Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Vendors Promote MSML Interface for IP Media Server Control

Convedia, Intel, and NMS Communications announced a joint effort to use, evolve, and promote the standardization of Media Server Markup Language (MSML), an extensible, open, and IPR-free language used to control IP media servers.

MSML is used along with the Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) to provide standards-based control of IP media servers when deployed in VoIP and IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) networks. Based on eXtensible Markup Language (XML), MSML provides a common language that can be implemented by all application and media server vendors enabling simplified integration and broader solution interoperability. MSML enables SIP application developers to control the voice, video, and multimedia processing capabilities provided by IP media servers. Media servers enable traditional enhanced services such as voicemail, voice conferencing, and interactive voice response, as well as new services such as ringback tones, online gaming, and video messaging to be delivered efficiently and cost-effectively in an IP network.

Convedia uses MSML as a control interface for their CMS-6000T and CMS-1000T Media Servers. Intel has completed considerable research with MSML and their multimedia servers built on Intel NetStructure Host Media Processing Software 3.0 for Windows and 3.1 for Linux. NMS Communications is using MSML to control IVR and conferencing functions in its Vision Media Server family, supporting TDM and VoIP networks.

The companies among the technology providers driving MSML from an Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) Internet Draft to an IETF RFC standard, as well as promoting the interface to other standards bodies.

MSML is a derivative of two earlier IETF drafts known as Media Sessions Markup Language and Media Objects Markup Language. These two drafts were first introduced by Convedia in 2003 and were designed to complement RFC 4240, Basic Network Media Services with SIP (previously known as Netann) and VoiceXML. The consolidation of the Media Sessions Markup Language and Media Objects Markup Language into the new MSML is fully backward compatible and simplifies adoption, use, and evolution of the control interface. The current version of the MSML draft can be found online.

Tut Upgrades IPTV Headends to MPEG-4 AVC

Tut Systems announced contracts to upgrade existing IPTV headends to MPEG-4 AVC compression technology. The contracts were awarded by triple play pioneers that previously deployed MPEG-2 technology. Tut Systems said the upgrades represent the third phase of new technology in the rapidly growing IPTV market that originally deployed MPEG-2 over ATM, followed by MPEG-2 over IP, and now MPEG-4 AVC over IP.

LiteScape and LignUp to Deliver Converged CRM applications

LiteScape Technologies, Inc., which develops converged applications, and LignUp Corporation, a provider of converged IP telephony communications solutions, will make the LiteScape ServicePoint applications available on the open, SIP-based LignUp platform and market these enhanced solutions through their global channels. LS ServicePoint functionality includes accessing time management, corporate directories, inventory check and bulletins directly from IP phones. LiteScape provides collaboration, converged CRM and identity management solutions to the government, education, manufacturing, retail, financial services and professional services sectors. http://www.LiteScape.com

TeliaSonera to Provide Backbone for FastLign Managed Telephony

TeliaSonera International Carrier (TSIC) will deliver FastLign managed IP telephony services to service provider customers across Europe.

FastLign, an alliance founded by LignUp, NexTone and others, is providing a managed services platform that allows service providers to rapidly deliver competitive hosted services.

In Europe, IP telephony service provider Streamdoor Ltd. will host the completely integrated FastLign services architecture and provide full datacenter capacity, system support and help desk capabilities, while providing access to the TeliaSonera International Carrier global IP network.

FastLign service provider customers license solutions directly from FastLign Alliance member companies. This licensing model enables them to fully modify and customize their services.

Belgacom Deploys VDSL, Ikanos Supplies Chipsets

Belgacom has begun deploying VDSL in its broadband access network. Ikanos Communications announced that is CleverConnect 600 and SmartLeap 8100 chipsets are be used in equipment for the deployment. The Ikanos CleverConnect 600 chipset is a single-port solution configurable for VDSL2 and VDSL customer premises applications, while the SmartLeap 8100 chipset is an eight-port solution configurable for VDSL2 and VDSL DSLAM applications. The chipsets are designed to offer up to 30 Mbps symmetrical bandwidth, or up to 60 Mbps downstream and 30 Mbps upstream.

Ringgold Selects Latens IPTV Conditional Access

Ringgold Telephone Company has selected Latens FCAS CA as the encryption solution for its advanced IPTV services. Ringgold, which serves approximately 14,000 lines in Georgia, can offer its subscribers secured video services that include Pay-TV, High-Definition (HD), personal-video-recording (PVR), video-on-demand (VOD), and subscription video-on-demand (SVOD), through tight integration with TVN, the C-Cor VOD solution and Minerva's iTV Manager.

Yemen Telecom Selects Alcatel for Net Operations

Yemen Telecom, the nation's incumbent telecommunications service provider, selected Alcatel to supply and integrate a network operation center for its fixed line and mobile networks. The center will centrally manage all multi-vendor and multi-technology network systems. Alcatel will integrate various subsystems such as an integrated fault management and service assurance platform based on Netcool suite and problem management from Micromuse, an IBM company. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Yemen Telecom serves more than 1. 2 million fixed lines, 350,000 mobile users and 5,000 ports for ADSL.


NCTA and Disney Cites Flaws in FCC Study on A La Carte Programming

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA) and The Walt Disney Company released new studies that find significant flaws in the FCC Media Bureau's Further Report On the Packaging and Sale of Video Programming Services To the Public (issued February 9, 2006).

The studies, separately commissioned by NCTA and Disney, found that the assumptions, analysis and conclusions in the FCC's Further Report are incorrect, unsubstantiated and severely at odds with the comprehensive analysis in the first FCC study which reached conclusions similar to those of other government, independent and industry reports. An additional study commissioned by Viacom preliminarily supports the same conclusions and will be released at a later date.

"The FCC report is fundamentally flawed," said Disney Media Networks co-chairman George Bodenheimer, also president, ESPN, Inc. and ABC Sports. "The overwhelming body of evidence clearly shows that consumers will pay more and get less with a la carte. Ripping up cable's packaging is not pro consumer, nor is losing the diversity that has been built with today's model."http://www.ncta.com

FLO Forum Approves Device and Transmitter Performance Specifications

The FLO Forum announced the ratification of several key technical specifications developed by its Test and Certification Committee. The technical and performance requirements captured in the documents assure interoperability and compatibility for FLO based terrestrial mobile multimedia multicast devices and transmitters. The specifications are companion documents to the previously ratified FLO Air Interface Specification (AIS), which was submitted to the TIA TR47.1 subcommittee at its January 2006 meeting. The newly approved documents are:

  • FLO Device Minimum Performance Specification Rev. 1.0

  • FLO Transmitter Minimum Performance Specification Rev. 1.0

  • FLO Test Application Protocol Specification Rev. 1.0

Nine new member companies have joined the FLO Forum, bringing the total membership to 33. The new members include Bando Electronics & Communication Co., Coding Technologies AB, Digital Fountain, Frontier Silicon, KDDI Corporation, Mobix Interactive, net&tv Inc., SOLiD Technologies, Inc., and Thomson.
  • 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.

Microsoft Outline VoIP Strategy, Voice/Video Traffic Soars on MSN

At the Spring VON conference in San Jose, Microsoft outlined its VoIP strategy and vision for Windows Live.

"Our mission with Windows Live is to deepen people's relationships with whomever and whatever matters most to them," said Blake Irving, corporate vice president of the MSN Communication Services and Member Platform group. "We will get there by working closely with the whole ecosystem of telecommunications, Internet services and hardware manufacturing partners to build a complete presence- and contact-centric communications experience. Voice and video will play a critical role as a data type that brings relationships to life online, taking us from an era of black and white to Technicolor."

Microsoft today offers customers free video conversation (integrated audio and video) powered by Logitech and free PC-to-PC voice capabilities powered by Microsoft technology via MSNMessenger. In addition, Windows Live Messenger includes one-way PC-to-phone calling capabilities in several markets that are part of a pay-for-use service provided by Verizon.

Microsoft also reported a sharp uptick in customer use of voice and video services over the past six months, including record usage in January.

MSN Messenger hosted voice sessions totaling more than 800 million minutes in January 2006.

Video usage on the service is currently growing even faster than voice usage alone, with video conversation connecting customers for almost 1.1 billion minutes in January. In addition, stand-alone webcam usage totaled an additional 7 billion minutes in January.

"More than 20 million users on average are using our voice conversation service in MSN and Windows Live Messenger each month," Irving said. "While the number is impressive, it's only a small portion of our 205 million active MSN Messenger users each month. There is still a lot of room to grow."

Microsoft continues to invest in voice and video, with the following scheduled to be available to customers later this year:

  • Windows Live Mail. Microsoft Windows Live Mail Desktop Beta is a new, upcoming free e-mail client built to work seamlessly with the new Windows Live Mail service. Windows Live Mail Desktop Beta with other Windows Live services will enable customers to right click on their contacts' names to start a PC-to-PC or PC-to-phone voice or video
    conversation with them directly from e-mail.

  • Windows Live Search. Microsoft will test voice functionality with
    Windows Live Search, enabling some customers to place a call to a
    search result directly from their PC.

  • Windows Live Messenger. To make using voice capabilities more natural with Windows Live, Microsoft is working with partners including Royal Philips Electronics NV (in select countries in Europe, and in Australia, New Zealand and Latin America) and Uniden America (for North America) to introduce new phones that connect to a PC and will allow consumers to make PC-to-PC and one-way PC-to-phone calls using Windows Live Messenger or traditional telephone calls using their existing service provider.

EarthLink and Covad Expand Partnership

EarthLink has agreed to provide Covad with $50 million in debt and equity financing to fund additional network build-outs that will bring Covad's line-powered voice access to Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, Philadelphia, San Diego, and Washington, D.C. Already, EarthLink provides DSL and Home Phone Service in Dallas, TX, San Francisco and San Jose, CA, and Seattle, WA.

Made possible through Covad's line-powered voice access, EarthLink DSL and Home Phone Service provides an alternative to the local phone companies.


Microsoft 's "People-Ready" Vision Centers on Collaboration & Communication

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer today outlined a new "People-Ready" vision of business tools that will be based on feature integration across the company's forthcoming versions of the Windows Vista operating system, the 2007 Microsoft Office system, Windows Mobile software and the next version of Microsoft Exchange Server, as well as infrastructure offerings such as Windows Server 2003 and SQL Server 2005.

"Fueling our vision is a series of software solutions resulting from a $20 billion R&D investment over the past three years that is producing new innovation in a range of categories. From business intelligence to the mobile work force, from collaboration to communications, and from CRM to enterprise search, the opportunity for software to deliver even greater customer value is limitless," said Ballmer.

Key areas of focus include:

  • Unified communications and collaboration. Technologies such as
    Exchange Server, Microsoft Office Live Communications Server and Microsoft Office Communicator will break down today's silos of
    communication (e-mail, phone, instant messaging, Web conferencing).

  • Enterprise search.

  • The mobile work force. Specifically, the next version of Exchange Server offers a speech-enabled and unified messaging platform that integrates e-mail, fax and voice mail in the user's inbox with support for a variety of clients, including traditional and mobile devices. The integration between Windows Mobile, Exchange Server and the 2007 Microsoft Office system enables entirely new scenarios for businesses to turn their work force into a mobile work force without having to manage additional server infrastructure.

  • Business intelligence.

  • Customer relationship management (CRM).

MetroFi and SkyPilot Build Municipal Wi-Fi in Aurora, IL

The city of Aurora, Illinois (pop. 170,000) selected MetroFi and SkyPilot Networks to build out a wireless Internet network for use by the general public and city employees. Aurora is the second largest city in Illinois and was the first to announce its intention to build a citywide Wi-Fi network. The city is known as 'The City of Lights' because it was the first city in the United States to use electric street lights. Those same street lights will be used to power and provide the height and access for WiFi radios that will blanket the city. MetroFi will support its "free service" scenario by showing ads to users of the network.


CBS's March Madness Streams 268,000 Simultaneous Video Sessions on First Day

CBS SportsLine set an Internet record for a scheduled live entertainment or sports event by serving over 268,000 simultaneous video streams with its "NCAA March Madness on Demand" coverage. In total, "NCAA March Madness" on Demand has already surpassed 1.2 million video streams served.

CBS SportsLine has partnered with Akamai Technologies and Limelight Networks to provide video bandwidth support for this event.

"What we've done is complement the biggest college sports event of the year with the largest known simultaneous live viewing audience in the history of the Internet for an event of this kind," said Larry Kramer, President of CBS Digital Media. "While television will always be the centerpiece of the March Madness experience, the numbers and positive feedback we have seen from our users today are extremely encouraging."

NCAA March Madness) on Demand (MMOD) is available at and is presented free of charge for the first time since its debut in 2003. There are several commercial sponsors: Courtyard by Marriott and Dell as well as a host of other sponsors including Lowe's, Pontiac and State Farm.

Microsoft Signs Epic Records for Xbox Live

Epic Records today will make available a full year of exclusive artist content and high-definition music video downloads free for all Xbox 360gamers. The deal marks another step in Microsoft's strategy to position its Xbox Live service as a unified global online entertainment network.

Each month Microsoft and Epic will announce the new Artist of the Month along with exclusive benefits for Xbox 360 gamers around the world. Xbox Live members will be able to download featured music videos from Xbox Live Marketplace at no additional charge and watch exclusive interviews downloaded directly to their Xbox 360 system. Further, monthly Game with Fame sessions will let Xbox Live members play games with some of the world's most renowned celebrities, as well as enter sweepstakes offering tons of cool prizes, from Xbox 360 consoles to signed CDs.

BT Selects Tektronix for Performance Management on 21CN

BT selected Tektronix' GeoProbe and Advanced Performance Monitoring (APM) suite for its 21st Century Network (21CN) initiative.

Tektronix will initially provide network assurance solutions for voice service as BT transitions from a traditional circuit switched network to carrying voice services over its next generation IP network.

Tektronix' UA solution will be deployed across the entire network, monitoring each call to guarantee complete visibility and proactively manage the network and services.

Tektronix said its network assurance capabilities will provide full support of legacy and next generation technologies to guarantee seamless management throughout the transition to 21CN.