Thursday, April 9, 2009

comScore Sees Slower Growth for Mobile Broadband PC Data Cards

The growth rate for mobile data subscriptions in the U.S. began to decelerate noticeably in Q4 2008, according to a newly released study from comScore. The study examined the usage and characteristics of mobile PC data card users through data collected from computers where Internet access via mobile broadband Internet service providers (ISPs) occurred.

PC data card adoption grew 163 percent overall in 2008, slightly ahead of the 157 percent growth rate in 2007, a confirmation of the market's strong growth trajectory. However, despite this rapid adoption curve, Q4 2008 showed the first signs of softness in the market, as sequential quarterly subscriber growth fell to just 5 percent, following sequential growth of 22 percent in Q3 2008 and several preceding quarters of double-digit growth.

"The PC data card market is clearly in the early stages of its adoption curve, with the overall number of subscribers multiplying in the past few years," said Serge Matta, comScore senior vice president. "That said, we've observed a significant deceleration in subscriber growth during Q4 2008 coinciding with the economic downturn, an indication that mobile broadband service may still be seen by many as a luxury rather than a necessity. Now is the time for mobile broadband providers to solidify their market position, because as the economy begins to recover and discretionary spending resume the market will likely accelerate once again. Verizon appears well-positioned for this eventual resurgence, having gained 2 market share points in the past year."

The study also compared the Internet usage patterns of mobile broadband PC data card users with the general U.S. Internet population to determine how the availability of mobile broadband affects online time. It is important to understand whether online access via mobile broadband represents incremental Internet usage or merely a shift in usage time between different access points.

When looking at the population in aggregate, the results indicated that PC data card usage actually represents a time-shift in Internet consumption, as PC data card users spent nearly the same amount of time online (89 hours) as typical U.S. Internet users (90 hours) during Q4 2008. Of PC data card users with both a PC data card and a wireline ISP, approximately 25 percent of their total online time (22 hours) was spent using a PC data card.

Clearfield Introduces 1152-Port Outside Plant PON Cabinet

Clearfield introduced the industry's highest density outside plant PON cabinet, a FieldSmart Fiber Scalability Center (FSC) 1152-Port. The cabinet provides up to 1,152 fibers in a 33"×16"×64" design. Optimal access is ensured to all ports and superior fiber protection is integrated within the company's Clearview Cassette technology. Core to this design is the fact that fiber is protected in sub-units of 12 fibers.

In addition to its use as a PON Cabinet, the FieldSmart FSC can also be deployed in a cross-connect configuration, serving up to 1,728 connections. The FieldSmart FSC 1152-Port Cabinet is currently shipping.

Cisco to Acquire Tidal Software for $105 Million

Cisco agreed to acquire privately held Tidal Software for approximately $105 million in cash and retention-based incentives.

Tidal Software's mission is to automate many of the complex and routine tasks associated with day-to-day application management: job scheduling and performance monitoring. From a single console, Tidal can create an optimized view of application operations across an enterprise. The company is based in Palo Alto, California and Houston, Texas.

Cisco said Tidal Software's intelligent solutions will bolster its data center strategy by providing timely, accurate and cost-efficient management and automation of application performance across entire business operations, from the server through the network to the desktop. The acquisition is also expected to create significant opportunities for Cisco and its partners through the delivery of partner-led services, leveraging Cisco's application management capabilities.

Cisco is pioneering the development of next-generation data centers that unleash the full power of virtualization. It recently unveiled its vision of Unified Computing, an evolutionary data center architecture which unites compute, network, storage access, and virtualization resources in a single cohesive system.

Upon the close of the acquisition, the Tidal Software team will become part of the Cisco Advanced Services organization. The acquisition is subject to various standard closing conditions and is expected to close in the fourth quarter of Cisco's fiscal year 2009.
  • Tidal Software is headed by Flint Brenton, who has held the post since March, 2003. Formerly Senior Vice President & General Manager of NetIQ's Security & Administration business unit, Flint has held leadership positions at NetIQ, Compaq Computer Corporation, BMC Software and IBM.

Digicel Antilles Deploys Alcatel-Lucent's Packet Microwave Radio

Digicel Antilles, one of the fastest-growing mobile telecommunications operator in the Caribbean, has deployed Alcatel-Lucent's packet microwave support both traditional and new, advanced high-speed services in the Antilles. By optimizing traffic transport and aggregation from the base stations to the core network, the Alcatel-Lucent microwave packet radio solution provides Digicel with optimized mobile backhaul capabilities for increased efficiency reduced operational costs and enhanced quality of service.

The end-to-end mobile backhaul solution deployed by Alcatel-Lucent is based on the 9500 Microwave Packet Radio (MPR) that can aggregate any type of traffic - TDM, ATM and Ethernet - over a converged Microwave Packet network. The product uses statistical multiplexing to optimize the transport network capacity and service driven adaptive modulation to adapt to variable propagation conditions, such as bad weather. Any traffic type (video, voice, data) is recognized and its transmission automatically adapted to guarantee the quality required by the various service types.
  • Digicel is incorporated in Bermuda and has operations in twenty six markets, including Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Barbados, the British Virgin Islands, Bermuda, Bonaire, Curacao, the Cayman Islands, Dominique, French Guiana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Surinam, Panama, Trinidad & Tobago, Turcs & Caicos and El Salvador.

Vietnam's Vinaphone Selects Alcatel-Lucent for Mobile Upgrade

Vinaphone, the second largest mobile operator in Vietnam, has selected Alcatel-Lucent to upgrade its GSM network in 16 northern provinces with advanced EDGE broadband data functionality. The contract was signed through Alcatel-Lucent's flagship company in China, Alcatel-Lucent Shanghai Bell. The deployment is currently underway and the expanded network will begin providing commercial services in April 2009. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Under the terms of the contract, Alcatel-Lucent will design, deploy and maintain its industry-leading multi-standard GSM/EDGE radio access solution including its latest Base Station Controller platform and TWIN transceivers.

I.T.U. Publishes Optical Technology Standards Guide

The ITU-T has just published a Guide on the use of the ITU-T Recommendations related to optical technology.

The guide starts with a short but interesting history of optical technology noting that the capacity of optical systems has jumped by a factor of more than 10,000 over a period of 20 years. In the same time it also notes that the applications of optical technology have progressively moved from short distance links (a few tens of km) to very long distance links in backbone networks, completely replacing traditional copper cabling. In the last few years it charts the arrival of optical technology in access networks.

The practical part of the guide contains a functional grouping of Study Group 15 Recommendations on optical technology e.g. optical fibres and cables, physical optical interfaces, optical fibre submarine cable systems. An introduction to each category with more than one Recommendation outlines the subjects which are common to that category.

The 68-page PDF guide is posted online.

FCC Seeks to Expand First Responders' Use of Broadband

The FCC adopted new new rules to expand and enhance first responders' deployment of broadband communication technologies across the nation in the 4.9 GHz band. The action is aimed at stimulating the economy while also better enable first responders to more easily share time-sensitive data and streaming video footage in emergencies or life-threatening incidents.

Under the Order, the FCC granted primary status to:

(1) 4.9 GHz stand-alone, permanent fixed links that are used to deliver broadband service (such as a fixed video surveillance link used to monitor high-risk facilities or environments), and

(2) permanent fixed links that connect 4.9 GHz base and mobile stations used to deliver broadband service (for such uses as supporting
broadband communications at 'hot-spots" and other fixed public safety broadband networks), as well as connect other public safety networks using spectrum designated for broadband use.

The FCC said it took these actions in order to provide public safety with additional operational flexibility to use the 4.9 GHz band during emergencies and disasters and better enable first responders to share crucial data in their efforts to assist those in need and save lives.
The Order retained the current requirement for individual site-based licensing for all permanent fixed stations. The Commission, however, revised the output power measurement procedures for 4.9 GHz band devices to be the same as those required for devices using digital
modulation techniques regulated by Part 15 of the Commission's rules.

To further enhance public safety communications, the Commission preserved paging operations in the VHF public safety band, and clarified that cross-band repeaters are permitted forall public safety systems.

Additionally, the Commission sought comment on whether to: (1) further amend its rules to reinstate an exemption of 4.9 GHz band applications from certified frequency coordination requirements; (2) impose a more formal 'licensee-to-licensee" coordination requirement on primary
fixed stations in the 4.9 GHz band; (3) correct and clarify the 4.9 GHz band plan regarding which center frequencies may be licensed when aggregating multiple channels into larger bandwidths; and (4) implement three 'clean-up" amendments to Section 90.20 of the Commission's rules relating to the Public Safety Pool Frequency Table and associated limitations.

"By clarifying that 4.9 GHz fixed links that connect base and mobile stations used to deliver broadband services are afforded primary status under our rules, the Commission is promoting more intensive use of the spectrum for broadband applications in the band. This, in
turn, will provide first responders with greater ability to use emerging broadband technologies to share crucial broadband data and thereby assist those in need, address emergency situations and disasters, and save lives," stated acting FCC Chairman Michael J. Copps.

AT&T Offers $250K Reward in Fiber Sabbotage Case in Silicon Valley

AT&T is offering a $250,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the vandals responsible for damaging fiber optic cables near San Jose and San Carlos, California on April 9. The vandalism disrupted service to many Silicon Valley customers and businesses. AT&T crews restored service to most customers later that same day.

"We have zero tolerance for any criminal who would attack our network and the many customers -- both consumers and businesses -- who depend on the services the network delivers," said John Stankey, president and chief executive officer of AT&T Operations. "We are aggressively working with law enforcement authorities to see that those responsible for this willful act are apprehended and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."