Monday, November 23, 2009

European Parliament Approves New Telecom Rules

The European Parliament approved a major overhaul of EU telecoms rules by 510 votes to 40, with 24 abstentions. The new rules, which are expected to be implemented over the next 18 months, are aimed at strengthening the rights of phone users and Internet surfers and boosting competition among telecoms firms.

"This legislative package is a prime example of how the work we are doing as European legislators has an impact on the daily life of citizens. I am delighted that we have contributed to strengthening the rights of users of electronic communications and the internet." said EP President Jerzy Buzek.

The telecoms directive includes rules to:

  • harmonise radio spectrum management across the EU, especially with a view to the switchover from analogue to digital TV by 2012,

  • improve co-operation among Member States' telecoms regulators, and

  • allow "functional separation", i.e. rules requiring dominant operators to separate their network infrastructure from business units offering services that use this infrastructure.

  • improve consumer rights, e.g. by allowing customers to have their mobile telephone number transferred within one working day when changing operators,

  • strengthen personal data and privacy protection, e.g. by requiring the user's consent to the use of cookies.

MEPs also agreed with the EU's telecommunications ministers to set up a European body bringing together all 27 national regulators - the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communications (BEREC).

NSN and LG Undertake LTE Testing in 2100 MHz for Japan

Nokia Siemens Networks and LG recently completed end-to-end LTE interoperability tests in the 2100 MHz frequency band, which is the spectrum where first commercial deployments are expected in Japan.

The tests demonstrated the interoperability of Nokia Siemens Networks LTE radio equipment and Evolved Packet Core network elements with an LTE USB Datacard from LG Electronics. They were conducted at the Nokia Siemens Networks LTE center of competence in Oulu, Finland, with support from the R&D team in Ulm, Germany.

As a next step, field trials with LG's LTE terminal will begin in Nokia Siemens Networks' test network in Espoo and Ulm, followed by tests in operator networks. The trials will also be extended to cover other frequency bands such as 2600 MHz and AWS/700 in the next few months.

"The availability of commercial LTE terminals and their proven interoperability with network infrastructure are prerequisites for any operator launching commercial LTE services," said Go-hee Choi, Vice President of LG Electronics Mobile Communication Technology Research Lab. "LG is taking the next giant step towards technology leadership in LTE technology through the partnership with Nokia Siemens Networks, and will continue to collaborate to drive early LTE deployments worldwide."

Clearwire Secures Additional $2.8 Billion through Bond Offerings

Clearwire secured additional $2.8 billion in new capital through the issuance of senior secured notes due 2015.

"Today, we are proud to have secured an additional $920 million in debt financing, which, when coupled with the $1.56 billion of recently announced equity financing and the $1.85 billion of debt financing that we closed on today, demonstrates our ability to access the capital markets on attractive terms and in sufficient size to meet our needs, while at the same time prudently balancing equity dilution with the cost of capital," said Bill Morrow, CEO of Clearwire. "With this latest tranche of additional funding, we have not only exceeded the amount of capital that we have previously stated we needed to fully fund our business plan, but we have also secured additional capital that will allow us to expand more aggressively by covering more people, and with more capacity than we had previously planned."

The gross proceeds of this new debt offering will be placed in an escrow account until the consummation of the closing of the second phase of the $1.564 billion in new investment capital from Sprint Nextel, Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Intel, Eagle River Holdings, and Bright House Networks. As previously announced, Clearwire received approximately $1.057 billion in cash from the equity financing on November 13, 2009 and expects to receive an additional $440 million in cash at a second closing, which is targeted to be completed by year end 2009, and the remaining $66 million will be funded at a closing, which is targeted to be completed during first quarter 2010.

Windstream to Acquire Iowa Telecom for $1.1 Billion

Windstream agree to acquire Iowa Telecom for approximately $1.1 billion.

Iowa Telecom serves about 256,000 access lines, about 95,000 high-speed Internet customers and about 26,000 digital TV customers.

Windstream serves approximately 3 million access lines.

Iowa Telecom shareholders will receive 0.804 shares of Windstream stock and $7.90 in cash per each Iowa Telecom share under terms of the agreement approved by the boards of directors of both companies. Windstream expects to issue approximately 26.5 million shares of stock valued at approximately $269 million, based on the company's closing stock price on Nov. 23, 2009, and pay approximately $261 million in cash as part of the transaction.
  • The Iowa Telecom deal represents Windstream's fourth acquisition in 2009. Other transactions include:

    NuVox -- adding approximately 90,000 business customers in 16 states across the Southeast and Midwest.

    Lexcom -- expanding operations in North Carolina.

    D&E Communications -- adding approximately 160,000 access lines and about 46,000 high-speed Internet customers in Pennsylvania.

  • Windstream was formed in 2006 through the spinoff of Alltel's landline business and merger with VALOR Communications Group.

IEEE Sends 40 Gbps and 100 Gbps Ethernet Standards to Ballot

The IEEE 802 Executive Committee has forwarded the draft 40 Gbps and 100 Gbps standard for sponsor balloting Once the Sponsor ballot has been completed, the draft standards will be submitted for approval by the IEEE-SA Standards Board as an IEEE standard.

IEEE P802.3ba will be known by its full name of "IEEE Standard for Information Technology - Telecommunications and Information Exchange Between Systems - Local and Metropolitan Area Networks - Specific Requirements Part 3: Carrier Sense Multiple Access with Collision Detection (CSMA/CD) Access Method and Physical Layer Specifications - Amendment: Media Access Control Parameters, Physical Layers and Management Parameters for 40 Gb/s and 100 Gb/s Operation."

In addition, the IEEE noted that a related standard, the International Telecommunication Union's Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) Recommendation G.709, "Interfaces for the optical transport network (OTN)," is being revised to support transport of 40 Gb/s and 100 Gb/s Ethernet over the OTN and is on track for approval by the end of 2009.

"IEEE and ITU-T have formed a liaison relationship in the development of these standards, which is helping to speed the development of both standards," says David Law, Chair of the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet Working Group.

Sprint Closes Acquisition of Virgin Mobile USA

Sprint Nextel completed its previously announced acquisition of Virgin Mobile USA, strengthening its position in the growing prepaid segment by bringing together the iconic Virgin Mobile brand with Sprint's Boost Mobile business.

EXFO Expands 40 Gbps OTN Test Capabilities

EXFO Electro-Optical Engineering (EXFO) has enhanced its FTB-8140 Transport Blazer 40/43 Gigabit SONET/SDH/OTN Test Module with full ODU multiplexing capability as well as independent transmission/reception settings. With the ODU multiplexing functionality on the FTB-8140 Transport Blazer, service providers can now test ODU1 and ODU2 containers within the OTU3 signal.

EXFO said its FTB-8140 Transport Blazer now offers flexibility so that SONET/SDH payloads as well as 10 Gigabit Ethernet can be mapped into the ODU1 or ODU2 containers, ensuring that tests reflect more real-life testing parameters. In addition to the ODU multiplexing functionality, the FTB-8140 Transport Blazer now also supports independent transmission/reception settings, enabling service providers to properly qualify and validate network elements at installation.

Additional features also available with this latest software release include SONET/SDH payload block and replace capability for easier troubleshooting and maintenance.

Tata and Middle East Operators Plan New Undersea Cable

Tata Communications announced a strategic partnership with several of the major telecom operators in the Middle East to construct a new cable system into the Gulf. The new cable will link the region's major business hubs and city centres via Tata's Global Network (the TGN).

Tata's partners for the new TGN Gulf Cable System include Bahrain Internet Exchange, Nawras of Oman, Qatar Telecom, Mobily of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Etisalat of the United Arab Emirates. Using their own cable station, each party will have access to a new high-speed route to the globe and bring in much needed resilience and diversity to the infrastructure in each country.

Virgin Media Selects TiVo For Next Gen TV Platform

TiVo will become the exclusive provider of middleware and user interface software for Virgin Media's next generation set top boxes. Virgin Media will become the exclusive distributor of TiVo services and technology in the United Kingdom. Under the mutually exclusive agreement, TiVo will develop a converged television and broadband interactive interface to power Virgin Media's next generation, high definition set top boxes. Virgin Media said it anticipates launching its first TiVo co-branded product in 2010. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

IBM Opens Telecom Development Centers in China, South Africa, Malaysia and France

IBM officially opened new telecommunications development centers in China, South Africa and Malaysia to help Communication Service Providers (CSPs) create new business models while improving the customer experience and operational efficiencies. IBM also announced a dedicated center in France for solutions based on products and services from Comverse, a supplier of software and systems for the telecom industry.

The new telecom development centers offer a range of new telecommunications software solutions based on IBM's Service Provider Delivery Environment (SPDE) 3.0 framework, as well as hardware, services and business partner applications. Clients will include telecommunication operators, network equipment suppliers, independent software vendors (ISVs) and extended service providers.

"To sustain growth in today's economy, service providers are seeking ways to offer subscribers a more positive and differentiated user experience while reducing complexity and cost," said Scott Stainken, general manager for IBM's telecommunications industry. "IBM's specialized global centers and labs offer the telco industry an unparalleled level of expertise and support to speed implementation and facilitate more effective use of applications and technologies."

Some more detail on the facilities:

Comverse Center of Excellence -- located within the IBM Telecom Solutions Lab in France, this facility offers a BSS/OSS (Business Support System/Operational Support System) and Service-Delivery environment using software components from IBM and Comverse that allow clients to test proofs of concept. IBM server and storage hardware, including Power Systems and BladeCenter, provide the dynamic infrastructure foundation for the CoE.

China Telecommunications Solutions Center -- located in IBM's China Development Labs, the IBM Telecommunication Solutions Center (TSC) has been established to accelerate solution development and streamline product delivery. Recently, China Mobile Communications Corporation has been working closely with experts at the China TSC to deploy a platform -- based on IBM Service Delivery Platform, Data Warehouse and Cognos Business Intelligence -- that supports service creation, deployment, execution, integration and management. As a result, China Mobile is able to reduce time-to-market for new products, increase revenue and improve customer service with end-to-end monitoring and analysis.

South Africa Telecom Solutions Lab -- IBM's main Telecom Solutions Lab (TSL) in Sub-Sahara Africa is located in Johannesburg, but clients will also be able to access IBM solution demonstrations from three additional satellite locations in Africa: (Nairobi, Lagos and Cape Town). The facility features a "proof of concept" solution called "The Enterprise Applications for IMS + SDP for Mobile Healthcare" which is aimed at improving doctor's productivity and delivery of healthcare services using a wireless infrastructure.

ASEAN Telecom Center of Excellence -- the new Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Telecom Center of Excellence (CoE) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia will support CSPs from across the region.