Thursday, May 4, 2006

DIRECTV Reaches 15 Million Subscribers

Citing a reduction in churn and strengthening ARPU, The DIRECTV Group reported that first quarter revenues increased 8% to $3.39 billion and operating profit before depreciation and amortization more than tripled to $605 million compared to last year's first quarter. The DIRECTV Group reported first quarter 2006 operating profit of $392 million and net income of $235 million, or $0.17 per share, compared with an operating loss of $54 million and a net loss of $41 million, or $0.03 loss per share, in the same period last year.

DIRECTV U.S. gross subscriber additions of 919,000 decreased 19% compared to the first quarter of 2005 primarily due to the implementation of revised credit policies and dealer incentives designed to improve the quality of new subscriber additions.

After accounting for average monthly churn of 1.45% in the period, DIRECTV U.S. added 255,000 net subscribers in the quarter. The total number of DIRECTV U.S. subscribers increased 7% to 15.39 million as of March 31, 2006, compared to 14.45 million subscribers as of March 31, 2005.

In the quarter, DIRECTV U.S. revenues increased 14% to $3.19 billion due to the larger subscriber base and higher ARPU. ARPU of $69.75 increased 6.0% compared to last year principally due to programming package price increases as well as higher mirroring, lease, digital video recorder (DVR) and high-definition programming fees.

KPN Prices IPTV Service at EUR 20 per month

KPN officially launches its IPTV over ADSL service this month under the brand name "Mine" and with subscriptions costing EUR 19.95 a month.

At launch, Mine subscribers will have over 48 TV and 60 radio channels to choose from, which will be further expanded to 60 TV and 70 radio channels before the summer. Furthermore, Mine also includes "FilmDirect", a video on demand service currently offering some 300 titles, soon to be expanded to 500, for which KPN has reached agreement with parties including Warner Bros. International Television Distribution and Blockbuster Entertainment Ltd.

KPN has previously disclosed a content partnership with Endemol, , a leading TV production company.

KPN's "Mine" service includes a PVR capable of recording up to 100 hours of content.
  • In June 2005. Siemens confirmed that it had been selected by KPN as its partner for IPTV integration.

  • In March 2005, Alcatel announced a contract with KPN for the upgrade of its existing DSL infrastructure in The Netherlands to ADSL2+. This contract involves the upgrade of all current DSLAMs, which were installed and implemented by Alcatel in previous years.

Conexant to Pay $70 Million to Settle DSL Dispute with TI

Texas Instruments and Conexant Systems reached an agreement to end all ongoing litigation in the U.S. District Court in Trenton, New Jersey.

Conexant will pay TI $70 million cash in the second quarter of 2006. TI will grant Conexant a license to essential patents relating to DSL technology. The litigation, which commenced in 2003, arose out of patent license negotiations initiated by TI with Globespan Virata, a subsidiary of Conexant Systems.

In addition, the Conexant patent license with Texas Instruments was extended to include a fully paid-up license for VDSL products.


TelePacific to Acquire Mpower -- Consolidating CLECs

TelePacific Communications, a privately-held company which provides telecommunications services to businesses in parts of California and Las Vegas, Nevada, agreed to acquire Mpower Communications for roughly $204 million ($1.92 in cash per Mpower share). The boards of directors of both companies have approved the agreement and Mpower's Board has recommended that its shareholders approve the agreement.

Mpower is a facilities-based CLEC with operations in areas of California, Nevada, and Illinois. TelePacific is a facilities-based CLEC headquartered in Los Angeles.


Sony Ships its Blu-Ray Disc Media

Sony announced commercial shipments in the U.S. of its 25GB single layer Blu-ray Disc recording media with "AccuCORE" technology. In addition, a dual layer 50GB capacity disc is set to debut in June. AccuCORE provide scratch resistance, archival capabilities and temperature durability.

Sony's Blu-ray media also supports a 2x recording speed, which provides a transfer rate of up to 72 Mbps. The BD-R (write-once) 25GB and BD-RE (rewritable) 25GB recording media have suggested retail prices of $20 and $25, respectively. The soon to come BD-R 50GB and BD-RE 50GB recording media will have suggested retail prices of $48 and $60, respectively.

Alcatel and Lucent Form Integration Team

Following their proposed merger announcement last month, Alcatel and Lucent Technologies announced the formation of a team to their integration and transition planning efforts. The joint Integration Team will consist of an Integration Program Office, dedicated Work Groups, and a Steering Council.

The Integration Program Office will be responsible for the overall project planning, schedule, and results. As previously announced, Christian Reinaudo has been appointed, EVP Program Office Leader for Alcatel. Janet Davidson, Chief Strategy Officer of Lucent Technologies, has been appointed EVP Integration Program Office Leader for Lucent Technologies.

The Work Groups will be responsible for the detailed integration and transition plans for their functional areas consistent with overall project goals and objectives, including synergy realization. A dedicated person per function from each of the companies will be part of these Work Groups.

The Steering Council will supervise the integration planning efforts to ensure that all project objectives and goals are met, including expected synergies. The members representing Alcatel are Mike Quigley, Alcatel's President and chief operating officer, Jean-Pascal Beaufret, Alcatel's chief financial officer, and Christian Reinaudo. The members representing Lucent Technologies are Frank D'Amelio, Lucent's chief operating officer, John Kritzmacher, Lucent's chief financial officer and Janet Davidson.

Serge Tchuruk, Alcatel's Chairman and CEO, and Patricia Russo, Lucent Technologies' Chairman and CEO, will co-chair the overall integration process, make final decisions and ensure reporting to their respective Board of Directors.


NEC Chooses Xilinx Virtex-4 FPGAs for 40 Gbps WDM

NEC is using Xilinx's Virtex-4 FX FPGA for its SFI-5-compliant 40 Gbps WDM optical communications systems.

NEC's SpectralWave DW4200 series of WDM reconfigurable optical add/drop multiplexers (ROADM) achieves 40 Gbps over existing fiber and is capable of multiplexing of up to 80 wavelengths.

The Xilinx Virtex-4 FX60 device chosen by NEC supports all major serial standards including PCI Express, Serial RapidIO, Ethernet and Fibre Channel, enabling the design of multiple applications using the same device, thereby reducing total solution cost. Virtex-4 FX RocketIO transceivers provide advanced equalization features, such as 3-tap Transmit Pre-emphasis, Linear Receive Equalization, 6-tap Decision Feedback Equalization (DFE), and Integrated AC-coupling capacitor, to enhance signal integrity at all speeds over the most stringent channels.

Verizon Cuts Top-Speed DSL Prices by 35-60% for Small-Businesses

Verizon Online lowered by 35 to 60 percent the price of its two highest-capacity business DSL packages.

Verizon Business DSL at speeds of up to 7.1 Mbps downstream and 768 Kbps upstream with Dynamic IP is now $79.95 a month, down from $204.95 a month, and Verizon Business DSL with Static IP at those speeds is now $149.95 a month, down from $234.95 a month.