Wednesday, February 8, 2006

NYT: TV When -- and Where -- You Want It

There is growing evidence that Web-based video downloads and mobile TV services are beginning to change the viewing habits of the general public, according to The Washington Post. Two key data points cited in the article:

  • Apple's iTunes store has sold more than 12 million video downloads since the service was launched in October.

  • MobiTV is now serving over 500,000 subscribers through its various mobile network partners.

EarthLink Reaches 1.6 Million Broadband Subscribers

EarthLink ended the fourth quarter with 1.2 million PeoplePC Online subscribers, 2.3 million premium narrowband subscribers, 1.6 million broadband subscribers and 127,000 web hosting accounts.

Overall, the average monthly churn rate decreased to 4.4 percent during the fourth quarter, compared to the 4.7 percent average monthly churn rate experienced in the fourth quarter of 2004 and in the third quarter of 2005.

UMTS Customers Worldwide Tops 50 Million

UMTS, the third generation evolution for the GSM family of technologies, now has over 50 million subscribers worldwide, according to 3G Americas and Informa Telecoms & Media.

UMTS (WCDMA) is now in service by 99 operators in 45 countries, up from 61 operators offering commercial UMTS service at the end of 2004. Another 59 networks are either in deployment or in pre-commercial or planned stages. In addition, eight operators have been awarded 3G UMTS licenses and there are 72 potential licenses yet to be awarded.

Additionally, 3G Americas said there are now 125 operators in 74 countries worldwide offering commercial EDGE service and another 84 operators in 29 additional countries with EDGE networks planned or already in deployment. More than 200 EDGE devices including PC cards and mobile phones have been offered throughout the world since EDGE was first commercialized.


BT Adds 700,000 Broadband Lines in Latest Quarter

BT reported 0.7 million broadband additions in its latest fiscal quarter. BT Retail's share was 31 percent. The number of BT Wholesale connections now standing at more than seven million.

Some additional highlights for the quarter:

  • Revenue was 4,946 million Pounds Sterling, up 8 percent (3 percent excluding acquisitions)

  • New wave revenue of 1,607 million pounds, up 42 percent, now represents one third of total

  • EBITDA before specific items(1) and leaver costs of 1,404 million pounds, down 8 million pounds

  • Profit before taxation, specific items(1) and leaver costs of 568 million pounds, up 2 per cent

  • Earnings per share before specific items(1) and leaver costs of 5.1
    pence, up 4 per cent

Lucent Signs Colibria and PCTEL as IMS Partners

Lucent Technologies announced two partnership agreements with Colibria and PCTEL for its IMS-based solution, enabling the delivery of instant messages and multimedia messages to wireless devices, and the use of a single Wi-Fi/cellular dual mode phone for public and enterprise networks services.

The Colibria Companion Instant Messaging and Presence Server is a carrier-grade platform, delivering Open Mobile Alliance (OMA)-certified Instant Messaging and Presence Service (IMPS) and Session Initiation Protocol/IP Multimedia Subsystem support. Colibria's instant messaging technology has been integrated in Lucent's MiLife Presence Solution. Colibria's technology has leading embedded client interoperability, with its server technologies also supporting legacy interfaces on a variety of applications, encompassing IMPS, IM, Voice Over IP and Push-to-Talk over Cellular.

PCTEL's Voice-Enabled Roaming Client (Roaming Client - VE) Software works on dual mode mobile handsets to enable end-users to seamlessly and easily roam between cellular and Wi-Fi networks. The software allows subscribers to have a single telephone number to make and receive voice calls on traditional CDMA- or GSM-based cellular networks or on broadband wireless networks, such as Wi-Fi networks, using VoIP. In addition to voice telephony, the software supports access to critical messaging services like SMS (Short Message Service) and Voice Mail.

SkypeWeb Allows Users to Track Presence Across Other Sites

Skype rolled out a new Web presence feature that allows people to see Skype users' online status and call or chat with them from any Web site as well as Skype people from each site with the click of a mouse.
The feature is being integrated into many web sites, including social networking sites (Bebo), online classifieds, online communities, etc.

NexTone Cites Customer Gains in 2005

NexTone Communications announced a record business year for 2005, including growing its carrier and enterprise customer base and regional sales support worldwide.

The company said it increased its carrier customer base by 50 percent,
bringing the global customer count to 400. In addition, NexTone increased its traction in the enterprise VoIP market where our session management technologies are used to interconnect islands of VoIP.

Some other major milestones for NexTone in 2005 included hiring Malik Khan as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, receiving an additional $35 million in funding, and launching NexTone University, a strategic initiative to certify engineers on IMS and real-time service delivery.

IPWireless Signs Partners for its TDtv

IPWireless announced a mobile TV partnership today with Vidiator, a leading provider of mobile multimedia streaming, to jointly develop mobile broadcasting solutions based on the 3GPP Multimedia Broadcast and Multicast Standard. The companies will work together to integrate Vidiator's new Broadcast Multicast Service Center, or BMSC, into IPWireless' recently announced MBMS-based TDtv solution. The implementation will be used as part of a trial of IPWireless' TDtv mobile TV solution.

TDtv, launched last month by IPWireless, allows 3G operators to deliver mobile TV services using their existing unused spectrum and cell site infrastructure. The technology competes with DVB-H and MediaFLO (both of which require separate networks).

Earlier this week, IPWireless announced a partnership with MobiTV.

Search Engines Deliver 5.1 Billion Searches in U.S. in Dec 2005, Google at 49% Share

The total number of searches in the U.S. conducted across approximately 60 search engines grew 55 percent year-over-year to nearly 5.1 billion searches in December 2005, according to new figures from Nielsen/NetRatings. Google experienced a five-point gain in search share rankings during this period.

While the number of searches conducted online swelled, the number of people connecting to the Internet rose a mere three percent to 207 million people in the U.S.

"The double-digit increase in online search activity marks a significant milestone in the evolution of Internet consumer behavior," said Ken Cassar, senior director of analytics, Nielsen//NetRatings.

Google accounted for 49 percent share of all searches in December 2005, Yahoo! delivered 21 % of searches and MSN came in at 11%.

CSTV Streams 166,000 Sports Videos in 24 Hours

CSTV Networks (now part of CBS), a leading digital and cable programming company dedicated to college sports, reached one-day performance record for streaming videos on February 1st.
Over the 24-hour period, streamed over 166,000 live and on-demand video clips, carrying more than 750 hours of content including press conferences and video highlights of top recruits. One event, a live press conference from Notre Dame, had over 7,700 hits, representing more than 10% of total live streaming visitors.

CSTV Networks also announced a new podcasting initiative that will be
available in iTunes.

JDSU Launches Agile Optical Networks Strategy

JDSU launched its Agile Optical Networks (AON) strategic initiative. AONs are dynamically reconfigurable networks enabled by a new set of ROADM, tunable transponder, agile amplifiers and other optical communications technologies. The goal of a dynamically reconfigurable DWDM network is to accelerate triple-play service deployment and enable advanced wavelength applications at significantly reduced cost.

JDSU's portfolio of AON-enabling solutions includes Agile Optical Switches, Agile Transmission Modules and Agile Optical Amplifiers.

The line-up of Agile Optical Switches features reconfigurable optical
add/drop multiplexer (ROADM) modules and subsystems, including a planar lightwave circuit (PLC)-based ROADM and Wavelength Blockers, which provide the blocking and attenuation functions of a ROADM and reduce the number of required O-E-O (optical-electrical-optical)
conversions in long-haul and metro networks.

JDSU is also introducing a Wavelength Selective Switch (WSS) and 40-Channel PLC ROADM. The Wavelength Selective Switch (WSS) -- JDSU's WSS includes both 100 GHz and 50 GHz versions -- supporting both long-haul and metro networks -- and features "colorless" routing, enabling any wavelength to be routed to any port and giving network operators greater flexibility by eliminating the need for pre-planning of port usage. The colorless functionality is aligned particularly well to the growing use of tunable transponders and streamlines service provisioning. The WSS also facilitates wavelength routing at
intersecting rings. JDSU's new 40-channel PLC ROADM features market-leading insertion loss performance, supports "drop and continue" architectures and provides, on day one, access to 100 percent of the wavelengths to be added and dropped, reducing hardware changes required for new wavelength services to simple modular transponder deployment.

JDSU also supplies a line of tunable transponders, a key technology for Agile Optical Networks. Unlike fixed transponders, which are unable to adjust to changing traffic patterns, tunable transponders are able to "tune" wavelengths, adjusting to changing network bandwidth requirements, ensuring more efficient use of network capacity, lowering inventory by reducing the number of transponders needed in a network and providing for more cost-effective network planning.

JDSU's Agile Optical Amplifiers are key elements of the Agile Optical
Network by adjusting the "gain" -- or power levels -- of amplified optical signals on the fly, ensuring reliable transmission that supports the quality delivery of advanced triple-play services. JDSU recently completed a joint study with Siemens to evaluate the impact of optical power changes, or "transients," on DWDM network performance. The study measured performance degradation caused by uncontrolled transients and demonstrated JDSU's amplifier platform to effectively control and mitigate its effect.

JDSU also provides test and measurement solutions for Agile Optical Networks and the delivery of IP-based triple play services.

The modular, multi-function designs of JDSU's T&M instruments for the AON include the MTS Optical Spectrum Analyzers, which identify, isolate and validate transmitted optical wavelengths in an AON
network; chromatic dispersion (CD), polarization mode dispersion (PMD) and 10G Ethernet modules for the MTS/T-BERD 8000 platform; SmartClass Optical Handhelds to verify power levels in an AON; and the Swept Wavelength System.

Ditech Supplies Voice Processing Platform for Orascom

Orascom Telecom, a leading mobile telecommunications carrier in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, has selected Ditech Communications' Voice Quality Assurance (VQA) embedded on its QVP platform to deliver improved voice quality to subscribers across its mobile network.

Mobilink, a leading GSM operator in Pakistan, and Djezzy, a leading GSM operator in Algeria, are the initial OT networks to deploy Ditech's VQA. These deployments will represent Ditech's largest installations of VQA in these regions. The deployments upgrade portions of two of OT's largest networks, elevating network performance and customer satisfaction through the use of advanced voice processing technology from Ditech.

UTStarcom Puts Q4 Revenues of $685.5 Million, Gross Margins of 12.1%

UTStarcom reported preliminary financial results for the fourth quarter of 2005 and also announced an investigation surrounding the circumstances of a specific contract in India signed in 2002.

Net sales for Q4 were $685.5 million, above the company's guidance. Fourth quarter sales include $40 million in revenue related to the Softbank BB IPTV contract. Consolidated gross profit margin for the fourth quarter was 12.1%. The net loss for the fourth quarter was $20.6 million, or ($0.17) per share, inclusive of all one-time charges and gains.

The investigation by the independent counsel will look into the premature recognition of revenue on a contract with a customer in India, and other related issues. UTStarcom recognized approximately $22 million in revenue on the contract, with total gross margin of less than one million dollars. This revenue was recognized during several of the quarters from 2003 through 2005. Adjustment to prior financials may be necessary.

Occam Networks Posts First Profitable Quarter

Occam Networks reported its first-ever profitable quarter. The company reported Q4 2005 revenue of $12.9 million, setting its sixth consecutive new revenue record. Fourth quarter 2005 revenues represented an increase of ninety-nine percent over the fourth quarter of 2004 and 21 percent sequentially over the third quarter of 2005. Annual revenue for 2005 was $39.2 million, more than doubling annual revenue for 2004. During the quarter gross margins also improved substantially as a result of supply chain improvements and product cost reductions. Margins also included a one-time benefit of $482,000 attributed to the reversal of an accrual for outstanding purchase commitments. Excluding this benefit, the company's operating income remained positive and net income was near breakeven.

Howard-Anderson continued, "We continue to see a broad and growing demand for IP- and Ethernet-based platforms from US and international telcos, and we don't see this trend changing. Much of the demand is being driven by the telcos' need to deliver the Triple Play services that will enable them to remain competitive. With the announcement of new satellite based IPTV video delivery services, which enable rural telcos to deliver multi-channel standard and high-definition television much more cost effectively, more telcos will be able to deliver IPTV video service. Our experience in building IP and Ethernet networks that deliver IPTV, VoIP, POTS and high speed internet puts us in an excellent position to capitalize on this
industry trend."

European DVR Deployments Reach 2.5 Million

By the end of 2005, over 2.6 million households in Europe were using a DVR, according to a study by IMS Research. By 2010, this market is forecast to reach over 41 million households. Growth is expected to come primarily from operator deployments of integrated DVRs, although DTT and FTA satellite DVRs will make a significant contribution to the total market.

Before 2005, the only successful DVR story in Europe consisted of Sky+ DVR deployments in the UK. This is now beginning to change. In 2005, various pay-TV operators, including Sky Italia, Telewest, NTL, Viasat, Casema, and Premiere, launched or announced plans to launch a DVR service. Furthermore, significant growth in DTT DVR shipments took place in 2005 thanks to strong adoption of DTT services in the UK, France and Germany.

Bell Labs and mPhase Develop Nano-based Battery Prototype

Bell Labs and mPhase Technologies reported a major milestone in their joint effort to develop a nano-based "smart" battery. The researchers believe the technology could lead to a new generation of portable, programmable power with far longer shelf life than existing battery technology.

In a test conducted at Bell Labs' Murray Hill, N.J. facility, the development team demonstrated that the first fully assembled prototype device could generate enough power on demand to light a light-emitting diode (LED). The prototype is based on a novel nanostructured architecture pioneered at Bell Labs.

The new generation of reserve power cells is based on a Bell Labs discovery that electrolyte will stay atop nano-textured surfaces until stimulated to flow, thereby triggering a reaction producing electricity. The "electrowetting" process in effect can permit activation of the batteries when required, yielding a very long shelf life.http:://www.mPhaseTech.com

Level 3 to Add 60 x 10 Gbps Transatlantic Capacity

Level 3 Communications will purchase 300 Gigabits (30 x 10 Gbps) of transatlantic capacity on the Apollo Submarine Cable System. Level 3 now and has immediate access to the capacity. Level 3 also has the right to purchase 300 Gigabits of additional capacity, taking the contracted capacity up to a total of 600 Gigabits (60 x 10 Gbps).

Level 3 said it continues to experience rapid customer growth on its network. The Level 3 global IP backbone network currently carries over 3.7 petabytes of IP traffic every day. IP traffic carried across Level 3's transatlantic network has doubled in the last twelve months.

Prior to this transaction, Level 3 had 480 Gigabits of lit transatlantic capacity, with approximately 85 percent of this currently in service and being utilized. This strategic purchase gives Level 3 scalable capacity on four diverse routes across the Atlantic, including the Level 3 developed Yellow cable system, and enables connectivity from the United States to Continental Europe that is entirely diverse from the New York region and the United Kingdom.

"We continue to see growth in demand for IP transit and growth on our transatlantic routes," said Brady Rafuse, president of Level 3 in Europe. "The purchase increases the total available capacity on our transatlantic network to more than 700 Gigabits immediately and greater than 1000 Gigabits should we exercise our right. This investment facilitates the ongoing scalability of our network, guaranteeing supply to accommodate growth in the medium term," he added.

  • The Apollo Cable System, one of the most technically advanced Atlantic cable systems, is 13,000 km in length. It consists of two diverse submarine transatlantic cable legs connecting Long Island and New Jersey in the U.S., with Cornwall in the UK and Brittany in France.

MobiTV Offers Olympics TV Coverage for Mobile Users

MobiTV and NBC Olympics will offer daily highlights of the XX Olympic Winter Games during the course of the games -- February 10th through February 26th to mobile users in the U.S. The Olympic Winter Games highlights will be available through a dedicated channel on the MobiTV service -- "NBC Mobile: NBC Olympics." The channel will be updated daily with highlights of the most exciting and crucial competitions.

FCC Backs A-la-Carte Video Programming Model

The FCC issued a new report that concludes consumers could be better off if the industry adopted an "a la carte" model for delivery of video services instead of the current system of packaged content and service tiers. The new report reaches different conclusion from the Commission's 2004 research, which the FCC now says relied upon unrealistic assumptions and presented biased analysis.

The first report predicted that if a-la-carte were implemented the average consumer would face a bill increase of ranging from 14% to 30%. The new study finds that a shift to a-la-carte would decrease the average consumer bill by as much as 13%.

The new report also finds that a-la-carte could make it easier for new networks to enter the market and that advertisers would find it easier to judge the value of programming.
  • In 2004, the FCC issued a report concluding that a la carte and tiered models (such as family tiers) were not economically feasible and were not in consumers' interests.

  • In November 2005, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin called upon the cable industry and direct satellite broadcasters to offer better tools and packages to filter between adult-oriented content and family-friendly programming or face new rules. Specifically, he called upon these providers to offer a-la-carte programming so that viewers do not have to purchase objectionable content.