Thursday, June 22, 2006

Akimbo Raises $15.5 million, Adds Cisco and AT&T as Investors

Akimbo Systems raised $15.5 million in Series C funding for its Internet video-on-demand appliance and service. New investors Cisco Systems AT&T and venture capital firm, Blueprint Ventures, join existing Akimbo investors Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Sprout Group and Zone Ventures.

The Akimbo Service currently offers more than 10,000 videos and movies provided by a global network of approximately 200 mainstream and specialty content partners. Akimbo's video collection spans 100 categories, including genres like independent film, foreign language, anime, sports, children's entertainment, travelogues, lifestyle shows, music programming and video blogs.

Akimbo is accessible through the Online Spotlight area of Microsoft Media Center Edition 2005 PCs and through the company's own Akimbo Player set-top box.

This fall Akimbo and Thomson Corp. will launch the RCA Akimbo Player, a new Internet video-on-demand set-top box for television. The RCA Akimbo Player features the complete Akimbo Service with new release movies from Movielink. Akimbo will also soon be available to subscribers of AT&T's Homezone service, scheduled to launch later this summer. AT&T Homezone subscribers will use their integrated set-top boxes and AT&T Yahoo! High Speed Internet connection to access thousands of video programs and movies, in addition to television programming over satellite from AT&T/DISH Network.

A monthly subscription to the Akimbo Service for Media Center or for the Akimbo Player is $9.99 a month. Sign up for a free trial through the Online Spotlight area of Microsoft Media Center.

Hong Kong's PCCW Receives Bids from Macquarie, TPG Newbridge

PCCW Limited , the incumbent operator in Hong Kong, confirmed that it had received a non binding expression of interest on 16 June 2006 from an independent third party, in relation to a possible acquisition of substantially all the telecommunications and media related assets of the Company. The independent third party referred to in that announcement is Macquarie Bank Limited.

PCCW also confirmed a second non binding expression of interest on 20 June 2006, from TPG Newbridge, also in relation to a possible acquisition of substantially all of its telecommunications and media related assets.

Narad Integrates RAD Pseudo-Wire Technology into HFC Solutions

Narad Networks, a supplier of last-mile Ethernet access systems for HFC networks, has integrated RAD Data Communications' pseudo-wire circuit emulation technology into the NARAD Broadband Interface Unit (BIU) to provide cable MSOs with a single-box solution delivering T1/E1 plus Ethernet over HFC.

Narad has physically integrated RAD's pseudo-wire, ASIC-based CES technology into their BIUs to deliver a family of broadband Ethernet CPE devices that include single T1/E1, quad T1/E1 and high precision clock recovery options (better than 16ppb). Furthermore, Narad's Service Delivery Platform (NSDP) has been enhanced to support the combined solution providing enhanced configuration, management and service assurance.

Narad will market these integrated devices under its own name.

RAD has been shipping its TDMoIP-based IPmux and Gmux solutions for over five years with more than 40,000 ports installed worldwide.


BT Infonet Builds Global IP MPLS Network for ViewSonic

BT Infonet is providing ViewSonic with a global MPLS IP VPN to support the company's integrated voice, video and data service needs. ViewSonic is migrating to MPLS from its current Frame Relay network. The company has 10 offices located in the U.S., Asia-Pacific and Europe. A videoconferencing system also was deployed to facilitate meetings from ViewSonic hubs in Taiwan, the U.K. and Walnut, California With the network provisioned for VoIP, ViewSonic is considering rolling out this functionality to select sites in the near future.

Novatel Wireless Introduces 3.6 Mbps HSDPA ExpressCards

Novatel Wireless has begun initial pre-commercial shipments of its Merlin XU870 ExpressCard that is designed for both North American and European HSDPA networks. The Merlin XU870 ExpressCard is a tri-band HSDPA/UMTS and quad-band EDGE/GPRS product that allows for worldwide roaming between HSDPA networks in North America and Europe. The Merlin XU870 ExpressCard will initially be configured for 3.6 Mbps data speeds and when mobile operators start providing 7.2 Mbps service, a software utility will be used to upgrade the card and boost its speed to 7.2 Mbps. Commercial shipments of the Merlin XU870 ExpressCard are currently expected to begin in the third quarter of 2006.

Ericsson Licenses France Telecom's Turbo Codes for 3G

France Telecom has granted Ericsson a worldwide license to its Turbo Codes patents for use in Ericsson's 3G products encompassing WCDMA to HSDPA. Turbo Codes are a form of forward error correction (FEC).

Invented by Claude Berrou and Alain Glavieux of Ecole Nationale Surperieure des Telecommunications (ENST) in Brittany, France, Turbo Codes have been adopted by the leading 3G standards, 3GPP (UMTS/W-CDMA) and 3GPP2 (CDMA2000), in order to provide previously unavailable error correction performance at commercially viable costs.

BT to Offer "Ojo" Personal Video Phones

BT will purchase of WorldGate's "Ojo" Shadow personal video phones for resale to customers around the world. The agreement provides for BT to begin selling Ojo immediately in conjunction with the launch of BT's Club Complete platform.

Telekom Austria Expands Order for Amino IPTV STBs

Telekom Austria, the country's leading telecommunications operator, has ordered additional supplies of Amino's AmiNET110 to meet customer demand for its aonDigital TV service. The IPTV package was rolled out to subscribers in March 2006.

"We are pleased with the level of subscriber interest in our aonDigital TV service which has exceeded our expectations after only a few months of full deployment," commented Stefan Tweraser, VP Marketing, Telekom Austria.


DSL Surges Past 150 Million Worldwide Subscribers

Worldwide DSL subscriptions surged past the 150 million mark in the twelve months to 31 March 2006, according to the latest data produced for the international DSL Forum by industry analyst Point Topic.

The number or new DSL users was 43 million, representing a growth of 39% in the year. There were 11.5 million new subscribers signing up to DSL in the first quarter of 2006.

"This amazing sustained growth of DSL around the world reflects how broadband DSL is becoming essential to the average family, student and business," said Michael Brusca, chairman and president of the DSL Forum.

Highlights include:

  • At the end of the first quarter of 2006, there were 22 countries with more than one million DSL subscribers -- seven nations reached the figure in the twelve months to 31-March-2006.

  • China added almost ten million new subscribers in the 12 months to March 2006 -- three million in the first quarter of 2006 alone -- and is now close to the 30 million DSL subscriber mark.

  • Both Germany (up 3.8 million) and France (up three million) now have more than 10 million DSL subscribers.

  • Of the established nations, with more than one million DSL subscribers as at 31 March 2006, India topped the percentage growth ranking, increasing its subscriber base by more than 700% in twelve months.

  • Significant subscriber increases were also made in Turkey (190% increase), Mexico (99%) and Australia (84.6%). Pakistan growth (484%) led the way in countries with less than one million DSL subscribers, with Morocco, Greece and Bulgaria all experiencing DSL growth of more than 200%.

  • Regionally, the European Union reinforced its position as the world's leading DSL region. The EU added more than 17 million new DSL subscribers in the period to reach 52.8 million -- at a growth of 48% -- extending its global share of the DSL subscriber market to almost 35%.

  • Of the emerging DSL regions, a significant subscriber increase was seen in the Middle East and Africa, which more than doubled its subscriber base to reach 3.45 million -- led by Turkey (up 1.84 million) and Israel (up 830,000). Latin America reached a total of seven million DSL subscribers by 31 March 2006, and now makes up 5% of global DSL subscriptions. Brazil and Mexico accounted for 74% of the region's total growth, adding 1.2 million and 909,000 new DSL subscribers respectively.

  • In North America, the USA added 5.6 million new DSL subscribers, at a growth of almost 34% -- far outstripping the growth of cable modem access in the same period (up 21.9%). DSL also extended its market share in Canada, now accounting for 49% of the country's broadband connectivity.

  • Fourteen established DSL nations have now achieved a market penetration of more than 20% of telephone lines delivering DSL broadband services to homes and businesses -- the DSL Forum's first stage target for a global broadband DSL mass market.

Blue Coat to Acquire NetCache Business From Network Appliance

Blue Coat Systems, a supplier of secure content and application delivery, agreed to acquire Network Appliance's NetCache business.

Blue Coat said the acquisition would further its vision of using proxy technology as the foundational element of the emerging application delivery infrastructure to enable secure and accelerated delivery of applications and content to users.

Separately, Blue Coat announced an investment by Francisco Partners and Sequoia Capital. Francisco Partners and Sequoia Capital purchased shares of Blue Coat Series A Preferred Stock, which are convertible into 2,400,000 shares of Blue Coat common stock at $17.525 per share for a total value of approximately $42 million.

Blue Coat is using a portion of the proceeds from this private equity investment.

QUALCOMM Shrugs Off Nokia's CDMA Decision

QUALCOMM does not expect Nokia's announced plan to ramp down its CDMA2000 R&D and manufacturing to impede the growth of CDMA2000 or to impact QUALCOMM adversely.

QUALCOMM argues that Nokia has had very little success in competition against many of QUALCOMM's other licensees and chipset customers over the past several years, preferring to focus instead on GSM where Nokia controls a dominant share of the handset market in many countries. QUALCOMM also said that it does not believe that CDMA licensing terms resulted in the failure of Nokia to complete its previously announced joint venture with Sanyo.

"In view of Nokia's existing small presence in CDMA2000, we do not believe that Nokia's decision to ramp down will have any impact on the continued growth of CDMA2000 or any adverse effect on QUALCOMM," said Steve Altman, president of QUALCOMM. "QUALCOMM, of course, will continue to allocate substantial resources in expanding the CDMA2000 market and we will continue to work in close partnership with our many other licensees."