Sunday, December 17, 2006

FCC Commissioner McDowell Disqualifies Himself from AT&T+BellSouth Merger Vote

FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell disqualified himself from voting on the proposed AT&T+BellSouth merger approval vote, leaving the Commission evenly split between two Democrats and two Republicans. McDowell cited his earlier employment by COMPTEL, a lobby group of competitive carriers that has opposed the ILECs. In a statement, McDowell said promises made during his Senate confirmation hearing, and his own personal ethics, led him to withdraw from participating in the vote.
  • Earlier this month, the General Counsel of the FCC cleared Commissioner Robert McDowell from any conflict of interest concern that might otherwise have prevented him from voting on the AT&T/BellSouth merger proceeding.

Agere Debuts New Product Category -- BluOnyx Mobile Content Server

Agere Systems unveiled its BluOnyx Mobile Content Server, a new consumer product category designed to un-tether users from the PC and stationary storage devices by giving them access to content and applications in a portable device.

The BluOnyx server, which will be shown at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show in January, enables mobile users to share and stream music, video and business files to or from electronic devices ranging from cell phones, PCs, digital cameras, game machines, DSL routers, etc. The credit card size device does not come with its own screen but is controlled by mobile phone, PC or other video device using a Bluetooth connection. Agere will be offering a turn-key solution for other consumer product brands.

The credit-card sized unit combines either Flash-based storage or a mini-HDD with an application processor, middleware and wireless connectivity. The amount of storage on the BluOnyx server will range from 1 GB to 40 GB. Devices can connect to the BluOnyx server wirelessly through Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections or using USB cables or SD cards. The BluOnyx server can be accessed directly or through a home or corporate network where it is seen as a drive letter.

Agere said one of the possible uses for the BluOnyx server could a "Digital Campfire", where friends gathered around a table share media content via their mobile phones. The BluOnyx server is capable of streaming videos to one or more cell phones. Agere is working to support various DRM implementations. The device could also be used to back up pictures, music, video, emails, personal and business documents
and images from cell phones, cameras and PCs. It might also be used to share Internet access for cell phones and PDAs that are not broadband enabled and cannot access the Internet on their own.

The BluOnyx solution combines several of Agere's subsystems, including its storage silicon and a new processor. Details on the processor have not yet been announced. The Bluetooth, and later Wi-Fi capabilities, use commercially-available radios from multiple providers.

Key stats:
  • Dimensions of 90 mm long by 60 mm wide and between 6 mm and 15 mm thick (depending on memory capacity)

  • Battery life: up to 12 hours

  • Weight: about 140 grams with 40 GB HDD

The retail price of the BluOnyx server is expected to range from $99 to $250 depending on memory capacity. Agere said it is currently in discussions with consumer electronic device makers and cell phone service providers.

Loral Skynet to Merge with Telesat Creating Global FSS Provider

Loral Skynet will merge with BCE's Telesat division to create one of the world's largest operators of telecommunications satellites, with a combined fleet of eleven satellites and four additional satellites to be launched over the next three years. The new company will have combined trailing 12 months revenue for the period ended September 30, 2006 of approximately US $568 million (CAD 658 million) and US $4.9 billion (CAD 5.6 billion) of backlog, generating combined trailing 12 months Adjusted EBITDA for the period ended September 30, 2006 of approximately US$295 million (C$341 million).

Under the deal, BCE (Bell Canada Enterprises) will sell its satellite services subsidiary, Telesat Canada, for $3.42 billion to a new acquisition company formed by Canada's Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSP Investments) and Loral Space & Communications. Loral will merge its Loral Skynet fixed satellite services and network services assets business into the new company. This involves complementary satellite services assets in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. Combined with Telesat's existing services, in North and South America, the new Telesat will be a truly global operator of scale, headquartered in Ottawa.

Net of Telesat's debt, BCE will realize total proceeds of $3.25 billion from the all cash transaction.

BCE said the sale is consistent with its stated strategy of concentrating on Bell, its core communications business.

In conjunction with the sale, BCE has put in place a set of commercial arrangements between Telesat and Bell ExpressVu that guarantee ExpressVu access to current and expanded satellite capacity, including the launch of Nimiq 5 in 2009.

Carriers Plan New Terabit Capacity Trans-Pacific Express Optical Cable

Verizon Business signed a construction and maintenance agreement with a consortium planning to build an undersea optical cable system directly linking the U.S. mainland and China.

The new Trans-Pacific Express (TPE) will initially provide capacity of up to 1.28 Tbps, with a design capacity of up to 5.12 Tbps to support future Internet growth and advanced applications. Customers will have access the cable system at 10 Gbps wavelengths. Construction of the new cable system, which will extend more than 18,000 kilometers, will begin in the first quarter of 2007. Completion is scheduled in the third quarter of 2008. The project represents an investment by consortium members of more than $500 million.

Verizon Business is the only U.S.-based member among the initial parties of the consortium, which consists of China Telecom, China Netcom, China Unicom, Korea Telecom and Chunghwa Telecom (Taiwan).

Landing points will be at Nedonna Beach, Oregon; Qingdao, China; Chongming, China; Tanshui, Taiwan; and Keoje, South Korea.

Juniper Adds T-series Physical Interface Card

Juniper Networks announced a new T-series physical interface card (PIC) with long reach optics and other advanced features designed for its T-series core routers. The new 4xOC-192 PIC features standards-based 10 Gigabit Small Form Factor Pluggable (XFP) optical transponders and inverse multiplexing to 40 Gbps.

The new 4xOC-192 PIC enables providers to transport either a single OC-768 stream or four discrete OC-192 connections by using cost-effective 10 Gbps optical transponders and leveraging their installed base of T-series routers. XFP optics allow non-disruptive upgrades and interface additions, while ensuring interoperability with a wide range of standards-based optical equipment.

Juniper said that with an initial range of up to 80km, expandable as new optics become available, the new PIC supports regional inter-POP connections directly from existing routing platforms, reducing costs by eliminating the need for separate optical transponders. Along with the existing OC-768 PIC, the new PIC leverages the service richness of the new 40 Gbps packet forwarding engine for T-series routers.

Intel Installs WiMAX in Egyptian "Digital Village"

Working with Egypt's government, business and education leaders, Intel has installed a WiMAX network in Oseem, a city of 200,000 in Egypt. The wireless network connects two public schools, a health care center on wheels, a municipal building and an e-government services kiosk. Intel also donated and installed computers in the mobile health center and PC labs at the two schools where students and teachers can regularly connect to the outside world for the first time.

"The next billion Internet users will be from rural areas like Oseem," said Intel Chairman Craig Barrett, who toured the village to explore how similar programs could be replicated in other regions. This issue has led Barrett, who also chairs the United Nation's Global Alliance for ICT and Development, to 10 developing countries from the Amazon to Africa in the past 100 days.

Alcatel-Lucent Introduces Higher-Density 10-Gigabit Ethernet Enterprise Switch

Alcatel-Lucent introduced a new model of its 10-Gigabit Ethernet core switch chassis, featuring twice the capacity of the existing Alcatel-Lucent OmniSwitch 9700. Also available are a new high-density 10-Gigabit Ethernet module and a new power-over-Ethernet (PoE) Gigabit Ethernet module.

The Alcatel-Lucent OmniSwitch 9000 family is deployment in the enterprise network core and aggregation layer where large amounts of user data being consolidated for 10 Gigabit connections. Similar to the other OmniSwitch 9000 models, the new Alcatel-Lucent OmniSwitch 9800 delivers wire-rate processing for IPv6/IPv4 and supports multicast applications. The Alcatel-Lucent OmniSwitch 9000s can also be used at the edge to support converged applications and deliver QoS for multi-media applications, VoIP, video collaboration and database applications.

Linksys Announces Skype iPhone

Cisco's Linksys division unveiled a new iPhone for Skype that works on 802.11g networks. The iPhone Wireless-G Phone for Skype (WIP320) makes Skype portable by integrating it into a Wireless-G handset, allowing consumers to place calls from anywhere they can connect to a wireless access point. The product is offered in North America through distribution, online retailers and VAR partners. Europe, Asia and LATAM availability is planned for Q1 2007. Estimated Street Price: $199.99.

Linksys also introduce its iPhone Dual-Mode Internet Telephony Kit for Skype (CIT400), which embeds the popular communications client into a cordless phone base station that is attached directly to the home network via Ethernet. This phone is available immediately in the U.S. through e-commerce retailers, and VAR partners. Global availability through e-commerce retailers, and VAR partners is expected for Q1 2007. Estimated Street Price: $179.99.

OIF Finalizes Scalable System Packet Interface

The Optical Internetworking Forum (OIF) has finalized the Scalable System Packet Interface (SPI-S) implementation agreement.

SPI-S is a channelized, streaming-packet interface that scales from 6 Gbps to hundreds of Gbps for chip-to-chip and backplane applications. It is a successor to the widely deployed OIF SPI 4.2 interface, and leverages the OIF's Common Electrical Interface (CEI) to take advantage of high rate serial physical interconnects.

SPI-S is specified to run over CEI, which is defined at 6 and 11 Gbps for both short reach and long reach applications. SPI-S can also be used with other physical interconnects including OIF's SxI-5. The OIF also recently announced the initiation of a CEI-25 project to extend the CEI serial interface into the 25 Gbps range. The scalable nature of SPI-S will allow it to take advantage of CEI-25 when the next generation interconnect is fully defined.

SPI-S uses either industry-standard 64B66B framing or optionally, the enhanced OIF CEI Protocol (CEI-P) framing that provides Forward Error Correction (FEC) support, yet retains a 64/66 clock ratio. FEC is likely to be useful when 11 Gbps PHYs are used in backplane applications and when future, higher speed PHYs are employed.

SPI-S also retains the high-availability focus of the SPI family of interfaces. Like those other protocols, SPI-S is defined to be self-recovering from a catastrophic event on its interface such as a protective switchover of a card.

"The OIF's existing System Packet Interface SPI 4.2 is the most widely deployed chip-to-chip streaming interconnect for high speed data paths," said Dave Stauffer, of IBM and chair for the OIF's Physical and Link Layer Working Group. "Given the highly scalable nature of the new SPI-S, it should have legs to stand for a decade or more as the industry's next definitive streaming-packet interface. The speed and number of bit lanes employed by SPI-S can be directly scaled to very high rates."