Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Comcast Sees Surge in On-Demand Content Delivery

Comcast has seen rapid changes in consumer viewership patterns as video on-demand (VOD) has become available across 90% of its cable footprint. In a keynote address at the UBS Global Media Conference, Comcast executives John Alchin and Dave Watson said that as on-demand viewership continues to soar, new partnerships become possible with advertisers and content producers to better monetize the viewership.

Comcast reported a record 126 million on-demand program views in November, pushing its total VOD views past the 1.1 billion views to date. This includes over 13 million movie views in the month, although pay-per-view represents only a single-digit fraction of the total, as most views came from the free content library (currently about 3,800 programming choices). About 75% of digital cable customers are using on-demand capabilities every month. Comcast believes that DVRs complement rather than cannibalize on-demand services because 80% of DVR customers are using on-demand every month. Comcast is looking to add a TiVo-enhanced DVR experience next year.

Some other notes from the presentation:

  • Comcast now has 2.3 million HD DVR boxes in services

  • Comcast now has 8.1 million cable modem users. The basic High-Speed Data service tier in now 6.0 Mbps and the premium level is 8.0 Mbps.

  • Comcast Digital Voice is on target to reach 250,000 subscribers by year end. The company is aiming for 1 million Digital Voice customers next year and believes it can achieve a 20% market penetration in five years.

  • The new Sprint relationship will add 1,600 retail locations. The first integrated services are expected by mid-2006.

Israel's MiRS Deploys IMS with Tekelec/Convergin

MiRS Communications, an Israeli provider of integrated wireless
services with 333,000 subscribers, selected a core convergence switching solution from Tekelec. The solution enables MiRS' transition to an IMS architecture and enables next-generation capabilities, including fixed mobile convergence (FMC) and hosted SIP services. Tekelec's IMS architecture drives switching for both MiRS' entire mobile device line and SIP-based clients, and it supports the execution of common network applications. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The Tekelec next-generation gateway mobile switching center (GMSC) server solution includes the Tekelec 9000 Distributed Switching Solution (DSS) and the Accolade Core Wireless Convergence Server (WCS) from Convergin, a provider of core wireless convergence servers.

Tekelec will package the Accolade WCS as a product in the Tekelec wireless convergence gateway (WCG) family of products.

MiRS has also purchased the next-generation Tekelec 6000 VoIP Application Server (VAS) to offer advanced, feature-rich mobile, VoIP
and hosted Centrex services. MiRS will use the wireless convergence server with its Tekelec 6000 VAS to develop and deliver enhanced services such as voice virtual private network, black/white lists, private numbering plans (PNP) and call treatment services, intelligent voice-assisted routing, fleet management, and wireless PBX services for its mobile GSM-based iDEN subscribers, its fixed-line IP-based endpoints and voice over WiFi clients.

Octasic Gains ISO 9001:2000 Certification

Octasic Semiconductor has been assessed and certified as meeting the quality management system requirements of the International Organization of Standardization (ISO) 9001:2000.

Octasic is a fabless semiconductor company offering processors that are optimized to perform key voice functions such as carrier-grade echo cancellation, packetization, and compression.

BT Offers Consumer VoIP Promotions

During the Holiday season, BT will be offering free calls to any landline in 30 different countries for users of its PC-based BT Communicator application. The company said international calls made with the PC to regular landlines are already cheaper with BT Communicator than with rivals such as Skype.

Meanwhile, the price of Broadband Talk, which allows customers to use a normal phone, rather than the PC, has been slashed by up to 50 per cent to just £2 per month for evening and weekend calls or £7 a month for anytime calls and with BTs top two Broadband packages, evening and weekend calls are completely free.

BT plans to introduce an enhanced VoIP offering in Spring which will be available globally and feature new high definition sound quality. This sound quality will also be available on BT's new video phones -- also available in Spring.

BT Signs IPTV Content Deals with BBC, Paramount, Warner

BT announced key content partnerships for its forthcoming IPTV service with BBC Worldwide, Paramount and Warner Music Group.

Starting next Autumn, BT aims to provide customers with a vast range of on-demand film, music and television programming as well as a compelling interactive and communications service. Significantly, BT's service will combine access to digital terrestrial channels, an extensive video on demand library and a range of interactive services.

Ian Livingston, BT Retail CEO, said: "A partnership between the country's leading communications company and three of the world's leading entertainment groups is great news for consumers in the UK."

The agreement with Paramount provides BT with Paramount's blockbuster films in the pay-per-view window as well as an extensive range or older and classic films from the famous Paramount movie archive, all on demand. October 2005, 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

  • In August 2005, the BBC announced plans to launch an Internet video player application that lets viewers legally download up to seven days of its most recent TV programs. For UK viewers, a simulcast of BBC One or BBC Two would be available online at the same time as the television broadcast. "MyBBCPlayer", which is expected to launch in 2006, would also let viewers purchase additional content.

Ciena Reports Seventh Quarter of Revenue Growth

Ciena reported Q4 revenue was $118.2 million, representing a 7% sequential increase from fiscal third quarter revenue of $110.5 million and an increase of 44% over revenue of $82.0 million for the same period a year ago. For the twelve months ending October 31, 2005, Ciena's unaudited revenue was $427.3 million, representing an increase of 43% over revenue of $298.7 million for the same year-ago period.

For Q4, there was a GAAP net loss of $252.9 million, or a net loss of $0.44 per share. This loss compares to a GAAP net loss of $495.1 million, or a net loss of $0.87 per share. For the twelve months ending October 31, 2005, Ciena's GAAP net loss was $435.7 million, or a net loss of $0.76 per share. This compares to a GAAP net loss of $789.5 million, or a net loss of $1.51 per share, in the same twelve-month period a year ago.

"In the last year, Ciena's employees have demonstrated extraordinary focus on execution of our strategy and, as a result, have driven the Company's significant revenue growth and meaningful financial performance improvement," said Ciena CEO and President, Gary Smith. "With our seventh sequential quarter of revenue growth, and with continued gross margin improvement, our fiscal fourth quarter's results demonstrate Ciena's steady progress toward profitability and positive cash flow, and more importantly, our continued progress toward future earnings growth."

Digital Fountain's Forward Error Correction Standardized for DVB-H

Digital Fountain's patented DF Raptor technology has been made part of the global standard to support content delivery services over DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting-Handheld) wireless networks.

The adoption of DF Raptor technology for DVB-H follows its standardization earlier this year as part of the 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) MBMS (Multimedia Broadcast/Multicast Service) specification for GSM-based 3G cellular networks. Because the DF Raptor FEC provides exceptional packet loss protection but can be readily supported by general-purpose processors, the technology is ideally suited for the delivery of multimedia content to mobile wireless devices.

Digital Fountain's DF Raptor technology is an advanced and highly flexible type of FEC that enables the efficient and error-free download of multimedia data files in the presence of a wide range of network impairments.

Digital Fountain said that by employing DF Raptor FEC as part of IP datacasting services over DVB-H to protect against packet loss, DVB-H service providers and end users can be assured that multimedia content will be delivered complete and error-free in a minimum amount of time across a wide coverage area.

Within DVB, DVB-H is an open industry standard for the delivery of mobile broadcast digital services to handheld devices. DVB-H has already generated significant industry activity, including technical and commercial trials, a range of product launches, and several planned network rollouts around the world.
  • In June 2005, Digital Fountain's forward error correction (FEC) technology has been standardized by 3GPP, the 3rd Generation Partnership Project, as a mandatory component of the Multimedia Broadcast/Multicast Service (MBMS) for 3rd generation (3G) cellular networks. Digital Fountain's "DF Raptor" technology will be used as part of the MBMS standard for both streaming and file download services.

– The Newest Mobile Multimedia Standard
June of 2005, the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) completed
Release 6 of its technical specifications for the continued evolution of
3rd generation (3G) cellular networks based on the GSM infrastructure.
Included in 3GPP Release 6 are the specifications for the Multimedia
Broadcast/Multicast Service (MBMS), an IP-based technology designed to
more efficiently deliver multimedia (video, audio, and text) content over
3G radio and network resources. Here is an overview.

Picolight First to Ship 4G 1310nm VCSEL Transceivers

Picolight is the first to ship 1310 nanometer (nm) vertical cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) transceivers in a 4 Gbps triple-rate (1, 2 and 4G bps) Small Form Factor Pluggable (SFP) configuration that meets the needs of one of the fastest growing segments of the data center market.

Picolight said the new device meets the extended reach capability and low power consumption needs to satisfy a broad range of short-to-medium distance applications, including 4Gbps Fibre Channel at 10km for storage area networks (SANs). Similar to 850nm VCSEL transceivers, 1310nm VCSEL transceivers have the potential to dominate short-to-medium distance single-mode fiber applications, displacing existing edge emitting laser transceivers in high-bandwidth and high-density optical systems.

TCS Deploys Acme Packet

TeleCommunication Systems (TCS), a provider of wireless communications, is using Acme Packet's Net-Net session border controllers (SBCs) to securely deliver its VoIP E9-1-1 location information routing and delivery solution. The Acme Packet solution securely connects managed VoIP providers to TCS' Internet Protocol (IP) network using numerous features from Acme Packet Net-SAFE. Access control, topology hiding and DoS protection against both signaling and media attacks and overloads are some of the specific features used to protect TCS' E9-1-1 service infrastructure.

T-Systems and Convergys Sign Six-Year Billing Deal

T-Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Deutsche Telekom Group, awarded a six-year contract to Convergys for its Infinys billing services. The agreement includes licensing Infinys billing and rating software, purchase of professional services, and the ability for T-Systems to re-sell Infinys in Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA).

The agreement calls for Infinys billing and rating software to replace certain legacy billing applications in business units of the Deutsche Telekom Group. T-Systems currently manages and operates the legacy billing applications for the Deutsche Telekom business units T-Com (7.3 million broadband connections in operation and 35.6 million narrowband connections) and T-Online (11.67 million customers).

HNS Selects Sea Launch for SPACEWAY 3

Hughes Network System (HNS) awarded a launch services contract to Sea Launch for the launch of the SPACEWAY 3 satellite projected for early 2007. The SPACEWAY 3 satellite will operate in the globally assigned Ka-band spectrum at 95 degrees West Longitude and will support a range of new high-speed communications services for IP data and multimedia applications to North American enterprise, consumer, and government customers. SPACEWAY 3 is a Boeing 702 spacecraft and will have the ability to switch and route traffic on board, enabling single-hop communications between any two satellite terminals and eliminating the need for the traffic to be routed through a central hub earth station. SPACEWAY's advanced antenna technology allows the dynamic formation and shaping of spot beams, creating the opportunity to manage capacity flexibly and to deliver true bandwidth-on-demand services.

QUALCOMM Raises Q1 2006

QUALCOMM anticipates its fiscal quarter revenues pro forma to be at the high end of prior estimate of approximately $1.67 to $1.77 billion. The company now anticipates first fiscal quarter pro forma diluted earnings per share to be approximately $0.38 to $0.39, compared to $0.28 in the year ago quarter. This estimate is based on the shipment of approximately 47 million Mobile Station Modem (MSM) chips during the quarter compared to approximately 39 million in the year ago quarter and approximately 40 million in the prior quarter.

QUALCOMM previously anticipated first fiscal quarter pro forma diluted earnings per share to be approximately $0.36 to $0.38 and estimated shipments of approximately 46 to 48 million MSM chips.

"Our updated guidance for the first fiscal quarter reflects higher handset ASPs due primarily to strength in WCDMA handset shipments in Europe and a positive mix in 1xEV-DO MSM chipsets," said Dr. Paul E. Jacobs, chief executive officer of QUALCOMM. "Regionally we see strong demand for 1xEV-DO products in North America, Japan and Korea. Our expectations for stronger WCDMA demand in Europe appear to be materializing as well. We see several European operators being particularly aggressive this holiday season with their 3G offerings. In addition, we now anticipate operating expenses will be modestly lower and investment income will be modestly higher than previously expected for the first quarter."

BellSouth Expands VoIP Applications Portfolio with Cisco

BellSouth has expanded support of advanced enterprise VoIP applications to include rich media conferencing and has achieved the Rich Media Communications (RMC) Advanced Technology Provider (ATP) status from Cisco Systems. The designation indicates the ability to provide the core knowledge and skills required to successfully deploy Cisco RMC solutions designed for high-end mid market and enterprise customers.

Cisco RMC ATP builds upon a foundation of Cisco MeetingPlace, which is a part of the Cisco IP Communications system. Cisco MeetingPlace is a rich media conferencing solution that integrates voice, video and Web conferencing capabilities.

ECMA and WiMedia Alliance Develop UWB Standards

The Ecma General Assembly, a non-profit industry association of technology developers, vendors and users, approved its first ultra-wideband (UWB) standards. Ecma submits its work for approval as ISO, IEC, ISO/IEC and ETSI standards.

PHY and MAC -- ECMA-368 specifies the Physical (PHY) and the Media Access Control (MAC) layers for a decentralized, complex system with controls for high QoS and fast device discovery. The radio employs the unlicensed 3.1 to 10.6 GHz UWB spectrum. The standard mandates that devices support at least 53.3, 106.7 and 200 Mbps to ensure a reasonable consumer experience.

Interconnectivity -- Ecma also approved the companion interface specification as ECMA-369, which enables interconnectivity for separate implementations of the PHY and MAC layers specified in ECMA-368.

Members of the WiMedia Alliance and Ecma contributed to the development of the standards. The UWB standards are available via Ecma's and WiMedia Alliance's Web sites.

AT&T Cites Enterprise Gains Following Merger

AT&T has won more than 3,900 deals among large business customers worldwide, resulting in approximately $300 million in annualized revenue, since the SBC/AT&T merger closed last month. The company said the response from existing and new customers to the new AT&T Inc. has been very positive.

The company already has announced the senior sales leadership team across business markets globally, and expects sales account teams in the enterprise market will be fully integrated and in place the first week of January 2006.

Virgin Mobile Rejects ntl's Acquisition Bid

The Board of Directors of Virgin Mobile Holdings (UK) voted to reject the acquisition bid by ntl, saying the offer undervalued the company.