Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Sonus Hires Sycamore's CFO

Sonus Networks announced the appointment of Richard J. Gaynor as Chief Financial Officer, replacing Ellen Richstone, who is retiring.
Gaynor previously served as CFO at Sycamore Networks. Earlier, he served as the Vice President and Corporate Controller of Manufacturers Services, Ltd. He has also served as CFO of Evans and Sutherland Computer Corporation, and held various senior financial management positions with Cabletron Systems. Gaynor is a graduate of the National University of Ireland and holds an MBA from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland.

SeaChange Offers 72 TB of Video Storage System in Single Box

SeaChange introduced a new storage solution for network operators that features a "Drawer of Drives" supporting up to 72 terabytes of storage (3,300+ hours of High Definition content at 50 Mbps) in a 10-inch-high chassis.

SeaChange customers can combine the company's nearline ML1G storage server with the offline Drawer of Drives to establish a petabyte storage facility. Every file stored on each of the 72 hot-swappable drives is protected by SeaChange's RAID2 (raid squared) technology.

Microsoft Opens Mediaroom Interoperability and Qualification Lab

Microsoft has opened a "Mediaroom" Interoperability and Qualification Lab (IQ Lab)
at its campus in Mountain View, California to help enable the ongoing interoperability and compliance of encoders used in deployments of its IPTV software platform. IQ Lab-compliant encoding vendors will become recommended Microsoft Mediaroom ecosystem partners.

The new IQ Lab gives encoding vendors the opportunity to test their products in a controlled IPTV production environment, with set-top boxes from several vendors.
  • In June 2007, Microsoft rebranded its IPTV software platform as "Microsoft Mediaroom", and added several new multimedia capabilities, including in-home personal music and photo sharing, dynamic MultiView (multiple picture-in-picture) capabilities, Multimedia Application Environment for development of interactive services and advanced applications, and digital terrestrial television (DTT) support.

Verizon Raises Quarterly Dividend 6.2%

The Board of Directors of Verizon Communications declared a quarterly dividend of 43 cents per outstanding share, an increase of 2.5 cents, or 6.2 percent, from the previous quarter. On an annual basis, this increases Verizon's dividend 10 cents per share, from $1.62 to $1.72 per share.

"This increase reflects the confidence we have in our business with its focus on creating value for shareholders," said Ivan Seidenberg, Verizon chairman and chief executive officer. "We are continuing to build momentum based on our strong balance sheet and cash flows as we generate sustainable top-line and earnings growth from continuing operations."

VUDU Debuts its $399 Movie On-Demand Box

VUDU, a start-up based in Santa Clara, California, began selling its movie-on-demand set-top box. VUDU initially features more than 5,000 movie titles from every major U.S. film studio and more than 20 independent and international film distributors. The VUDU STB, which retails for $399, pre-caches content on its 250 GB internal HDD and then uses a broadband connection to download files using its peer-to-peer application.

Consumers pay for each movie on an as-you-go basis. There are no subscription or activation fees. Prices for one-time rentals range from $0.99 - $3.99, and prices for purchased movies range from $4.99 - $19.99, depending on the age of the movie.
  • VUDU is venture-backed by Greylock Partners' David Sze and Roger Evans and Benchmark Capital's Bill Gurley.

Sony Offers Home Entertainment Server with 500 GB Drive

Sony Electronics unveiled a stand-alone device called the HES-V1000 Home Entertainment Server
that features a full HD 1080p 200-disc Blu-ray Disc/DVD/CD changer (196 12cm BD/DVD/CDs and four 8cm BD/DVDs) and 500GB hard disc drive that can store up to 137 hours of video, 40,000 songs or 20,000 digital photos. Additionally, the device is Sony's first Blu-ray Disc-capable component other than a VAIO(R) notebook or optical PC drive that can burn content to Blu-ray Discs, as well as DVDs.

Connectivity options include S-video, composite, audio and HDV/DV (i.LINK) inputs, as well as HDMI with BRAVIA Theatre Sync, component, optical, coaxial and analog outputs. The unit also features Memory Stick media inputs, Secure Digital cards, CompactFlash media and xD-Picture Card flash memory readers, allowing easy transfer of digital image content. The HES-V1000 Home Entertainment Server will be available in October for about $3,500.

U.S. Department of Justice Opposes "Network Neutrality"

The U.S. Department of Justice cautioned the FCC against imposing "Net Neutrality" regulations, arguing that such proposal could hamper the development of the Internet and related services.

In a response to a FCC Notice of Inquiry regarding broadband practices, the DoJ said that some regulatory proposals offered by various companies and organizations in the name of "net neutrality" could deter broadband Internet providers from upgrading and expanding their networks to reach more Americans.

Specifically, the DoJ stated that precluding broadband providers from charging content and application providers directly for faster or more reliable service "could shift the entire burden of implementing costly network expansions and improvements onto consumers." If the average consumer is unwilling or unable to pay more for broadband Internet access, the result could be to reduce or delay critical network expansion and improvement.

The Department said in its filing that it may make economic sense for content providers who want a higher quality of service to pay for the Internet upgrades necessary to provide such service, arguing that "any regulation that prohibits this type of pricing may leave broadband providers unable to raise the capital necessary to fund these investments."

The Department also noted that differentiating service levels and pricing is a common and often efficient way of allocating scarce resources and satisfying consumer demand. "The U.S. Postal Service, for example, allows consumers to send packages with a variety of different delivery guarantees and speeds, from bulk mail to overnight delivery. These differentiated services respond to market demand and expand consumer choice."

"The FCC should be highly skeptical of calls to substitute special economic regulation of the Internet for free and open competition enforced by the antitrust laws," the Department said in its filing. "Marketplace restrictions proposed by some proponents of 'net neutrality' could in fact prevent, rather than promote, optimal investment and innovation in the Internet, with significant negative effects for the economy and consumers."

While cautioning against premature regulation of the Internet, the Department noted its authority to enforce the antitrust laws. "Anticompetitive conduct about which the proponents of regulation are concerned will remain subject to the antitrust laws and enforcement actions by government as well as private plaintiffs, and the Department will continue to monitor developments, taking enforcement action where appropriate to ensure a competitive broadband Internet access market," the Department stated.

A copy of the filing is available from the Department of Justice.
  • In March 2007, the FCC voted to open an inquiry into Net Neutrality issues, postponing any decision on whether the market for broadband services should be further regulated. In its 2005 Internet Policy Statement, the FCC announced four principles to encourage broadband deployment and to preserve and promote the open and interconnected nature of the public Internet. The new inquiry seeks information on the behavior of broadband market participants.

GSM Celebrates its 20th Anniversary, 2.5 Billion Connections

Twenty years ago , an historic agreement was signed in Copenhagen by 15 telecommunications operators from 13 countries that led to the development of the Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM). Today, more than 2.5 billion people across 218 countries and territories, are served by GSM.

According to the GSM Association,

  • the GSM family of technologies makes up 85% of the global mobile services market, which accounts for about 1.6% of global GDP.

  • each year, mobile users purchase more than one billion new handsets, make more than 7 trillion minutes of calls and send about 2.5 trillion text messages.

  • mobile operators have spent more than $234 billion building GSM and 3GSM networks since 2002.

  • the world's biggest GSM markets are China (445 million), Russia (160 million), and India (137 million).

  • 64% of mobile users are in emerging markets.

Microsoft Builds Extenders for Windows Media Center

Microsoft is previewing new Extenders for Windows Media Center platform, promising to make it easier for consumers to move audio/video between devices in various rooms of their homes. The extenders will enable photos, music, video content and live TV to stream from a PC running Windows Vista Home Premium or Windows Vista Ultimate to a big-screen TV display. The technology, which has previously been available on the Xbox 360 platform, now supports Wireless N connectivity.

New extenders will be available in a wide range of form factors, including both stand-alone set-top boxes and integration with other devices such as DVD players and televisions.

Microsoft aims to have Extenders for Windows Media Center technology in a variety of devices to be released this holiday season. This would include home-theater-quality devices from companies such as Linksys, D-Link, and Niveus Media.

Extenders for Windows Media Center are also, for the first time, enhanced to allow support for video codecs such as DivX and Xvid, along with continued support for Windows Media Video HD files.

Microsoft said these extenders will also provide the ability to send protected HD content to additional rooms, including recorded TV from over-the-air Advanced Television Systems Committee or Cable Card tuners and movies and music available from providers such as CinemaNow, MovieLink and Napster.

Extenders also support Media Center features such as Reuters news feeds, National Public Radio broadcasts, up-to-date sports reports from the FOX Sports Lounge, and subscription music from XM Radio. Parental Controls, which are built into Windows Media Center, allow parents to choose the content their children are allowed to view.

Verizon Offers 4GB of Email Storage for FiOS Customers

Verizon will offer its FiOS Internet customers 4GB of e-mail storage and access to their home e-mail accounts with select Verizon Wireless Get It Now-enabled phones from Verizon Wireless.

New features of the enhanced Verizon e-mail include the ability to access accounts from any computer with an Internet connection, using a re-designed Webmail application, increased storage capacity and an unlimited e-mail retention period for active users.

Cisco Partners with Adobe on "Any Stream to Any Screen"

Cisco is enhancing its Content Delivery System (CDS) to be the first system of its type to natively support Adobe Flash streaming capabilities, in addition to traditional progressive delivery. The goal would be to deliver "any stream to any screen" using Adobe Flash Player.

The Cisco CDS is a platform for content and rich-media service delivery including streaming intensive Web services, video on demand, time shifted television, video ad insertion and next-generation content delivery network (CDN) services. The Cisco CDS family is part of the Cisco IP NGN architecture.

The companies said their collaboration will ensure improved performance for faster user response and increased streaming protection to ensure that valuable content is better protected as it is delivered to viewers. The CDS platform provides additional benefits for the hosting and distribution of Flash Player compatible video content and services including content and service routing, dynamic hierarchical caching, load balancing, failover protection, IP multicast extensions, unified management tools, and end-to-end QoS support.

Bell Canada Gains Cisco Powered TelePresence Status

Bell is the first service provider in Canada to achieve the Cisco Powered TelePresence network status enabling the delivery of the Cisco TelePresence solution.

Cisco said its TelePresence certification process goes beyond static service measurement of network performance. It adds leading practices based on current industry standards for network architecture, management and performance including measurement, staff, processes and tools. These are audited annually via third-party verification to help ensure that service providers are committed and able to offer an optimal telepresence experience.

BT Utilizes Motorola Video Encoding for IPTV Sports Service

BT has utilized Motorola's VODxchange encoding capability as part of it "Vision Sport" IPTV service. This marks the first implementation of Motorola's VODxchange solution in the UK. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Motorola's VODxchange is a real-time MPEG-4 AVC encoding solution for both standard definition and high definition delivered over IPTV networks. It is a real-time system that converts content from virtually any video or file format and encode it into MPEG-4 AVC. Motorola said the real-time workflow of VODxchange offers significant productivity enhancement over off-line, software-based tools, enabling content providers to easily scale up as demands increase.

UPC Selects Motorola and TANDBERG TV for VOD

UPC Broadband has selected Motorola and TANDBERG Television, part of the Ericsson Group, to power its Video on Demand (VOD) services in The Netherlands. Deployments are underway and expected to reach 500,000 subscribers this year.

Motorola has delivered its B-1 video server, a highly scalable platform that provides streaming of MPEG-2 video content. By separating storage of programming from streaming, the B-1 video server allows UPC to independently scale its content libraries and streaming resources at a fraction of the cost of legacy servers. TANDBERG Television was the lead integrator on the project and a team of TANDBERG Television VOD-engineers and systems architects has worked closely with UPC's engineering team to provide systems integration, including the incorporation of technologies and devices from a number of third party vendors. TANDBERG Television also supplied its OpenStream Digital Services Platform, an open VOD back-office solution.

TelASIC Raises $12.5 Million

TelASIC Communications, a start-up based in El Segundo, California, raised $12.5 million in new funding for its high-performance analog and mixed-signal integrated circuits (ICs) and sub-systems for the 3G wireless infrastructure market. TelASIC sells Remote Radio Head products to base station OEMs. The technology has been successfully deployed in live HSDPA/WCDMA networks serving 3G customers today.

The new funding was led by ATA Ventures. The current TelASIC investors, including Mission Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, and The IPO Group also participated in the round.

TelASIC is growing its customer base for its Remote Radio Head products and it plans to use the funding to expand the manufacturing operations and customer support organization required to serve its growing customer base.
  • TelASIC was spun out of Raytheon in 2002. The company's ASICs incorporate Raytheon's radio frequency (RF) technology used in defense applications.

  • TelASIC is headed by Prabhat K. Dubey, who previously founded Force10 Networks. Before that, he was President and CEO of MMC Networks, a company that created the "Network Processor" category for switching/routing infrastructure equipment and was acquired by AMCC for $4.5 billion.