Sunday, August 13, 2006

News Corp. Announces Online Video Plans

Fox Interactive Media (FIM) and Twentieth Century Fox announced a multi-year agreement to provide feature films and television shows on a download-to-own basis across the FIM network.

IGN Entertainment will be the first FIM property to offer a selection of on its Direct2Drive site in October 2006 with additional FIM properties including to come.

Initially, FIM will offer films from Twentieth Century Fox including new releases, made-for-TV movies, direct-to-video releases and select content from the Twentieth Century Fox film library on IGN's Direct2Drive site. The site will also offer current television series from various Fox entities such as Twentieth Century Fox, Fox Broadcasting Company, Fuel TV, Speed, and FX with a selection of shows available within 24 hours of initial broadcast.

Purchased movies and television shows will be immediately transferable to Windows Media compatible portable devices providing users with a convenient way to take the video content with them on the go.

Tiscali UK Acquires HomeChoice IPTV Service

Tiscali and Video Networks International agreed to integrate their UK market operations. Under the deal, Video Networks International Ltd (VNIL) would contribute 100% of their UK operations - Video Networks Ltd (VNL) - into Tiscali UK Ltd, fully owned subsidiary of Tiscali SpA, in exchange for an interest in Tiscali UK. As a result, Tiscali SpA would control 88.5% of Tiscali UK, while VNIL would own 11.5%.

Following this integration, Tiscali UK will immediately have more than 1.3 million DSL customers, of which 350,000 customers are taking voice and broadband, over 45,000 will be IPTV subscribers, and an unbundled local loop ("ULL") network covering over 300 BT exchanges with in excess of 220,000 ULL customers.

Video Networks currently provides TV and video services under its Homechoice brand, to its broadband subscriber base using its state of the art IPTV platform. Homechoice has 45,000 customers, mostly taking triple play (broadband, telephone and TV) which pay on average £500 a year. VNL has an annualized turnover of approximately £18 million.

Tiscali UK will market these IPTV services. Its strategy will also be to enhance its current wholesale DSL product by adding IPTV to the proposition and syndicating this on a 'white label' basis.
  • Video Networks is headed by Roger Lynch, chairman and CEO, who previously was president and CEO of Chello Broadband, Europe's largest broadband ISP at the time.

AOL Acquires Userplane for Community Networking Software

AOL has acquired Userplane, a provider of community networking software with Web-based chat and instant messaging tools. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Userplane - originally founded in 2001 by Michael Jones, Nate Thelen and Javier Hall - has licensed its chat technology to more than 100,000 Web sites and online communities, and has a presence in more than 25 countries. Key customers include, Honda,, Spark, IGN, Tagged, Red Bull, Marvel Comics, and others. Userplane's wide network of online communities includes social networking and dating websites, blogs, and niche communities.

Userplane and its 12 employees will continue to be based in the Los Angeles area.

AMIMON Raises $14 Million for Wireless HDTV Chipset

AMIMON, a start-up with offices in Herzlia, Israel, Santa Clara, California and Tokyo, has raised $14 million in a second round of private venture funding for its chipset solution that allows flat-panel televisions and multimedia projectors to wirelessly interface to all HDTV video sources.

AMIMON's wireless high definition interface (WHDI) technology enables wireless transmission of uncompressed high-definition video streams in the 5GHz unlicensed band. Equivalent video data rates of up to 3Gbps (including 1080p) are achieved using 40 MHz of bandwidth in compliance with FCC regulations. Video data-rates of up to 1.5Gbps (including 1080i and 720p) can be delivered using 20MHz of bandwidth, conforming to worldwide 5GHz spectrum regulations.

The company is targeting applications such as wireless flat-panel TVs, wireless projectors, and wireless HDMI and wireless VGA repeaters (dongles).

AMIMON said its WHDI technology has been demonstrated at ranges of up to 100 feet through walls, and has a latency of less than one millisecond. All other wireless solutions are limited to delivering compressed video such as MPEG, which is typically not available at the output of most consumer electronic video devices. AMIMON's wireless high definition interface (WHDI) was recently demonstrated with SANYO Electric Company.

The latest funding brings the total investment in the company to more than $21 million. The round was led by Stata Venture Partners of Boston. Other participants in this round include Argonaut Private Equity and previous investors Cedar Fund, Walden Israel and Evergreen Partners.

Logitech Introduces VoIP Speakerphone-Headset-Mouse-Keyboard

Logitech introduced its "EasyCall Desktop" -- a combination of a mouse, keyboard, headset and speakerphone optimized for VoIP. T
he EasyCall Desktop's full-duplex speakerphone includes Logitech "RightSound" Technology, which eliminates echoes for headset-free Internet phone calls. The speakerphone acts as the control center for the Internet calling experience, with volume up and down, mute, call pick-up, and call hang-up buttons. The product also comes with a stereo headset that can be plugged into a convenient port on the speakerphone when privacy is important.

A full communications panel on the cordless keyboard provides the ability to launch Internet communications applications, change online status, and make and accept calls. Convenient speed-dialing controls offer one-touch calling to friends, family, or co-workers. These easily accessible buttons can be used to store and dial either telephone numbers or IP addresses associated with user names. The product is optimized for use with Internet calling applications, such as Yahoo! Messenger with Voice and AOL's AIM service in the U.S., and Skype in Europe.

MSRP is $129.99.

Ciena Upgrades Pseudowire Capabilities on Edge Switching Platform

Ciena introduced key enhancements to its pseudowire emulation edge-to-edge (PWE3) and advanced Ethernet interworking capabilities on the DN 7000 Series FlexSelect Multiservice Edge Switching and Aggregation Platform.

The enhancements address carrier applications such as migrating DSL aggregation from ATM to Ethernet, delivering access technology-agnostic Layer 2 MPLS VPNs and consolidating 2G/3G TDM, Ethernet, and ATM-based wireless backhaul onto a converged radio access network (RAN). These upgrades enable Ciena's DN 7000 to provide support for seamless interworking of TDM, Frame Relay and ATM with new advanced services delivered natively across Ethernet or over MPLS. All of DN 7000 series' pseudowire and advanced Ethernet interworking capabilities are standards-based implementations.

Some key features include:

  • Multiservice Flexibility - supports Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) Mediation defined by the IETF for Ethernet to ATM/FR service interworking; RFC 1483/2684 and RFC 1490/2427 for Ethernet to ATM/FR network interworking; full suite of multiservice pseudowires - Ethernet, TDM, ATM and Frame Relay; and the MFA Forum's ATM-MPLS interworking standard.

  • Scalability - patent-pending Learning Virtual Connection (LVC) functionality for a unique but standards-based approach to overcoming Ethernet virtual local area network (VLAN) scalability issues when interworking with ATM, particularly in DSL aggregation-including support for DSL Forum's WT-101. Also supports several hundred thousand pseudowires per platform to accommodate high-growth traffic and large installed bases of legacy customers.

  • Reliability, OAM & QoS - the DN 7000 series platforms are the only data products to deliver six-nines (99.9999%) system availability along with strict priority queuing and multiple QoS levels for ensuring service level agreements. Support for MPLS resiliency via Fast Re-route, LSP ping and traceroute, and Virtual Circuit Connection Verification (VCCV) to ensure reliability, ease of operations and performance monitoring.

Ciena's DN 7000 Series includes three product models that share common hardware and software.

Cisco Unified Wireless Network Receives FIPS 140-2 Validation

Cisco Systems' Unified Wireless LAN Controllers and Access Points have received National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-2 level 2 validation of its IEEE 802.11i WLAN security architecture.

Cisco said it has been working closely with the Department of Defense (DoD) in defining requirements to enable higher levels of security and interoperability in wireless solutions. By meeting these cryptographic security standards with FIPS validation, the Cisco Unified Wireless Network meets another critical security requirement mandated by the DoD policy for commercial WLAN deployments.

Currently, Cisco is the only centralized WLAN solution listed in process with the National Information Assurance Partnership (NIAP) Common Criteria program for conformance to the U.S. government WLAN Access System Protection Profile for Basic Robustness -- the final step in achieving total DoD Directive 8100.2 compliance. All new DoD acquisitions for commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) WLAN systems must be evaluated against this protection profile. Cisco expects to achieve final Common Criteria validation in the first quarter of 2007.

Cisco notes that FIPS certification and compliance with DoD Directive 8100.2 wireless policy provides government customers the ability to use wireless more expansively, including deployment of advanced wireless services such as asset tracking, voice and security for guest networking. Prior to the DoD wireless policy, interoperability of highly secure WLAN deployments was not assured. This policy defines the interoperability required for true enterprise-wide highly secure WLAN deployments by mandating the use of IEEE 802.11i, the IEEE standard for implementing wireless security.

NFC Forum Targets Wireless Near Field Communications

The NFC Forum, an industry association backed by HP, MasterCard, Microsoft, Nokia, NEC, Panasonic, Renesas, Philips Electronics, Samsung, Sony, Texas Instruments and Visa among others, announced the publication of its first four specifications.

NFC technology is a short-range, standards-based wireless connectivity technology that will allow consumers to perform safe contactless transactions, access digital content and connect electronic devices with a single touch. For example, consumers might use NFC-enabled mobile phones to make contactless financial transactions, gain electronic access to transportation networks or touch a Smart Poster to receive digital content.

NFC operates in the 13.56 MHz frequency range, over a typical distance of a few centimeters. The underlying layers of NFC technology are ISO, ECMA, and ETSI standards.

The new specifications make it possible for any manufacturer to create NFC-Forum-compliant devices that will be interoperable with other manufacturers' devices and compatible with the NFC-Forum-compliant offerings of service providers, ensuring successful communication between devices and tags.

The four specifications are:

  • NFC Data Exchange Format (NDEF) Technical Specification (specifies a common data format for NFC Forum-compliant devices and NFC Forum-compliant tags)

  • NFC Record Type Definition (RTD) Technical Specification (specifies standard record types used in messages between two NFC Forum-compliant devices or between NFC Forum-compliant devices and tags)

  • NFC Text RTD Technical Specification (for records containing plain text that can be read by NFC-enabled devices)

  • NFC URI RTD Technical Specification (for elements that refer to an Internet resource that can be read by NFC-enabled devices)
  • In June of this year, the NFC Forum unveiled its modular NFC device architecture and protocols for interoperable data exchange, device-independent service delivery, device discovery, and device capability. Additional specifications are still in development.

Axiom Offers Tools for Managing IP VPN over Juniper Infrastructure

Axiom Systems introduced a packaged solution that speeds the creation, configuration and management of secure virtual private networks over Juniper Networks' routing platforms.

The combined AXIOSS and Juniper solution brings together the different processes, systems, departments and technologies involved in the design, creation and delivery of IP VPN services.

AXIOSS for IPVPN for Juniper Networks provides a design environment within which workflow process, inventory models and Juniper network interfaces involved in the provisioning of end to end IPVPN services can be individually designed and tested. They can then be classified and archived to the AXIOSS Component Library thereby providing a comprehensive resource of Juniper network and services components that allow end users to create and manage IPVPN services more efficiently.

"Manually delivering and tracking new services is time-consuming and can become a cost burden for Service Providers as their networks grow and configurations become more complex. AXIOSS for IPVPN automates many of the complex workflow processes, inventory modes and interfaces involved in provisioning a new IPVPN service, so that it is much more cost effective to roll out and manage these new services," said Nik Soheili, Vice President of Alliances at Axiom Systems.

Occam Completes Interoperability Testing with Siemens Softswitch

Occam Networks has completed interoperability testing of its BLC 6000 System broadband loop carrier (BLC) with the Siemens SURPASS hiQ 8000 softswitch. The two products interoperate via the Media Gateway Control Protocol (MGCP), a client-server protocol that provides a direct IP connection between the Siemens SURPASS hiQ 8000 softswitch and the Occam BLC in distributed network architecture.

The companies said using MGCP rather than GR-303 or TR-08 provides more control over subscribers and saves service providers facilities cost; equipment cost and reduces transport cost. An IP-based network enables telecommunications service providers to deliver next-generation services such as VoIP to subscribers more efficiently and cost-effectively reducing capital expenses, as well as operating expenses.

The two companies have successfully deployed GR303 for telcos in the US, and are currently working with select customers who are interested in deploying VoIP with an Occam/Siemens solution.


CopperCom Names New CEO

CopperCom, a supplier of Class 4/5 switching solutions for the IOC and CLEC markets, announced the retirement of Mike Myers, its president and CEO. Julian Thomson, CopperCom's chief operating officer, will assume the role of president and CEO, effective immediately.

Sales of Consumer Electronics Continues Robust Growth

Total factory-to-dealer consumer electronics sales are expected to reach $140 billion in 2006, an eight percent growth over 2005, as shown in figures released today by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) in its semi-annual U.S. Consumer Electronics Sales and Forecasts Report.

Some highlights:

  • Display technologies continue to be the front runner in the CE industry with revenues reaching $19 billion in 2005 and expected to exceed $22 billion in 2006.

  • High resolution DVD players in both Blu-ray and HD-DVD formats entered in the market place this year. Initial product delays have forced reduced volumes, but shipments of home component models should reach more than one million units in 2007.

  • Total gaming shipments, including both hardware and software, will reach $12.5 billion this year with the forthcoming release of Sony's Playstation 3 and Nintendo's Wii next gen consoles . Growth will continue through 2007 with total sales expected to exceed 2006 figures by 16 percent.

  • Fueled by rising shipments of portable navigation products, 2006 revenues in the mobile video and navigation category are expected to top $2.3 billion - 21 percent higher than CEA previously forecasted in January.

"The mid-year numbers show continued robust growth in the CE industry, category to category," said CEA President and CEO Gary Shapiro.

Verizon Adds Multi-room DVR to FiOS TV

Verizon introduced a new Home Media DVR featuring multi-room capability that enables up to three simultaneous viewings of programs recorded by the device without requiring customers to set up a complex home network or buy extra equipment. The recorder is bundled with Media Manager, a new feature that lets customers access photos and music from their personal computer and play them on their entertainment center.

In the multi-room DVR configuration, Verizon's DVR set-top box (the Motorola QIP6416) functions as the media hub, which records and streams the video, and its standard-definition set-top boxes (the Motorola QIP2500) are the remote terminals. To watch recorded programs on the media hub and up to two remote terminals simultaneously, customers just pull down the menu, click "recorded TV" to find and select their program, and then press "play." The media hub also functions as a dual-tuner DVR on which viewers can watch one program while recording another.

Home Media DVR is $19.95 per month, only $7 more than the monthly fee for the FiOS TV DVR. Customers also need a $3.95-per-month standard-definition set-top box for each TV that will receive recorded video from the media hub.

Future releases of Home Media DVR will increase the number of set-top boxes that can simultaneously access recorded programs, provide playback of protected content, and permit playback of home videos stored on the PC.

Beijing's Public Security Bureau Deploys Strix Wireless Mesh Network

Beijing's Public Security Bureau has deployed Strix's Access/One Network Outdoor Wireless Systems (OWS) and Indoor Wireless Systems (IWS) to provide mesh networking throughout the Xicheng district, which has a population of 800,000. This is the first phase of a city-wide Strix deployment for the Bureau, which is responsible for many aspects of public security, including crime, security violations, anti-terrorism activities, and emergency command communications. Silicon Star, the Strix strategic partner and master value-added distributor (VAD) in China, assisted the Bureau with the integration of the Access/One solution into Beijing's existing secure high-speed network infrastructure and provided related voice, video, and data applications.

The Beijing deployment utilizes Strix Access/One OWS and IWS products for a broad-range of public emergency-control applications. The first phase was started in September 2005, the Public Security Bureau deployed Strix mesh nodes along all main roads, on top of strategic buildings in the Xicheng district's most critical areas, and in mobile command vehicles. Ultimately, wireless mesh nodes will be placed in all public areas in Beijing and 2008 Olympics event venues.

The network is used for secure high-speed access to critical city-wide surveillance resources as well as to local and national security resources, while also providing high-quality voice communications for Beijing's security personnel.

MobiTV Names New CTO

MobiTV announced the appointment of Kay Johansson as Chief Technology Officer (CTO). Johansson joins MobiTV from Popwire, a former Ericsson company, in Sweden where he served as CTO for the last six years, where he led the licensing, product strategy and development of mobile and broadcast media applications and technologies. Popwire's customers include Apple Computer, ABC, MTV, BBC, CTIA, Ericsson, Microsoft, Vodafone, 3 and other industry leaders.

Alcatel Boosts ADSL Density in Litespan Remote Cabinets

Alcatel announced a significant increase in ADSL capacity for its Litespan-2000 remote cabinets, providing the density necessary to offer ADSL services to 100% of the subscribers served by Litespan remote terminals. The upgrade applies to both new and existing Litespan-2000 and Litespan-2012 remote cabinets. The Litespan LSC- 2016 cabinet can now support up to 2,016 combined POTS and ADSL lines from a single cabinet.

AT&T Builds Global IP VPN for TRW Automotive

AT&T was awarded a two-year, multimillion-dollar contract by TRW Automotive Holdings to provide an IP VPN integrating 170 TRW locations in 25 countries across five continents. TRW, a global leader in automotive safety systems, is one of the world's top producers of automotive braking, steering and suspension systems as well as a leading supplier of occupant safety systems for inflatable restraints, seat belts and steering wheels. The new network runs on AT&T's MPLS backbone.