterprise.