Thursday, April 2, 2009

Labor Contracts at AT&T with Expire with its Major Union

Contracts covering nearly 100,000 AT&T workers represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA) expired at midnight on April 5, 2009.

No agreement has been announced by the parties and the CWA noted that many important issues -- including employment security and health care -- have not been resolved.

For now, the CWA is calling for employees to continue to report to work, although it is the option to strike open. CWA members at AT&T operations voted by an 88 percent yes vote to authorize a strike if a fair contract isn't reached. For workers, the terms of the contracts will remain in effect, meaning that wages, working conditions and benefits like health care will continue unchanged, with the exception of arbitration for grievances.

Exar Completes Hifn Acquisition

Exar closed the previously announced acquisition of hi/fn. Al Sisto, the former chief executive officer and chairman of the board of directors of Hifn, has joined Exar's board of directors. It is expected that Hifn's personnel and operations will be relocated during the second calendar quarter of 2009.

Hifn (NASDAQ: HIFN), which is based in Los Gatos, California, supplies a line of Applied Services Processors (ASPs) to network OEMs. Exar (Nasdaq: EXAR), which is based in Milpitas, California, said the acquisition brings valuable intellectual property related to Ethernet, embedded processors, network security, compression, deduplication, RAID, packet processing architecture and SoC design methodology.

Frontier Prices Offering of $600 Million of Its Senior Notes

Frontier Communications, a full-service communications provider and one of the largest local exchange telephone companies in the U.S., priced a registered offering of $600 million aggregate principal amount of 8.25% senior unsecured notes due 2014. The issue price is 91.805% of the principal amount of the notes. Frontier will receive net proceeds of approximately $538 million from the offering after deducting underwriting discounts and estimated offering expenses. Frontier intends to use the net proceeds from the offering to reduce, repurchase or refinance Frontier's indebtedness or the indebtedness of its subsidiaries or for general corporate purposes. The offering is expected to close on April 9, 2009.

JDSU Appoints Dave Holly to Head Test and Measurement Business

Dave Holly has been appointed president of JDSU's Communications Test & Measurement business segment, succeeding Tom Waechter, who was named JDSU president and Chief Executive Officer earlier this year. Holly has been serving as interim leader of the test and measurement business since January 1, 2009 and will be responsible for global sales, product development and operations. He will report directly to Waechter.

Prior to JDSU he had managerial sales responsibilities at NYNEX (now part of Verizon) and began his career in engineering at IBM.

CableLabs Offers Tru2way Reference Platform

CableLabs plans to release a source code reference implementation of its tru2way specifications that will accelerate the development and deployment of tru2way devices and applications.

The "tru2way" brand, which replaced the term "OpenCable Platform," enables consumers to access two-way digital cable programming without the need for a cable operator-supplied set-top box and is capable of supporting all cable services now delivered to devices currently leased to consumers as well as future services written to the tru2way technology. Major cable operators have committed to deploy support for the tru2way platform.

With the support of its member cable operators, CableLabs plans to publicly launch the reference implementation later this year under both a free open source license and a commercial license. CableLabs will make the reference implementation available for use on a PC, making it easier for device manufacturers and application developers to design and test new features and services on the tru2way platform without having to connect to a cable plant.

As new features are added to the tru2way platform and approved for inclusion in the specification, CableLabs also will issue an updated version of the reference implementation and a new compliance test plan. This will allow device manufacturers and application providers to easily and cost effectively incorporate these new features into their products and services.

In cooperation with Sun Microsystems, the reference implementation will be hosted, developed and evolved in an open source community within the OpenCable Project located on Sun's Because the tru2way specifications are based on the Sun PhoneME Java stack, the same Java core that powers Blu-ray and the DVB Multimedia Home Platform, the release of the reference implementation could enable exciting device convergence possibilities. CableLabs will continue to support tru2way device manufacturers and developers in ongoing events such as developer conferences and interops as well as access to a development lab.

IBM + Sun Deal Called Off

The expected acquisition of Sun MicroSystems by IBM was called off after Sun's Board of Directors rejected the latest offer and IBM dropped its bid.

U.S. EPA Conducts National Cell Phone Recycling Week

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) is conducting a National Cell Phone Recycling Week, which runs April 6-12. The project brings together leading cell phone manufacturers and service providers to encourage consumers to recycle used cell phones, Personal Data Assistants (PDAs), cell phone batteries, chargers and other accessories -- and to reduce the amount of reusable materials in landfills, especially e-waste.

According to the EPA, more than 100 million cell phones are discarded annually; and, in 2007, only 10 percent were recycled.

Singapore Selects StarHub as Operator for Next Gen Broadband Network

The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) has selected StarHub to serve as the Operating Company (OpCo) under the Next Generation National Broadband Network. Four proposals were considered: Intellinet (Axia + Cisco), Kliq (M1), 1NNOV8 (Singtel) and Nucleus Connect (StarHub). Last year, the OpenNet consortium backed by SingTel was selected to serve as the Network Company (NetCo) of the Next Gen National Broadband Network.

Under the NBN structure established by the government, the NetCo (OpenNet) is responsible for deploying fiber while the OpCo (StarHub) is responsible for delivering wholesale services to Retail Service Providers (RSPs). A strict structural separation will be maintained.

Under its proposal, StarHub will establish the Next Gen NBN OpCo, called Nucleus Connect, to design, build and operate the active infrastructure. The Government of Singapore will provide a grant of up to $250 million to Nucleus Connect to support its deployment of this infrastructure. Together with the grant of up to $750 million for the Next Gen NBN Network Company1, OpenNet, the Government is investing up to a total of $1 billion to put in place the Next Gen NBN.

Nucleus Connect will, for example, offer a wholesale price of $21 per month for a 100 Mbps residential end-user connection and $121 for a 1Gbps connection. For non-residential premises, such as offices and schools, Nucleus Connect will offer a wholesale price of $75 per month for a 100 Mbps connection. Enterprise users who have more demanding requirements can opt for a 1Gbps connection at $860 per month.

Nucleus Connect will work together with OpenNet, on a coordinated nationwide rollout of the network. It is expected to start offering commercial services by the first half of 2010, and be ready to fulfill its Universal Service Obligations of meeting all reasonable requests for service from 2013.

Nucleus Connect'sservices made available soon after OpenNethas declared coverage of a building. A Universal Service Obligation (USO) shall prevail from 1 Jan 2013.

The Next Gen NBN NetCo and OpCo RFPs were structured to ensure that downstream operators have Effective Open Access to the Next Gen NBN. This is to spur a vibrant and competitive Next Generation broadband market where businesses and consumers can enjoy innovative services from a variety of RSPs. Effective Open Access through structural separation for the Next Gen NBN NetCo and operational separation for the Next Gen NBN OpCo is key to achieving such a vision. Nucleus Connect will be operationally separated from all RSPs. It will also be a separate legal entity from StarHub, with a different corporate brand, separate premises and an independent board of directors. With such an industry structure, RSPs can obtain wholesale bandwidth services from Nucleus Connect on a fair and non-discriminatory basis, and offer a wide range of services at competitive prices to end-users.

Ms Yong Ying-I, Chairman, IDA, said: "With this selection of the Next Gen NBN OpCo RFP proposal, we have achieved another major milestone in the Next Gen NBN project. The Next Gen NBN is a key national infocomm infrastructure that will enhance Singapore's competitiveness in a globalised and digital economy. It will spur the development of rich and innovative content, applications and services, and bring significant benefits to the various economic sectors such as finance, healthcare and education. All in Singapore can soon look forward to a richer broadband experience and a wide range of innovative broadband services at competitive prices, transforming the way we work, live, learn and interact."

Mr Terry Clontz, StarHub's CEO, said: "We are delighted that IDA has selected our proposal. Our proposal is the culmination of years of StarHub's extensive experience in managing and operating what is already Singapore's highest speed broadband network in Singapore. With the fiber optic-based Next-Gen NBN being extended directly to homes and businesses, Singapore will benefit from a robust national infrastructure that will serve the country's broadband needs well into the future."

StarHub will underline its commitment to create a vibrant RSP environment by establishing an integration test lab facility that will help RSPs trial and test out new applications and services over the Next-Gen NBN before commercial deployment. The OpCo is also committed to attracting overseas online service providers to host their content in Singapore. With the fast broadband speeds provided by the Next-Gen NBN, this will undoubtedly bring a more enriching experience to the end users here.

Nucleus Connect expects to spend about $1 billion for the active network over the 25-year period of the license. It is eligible for the government grant of up to $250 million from IDA. StarHub's investment in Nucleus Connect is estimated to be around $100 million.
  • In September 2008, The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) selected the OpenNet consortium as its successful Network Company (NetCo). OpenNet will be contracted to provide passive fibre grid services for Singapore's Next Generation National Broadband Network (NGNBN). OpenNet will be making use of existing ducts and other underlying infrastructure, thereby minimizing disruption to the public and enabling the network to reach homes and buildings nationwide by 2012.

    The OpenNet consortium consists of Axia-Netmedia (30%), Singapore Telecommunications (30%), Singapore Press Holdings (25%) and SP Telecommunications Pte Ltd (15%).

    OpenNet expects to complete the agreement contracting process with the IDA as planned within the next seven months and expects that the Singapore-wide fiber grid will be completed by June 2012. This fiber grid will be made available on equal terms at very compelling prices to any parties qualified by the IDA.