Monday, December 12, 2005

BT Awarded EUR450 Million Contract by Fiat

The Fiat Group awarded a global telecommunications service contract worth €450 million over five years to BT. The deal covers telecom services to Fiat divisions in over 40 countries.

BT will also acquire Atlanet, a Fiat subsidiary providing domestic telecommunications services to Fiat and other non-Fiat business customers across Italy. The Turin-headquartered company controls a national network with 24 PoPs (Points of Presence) for voice services and 42 PoPs for data services, interconnected by a fibre optic backbone and equipped to offer 11,000 IP access points across the country. Atlanet also owns MANs (Metropolitan Area Networks) in Rome, Milan and Turin. The company currently employs approximately 280 people and at 2004 year end had gross assets of €133 million. BT will pay cash consideration of approximately €80 million.

Belgacom Deploys Redback for IPTV

Belgacom will deploy Redback Networks' SmartEdge Service Gateway as the platform to enable roll-out of iDTV (interactive Digital Television) Video-on-Demand service over its DSL network. Financial terms were not disclosed.
  • In June 2005, Belgacom announced the commercial launch of digital TV services over its ADSL network. Belgacom's business model is to rent the set-top box and remote control for EUR 6 per month, provide free access to dozens of channels, and charge extra for VOD and sports programming. Siemens provided the end-to-end solution, based on the Surpass Home Entertainment concept.

SeaChange Powers VOD for Verizon's FiOS TV

SeaChange's IP Video System is being used to power the on-demand movies and interactive programming guide of Verizon's FiOS TV service. Verizon is using conventional RF broadcast technology to deliver scheduled programming for its fiber-optic FiOS TV service.

SeaChange said its IP Video System automates the entire FiOS TV on-demand service from content intake right down to set-top applications. In Verizon deployments, the SeaChange system works in conjunction with advanced Motorola set-tops in the combined broadcast and IP system.

Telekom Austria Selects Axiom for Triple Play Management

Telekom Austria has selected Axiom Systems' "AXIOSS" Suite of operational solutions for order management, service inventory and service activation, for the rollout of its next generation IPTV , data and voice services. The project will be deployed in conjunction with Alcatel. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Axiom Systems has a long standing relationship with Telekom Austria who are standardizing the provisioning operations for all new broadband and IP Services on AXIOSS. The Suite is already in production at the customer site provisioning their DSL services which creates 16,000 new subscribers per month.
http://www.axiomsystems.comAxiom Systems' other customers include Cable & Wireless, Deutsche Telekom, TeliaSonera, Wandaoo, AOL, Telekom Austria, TDC, Telecom New Zealand, NTL, Telecom Italia and TelMex.

DSL Forum Issues Three New Technical Reports

Following its meeting in Munich earlier this month, the DSL Forum published three new Technical Reports:

  • TR-102 Service Interface Protocol: Dynamic IP-centric Network Policy -- provides a standard set of system interfaces that allows service providers to define the flow of information for real time fulfillment of IP based services such as VoIP, video conferencing and additional bandwidth on demand. The DSL Forum said the adoption of this set of interfaces and information flows will enhance the ability of network architectures to deliver multiple, end-to-end services and applications over broadband DSL.

  • TR-111 Applying TR-069 to Remote Management Of Home Networked Devices -- applies the remote activation protocol TR-069 through the gateway to home-networked devices such as VoIP phones, media set-top boxes and gaming console systems.

  • TR-113 Multiple Carrier Modulation (MCM) Specific Managed Objects in VDSL Network Element -- can be used by customer premises equipment vendors in VDSL implementations, and by service providers in the EMS systems they use to configure and manage VDSL based service.

The DSL Forum noted that the number of DSL subscribers worldwide is approaching the 140 million mark, based on the most recent figures from Point Topic.

Vonage Begins Selling UTStarcom's Wi-Fi Handset

Vonage began selling UTStarcom's F1000 portable Wi-Fi handset in conjunction with its VoIP service. This product, which will offer mobility across 802.11b networks, is now available at for $129.99 with a $50 instant rebate for a total of $79.99.

The F1000 Wi-Fi handset will be configured with Vonage's standard call features: three-way calling, call waiting, repeat dial on busy, call forwarding to user assigned number, call hold/resume, voicemail, call rejecting/redial/mute and Caller ID based on phone book entries. It will also include phone book favorites with distinctive ring options including: silent, vibrate and selectable ring tones. Users will be able to configure and save Wi-Fi profiles for ease of connectivity. Equally important, the F1000 supports a robust battery, with up to 5 hours of talk time, 50-100 hour standby and the ability to recharge in 2-3 hours.

BigBand Cuda Receives PacketCable Multimedia Certification

BigBand Networks' Cuda CMTS (cable modem termination system) achieved qualification status for the PacketCable Multimedia specification from CableLabs. PacketCable Multimedia (PCMM) provides enhanced control for QoS, enabling operators to better support existing and new revenue generating services. This includes services such as online gaming, streaming media, video conferencing and voice services based on SIP.

PCMM is a CableLabs specification created to dynamically reserve the QoS required for delivery of multimedia IP content using DOCSIS 1.1 or 2.0. The specification defines a service delivery framework providing QoS, event based accounting, and security functionality. Key capabilities include: access to DOCSIS 1.1 QoS mechanisms supporting time and volume-based network resource authorizations; abstract, event-based network resource auditing and management; and a robust security infrastructure. The cumulative effect of these capabilities allows operators to deliver media-rich IP applications and services that have high QoS requirements, such as live video programming, videoconferencing, and on-line gaming.

The BigBand Cuda CMTS is DOCSIS 2.0 qualified. BigBand said its PacketCable Multimedia implementation is noteworthy in its distributed processing of the specification for performance efficiency, and its redundant architecture supporting hitless operation, so that compliance with the specification is maintained through both planned and unplanned changes in operating conditions.

NexTone IP Multimedia Exchange Powers IMS Interconnects in GSMA Trials

Four of the seven GPRS Roaming Exchange (GRX) carriers are using NexTone Communications' IP Multimedia Exchange (IMX) platform to power their trials in the European and Asian interoperability tests, which were conducted by the GSM Association (GSMA).

NexTone's IMX is designed to enable secure and seamless
interconnectivity between 3G mobile networks, wireline networks, and
networks based on the IMS service delivery framework. The NexTone IMX
can also interconnect multiple IMS networks and facilitate the
exchange of multimedia traffic between service providers. NexTone's
IMX platform operates at the network edge to provide seamless
connectivity between IMS networks, and this flexibility enables
subscriber roaming between networks and gives users the mobility that
they require.

The NexTone IMX incorporates specialized session awareness to
adapt to the requirements of the IMS framework. Key session management
features include network-based policy and session routing, providing
end-to-end control of real-time sessions across networks; advanced SIP
features to support mobile gaming, chat, and other real-time
applications as subscribers roam between networks; transcoding of
wireline codecs on wireline networks to wireless codecs on IMS
networks; and IPv4 to IPv6 network address translation to provide
seamless connectivity between VoIP and IMS networks. The NexTone IMX
also provides secure connectivity to IMS networks using intelligent
identity mechanisms, including access control lists, SIP/TLS
certificates, and DNS checks, that authenticate subscribers and
protect against SIP security threats such as spam over internet
telephony (SPIT) and spam by instant messenger (SPIM).

The GRX trials, conducted over the last six months, brought together
mobile network operators, GRX carriers, and equipment suppliers to
ensure that the next generation of multimedia services, based on the
Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) and IP Multimedia Subsystems (IMS),
will work smoothly and have compatibility across networks once these
services are launched for customers. The tests are crucial for the
many operators around the world that are planning to use IMS to handle
multimedia services such as instant messaging,
push-to-talk-over-cellular, video-sharing, and multiplayer-games in
the future.

GRX carriers, like KPN and CITIC Telecom 1616, play an essential
role for mobile operators by transmitting data traffic between their
networks and by offering their customers global roaming facilities.
The session management intelligence of NexTone's IMX enabled those
carriers to support IMS interworking and demonstrate hub-to-hub
connectivity, including inter-working between IMS IPv6 systems and IMS
IPv4 systems.

"The GSMA trials demonstrated how the advanced session management
intelligence of NexTone's IMX enables GRX carrier customers to quickly
and seamlessly interconnect with one another. This flexible platform
provides an interconnect facility to manage the rapid growth of
traffic between wireline carriers and 3G mobile operators, while
enabling new business models for network and service expansion," said
Dan Dearing, vice president of marketing at NexTone. "Now, wireline
carriers can transparently exchange minutes with mobile carriers,
deliver fixed-mobile convergence services, and extend the reach of
their networks by peering with mobile operators. The NexTone IMX can
also interconnect multiple IMS networks and facilitate the exchange of
multimedia traffic between service providers."

FCC Nomination Hearings Go Smoothly for Copps and Tate

The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation held nomination hearings for Michael Copps and Deborah Tate to serve as FCC Commissioners. Both hearing went smoothly, and Commerce Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) now expects the full Senate to approve the nominations by the end of the year. Key issues raised by the Senators at the hearings included the Universal Service Fund (USF), the indecency issue, and rules governing media concentration. Both Copps and Tate expressed support for the USF.

Michael Copps, a Democrat, has served as FCC Commissioner since January 2001. Before that, he served as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Trade Development at the U.S. Department of Commerce, where he was previously Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Basic Industries.

Deborah Taylor Tate, of Tennessee, would hold 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.

A webcast of the hearings is available online.

Foundry Expands Enterprise Switching Line

Foundry Networks has expanded its FastIron enterprise switching line with a new model that combines twenty-four ports of 10/100/1000 Mbps with IEEE 802.3af Power over Ethernet, redundant modular power supplies and 10 Gigabit Ethernet in a compact form.

The FastIron Edge X424-POE delivers 10/100/1000 Mbps copper connections to powered IP endpoints such as VoIP handsets, video over IP cameras and wireless access points. Customers may initially deploy the FES X424-POE using trunked Gigabit Ethernet fiber uplinks for connecting to the network backbone and upgrade at a later time with one or two ports of 10 Gigabit Ethernet. Foundry said this field upgradeability provides customers a smooth migration path to 10 Gigabit Ethernet eliminating the expense and disruption of a wholesale product replacement.

Terabit Capacity SEA-ME-WE4 Undersea Cable Enters Service

The terabit-capable South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe 4 (SEA-ME-WE 4) was officially commissioned at a ceremony in Dubai. The initial capacity is 160 Gbps. Customer traffic is now being transmitted on the new cable, which was built by a consortium of 16 international telecommunications carriers at an estimated cost of US$500 million.

The cable system spans some 20,000 km with landings in 14 countries -- Algeria, Bangladesh, Egypt, France, India, Italy, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tunisia and UAE.

Alcatel had the turnkey responsibility for the project and Fujitsu was co-contractor. Construction was completed in 18 months.

MCI, which is the only U.S. carrier in the consortium, said its customers can take advantage of seamless on-net connectivity in Asia, Europe and the United States. In addition to being a consortium member, MCI also is a landing/terminal party for the new submarine cable system in Marseilles, France. The team landed the cable in Marseilles in July, and MCI connected the cable directly to its European IP backbone infrastructure. This allows all MCI customers to reach both European and Transatlantic destinations across MCI's existing network infrastructure. MCI also has connected the submarine cable system directly to its network in Singapore.

Yahoo! Offers 1 Cent/Minute PC-to-PSTN Calling

Yahoo! launched the international public beta trial of its real-time communications suite, Yahoo! Messenger with Voice, a PC-based VoIP service that enables users to place calls to traditional or mobile phones in the U.S. for about one U.S. cent a minute, and make calls to more than 30 other countries for less than about two U.S. cents per minute.

Local versions have been made available in France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Singapore and Spain. The U.S. version is expected to launch in early 2006.

Key capabilities of Yahoo! Messenger with Voice include:

  • Phone Out: International audiences can make low cost calls to more than 180 countries from their PC to traditional phones and mobile phones. Prepaid credit plans are available.

  • Phone In: The Phone In service gives international audiences the ability to receive calls on their PC from traditional and mobile phones. For about U.S. $2.99 a month or about U.S. $29.90 a year, people can select a personal phone number, and receive incoming calls at no additional charge. For instance, Hong Kong residents, who have friends and family in San Francisco, are able to choose a local San Francisco-based phone number. When remote friends and family make calls to the personal number, they will be charged for placing a local phone call to that phone number. People can choose to have multiple phone numbers, and wherever they travel, their phone numbers will follow them. In the beta service, country-based phone numbers are initially available in France, the United Kingdom, and the United States with additional country-based numbers available in the coming months.

  • Contact Search Bar: The new Contact Search Bar provides a fast way to find and quickly connect with friends and family. As people type their friends' names, Yahoo! IDs, phone numbers, nicknames or any other information stored in their contact details, matching results will automatically populate the Contact Search Bar. People then choose how they want to communicate with their friend, whether it is through text IM, voice calling, e-mail or mobile text messaging.

  • Open Talk: By setting the status message to ‘Open Talk,' people will allow their friends to instantly connect to them via a PC-to-PC voice conversation at any time. Because there is a direct connection, there is no need to accept an incoming call request. This is a great solution for working parents to have a consistent connection with their kids at home or for sports fans to communicate with each other while watching the big game on TV.

Yahoo! Messenger with Voice offers Webcam functionality and animated emoticons. It also integrates with other Yahoo! services including games, music, photos and search.
  • In June 2005, Yahoo! acquired DialPad, a provider of Internet Telephony services. Financial terms were not disclosed. At the time, Yahoo! said it planned on leveraging Dialpad's PSTN calling capabilities to add to Yahoo! Messenger's recently enhanced PC-to-PC voice calling offering.

MSN/ MCI Offer 2 Cent/Minute PC-to-PSTN Calling

Microsoft and MCI announced a global, multiyear partnership for consumer PC-to-phone telephony. The solution, MCI Web Calling for Windows Live Call, will be available through Windows Live Messenger, the upcoming successor to MSN Messenger. A beta version of the service is available in the U.S. and the companies expect to jointly deliver the PC-to-phone calling capabilities to France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom in the coming weeks. Once subscribed to the service, customers can place calls to and from more than 220 countries with rates starting at $.023 per minute to the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and Western Europe during the beta testing period. Upon sign-up, MCI Web Calling customers will receive up to one hour of free calls. Final pricing will be determined when the product officially launches in 2006.

Customers will be able to sign up for MCI Web Calling via the Windows Live Messenger client. MCI will manage customer registration, terminating calls, customer account management, customer support and billing for the PC-to-phone voice service, and will work closely with Microsoft on delivering a high-quality software service and customer experience. Customers will purchase prepaid calling time from MCI in $5, $10 or $25 blocks for use with the service.

Microsoft claims more than 185 million active MSN Messenger accounts worldwide. MSN attracts more than 440 million unique users worldwide per month, and offers localized versions in 42 markets and 21 languages.
  • In November 2005, Microsoft previewed two new Internet-based software initiatives --"Windows Live" and "Microsoft Office Live " -- that will use technologies such as RSS and Asynchronous JavaScript and XML (AJAX) to deliver personalized services online. Windows Live will be offered alongside and will primarily be delivered free to users and supported by advertising, but subscription and transaction-based services also will be available. Users will be able to run Windows with or without the Windows Live services.

HomePlug Powerline Products Reach 3 Million Unit Milestone

There are more than 60 different products embedded with HomePlug 1.0 technology, including new offerings from Intellon, NComputing, NETGEAR, Sling Media and Telenet. Earlier this year, the HomePlug Alliance surpassed its three millionth HomePlug powerline communications product shipped.

Additional milestones in 2005 from the HomePlug Alliance include:

  • Approved the HomePlug AV specification - the fastest and most robust and secure industry standard for powerline communication targeting digital entertainment home networking;

  • Commenced the next stage of the Alliance's efforts to develop a specification for an advanced command and control technology, known as HomePlug Command & Control (HPCC);

  • Developed a co-existence solution that allows multiple powerline communications technologies to share the same wire, while maintaining transmission speeds, QoS and a favorable user experience.

  • New members of the board of directors include representatives from Cisco-Linksys, GE Security, Intel, Motorola Inc. and Sony.

EarthLink to Acquire New Edge Networks

EarthLink, a leading U.S. ISP with over five million subscribers,, agreed to acquire New Edge Networks, a privately-held single-source national provider of private Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and secure multi-site managed data networks and dedicated access for businesses and communications carriers.

New Edge Networks integrates a wide variety of last-mile broadband access services available through multiple carriers, technologies, and geographic region. It owns a nationwide multi-services network with more than 850 carrier-class switches and Internet routers. New Edge Networks' core and extended DSL coverage spans about 12,800 telephone company central office locations that are equipped for DSL service across the U.S. The coverage footprint is especially strong in small and midsize markets. In addition to DSL, it offers ATM, Frame Relay, and Private Line Services.

Together, EarthLink and New Edge Networks plan to package their voice, data, protection, and security tools, targeting the -speed access and VPN services for both small office and home office (SOHO) users as well as small and medium enterprise (SME) customers.

EarthLink will pay approximately $144 million, consisting of 2.6 million shares of EarthLink common stock and $114.3 million in cash, including cash to be used to satisfy certain liabilities. EarthLink plans to retain New Edge Networks' 345 employees and the New Edge Networks brand. New Edge will continue to be based in Vancouver, Washington.

The New Edge customer base is expected to generate approximately $120 million in revenues in 2005.

Octasic Expands its Voice Processing Product Line with New Devices

Octasic Semiconductor is enhancing its OCT6100 family with the introduction of lower power, and lower cost devices based on 130nm technology. The new OCT6100L, which enables voice quality enhancement for down to 4 channels, was developed in partnership with STMicroelectronics,

Octasic said that as echo cancellation moves from a standalone box to an internal embedded feature of gateway and switching equipment, designers are faced with increasing demands for lower power to meet their density targets, while improving quality. The new OCT6100L builds upon the proven success of the current OCT6100 devices, which now has over 15 million ports deployed, enabling carrier-class voice quality enhancement at a cost point for small equipment, such as IP based PBXs. It includes key features such as Octasic Music Protection, Acoustic Echo Control (AEC), Adaptive Noise Reduction (ANR), and extensive conferencing capabilities.

By lowering the core voltage from 1.8V to 1.2V, the OCT6100L cuts the power performance of the original device in half, to less than 1.5 mW per fully featured channel. The device is also perfectly suited to adding or enhancing echo cancellation of existing platforms providing a more cost effective solution for carriers.

The low power and space requirement of the solution provides the opportunity to retrofit existing equipments that require external echo cancellation with minimal re-design. Where previously this type of redesign would require a reduction in capacity to accommodate the boards required, a daughter board for an existing linecard now becomes an option, preserving the original configurations and density of the equipment.

OCT6100 family features

  • Up to 672 channels G.168-2002 echo cancellation

  • 128ms tail/channel (on all channel densities)

  • Octasic Music Protection

  • Acoustic Echo Control

  • Adaptive Noise Reduction

  • Extensive signaling tone detection and generation

  • Audio Conferencing with Voice Quality features

  • Large buffer playback capabilities

  • TFO solution available

  • Field upgradeable algorithm

  • Integrated debugging and monitoring

  • Compact size: 16mm x 16mm

Samples of the OCT6100L are currently available; Production quantities are planned for early 2006, with pricing under $0.50 per channel in volume quantities.
  • In May 2005, STMicroelectronics and Octasic announced a partnership to deliver a family of voice-over-packet (VoP) ICs. The solutions will be based on ST's 0.13-┬Ám and 90-nm semiconductor process technology and Octasic's designs for VoP and Voice Quality Enhancement (VQE), which includes technology for line and acoustic echo cancellation, noise reduction capabilities, vocoding and packetization.