Wednesday, January 11, 2006

OEN Signs Starz for its IPTV Launch in Houston

Optical Entertainment Network (OEN) has signed a number of IPTV carriage agreements with Starz Entertainment Group, enabling it to carry all 13 Starz and Encore channels, along with Starz HDTV and Starz On Demand, over its FTTH network in Houston. STARZ is the latest addition to OEN's line-up of IPTV channels, which also includes the largest number of SD and HD TV channels in a system that is made fully available for license in other metropolitan areas.

OEN's FISION service will pass 1.6 million households in Houston, the 10th largest television market in the U.S.

Entone Supplies Hydra IP Video Gateway to Consolidated Comm.

Consolidated Communications, which serves approximately 245,000 local access lines in Illinois and Texas, is deploying Entone's Hydra IP video gateway to support its IPTV launch. The Hydra IP video gateway can deliver up to three independent television channels to any combination of up to six television sets. In-home video distribution is performed using a home's existing coaxial cabling and no additional set-top boxes are required at the various televisions throughout the home. Hydra typically resides with the primary television or home entertainment center, providing the full breadth of video interfaces including coax, composite, s-video and component video. Installation of other televisions simply involves plugging the television into the coax jack. No new wiring and no additional set-top box required.

In addition to Entone's Hydra IP video gateway, Consolidated is also using Entone's StreamLiner network video recorder (NVR) based on HP's server hardware to support its video on demand (VOD) services. Consolidated Communications' IPTV deployment also includes headend equipment from Tut Systems, Myrio middleware from Siemens SURPASS Home Entertainment solutions, and content protection from Verimatrix.

Concurrent Unveils RAM-based, High-Density VOD Server

Concurrent unveiled plans for a high-density, RAM-based video-on-demand (VOD) server that will be capable of storing in excess of 20,000 hours of on-demand content . The Concurrent MediaHawk 4500, which is targeted for launch in Q3, will also enable VOD ingest rates exceeding 2,500 hours per day.

Stream density has been dramatically improved to 2,400 streams per 2RU enclosure, enabling both small and large scale deployments with minimized footprint and power consumption. The platform will use a real-time Linux operating system and commercial hardware.

Concurrent said the MediaHawk's highly scalable RAM cache approach will allow service providers to employ scalable, pay-as-you-grow deployment models.

PMC-Sierra Opens Tech Center in India

PMC-Sierra has established a new technology center in Bangalore, India. Arun Bellary has been appointed as its Managing Director. The company plans to hire 40 to 50 people in 2006.

BT Global Services Restructures, Targets Customer Network Operations

BT Global Services announced a major transformation of its customer facing capabilities by creating a new global organisation in charge of customer service and network operation (CS&NO). The new structure will bring together over 14,000 customer service and technical professionals operating in more than 140 countries. It will focus on the increasingly complex needs of multi-site organisations around the world for managed and outsourced networked IT services.

The new organization will also deliver the geographic expansion and upgrade of BT's MPLS network. BT currently offers MPLS in over 90 countries and plans to deploy a further 48 new MPLS nodes into key cities across the globe, opening a new node every seven working days throughout 2006.

BT Reports Consumer Demand for Mobile TV

BT reported "clear consumer demand" for its trial mobile service that delivers broadcast digital TV and radio to mobile phones. The pilot BT Movio -- formerly known as BT Livetime - revealed that two thirds of customers would be prepared to pay up to £8/month for the service on their current mobile network, creating new revenue streams for mobile operators.

Set for commercial launch later this year, BT Movio intends to be the first wholesale mobile broadcast entertainment service to launch in the UK .

The service is broadcast using the Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) network and is navigated through the world's first implementation of DAB delivered electronic programme guide (EPG) on a mobile TV phone. Unlike other mobile TV services, BT Movio's use of a broadcast platform allows multiple users to access services at the same time without a reduction in quality.

Over the past four months BT Movio, together with its mobile operator partner for the pilot, Virgin Mobile, has been broadcasting digital TV and digital radio via a DAB-IP enabled smartphone to 1000 users in the M25 area. The results of the pilot have been extremely positive with the majority of pilot users saying that they would consider upgrading their mobile phone to one which supports the service. 73 per cent of participants stated that they would be prepared to pay for the service on their current network if the service was priced competitively. 38% were prepared to switch networks to receive this service.

Some key findings:

  • Over three quarters of the pilot users tuned into digital TV and radio on their mobile on a weekly basis or more often, with the average length of TV viewing being more than one hour per week.

  • A large proportion of pilot users stated that they want up to five types of mobile TV channels including a combination of news, sport, comedy, sitcoms and music.

  • Users tuned into Digital Radio on average for over one and a half hours every week.

FLO Forum Submits Air Interface for Standardization

The FLO Forum has officially submitted the FLO (Forward Link-Only) Air Interface Specification (AIS) to the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA)'s Subcommittee TR-47.1. Engineering Committee TR-47 is responsible for the development and maintenance of Terrestrial Mobile Multimedia Multicast (TM3) standards, and TR-47.1 is the subcommittee focused on FLO technology standardization.

The Air Interface Specification defines the radio protocols used over the air between the FLO network and a FLO device for the delivery of multicast services. The AIS enables the delivery of multiple multimedia streams over the standard TV channel allocation bandwidths while ensuring fast service acquisition, robust performance in mobile fading links, and low receiver power consumption.
  • FLO technology is a new air interface originally developed by Qualcomm with multicasting capabilities designed to increase capacity and reduce content delivery costs to mobile handsets.

  • The AIS includes a complete description of the Physical layer, which uses Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) and advanced forward error-correction techniques, and a complete description of the Stream/Control and MAC layers, which multiplex a multiplicity of simultaneous multimedia services into logical units distinguishable at the radio interface (physical) layer. The specification enables the delivery of multiple, multimedia streams over the standard TV channel allocation bandwidths while ensuring fast service acquisition, robust performance in mobile fading links, and low receiver power consumption. The AIS, the first technical specification produced by the FLO Forum, will be forwarded to Standards Development Organizations (SDOs) for inclusion in new standards that address the delivery of terrestrial mobile multimedia multicast services to mobile devices.

  • FLO Technology is independent of the cellular network but complements CDMA2000 1X, 1xEV-DO and WCDMA cellular network data and voice services.

  • In September 2005, QUALCOMM announced the first live, over-the-air demonstration of "FLO" (Forward Link Only) Technology delivered to a wireless handset. The demonstration will feature over-the-air delivery and viewing of multiple channels of wireless multimedia content, both streaming video and multicast packet data on a form factor accurate (FFA) handset.

  • In July 2005, QUALCOMM and other key members of the wireless industry announced the establishment of The FLO Forum, a new non-profit industry association that promotes the development of products and services related to the delivery of advanced multimedia services to wireless devices around the world using "FLO" (Forward Link Only) technology.

Ixia Expands its IxANVL Conformance Testing Solution

Ixia announced a number of enhancements to its IxANVL conformance and interoperability test solution. IxANVL now supports test execution and automation from Microsoft Windows platforms, and additional protocols have been added to the portfolio, including the Metro Ethernet MEF9 test plan, MPLS VPN protocols, and SIP.

IxANVL's enhanced support for VoIP includes a new SIP conformance test suite for verifying interoperability and standards compliance of voice signalling protocols.

IxANVL has significantly expanded its support for MPLS VPN and Triple Play application protocols. MPLS VPN protocols - including Layer 3 MPLS VPNs, Layer 2 MPLS VPNs (Martini), and VPLS - are used by Service Providers to offer seamless private network connections to their customers. The addition of IGMPv3, MLDv2, and DHCPv4 support also extends IxANVL's coverage of key protocols commonly deployed by Service Providers at the customer edge of their networks to control access and configuration of video and data services.

The IxANVL 6.90 release (October 2005) added full support for the Metro Ethernet Forum's MEF9 conformance test suite, which is designed to meet the conformance test methodology defined by MEF1 and MEF9.

IxANVL conformance test suites include Bridging, TCP/IP, IP Routing, IP Storage, MPLS, Network Security, Tunneling, Multicast, RMON, PPP, Metro Ethernet, and VoIP.

Juniper Completes PacketCable Multimedia Qualification

Juniper Networks' SDX-300 Service Deployment System has been awarded qualification status for the PacketCable Multimedia (PCMM) specification from CableLabs. PCMM is a CableLabs specification that provides QoS, accounting and security functionality for multimedia applications.

Foundry Introduces New 10 Gigabit Switches

Foundry Networks introduced two new high-performance ServerIron Layer 4-7 switches with 10 Gigabit Ethernet (GbE) to enable scalable acceleration and delivery of emerging Web and VoIP applications.

Foundry said the migration of traditional applications to the Web and the growing deployment of triple-play services, such as voice, video and data over a converged Ethernet/IP network, are causing an explosion of traffic volume in data centers.

The new switches help scale server farms and application infrastructure to deliver these services at up to 10 Gbps rates.

Foundry's new ServerIronGT C and E Series 10-GbE application switches leverage its ASIC-based application processor technology to deliver over 200,000 layer 4 connections per second and advanced denial of service (DoS) protection to critical applications at multi-Gigabit wire-speed rates.

To ensure application availability in the event of a server or site failure, ServerIronGT switches support network designs configured for multi-site redundancy and scalability using DNS-based or IP-based Global Server Load Balancing (GSLB). Some of the key features include:

  • Efficient load balancing

  • Intelligent content switching

  • Secure Web traffic acceleration (SSL)

  • HTTP Web compression for bandwidth optimization

  • Web optimization with HTTP connection offload

  • Robust application security

  • High Availability configurations with hitless failover

  • Comprehensive health checks

  • Transparent application support

  • Advanced layer 2/3 switching and routing

Aptela Raises $5 Million for Hosted VoIP Service

Aptela, a start-up based in McLean, Virginia, raised $5 million in venture funding for its hosted business communications service. Aptela sells its own branded Aptela service, provides white label solutions for partners and works closely with a select group of telecom- and IT-focused resellers.

JMI Equity, a private equity firm exclusively focused on investments in the software and business services industries, led the investment. JMI and the other Series A investors have an option to invest up to an additional $3 million in Aptela.

ColorChip Raises $9.5 Million for Planar Lightwave Circuits

ColorChip, a start-up based in Caesarea, Israel, raised $9.5 million in venture financing for its glass-based Planer Lightwave Circuit (PLC) chips and modules for FTTH networks. The company is currently shipping first samples of its Meteor II FTTx SOG Transceivers for optical network terminals (ONT/ONU) for GPON and EPON. ColorChip is also distributing PLC splitters - based on the company's Ion-Exchange process - mainly to the FTTx, CATV, analog and digital PONs markets.

The funding was led by Bessemer Venture Partners and joined by Motorola Ventures. Also participating were existing investors EURfund, Polytechnos, and Walden.

UTStarcom Rebrands IPTV Solution as "RollingStream"

UTStarcom introduced the "RollingStream" brand name for its end-to-end IPTV solution. Formerly know as mVision, RollingStream is a distributed end-to-end solution that is designed to enable telecommunications operators and broadband service providers to deliver broadcast-quality television and on-demand entertainment programming over IP networks. The solution's scalability, reliability, and bandwidth efficiency allow it to support new services, including broadcast TV, Network Personal Video Recorder (n-PVR), Video on Demand (VoD), and Near Video on Demand (NVoD), over existing network infrastructures. These services may give service providers opportunities to increase revenues, offer new services, and improve customer satisfaction and retention.

RollingStream partitions each program into segments that are cached on network edge servers based on viewing demand patterns and operator-specified policies. This mechanism allows service providers to store the beginning segments of feature-length programs directly at the network edge, close to the subscriber, and dynamically deliver the remaining segments once viewing starts. Compared to IPTV solutions that store all content either at the core, which results in network congestion, or in multiple complete iterations at the edge, which requires huge amounts of storage, UTStarcom's approach simplifies and expedites content delivery, reduces storage requirements, and minimizes network congestion.

Service providers using UTStarcom's end-to-end IPTV solution include China Telecom and Softbank BB in Japan.

Vonage Expands E911 to 1,900 Calling Centers Nationwide

Vonage has turned up emergency 911 service in over 1,900 Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) across the U.S. In just one week, Vonage equipped an additional 41 calling centers, in over 25 new counties, with 911 calling capabilities.

Ikanos Acquires Analog Device's ADSL ASIC Product Line

Ikanos Communications agreed to acquire the network processor product line of Analog Devices, including ADSL ASICs, for approximately $30 million in cash. The acquisition includes these broadband gateway products, and the related technology, intellectual property, and development and support teams.

Analog Devices' "Blackfin Fusiv Platform" integrates media processing, network processing and voice processing in a single system. The Fusiv-Vx 200 processor delivers wire-speed fast Ethernet routing, firewall and VPN throughput.

Ikanos said the acquisition will enable it to deliver the highest performance VDSL residential gateway solution currently available. The Fusiv gateway processor is an ideal complement to Ikanos' VDSL PHY solutions.

Sagem has selected the Fusiv platform was selected by Sagem to power their range of gateway products, which are shipping in volume to deliver video and voice services to residential subscribers.

The acquisition will also extend Ikanos' existing Layer 1 capabilities with Layer 2 through Layer 7 gateway technologies, including routing, security, wireless LAN, VoIP, and Quality of Service.

"This transaction is an important, logical step in Ikanos' strategy and significantly enhances our ability to capitalize on worldwide demand for video services," said Rajesh Vashist, chairman and CEO of Ikanos.


Hungary Gets EUR 190 Million Loan for Telecom Modernization

The European Investment Bank (EIB) will loan EUR 190 million to Hungary for upgrading its broadband infrastructure. The loan will finance the extension of the geographical coverage of the existing Hungarian broadband services and the increase in the number of broadband connections, and their capacity and performance. Magyar Telekom, the major fixed-line and mobile phone Company in Hungary, is the project promoter.