Sunday, March 11, 2007

Swisscom Bids for Italy's Fastweb

Swisscom announced a bid to acquire Fastweb, Italy's second largest fixed-network operator and leading provider of IP-based services, for EUR 47 per share for a maximum total consideration of EUR 3.7 billion.

Fastweb is Italy's leading alternative broadband telecommunications provider with more than one million customers, 2006 revenues and EBITDA of respectively EUR 1.26 billion and EUR 424.6 million.

Swisscom said it intends to make a long-term investment and to further strengthen the competitive position of Fastweb based on a new generation network and innovative offerings in Italy. By acquiring Fastweb, Swisscom will be able to boost its cash flows significantly. Fastweb is a high-growth company with an increasing free cash flow over time. The transaction has the potential to boost Swisscom's revenues and EBITDA by about one fifth, and generate further growth thereafter.

Swisscom also said that it would learn from the experience acquired by Fastweb in operating a fully IP-based, latest-generation broadband network, expanding and commercializing optical networks, and developing and marketing broadband-based multimedia services. In return, Swisscom will support Fastweb' plans to position itself in Italy as a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO).
  • In November 2006, Swisscom officially launched its Bluewin IPTV service, offering 100-plus television channels, 70-plus radio channels, live sports coverage and an initial VOD library of 500-plus films. Bluewin is delivered over either an ADSL or VDSL connection. Customers in areas which do not yet provide VDSL access can have only one TV channel transmitted at a time. The set-top box functions as a PVR and provides over 100 hours of recording capacity. Bluewin is using # Microsoft's IPTV software, HP servers, Tandberg encoders (VC-1 encoding) and Linksys CPE, including set-top boxes.

Verizon Business Launches Ethernet Virtual Private LAN Service

Verizon Business introduced Ethernet Virtual Private LAN Service (E-VPLS), enabling businesses and government agencies to extend their LANs to locations across the US. Verizon Business plans to expand to international locations next year.

E-VPLS, delivered via Verizon Business' converged packet architecture, gives customers the flexibility to adjust their networks' bandwidth from 1 Mbps to 1 Gbps. Because E-VPLS is a layer 2 networking solution, enterprises can maintain control of their routing, rather than share it with their service provider. E-VPLS is protocol independent, supporting both IP and non-IP applications, making it attractive for Frame Relay or ATM customers who want to upgrade their WAN.

E-VPLS allows for prioritization of applications via four classes of service (CoS): Real Time, Priority, Business and Basic Data. Real time CoS makes E-VPLS ideal for carrying latency-sensitive traffic such as VoIP and digital video.

Verizon Business is offering service level agreements (SLAs) for the new service. In addition, the company noted that E-VPLS was requested by the U.S. General Services Administration as part of its Networx program, which is designed to help federal agencies make the transition to next-generation networking services.

GIPS Supports Interoffice Voice Trunking

Global IP Solutions (GIPS) is now supporting Interoffice Voice Trunking (IVT), which allows enterprises to use their existing TDM or IP-based systems to call other sites within their enterprise. IVT also works with traditional PBXs with the use of a voice gateway.

GIPS' voice quality technology is applied to both ends of the network
GIPS solutions are compatible with the IP-PBXs from Cisco, 3Com and Avaya as well as any other H.323 compatible PBX, including circuit switched telephone equipment. IVT runs on any Windows 2000 or XP server.

Ikanos Adds "LoopNostics" Measurement Software to VDSL2

Ikanos Communications introduced its "LoopNostics" diagnostics, analysis and measurement software designed to help service providers more quickly and cost-effectively roll out multi-mode VDSL2 platforms.

LoopNostics, which is available for Ikanos' multi-mode VDSL2 chipsets, supports all standard-based VDSL2 profiles from 8.5 to 30 MHz, as well as ADSLx standards. It offers loop qualification and characterization capabilities based on proprietary Time Domain Reflectometry (TDR), Frequency Domain Reflectometry (FDR) and Digital Signal Processing (DSP) techniques. Using Ikanos chipsets' advanced technologies, data is collected without the need for customer premises equipment (CPE) or additional hardware on the central office (CO) line card, even in the presence of cross-connects and POTS/ISDN splitters. This capability minimizes the need for human intervention during measurement. Data is then analyzed to estimate loop qualification parameters such as length, channel spectral characteristics, signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), maximum attainable upstream and downstream data rates, bridged tap detection and loop termination for mixed wire gauges. Operational control and reporting is achieved through an easy-to-use graphical user interface.

SafeMedia's "Clouseau" Hunts Illegal Peer-To-Peer Traffic

SafeMedia unveiled "Clouseau" -- a network appliance that can be deployed on subnets to eradicate illegal P2P traffic. SafeMedia said it its unique approach to fingerprinting and DNA markers allow the examination of all incoming and outgoing packets: illegal P2P is eradicated, while legal P2P passes along to its destination with no measurable delay.

OKI Samples 10 Gbps Optical Receiver Module

Oki Electric Industry Co. introduced two Receiver Optical Sub Assembly (ROSA)-type optical receiver modules for use in XMD-MSA (10 Gbps Miniature Device Multi Source Agreement) applications that are compliant with the small transceiver XFP (10 Gbps small Form-factor Pluggable) specification. Sampling is underway.

Juniper Completes Financial Restatements

Juniper Networks filed its Annual Report with the SEC on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2006, as well as its previously delayed Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q for the second and third quarters of 2006. The company said it believes that it has now regained compliance with the requirements for continued listing on the NASDAQ Global Select Market; however, the company awaits confirmation of compliance from NASDAQ.

Data Connection Expands Its IMS Portfolio

Data Connection Limited (DCL) introduced new capabilities to enable communications system vendors to develop carrier-class IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) platforms:

  • Introduction of Proxy Call Session Control Function (P-CSCF), Interconnect Border Control Function (IBCF), and Border Gateway Function (BGF) / Interconnect BGF (I-BGF) IMS functionality to DC-SBC, DCL's portable Session Border Controller software solution for OEMs

  • Introduction of the DC-Diameter toolkit including full IMS functionality

  • IMS Enhancements for the DC-SIP toolkit

  • IMS Enhancements for the DC-Megaco/H.248 toolkit, including support for ITU H.248.1 version 3, which includes new diagnostic capabilities, stream level statistics, and the message segmentation package. Data Connection's DC-Megaco/H.248 is fully compliant with 3GPP, ETSI TISPAN, IETF, and ITU IMS architectures and enables solutions based on DC-Megaco/H.248 to support the IMS Ia reference point.

Data Connection's existing VoIP product line includes its DC-SBC, DC-SIP, DC-Megaco/H.248 and DC-MGCP source code. The company said almost every major vendor worldwide is already deploying at least some elements of these building blocks.

Azimuth Offers FMC Performance Test Solution

Azimuth Systems, which supplies Wi-Fi engineering test equipment, introduced an FMC Performance Test Solution featuring automated test scripts to streamline the testing of fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) products by service providers, handset manufacturers and semiconductor vendors.

Azimuth's solution provides more than twenty unique and repeatable performance tests on converged Wi-Fi/Cellular handsets. It measures Wi-Fi performance in three areas that get the most attention from end-users: dropped calls, battery life and call quality. The tests allow users to thoroughly analyze the voice quality and data performance of converged Wi-Fi/Cellular handsets in a variety of range, roaming, hand-in/hand-out and environmental conditions. The tests also measure handset power consumption and battery life under various motion and traffic conditions. The automated scripts remotely control the device under test, generate/display statistics and reduce the testing process from weeks to days.

Cantata Adds ENUM to Media/Signaling VoIP Gateway

Cantata Technology announced several enhancements to its "MG 1010" media and signaling VoIP gateway product, including support for ENUM and load balancing. The IMG 1010 is an integrated media and signaling VoIP gateway that provides any-to-any network connectivity, enabling delivery of SIP services into legacy SS7, PRI and CAS networks, as well as IP-to-IP transcoding to connect IP networks using different protocols.

In total, the new release includes more than twenty additional features, such as:

  • ENUM support -- the IMG 1010 translates phone numbers into SIP addresses and lets SIP users call each other directly without a PSTN service, for faster connection times and lower phone charges

  • Load balancing support -- a feature not available in competitive products, the IMG 1010 works with load balancers to provide better distribution of SIP traffic for improved scalability and fault tolerance

  • Enhanced any-to-any signaling -- adds complete mapping between ISDN and SS7, based on ITU Q.699 standard, and CAS support for more connectivity options with worldwide telecom operators

  • SNMP enhancement -- adds three more industry standard MIBs to allow more centralized configuration and monitoring in a network operation center.

  • Additional Radius features -- for prepaid applications, accepts messages from the Radius server for call duration and call redirection services, for faster processing of prepaid user agreements at the edge of the network.

Analog Devices Introduces Two-Chip IF Receiver for 3G Base Stations

Analog Devices Inc. (ADI) introduced a two-chip IF (intermediate frequency) receiver solution for next-generation, multi-carrier wireless base stations compatible with emerging 3G cellular transmission standards. The solution is optimized to handle both the main and diversity receive paths simultaneously.

Analog Devices said its dual-channel AD8376 VGA (variable gain amplifier) and AD6655 IF diversity receiver solution replaces 48 discrete components, enabling 3G micro- and pico-cell base stations with dramatically reduced power consumption and physical volume. Each radio channel can handle up to six carriers. The new VGA and IF diversity receiver also increase automatic gain-control loop performance by 100 times existing options, which improves base station receiver sensitivity and dynamic range and ensures both weak and strong incoming cell phone call signals are quickly and effectively received and processed.

Ixia Posts Q4 Revenues of $47.4 Million

Ixia reported revenues for the fourth quarter of 2006 of $47.4 million, which compares to $35.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2005, including special provisions. Net income on a GAAP basis for the fourth quarter of 2006 was $4.5 million, or $0.07 per diluted share, compared to net income of $3.6 million, or $0.05 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter of 2005.

Total revenues for the full year of 2006 were $180.1 million, which compares to $150.9 million for the full year of 2005. Full year 2006 and 2005 revenues include reversals of implied PCS deferred revenue of $25.9 and $1.1 million, respectively. Net income on a GAAP basis for the full year of 2006 was $13.5 million, or $0.20 per diluted share, compared to net income of $28.5 million, or $0.41 per diluted share, for the full year of 2005.

"Ixia has finished 2006 with solid momentum, as demonstrated by the sequential increase in our bookings and strong performance in a number of important areas," commented Errol Ginsberg, President and Chief Executive Officer of Ixia. "We added over 60 new customers and had a strong quarter internationally, particularly in Europe. We also saw record demand for 10 Gigabit Ethernet testing products, IxLoad, our IPTV and Triple Play test application, and IxNetwork, our router and switch test application."

AT&T, Qwest and Verizon Host Telecom Energy Summit

AT&T, Qwest and Verizon are sponsoring the first "Carrier Group Energy Summit" this week to investigate methods of measuring and reducing electrical power consumption in voice and data communication networks.

The companies have agreed to meet and work together to reinforce their commitment to reducing network power consumption as well as develop a framework -- in conjunction with equipment manufacturers -- under which network equipment can be evaluated using an energy-efficiency formula.

In addition to the telecommunications companies, several equipment manufacturers have been invited to attend, including Sun Microsystems, Alcatel-Lucent, Tellabs, Motorola, Cisco, Nortel, Intel, IBM, Fujitsu, Degree C, and AMD.

The event is being hosted at Verizon's St. Paul Place facility in Baltimore. At the conclusion of the event, an action plan will be developed for next steps, including future meetings.

Foundry Receives Additional Non-Compliance Letter from Nasdaq

Foundry Networks received an Additional Staff Determination letter from The Nasdaq Stock Market stating that the company's delay in filing its Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2006 is an additional basis for Nasdaq to find that Foundry is not currently in compliance with Nasdaq's listing requirements. Foundry said it intends to present its views to Nasdaq and that during the stay, its shares will remain listed on The Nasdaq Global Select Market. An adverse decision on the matter could result in Foundry's securities being delisted from The Nasdaq Global Select Market.

TI Updates First-Quarter 2007 Business Outlook

Texas Instruments narrowed its expected ranges for revenue and earnings per share (EPS). The new expectations for revenue are:

  • Total revenue between $3.07 billion and $3.22 billion, compared with the prior range of $3.01 billion to $3.28 billion;

  • Semiconductor revenue between $3.01 billion and $3.14 billion, compared with the prior range of $2.95 billion to $3.20 billion; and

  • Education Technology revenue between $60 million and $80 million, unchanged from the prior range.

TI expects EPS from continuing operations between $0.29 and $0.33, compared with the previous range of $0.28 to $0.34.

Vonage Offers Penny-Per-Minute on International Calls

Vonage has dropped its international calling rates to just one cent per minute on some key routes. Vonage's new international calling rates will be available for new and existing customers in the US and Canada. Areas include locations in Argentina, Australia, China, Mexico, Singapore, Israel, Poland, and Sweden.