Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Ericsson Wins US$1 Billion GSM/GPRS Contract with India's Bharti

Bharti Airtel has awarded Ericsson an estimated US$1 billion contract, including expansion and an upgrade of its GSM/GPRS network and managed services. Under the three-year deal, Ericsson will manage design, development and deployment of Bharti's network, including capacity and coverage, enabling the operator to expand in rural India and reach out to all towns and cities in 15 regions.

Ericsson will also upgrade the network with mobile softswitch (Media Gateway and MSC Servers), the solution that paves the way to an all-IP network.

Ericsson is a long-term Bharti partner, managing more than 70 percent of its GSM/GPRS network in 15 regions in India.
  • As of July 2006, Bharti Airtel was serving over 25 million users.

Ericsson changes NASDAQ ticker symbol to ERIC

As of market open on August 24, 2006, Ericsson (NASDAQ:ERICY) American Depositary Receipts will trade on NASDAQ under the new ticker symbol "ERIC".

Ericsson has been listed on NASDAQ since 1978.

NTT DoCoMo Launches HSDPA on August 31

NTT DoCoMo will launch a High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) service on August 31 and start selling Japan's first HSDPA-compatible handset, the 3G FOMA N902iX HIGH-SPEED.

In FOMA HIGH-SPEED areas, the N902iX is capable of packet downlinks of up to 3.6Mbps, approximately 10 times faster than current FOMA handsets.

Starting August 31, all of central Tokyo will be included in these HIGH-SPEED areas, and all major Japanese cities will be covered by the end of October. DoCoMo also plans to broaden the areas to cover 70% of the national population by the end of March 2007 and 90% by the end of March 2008. Outside these areas, both uplink and downlink speeds can still reach as high as 384Kbps.

The handset will be compatible with DoCoMo's new Music Channel service, also starting from August 31. Users will be able to automatically download music programs of about up to one hour during the late-night hours for listening later.

The handset also supports the "Chaku-Uta Full" service, which enables the downloading of complete music tracks for normal playback or to create clips for ringtones.

No special contract or service charge for HSDPA will be required, and charges for FOMA packet communications will remain unchanged. FOMA discount packet services, such as the pake-hodai (packet flat-rate) service, will also be applicable to HSDPA.

HSDPA technology was standardized by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project and offers a theoretical maximum downlink speed up to 14Mbps.

California Adopts Major Telecom Pricing Reform

The California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) voted unanimously to allow the state's four largest wireline phone companies - AT&T (formerly SBC/Pacific Bell), Verizon, SureWest, and Frontier - to price their services more like their voice market competitors.

The decision stems from the PUC's Uniform Regulatory Framework (URF) proceeding, the first major examination of California telephone regulation in 18 years. Until today, the PUC imposed many regulatory reporting requirements and conducted extensive reviews of landline telephone prices. The PUC, however, did not impose these rules on many competitors that have entered into the voice communications market in recent years. These voice competitors include cable companies, VoIP providers, and mobile and fixed wireless companies.

Although the Commission recognized that market competition sufficiently checks landline phone companies' pricing power, the Commission decision maintains current basic residential rates for phone service at current levels until Jan. 1, 2009. These rates are linked to social policy programs, which are currently under Commission review.

The PUC decision eliminates required state approvals of price changes for all other business and residential rates and services. While landline and competitive local exchange carriers will be required to provide 30-day notice to customers of any proposed price increase, a price increase will go into effect the day after it is filed with the PUC.

The PUC said its 264-page PUC decision was based on an extensive review of market conditions and related federal and state statutes. The PUC found that market competition now adequately checks landline phone companies' pricing power. The PUC also noted that California statutes encourage it: (1) to rely on open and competitive markets unless the elimination of regulation would result in rates being set above "just and reasonable" levels; and (2) to use technologically and competitively neutral measures in order to encourage the development of new technologies.

"Regulation needs to recognize there is a competitive voice communications marketplace. The changes we order today will enhance competition by allowing new services to be provided sooner and eliminating unnecessary government regulation," stated PUC President Michael R. Peevey.

AOL Video Launches Digital Movie Downloads

AOL launched its digital movie download service and announced new partnerships with four major Hollywood studios: 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Universal Pictures, and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group.

Select movie titles are available for purchase and download with prices ranging from $9.99 to $19.99 per movie. Once downloaded, movies can be viewed offline as well as on other PCs and compatible portable devices that use Windows Media Player. They cannot be burned to DVD.

  • AOL Video is using Microsoft's Digital Rights Management (DRM).

  • The AOL Video portal features an interactive programming guide that organizes the video programming into more than 50 branded video-on-demand channels.

  • AOL Video also features video search capabilities powered by technology from Truveo and Singingfish.

  • The video player that can go full screen without losing picture quality and that supports AOL's exclusive Hi-Q video format for viewing videos online.

GigaBeam Completes $10 Million Institutional Financing for its WiFiber

GigaBeam completed the private placement of $10 million of Series C convertible preferred stock and common stock purchase warrants to purchase approximately 860,653 shares of common stock for an aggregate purchase price of $10 million to a limited number of institutional investors.

GigaBeam WiFiber products operate in the 71-76 GHz and 81-86 GHz radio spectrum bands. This portion of the radio frequency spectrum has been authorized by the FCC for wireless point-to-point commercial use.

NTT West-Okinawa Selects Alvarion's BreezeACCESS

NTT West-Okinawa plans to deploy Alvarion's BreezeACCESS VL system in rural and island areas of Okinawa where wired infrastructure is too difficult and costly to deploy. BreezeACCESS VL's enhanced features, such as OFDM non-line-of-sight (NLOS), extended reach of more than 30 kilometers (19 miles). It can be used to provide triple play services to business and residential subscribers in the 5 GHz bands. It offers 20 MHz channel spacing and automatic clear channel selection (ACCS). Its built-in spectrum analyzer can monitor the noise on each channel. Financial terms were not disclosed.

China Academy of Telecommunication Research Selects Spirent for 10 Gbps Router Testing

The China Academy of Telecommunication Research (CATR) of the Ministry of Information Industry (MII) has selected Spirent for large-scale testing of 10-Gigabit core routers. Spirent test solutions will enable CATR to test the performance of core routers under high-capacity configurations and extreme networks conditions found in real-world operations.

The CATR test environment consists of sixteen 10 Gbps packet over SONET (PoS) interfaces. As a part of the test series, Spirent will assess the performance of MPLS platforms, VPNs, multicast service and IPv6 networks. With these series of tests, CATR will be able to fully access the extreme forwarding capacity of core router devices and understand the technological trend of mainstream routers. The test series also will provide valuable data and experiences to telecom research organizations in China for researches and explorations on router testing methodologies.

Mobile Satellite Ventures Awarded New ATC Patent

Mobile Satellite Ventures (MSV) was awarded another U.S. patent for its advanced Ancillary Terrestrial Component (ATC) technology. The new patent covers wireless communications systems in which user devices receive information from terrestrial base stations using terrestrial frequencies (e.g., cellular/PCS frequencies) but relay information back to the base stations using satellite frequencies.

In accordance with the patent, a system enabled to use terrestrial frequencies may use all of its terrestrial frequencies to maximize capacity from base stations to user devices while relying on satellite frequencies for return link communications.

According to Dr. Peter D. Karabinis, Senior Vice President & Chief Technical Officer of MSV and inventor of the '708 Patent, the patent may be most relevant to broadband broadcast systems that require return signaling channels to enable a diverse array of interactive services.
  • In May 2006, Mobile Satellite Ventures (MSV) and its joint venture partner, MSV Canada, announced an agreement with Boeing to accelerate the deployment of its two North American satellites, which will form the backbone of its satellite-cellular wireless communications network. The agreement will move up, by approximately eight months, the construction, launch and operations of each of the two North American satellites, with the launch of the U.S. satellite scheduled for mid-2009 and the Canadian satellite in early 2010. These two new satellites will replace and expand upon the current MSAT satellite system operated by MSV and MSV Canada. The development of the third satellite for South America, MSV-SA, has been deferred to the third delivery position for the MSV system.

  • Ancillary Terrestrial Component (ATC) technology allows existing satellite phone spectrum to also be used in dedicated terrestrial networks. Call capacity is managed and reallocated, in real time, between satellite and terrestrial networks via a common control center. Calls can be made over either network using the same phone handset. ATC technology could be used to supplement satellite phone service with a ground-based network to provide a "back-up" signal in and around buildings where satellite signals cannot reach.

Nikon Digital Cameras Offer WiFi Connector to T-Mobile Hotspots

The new Nikon COOLPIX S7c digital camera will offer wireless access T-Mobile Hotspot Wi-Fi Service, enabling camera users to wirelessly share photos with family and friends.

The COOLPIX S7c is a 7.1 megapixel, 3x Nikkor Zoom ED lens camera. The first time that a COOLPIX S7c user connects the camera to the T-Mobile network at any of the thousand T-Mobile HotSpot locations nationwide, that user's one year of complimentary T-Mobile HotSpot service is automatically activated**. Choosing Wi-Fi mode on the COOLPIX S7c in a U.S.-based T-Mobile Hot Spot location automatically connects the camera to the T-Mobile network, activates the complimentary T-Mobile HotSpot service, and readies the camera to share pictures through a high-speed Wi-Fi connection.

The T-Mobile HotSpot service enables a total of up to 50MB of images to be sent to a T-Mobile server and stored for a maximum of two weeks. The server sends an email to each specified recipient with a thumbnail and a link to a Web page, thereby allowing COOLPIX S7c users to invite friends and family members to view the images right away, download full-resolution versions of the images to their own computer, or enjoy the images as a slideshow.

T-Mobile HotSpot service in currently available in 7,000 U.S. locations, including select Starbucks, Borders, FedEx Kinko's, Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, Red Roof Inn locations, Sofitel and Novotel hotels, and airline clubs.


Toshiba to Launch Ultra High-Speed SD Card

Toshiba will launch two new series of SD Cards that offer high-level data transfer rates and read-write performance. The "high-speed series" will offer a maximum data transfer rate of 5-megabytes per second, while the "ultra high-speed series" will push transfer rates to as high as 20MB per second, double the rate of any other Toshiba-brand SD Cards. Both series will be rolled out this autumn, in Japan in October and globally in November.

In May this year, the SD Card Association introduced the SD Speed Class, defining three minimum data transfer rates for next generation SD Cards: Class 2 supports a minimum data transfer rate of 2MB per second; Class 4 supports 4MB per second; and Class 6 6MB per second. Toshiba is first in the industry to announce the launch of Class 6 products.

Both the high-speed series Speed Class 4 SD Cards and ultra high-speed series Speed Class 6 SD Cards will be made available in 512MB(2), 1GB(3) and 2GB capacities. The SD Speed Class will be clearly stated on the card and its packaging, allowing users to select the card that makers specify for use with their digital products. Applications will include video recording with high performance digital cameras.

Toshiba said the new 1 GB and 2 GB cards will be suitable for application such as high-speed capacity storage in support of digital video.