Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Intelsat Previews "Super Head-end" for MPEG-4

Intelsat introduced its "Ampiage" -- a new satellite-based, open-architecture, super head-end for North American multiple system operators (MSOs) seeking to upgrade to MPEG-4 and telcos looking to enter the IPTV market.

Intelsat's Ampiage service will handle the acquisition, aggregation, encoding, encapsulation and encryption of licensed TV programming from content providers and has the ability to redistribute it in MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 format to cable and telecom service providers. Intelsat plans to offer hundreds of video and audio channels in full digital quality. Ampiage will leverage Intelsat's Americas' satellite fleet, including its IA-8 satellite, enabling reception in antennas as small as 3.7 meters and providing ample margin for variable environmental conditions.

"Ampiage represents a 'super head-end' that service providers can use to offer the highest quality, reliable content transport, distribution and content management. A small telco would find it difficult to build an infrastructure that has the suite of capabilities afforded by Ampiage at a cost that would yield a profitable business case," said Stephen Spengler, Senior Vice President, Sales and Marketing at Intelsat.

Key Ampiage features will include:

  • Full IP-multicast capability employing the latest advanced video codecs;

  • Hundreds of all-digital video and audio programming channels;

  • Tailor-made solutions for local affiliate stations and regional sports networks;

  • Integrated conditional access solution;

  • Compatibility with existing access networks;

  • Multiple set-top box integration.

Ampiage will be equipped with an open architecture to enable operators to either leverage existing equipment (including set top boxes) or choose new equipment from multiple CPE providers.

  • Intelsat's IA-8 satellite, which was launched in June 2005, carries 28 C-band and 36 Ku-band transponders, as well as 24 Ka-band spot beams and will have total end-of-life power of 16 Kw -- making it one of the most powerful communications satellites to date. The satellite will provide coverage of North and South America, Alaska, Hawaii and the Caribbean from its orbital slot at 89 degrees West longitude.

Centillium Expands FTTP and Optical Transport Chipset Lines

Centillium Communications has expanded its fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) semiconductor product portfolio with the introduction of its newest optical transceiver chipset families, Zeus 2 and Apollo 2. The Zeus 2 optical transceiver chipsets mark Centillium's entry into the GPON and EPON markets, while the Apollo 2 optical transceiver chipsets are targeted at the SONET transport and enterprise applications.

Both chipsets are manufactured in CMOS technology, and integrate a laser driver, limiting amplifier, automatic laser power control, DDM and an on-board EEPROM.

The Zeus 2 transceiver chipsets enable the transmission of bi-directional burst-mode data traffic for rates up to 2.5 Gbps, and support CO and CPE applications for GPON, EPON and A/BPON infrastructures. Zeus 2 complies with IEEE 802.3ah and ITU-T G.983/G.984 specs.

The Apollo 2 transceiver line enables the transmission of point-to-point, continuous mode data traffic for rates up to 2.5 Gbps, covering Fast Ethernet, OC3/STM-1, OC12/STM-4, Gigabit Ethernet, and up to OC48/STM-16.


Olympus and Movaz Establish Joint Venture for MEMS

Olympus Corporation and Movaz Networks have established a joint venture company to provide Micro Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) based technologies and products for optical equipment suppliers worldwide.

Olympus Microsystems America, which will be based in San Jose, California, combines Movaz IP and engineering resources with Olympus' established MEMS foundry services and optical technology. The joint venture aims to manufacture and market new products with anticipated gross sales of 6 billion Japanese yen (approximately US$60 million) within 5 years.

The first jointly developed product, a MEMS-based Wavelength Selective Switch (WSS) for Reconfigurable Optical Add Drop Modules (ROADM), has been deployed since last August in Movaz's Multi-Degree RAY ROADM network to provide extended reach to key government and university sites including the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, the Mid-Atlantic Crossroads (MAX), and the National Lambda Rail. Olympus Microsystems America, Inc. will also develop business for new products, technology, and markets with a focus on MEMS-based activities including ROADM products, variable optical attenuators (VOA), small switches, optical cross connects (OXC), aspheric lenses, and tunable filters.


Force10 Appoints Former Nortel CEO to Board

Force10 Networks has appointed former Nortel CEO Bill Owens to its board of directors. Mr. Owens brings an extensive record of accomplishment to Force10, including several executive leadership positions in the technology industry as well as the U.S. Department of Defense, where he served as vice chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, the second highest ranking military officer in the country.

Owens joined Nortel's board of directors in 2002 and was named CEO in 2004. Prior to Nortel, Mr. Owens was chairman and CEO of Teledesic LLC. Earlier, he served as chief operating officer and vice chairman of Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), the largest employee-owned high technology company in the U.S.


Sycamore to Acquire Eastern Research for Crossconnect and Access Platforms

Sycamore Networks agreed to acquire Eastern Research Inc., a global provider of multiservice cross-connect and access gateway solutions, for approximately $92.5 million, consisting of $8 million in cash and approximately 17.8 million shares, subject to certain closing adjustments and collar provisions.

Eastern Research' product portfolio spans multiservice cross-connects and access gateways that aggregate, groom, and manage bandwidth in access portions of wireline and wireless infrastructure networks. Its customer base include Tier 1 fixed line and mobile network operators, utility companies, government agencies, and military networks. The company is based in Moorestown, New Jersey. For calendar year 2005, Eastern Research had revenue of approximately $62 million.

"The acquisition of Eastern Research is a first step towards leveraging our strengths in the core to offer a more comprehensive suite of solutions optimized for emerging broadband networks," said Daniel E. Smith, president and chief executive officer, Sycamore Networks.


Foundry and WANDL Offer IP/MPLS Design Tools

Foundry Networks and WANDL, a supplier of high-end network design, planning, traffic engineering, and management tools, announced a partnership to simplify network planning, and deployment of traffic engineered IP/MPLS networks.

The companies have cooperated to integrate support for Foundry's flagship IP/MPLS routers, the NetIron XMR Series and NetIron MLX Series in WANDL's IP/MPLSView.

IP/MPLSView is WANDL's solution for multi-vendor IP/MPLS networks that allows network administrators and performance management teams to optimize network bandwidth, and manage network resources efficiently and productively.

Customers designing new networks or planning expansion of existing MPLS networks with Foundry's MPLS routers can now use IP/MPLSView to perform traffic engineering computations and off-line analysis to test network resiliency and reliability. The software enables automatic discovery of the network topology with graphical topology views.


Portland Selects MetroFi for Free Muni Wi-Fi

The City of Portland, Oregon selected MetroFi to deliver and operate a citywide Wi-Fi network that will provide free wireless Internet access and substantially improved public services to Portland residents. Portland is the 28th largest city in the United States and has a population of approximately 540,000. Residents and visitors of Portland will have wireless access to 1 Mbps Wireless Internet at no cost. Portland's public works field personnel and first responders will have greatly expanded access to wireless network services to facilitate more responsive data communications.

  • MetroFi is a private company with venture backing from Sevin Rosen Funds and August Capital. The company was founded in 2002 and is headquartered in Mountain View, California.

  • MetroFi is deploying similar networks in Santa Clara, Cupertino, and Sunnyvale, California.

Verizon Expands FiOS TV in Massachusetts

Verizon launched its FiOS TV service in Lynnfield, a community of 11,500 north of Boston. Lynnfield joins Woburn and Reading as the first markets in Massachusetts for the company's new fiber-optic television service. The company also has begun offering the service elsewhere in Texas, as well as in parts of New York, California, Florida, Maryland and Virginia.


Land Rover Launches 24/7 Broadband TV Channel

Land Rover launched a 24/7 broadband TV channel in partnership with Narrowstep. The "Land Rover Go Beyond" channel launches online offering a variety of original material from the Discovery Channel and sponsored partners including Born Free, Biosphere Expeditions and the Royal Geographical Society. Go Beyond TV reflects a distinctive, premium, glossy, 'magazine style' form of programming which "reflects the community of people who live the Land Rover brand." New content will be added every month, and in addition there will be live broadcasts (from, for example, motor shows) and updates from special events. This will include the Land Rover G4 Challenge, which begins in Thailand on April 23rd.


Oracle Acquires Portal Software for Telecom Billing Solution

Oracle agreed to acquire Portal Software, a global provider of billing and revenue management solutions for the communications and media industry, for approximately $220 million in cash.

Portal offers a billing and revenue management solution based on an object-oriented architecture built on Oracle that can bill and manage all communications services including wireline, wireless, broadband, cable, voice over IP, IPTV, music, and video. Its customer list includes AOL Time Warner, China Mobile, China Telecom, Deutsche Telekom, France Telecom/Orange, NTT, Reuters, Sirius Satellite Radio, Softbank BB, Sony, Telecom Italia Mobile, Telefonica Mexico, Telenor Mobil, Telstra, Vodafone, and XM Satellite Radio. The company reported $126.8 million in revenue for fiscal year 2004.

Oracle said the acquisition would extend its commitment to the communications industry, where 17 of the top 20 most profitable communications companies run Oracle Applications. Additionally Oracle's Siebel Telecom applications are used in telco call centers and customer care. Oracle Database 10g is the leading relational database and TimesTen is the most widely used in-memory database for the communications industry. Oracle Fusion Middleware is a service delivery platform for next generation networks using network independent standards.

Portal's management and employees will form a dedicated global communications business unit within Oracle concentrating on billing and revenue management. Bhaskar Gorti, Portal's current SVP of worldwide sales, services and marketing, will lead the unit as General Manager, and Dave Labuda will become the unit's CTO.

Portal is based in Cupertino, California and Oracle is based in Redwood Shores, California.


TiVo Signs 3 Year Extension with DirecTV

TiVo and DIRECTV announced a three-year extension to their commercial agreement. Existing DIRECTV TiVo subscribers will be able to continue to receive TiVo service, with TiVo providing ongoing maintenance and support. In addition, TiVo and DIRECTV agree not to assert patent rights against the other. The agreement also extends the advertising relationship between the two companies. Financial terms were not disclosed, but the recurring monthly economics of the agreement are similar to the economics for DIRECTV receivers with TiVo service activated since 2003.