Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Comcast Adds 437,000 Internet and 211,000 VoIP Customers in Q1

Comcast added nearly 1 million revenue generating units (RGUs) in Q1 -- its highest growth rate yet -- driving revenue in its Cable business to $5.6 billion. Some highlights for the quarter:

  • Video revenue increased 6% to $3.6 billion in Q1, reflecting a 1.3 million or 14% increase in the number of digital customers from the first quarter of 2005. Comcast Cable ended the quarter with 10.1 million digital cable subscribers, a 47% penetration rate of the Company's 21.5 million basic cable subscribers.

  • Growth in video revenue and digital cable subscribers also reflects increasing consumer demand for new digital features including ON DEMAND, digital video recorders (DVR) and HDTV programming. Driven by ON DEMAND movie and event purchases, pay-per-view revenues increased 29% from the first quarter of 2005. Pay-per-view revenue has shown strong growth with the rollout of ON DEMAND, increasing more than 20% on average over the past two years. Further contributing to video revenue growth, 28% of digital customers subscribed to DVR and/or HDTV services as of March 31, 2006 compared to 17% in the prior year.

  • Added 437,000 high-speed Internet subscribers during Q1, which high-speed Internet revenues increased 22% to $1.1 billion, reflecting a 1.5 million or 21% increase in subscribers from the prior year and stable average monthly revenue per subscriber of $43.14.

  • Comcast ended Q1 with 9.0 million cable modem subscribers or 22% penetration of available homes.

  • Voice: 211,000 Comcast Digital Voice (CDV) customers were added during Q1 -- than in all of 2005. The service is now marketed to 19 million homes or 45% of Comcast's footprint. Phone revenue increased 9% to $191 million reflecting a $37 million increase in CDV revenues as a result of the significant increase in CDV subscribers, offset by a $21 million or 12% decline in circuit-switched phone revenues as Comcast transitions to marketing CDV.

  • Comcast Cable ended the first quarter of 2006 with 416,000 CDV customers. On a net basis, Comcast Cable reported 141,000 net new phone customer additions in the first quarter of 2006 compared to 4,000 in 2005. By the end of 2006, CDV service will be marketed to 32 million homes or approximately 80% of Comcast's footprint.

  • Revenue generating units (RGU) represent the sum of basic and digital video subscribers, high-speed Internet and phone subscribers. Comcast added a record level of 965,000 RGUs in the first quarter of 2006, a 64% increase from the same period in 2005. Comcast ended the first quarter of 2006 with 42 million RGUs, an increase of 3 million units from the prior year.

  • Advertising revenue increased 4% to $309 million in the first quarter of 2006 when compared to 2005, reflecting general weakness in the regional and national advertising marketplace.

Orb Networks Offers Internet Radio and Podcasts from PCs to Mobile Phones

Orb Networks, a developer of software for providing access to digital content, announced support for playing and recording Internet radio and for enjoying podcasts from any mobile device with a streaming Windows Media Player, RealPlayer, 3GP player, or Macromedia Flash Player on any carrier network and Wi-Fi.

The free Orb software enables the user to play and record Internet radio and enjoy podcasts from the native Web browser and streaming media player of their mobile phones and PDAs. The Orb software on a user's always-connected Windows XP PC acts as the user's personal "mycast" server, serving up content streams in the media format and bitrate appropriate to the user's mobile device.

"The whole point of Orb is to empower our users to instantly 'mycast' all their favorite content to themselves wherever they are," said Ian McCarthy, Vice President of Product Marketing for Orb Networks."

ECI Reports 11% Rise in Q1 Revenue

ECI Telecom reported Q1 revenue of $162 million, an 11% increase from the $145 million recorded in the first quarter of 2005 and compared with $169 million for the fourth quarter of 2005. Net income (GAAP) reached $3.1 million, or $0.03 per share on a fully diluted basis.

Some highlights:

  • Revenues for the Optical Networks Division totaled $89 million for the first quarter of 2006, up 17% from the year ago period and up $2 million from the preceding quarter.

  • Revenues for the Broadband Access Division totaled $62 million for the first quarter of 2006, down 1% from the year ago period and $6 million less than in the previous quarter. The decline in the division's revenues resulted entirely from the conclusion of deliveries under the contract with Chungwha Telecom in Taiwan.

  • Revenues for the Data Networking Division (formerly Laurel Networks) totaled $2.1 million for the first quarter of 2006, up slightly from the previous quarter, while the operating loss was $9.5 million, compared to $8.7 million in the previous quarter, reflecting the still relatively low revenues and continued intensive R&D efforts currently underway in the division.

Rafi Maor, ECI Telecom President and CEO stated, "The demand for ECI products continues to be strong and order intake for the quarter enabled us to record year-over-year revenue growth and further build our backlog. This growth is driven primarily by the continued deployment of advanced triple play networks by our major customers and by continued strong demand for our leading cellular backhaul solutions, especially in emerging markets, where the growth of the cellular industry continues to be strong."

mDisney Launches Cross-Carrier, Real-Time Multiplayer Mobile Game

mDisney, a mobile publishing unit of the Walt Disney Internet Group (WDIG), introduced Pirates of the Caribbean Multiplayer, a cross-carrier, real-time multiplayer game for mobile phones. The game, one of the first action adventure mobile multiplayer games, is slated to launch this summer, in conjunction with the theatrical release of Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest worldwide on July 7, 2006.

The game will permit up to 16 players to engage in individual game sessions. Players will be able to chat with other players, make friends and form guilds of hundreds of players on the game's server, which can accommodate tens of thousands of simultaneous players.

mDisney is collaborating with mobile games developer Floodgate Entertainment to create the Pirates of the Caribbean Multiplayer game.


Network Processing Forum Merges with Optical Internetworking Forum

The Network Processing Forum (NPF) will merge its activities with those of The Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF).

The mission of the OIF is to accelerate the deployment of interoperable, cost-effective and robust optical networks and their associated technologies.

The Network Processing Forum's mission to accelerate the adoption of network processing technologies through the development and implementation of network processing standards and benchmarks. By establishing standard interfaces and benchmarks, the NPF helps semiconductor manufacturers, software developers, services companies and system OEM's lower development costs, shorten design cycles, reduce product time-to-market while increasing time-in-market.

The merged group will retain the OIF name.

"A combined group will cast a wider net for participation in the creation and adoption of Implementation Agreements," said Chuck Sannipoli of IP Infusion and chairman of the NPF. "The synergy amongst component and system vendors and network providers will be much stronger as a result."http://www.oiforum.com

Nakina Systems Names Former Nortel Exec as Chairman

Nakina Systems, a start-up developing multi-vendor security and element management solutions for network operators, announced that Marco Pagani, former President of Nortel Networks' Metro Optical and Optical Ethernet divisions, has been appointed Chairman of Nakina's Board of Directors.

Marco Pagani has recently served as Chairman of the Board of Directors at a number of telecom high-tech companies, including Nimcat Networks, where he helped steer the company towards its eventual acquisition by Avaya in 2005. His most recent position at Nortel was President of Optical Ethernet and Storage Solutions. Previously he held various senior positions, including President - Metro Optical Division, President - Core Networks, and General Manager - Carrier Data Networks.

Nakina Systems provides network operators with one platform to discover, manage and secure their multi-vendor networks worldwide. The company is based in Ottawa.

Sprint Offers end-to-end MPLS VPN Service Level Agreement (SLA)

Sprint introduced a standard end-to-end MPLS VPN Service Level Agreements (SLAs) on its wholly owned global network. The new performance guarantees, which are provided at no additional charge to customers, extend SLA coverage and reporting beyond the backbone network and now include the local loop, covering service from customer router to customer router. The service level guarantees include an enhanced network availability SLA of up to 100%, standard end-to-end packet loss and jitter SLAs, and a standard end-to-end delay methodology applicable across Sprint's entire global backbone.

Sprint is also simplifying and bundling its Managed Services portfolio to help customers migrate to new technologies. Options range from performance-reporting tools to complete management of the customer's converged network, including managed migration from legacy data services to an MPLS VPN that can support emerging application needs.

As part of its ongoing global MPLS expansion, Sprint said it is working with regional and global service providers to augment its wholly owned capabilities through network-to-network interface (NNI) partnerships. This strategy integrates partner capabilities with Sprint's to provide seamless connectivity and maintain traffic prioritization settings across the entire network.

The first such NNI agreement was struck with Rogers Communications in Canada through its business division, Rogers Business Solutions. Under the agreement, Rogers' MPLS nodes will connect with the Sprint IP/MPLS backbone so customers can experience congestion-free connectivity with security, redundancy and quality of service. Later this year, Sprint will forge similar MPLS NNI partnerships throughout Europe, Asia and South America.

Currently, Sprint provides access to MPLS and IP-based services in 115 countries through a combination of Sprint-owned nodes and partner facilities. Through its MPLS NNI partners strategy, Sprint plans to expand coverage to 163 countries by the end of 2006.

aduno Introduces its Web 2.0 Conferencing Service

aduno, a start-up based in Paris, introduced its "Rich Meeting" next generation audioweb conferencing services. The company said its Web 2.0 - programming approach will make online, reservationless conferencing available to a much wider audience.

Key attributes of aduno include:

  • Provides personal portals for the organizer and participants, to make the audio and web connections simultaneous, immediate and totally secure; no code or number to dial, the access is instantaneous,

  • Offers native integration of audio and web, allowing for piloting, i.e. access to audio and web functionalities in the same PC window, by simply clicking on the participant icons,

  • Control screen allows for preparation, programming (invitations and reminders with synchronized Outlook and Notes), follow-up and filing of the conferences, in the same application,

  • Sharing applications without plug-in on dedicated server, therefore available with full security from any PC connected to the Internet; no prior downloading, all invited participants can connect

  • Allows installation on dedicated servers of documents, conferences, data, etc. of the user company, while respecting its security constraints.

Covad Reports Positive Trends

Covad Communications reported Q1 net revenue of $117.8 million, an increase of 3.6 percent from the $113.7 million reported for the fourth quarter of 2005, and an increase of 9.4 percent from the $107.7 million reported for the first quarter of 2005. Net revenues for the first quarter of 2006 included $1.7 million from a software license agreement.

Net loss for the first quarter of 2006 was $9.3 million, or $0.03 per share, an improvement of $8.6 million, or 48.0 percent, from the $17.9 million net loss, or $0.07 per share, reported for the fourth quarter of 2005.

Some other highlights:

  • Broadband and VoIP subscription revenues for the first quarter of 2006 totaled $101.0 million, an increase of 2.8 percent from the $98.3 million reported for the fourth quarter of 2005, and an increase of 10.4 percent from the $91.5 million reported for the first quarter of 2005.

  • Broadband lines in service at the end of the first quarter of 2006 were approximately 556,900, a 1.7 percent increase from the first quarter of 2005. While total broadband lines in service decreased by 1.8 percent from the fourth quarter of 2005, business broadband lines in service increased by 2,200 to 234,500. VoIP business customers at the end of the first quarter of 2006 were 1,328, a 15.8 percent increase from the fourth quarter of 2005 and a 92.5 percent increase from the first quarter of 2005. VoIP stations at the end of the first quarter of 2006 were approximately 42,800, a 5.4 percent increase from the fourth quarter of 2005 and an 82.9 percent increase from the first quarter of 2005.

  • Weighted average revenue per user, or ARPU, for broadband lines in service for the first quarter of 2006 was $56 per month, up from $54 for the fourth quarter of 2005, and up from $55 for the first quarter of 2005. VoIP ARPU, excluding resellers, was $1,900 per month for the first quarter of 2006, up from $1,681 for the fourth quarter of 2005, and up from $1,763 for the first quarter of 2005.

  • Net customer disconnections, or churn, for broadband lines averaged approximately 2.9 percent in the first quarter of 2006, up from 2.8 percent for the fourth quarter of 2005, and down from 3.1 percent for the first quarter of 2005.

  • The first quarter of 2006 also saw Covad close its acquisition of wireless broadband provider NextWeb and a $50.0 million strategic financing agreement with EarthLink to expand line-powered voice access to eight additional cities.

Alcatel's Q1 Revenue Rises 18% YoY

Alcatel reported Q1 2006 revenue of EUR 3.067 billion, up 17.8% compared with EUR 2.607 billion (up 14.9% at constant EUR/$ exchange rate) in the same period last year.

The gross margin was 34.9%. Operating profit amounted to EUR 198 million, a 6.5% operating margin. Net income (group share) for the quarter was registered at EUR 104 million or a diluted EPS of EUR 0.08 per share (US$ 0.10 per ADS), which included capital gains of EUR 0.02 per share.

Some highlights for the quarter:

  • The access business registered a strong performance with 6 million DSL lines delivered, more than a 50% year on year increase (3.9 million in the same quarter last year).

  • The IP service router activity also positively impacted first quarter growth, registering a 10-fold year-over-year increase.

  • Optical networks grew during the quarter, primarily fueled by the carrier network transformation to video, and by the wireless providers.

  • The submarine networks business registered new regional wins in the West Indies. The NGN/IMS solutions business turned in a good level of performance and registered the award of a new IMS project in the UK.

  • The TDM voice activity continued to decline during the quarter.

  • The mobile radio business again turned in a solid performance with the 2G solution continuing to support a strong subscriber growth in emerging countries, with a growing footprint in Africa and Middle East. Alcatel's 3G product family gained momentum during the quarter with extension phases secured at the installed bases in Western Europe and North Africa and new wins in Southeast Asia.

  • In enterprise networking, the migration towards the IP telephony for small and medium businesses continued to be strong across Europe.

  • Market outlook remains unchanged. Second quarter revenues are expected to grow in the mid to high single digit range.


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Alcatel Appoints Head of Merger Integration Team

Alcatel appointed Christian Reinaudo to serve as EVP Integration Project Team Leader to manage the integration and transition process associated with the merger with Lucent Technologies. Reinaudo, a member of the Alcatel executive committee, currently serves as EVP, President of Alcatel Asia Pacific.

Alcatel announced two other executive appointments.

Frédéric Rose is appointed EVP, President of Alcatel Asia Pacific. He will be based in Shanghai. Frederic Rose joins the Alcatel Executive Committee. He was formerly President of Alcatel's Integration and Services activities.

Stéphane Terranova is appointed President, Integration and Services activities. He reports to Olivier Houssin, President of Private Communications activities.

Lucent Completes Riverstone Acquisition

Lucent Technologies completed its acquisition of certain net assets of Riverstone Networks, a maker of carrier Ethernet routers for the telecommunications industry. The purchase price under the amended agreement is approximately $207 million, subject to purchase price adjustments.

Lucent said the integration of the Riverstone products would augment its IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) solution. Substantially all of Riverstone's 400 employees are now employees of Lucent.

Brightcove Previews its Internet TV Service

Brightcove, a start-up based in Boston, launched an open, commercial preview of its Internet TV service, which helps video content producers to build broadband TV channels and distribute their video through the Internet. The open commercial preview will offer individuals and organizations the ability to use Brightcove in advance of the full commercial release at no cost.

"Internet TV has tremendous momentum in the marketplace today, and we're seeing a wide range of content owners and creators quickly moving into broadband programming and distribution," said Adam Berrey, vice president of marketing and strategy for Brightcove.

Brightcove plans to launch the full commercial release of their Standard Services in the summer of 2006. At that time the company plans to announce a variety of service plans including options to pay for usage of the service as well as plans that allow broadband programmers to use the Brightcove services at no cost, and generate revenue, by participating in an advertising network or offering videos for sale and rental.

Brightcove said it has several content developers, including Discovery, National Lampoon, and Oxygen, distributing their broadband channels with the Brightcove Premium Services.
  • In November 2005, Brightcove signed a video content distribution partnership with AOL. Brightcove and AOL will market a co-branded version of the Brightcove service as the self-service platform for publishing video on Through the syndication to AOL, publishers will be able to generate revenue from the advertising and pay media sales of their content on and other video gateways on the AOL network of web properties.

  • Also in November 2006, Brightcove closed $16.2 million in venture funding led by AOL and included IAC/InterActiveCorp, The Hearst Corporation, and Allen & Company, as well as existing investors Accel Partners and General Catalyst Partners. The investments complete a Series B financing round that will fuel the company's growth and the launch of its products and services.

Industry Group Proposes Public/Private Safety Network in 700 MHz band

A group of wireless industry and public safety communications veterans led by Morgan O'Brien, a co-founder of Nextel, called for the creation of a nationwide, seamless, next-generation network for improved public safety communications.

The group envisions a self-sustaining business model for public safety communications that takes advantage of the historic opportunity arising from the long-planned clearance of some of the nation's most useful frequencies, which broadcasters will vacate by 2009. Specifically, a 30 MHz block of spectrum in the 700 MHz band - presently allocated for commercial use and scheduled to be auctioned in 2008 - is ideally suited for a nationwide, next-generation public safety network because of its distinctive physical properties. The proposal was submitted to the FCC by Cyren Call Communications Corporation, which is headed by Morgan O'Brien.

"This spectrum represents America's best opportunity to foster state-of-the-art public safety communications. If this spectrum is auctioned to the private sector, the nation forever loses its best shot at fixing this issue once and for all," said O'Brien.

The Cyren Call proposal specifically calls for:

  • Establishing a Public Safety Broadband Trust: The FCC would exercise its authority to manage the public airwaves in the public interest by establishing a Public Safety Broadband Trust (PSBT) to hold the license for a 30 MHz block of cleared spectrum in the 700 MHz band and to structure innovative arrangements for its use, placing public safety needs first and making commercial usage secondary.

  • Strengthening the Private Sector's Role: The PSBT would negotiate terms for long-term access to this spectrum with private sector entities that would agree to build and maintain a nationwide, next-generation network for public safety. In exchange, the private sector entities would gain the right to share the network and sell excess capacity for commercial purposes.

  • Setting Incentives for a Robust, Competitive Network: The PSBT would set appropriate rules and technical standards to ensure backward compatibility to existing public safety systems, maximum interoperability, reliability, redundancy, competition, innovation and choices for public safety customers using this spectrum. The network would include a satellite-based element to ensure continuous operations when ground-based equipment is knocked out. Public safety agencies would have access to sufficient nationwide capacity to meet their current and future needs, and private companies would have the incentive to compete to offer a variety of interoperable hardware choices at the best prices.

  • Creating Self-Sustaining Financing: Rather than demand more money from taxpayers to finance this network, the proposal would give private companies incentives to build and maintain the national network to provide services to public safety agencies.