Monday, November 3, 2008

WiChorus Secures $18 million in Series C Funding

WiChorus, a start-up based in San Jose, California, secured $18 million in series C funding for its scalable platforms for Smart 4G Networks. Pinnacle Ventures led the oversubscribed up-round, which included existing investors Redpoint Ventures, Mayfield Fund and Accel Partners. This brings total funding in the company to $43 million.

WiChorus' SmartCore platforms enable operators to deploy smart WiMAX and LTE networks with advanced service and subscriber management, content management, and network optimizations, and to monetize the Internet for increased ARPU and profitability.
  • WiChorus was founded by Rehan Jalil, who previously served as chief architect of WiMAX for Aperto Networks.

Motorola Applauds FCC TV Whitespaces Decision

Motorola applauded the FCC to approve rules for Television White Space (TVWS). Motorola noted that in many areas in the United States, television channels lie fallow because broadcasters only occupy a certain number of channels in every television market. By allowing the use of TVWS, the FCC is advancing access to broadband services, especially in rural areas where broadband is more limited.

As part of the FCC's decision, power limits have been imposed on TVWS devices to ensure there is no interference to television signals and other permitted users within the television band. In particular, the FCC is requiring the first group of approved devices to include geo-location technology. Geo-location devices provide extremely accurate protection by using a database to determine available channels based on the precise location of the device.

Motorola noted that it has been a leader in developing and implementing the geo-location technology approved by the FCC. During the FCC's eight-month laboratory and field testing, Motorola's device was 100 percent successful in identifying television signals and preventing interference.

FCC Approves Television White Spaces

The FCC approved rules governing Television White Space (TVWS). The rules will permit fixed or mobile wireless devices to operate in broadcast television spectrum on a secondary basis at locations where that spectrum is open. The approval is expected to lead to a new class of unlicensed devices in the unused spectrum that provide broadband data and other services for consumers and businesses.

The FCC said its new rules represent a careful first step to permit the operation of unlicensed devices in the TV white spaces and include numerous safeguards to protect incumbent services against harmful interference.

Such devices must include a geolocation capability and provisions to access over the Internet a database of the incumbent services, such as full power and low power TV stations and cable system headends, in addition to spectrum-sensing technology. The database will tell the white space device what spectrum may be used at that location.

Wireless microphones will be protected in a variety of ways. The locations where wireless microphones are used, such as sporting venues and event and production facilities, can be registered in the data base and will be protected in the same way as other services.

The FCC has required that devices include the ability to listen to the airwaves to sense wireless microphones as an additional measure of protection for these devices. All white space devices are subject to equipment certification by the FCC Laboratory. The Laboratory will request samples of the devices for testing to ensure that they meet all the
pertinent requirements.

The FCC also will permit certification of devices that do not include the geolocation and data base access capabilities, and instead rely solely on spectrum sensing to avoid causing harmful interference, subject to a much more rigorous approval process.

FCC Approves Verizon Wireless-ALLTEL Deal with Conditions.

The FCC voted to approve the transfer of control of licenses and other authorizations held by subsidiaries and
partnerships of ALLTEL from Atlantis Holdings to Verizon Wireless.

The approval paves the way for Verizon Wireless to provide a more robust national wireless service to its customers.

The FCC said it examined the market for mobile telephony/broadband services and concluded that the companies have demonstrated that the transaction, subject to the conditions described below, is likely to result in public interest benefits.

Based on a case-by-case analysis that found a potential for competitive harm in five markets, the FCC is requiring that one of the two companies divest the licenses and related operational and network assets in those markets. The Commission also conditioned its approval of the proposed transaction on Verizon Wireless' voluntary divestitures in 100 markets. The FCC believes these divestitures will prevent consolidation in individual markets from advancing to a point at which it would threaten competition and potentially harm consumers.

The FCC's approval also required a finding that the public interest would be served by extending the current foreign ownership ruling to permit Verizon Wireless to acquire up to and including 100 percent of the equity and voting interests in ALLTEL, its subsidiaries, and the partnerships in which ALLTEL holds a controlling ownership interest. This was due to the share that Vodafone holds in Verizon Wireless.
  • Last week, The U.S. Department of Justice ruled to require Verizon Communications Corp. to divest assets in 100 areas in 22 states in order to proceed with its $28 billion acquisition of Alltel Corp. The Department said that the transaction as originally proposed would have substantially lessened competition to the detriment of consumers of mobile wireless telecommunications services in those areas, and likely would result in higher prices, lower quality and reduced network investments. Verizon and Alltel are significant competitors and each is the other's closest competitor for a significant set of customers in 94 Cellular Marketing Areas (CMAs), as defined by the FCC.

  • In June 2008, Verizon Wireless agreed to acquire Alltel Corporation for $5.9 billion. Based on Alltel's projected net debt at closing of $22.2 billion, the aggregate value of the transaction is $28.1 billion. Both carrier operate CDMA networks and plan future LTE migration. Together, the companies serve over 80 million wireless subscribers. Alltel serves more than 13 million customers in markets in 34 states. This includes 57 primarily rural markets that Verizon Wireless does not serve. Alltel is currently owned by Atlantis Holdings LLC, an affiliate of private investment firm TPG Capital and GS Capital Partners.

    At the time the deal was announced, Verizon Wireless expects to realize synergies with a net present value, after integration costs, of more than $9 billion driven by reduced capital and operating expense savings. Synergies are expected to generate incremental cost savings of $1 billion in the second year after closing.

FCC Approves Sprint-Nextel/Clearwire Merger

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to approve, with conditions, the transfer of control of licenses held Sprint-Nextel Corporation and Clearwire to New Clearwire Corporation. The merger is expected to facilitate the build-out of
a nationwide WiMAX-based network that will lead to increased competition, greater consumer choice and new, innovative wireless services.

The FCC concluded that the merger will be in the public interest with no competitive harm identified in any market.

The Commission conditioned its approval of this transaction on Sprint Nextel's compliance with a voluntary commitment to phase out its requests for federal high-cost universal service support over a five-year transition period and with a voluntary commitment to use counties for measuring compliance with the Commission's wireless E911 location accuracy rules
governing handset-based technologies.

The licenses, leases, and authorizations transferred in this transaction include BRS, Educational Broadband Service, Point-to-Point Microwave, and Local Multipoint Distribution Service.

Nokia Research Center Trims its Focus

Nokia announced further cuts to its sales/marketing activities as well to its R&D efforts. The company announced:

  • Changes in its sales and marketing activities in the Markets unit. Nokia estimates that approximately 450 employees, maximum 100 in Finland, in the Markets unit will be affected by the planned changes.

  • Nokia Research Center (NRC), which is specialized in long-term research activities within Nokia, plans to sharpen its focus on fewer but stronger research areas. The planned reorganization is estimated to have an impact on approximately 130 NRC employees globally, of which a maximum of 100 are in Finland.

  • Nokia plans to close its Turku site in Finland and relocate those activities predominantly to Salo (Finland). Nokia currently has 220 employees working in the Turku office and the aim is that the employees would continue in Nokia's site at Salo or in the capital area in Finland.

  • Nokia also plans some smaller workforce adjustments in global process operations. These adjustments are estimated to affect approximately 35 employees, of which almost all are in Finland.

Tunisiana chooses NSN for Network Modernization

Tunisiana, the leading telecommunications operator in Tunisia, has deployed Nokia Siemens Networks' Flexi Intelligent Service Node (ISN) to modernize its GPRS core network. The Flexi ISN, which performs GPRS Gateway Service Node (GGSN) and data charging functionalities, is fully integrated with the existing Nokia Siemens Networks charge@once prepaid solution to enable flexible charging of data services. The systems integration services ensure seamless consumer experience, while managing an increasingly complex combination of new processes and systems. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The deployment enables Tunisiana to combine all in one box a GGSN and an Intelligent Charging Node. The deployed Flexi ISN 3.1 system is able, through deep packet inspection, to distinguish the type of traffic such as HTTP browsing, WAP browsing, MMS, streaming, content download thus enabling different charging models based on the type of data service used.

Tunisiana's network has 1449 base stations.

Force10 Networks Appoints New CEO

Force10 Networks named James Hanley has been named chief executive officer, succeeding Marc Randall, who announced his retirement from the company. Hanley formerly served as senior vice president of worldwide sales at Force10.

Before joining Force10, Hanley was senior vice president of worldwide field operations at NeoScale Systems. Prior to NeoScale, he served as senior vice president of worldwide partner sales at CA. Earlier, Hanley held executive roles in sales, field operations and channel development at EMC, including senior leadership positions in the company's London and Hong Kong offices.

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