Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Dell'Oro: Huawei Gains Momentum in IPTV STB Market

The worldwide Set-top Box (STB) market fell 10 percent sequentially during the third quarter of this year to $2.6 billion, according to new figures from Dell'Oro Group. During the third quarter, vendors like Motorola and Cisco, who both have a high degree of exposure to the North American market, saw large contractions in IP STB unit shipments due to the decline in net subscriber additions. In China, Huawei continued its strong growth putting more pressure on ZTE and UTStarcom. ZTE however, retained its grip on being the third largest vendor in the worldwide IP STB market.

"The global economic recession, with its shrinking incomes, high unemployment, and tight credit market, has resulted in significantly less home construction and fewer residential home moves, causing pay-TV operators to struggle to gain gross subscriber additions," said Greg Collins, Vice President at Dell'Oro Group. "Consumers, now faced with less disposable income, are more apt to choose less expensive, lower-tier services, thus boosting the low-end set-top box market," Collins added.

Kineto Announces VoLGA Access Network Controller

Kineto Wireless released new software for its access gateway solution which supports the VoLGA Forum's specification for extending voice and SMS services over LTE networks.

Kineto said its VoLGA access network controller is already installed and under test with a major mobile operator. VoLGA controllers connect to existing mobile switching centers (MSC) through standard network interfaces to enable delivery of the full range of basic telephony and intelligent network services operators expect and subscribers demand.

In related news, Kineto recently announced availability of the industry's first combined VoLGA/IMS voice client for LTE handsets. The client, which can be field upgraded, provides unmatched investment protection for operators, as well as device manufacturers developing LTE handsets.

Aricent Unveils OSS / BSS Innovation Lab

Aricent announced a new facility and associated services aimed at helping service providers architect and implement the latest in multi-vendor Operational Support Systems (OSS) and Business Support Systems (BSS) technology. The company said its new Innovation Lab will help operators assess, develop and deploy new business models and improve the overall customer experience by implementing new OSS / BSS components in support of advanced services and 4G. The facility is initially equipped with COTS products from leading partners including ConceptWave, Hewlett Packard, Oracle and Telcordia. The lab also includes a number of Aricent software products and frameworks, which enable faster roll out of a variety of new services.

One example of the frameworks and services available through Aricent's Innovation Lab is a WiMAX reference architecture. The Innovation Lab also addresses related challenges, including:

  • Integrating and Commercializing New OSS / BSS Solutions Based on COTS Platforms -- Green field operators in emerging markets are looking for very cost-effective, pre-packaged COTS-based solutions that are highly scalable and can be implemented quickly offering the flexibility to address evolving business models;

  • Deploying New Network Infrastructure, Including 4G -- As operators look to deploy the latest 4G technologies like WiMAX and LTE, optimizing CAPEX and OPEX while trying to quickly recoup investments is critical. Aricent' s lab provides a cost effective feasibility modeling vehicle for implementing new technologies and solutions that involve multiple OSS / BSS vendors;

  • Delivering and Monetizing Web 2.0 and Cloud-Based Services -- Carriers are looking to open network APIs and embrace cloud services, partnering with external vendors to deliver next-generation context aware services like location-based social networking and mobile gaming. As a result, there is a critical need for creating a back office infrastructure that makes it simple for third-party application providers to monetize and roll out services.

BT Launches OneVoice, Cloud-based Hosted Telephony with Cisco

BT and Cisco have launched a business-grade, global hosted IP Telephony service as part of BT's Onevoice UCC portfolio. BT is engaging closely with Cisco Services to build the underlying virtualized cloud infrastructure for service delivery.

The hosted IP telephony service represents the world's first global offering based on Cisco Hosted UC services as the platform for collaborative voice communications. Available now in the UK, the hosted IPT service from BT will also be available to businesses in the United States and EMEA in 2010 followed by Asia Pacific.

Neil Sutton, vice president, global portfolio, BT Global Services, said: "Businesses today typically have multiple, fragmented, disparate IT and telephony infrastructures that restrict effective communication. BT and Cisco's collaboration on this innovative, cloud-based unified communications system will help businesses reduce capital expenditure in this difficult time, while giving them the ability to introduce productivity enhancing tools."http://www.cisco.com

AT&T Approves First M2M All-Weather Device for Outside Billboards

AT&T has approved and certified the first all-weather programmable device for the outdoor advertising for operation over the AT&T wireless data network.

OutdoorLink's SmartLink is a wireless, M2M lighting controller designed exclusively for the outdoor advertising industry. SmartLink enables outdoor companies to turn off remotely unsold faces plus track and monitor power outages, power restoration, bulb outages and daily proof of performance. It enables these advertising companies to remotely monitor and control utility consumption through a web-based application.

AT&T said the weatherproof device incorporates a soldered VQFN8 SIM (subscriber identity module) and is the first device with advanced machine to machine (M2M) technology in outdoor display advertising to complete PCS Type Certification Review Board (PTCRB) standards testing over wireless networks.

Broadcom Improves Bluetooth + Wi-Fi Co-Existence in Netbooks

Broadcom released a new version of its InConcert wireless technology that enables co-existence between Bluetooth and Wi-Fi in netbooks and notebooks. Broadcom said its new version of InConcert technology applies adaptive algorithms that identify wireless use cases to significantly improve 802.11n throughputs while servicing various Bluetooth devices.

The connection requirements for various Bluetooth applications vary dramatically, with some requiring low latency and others needing a predetermined minimum throughput. Broadcom InConcert co-existence algorithms take these factors into account while servicing a combination of different Bluetooth devices in the presence of an active Wi-Fi link. The update also delivers significant improvement in Wi-Fi throughput when simultaneously listening to audio over Bluetooth.

AT&T Forms Sustainability Advisory Council on Greenhouse Gasses

AT&T has formed a business sustainability advisory council dedicated to the issue of greenhouse gas reduction in ICT operations. In addition to AT&T, representatives from the Carbon Disclosure Project, Cisco Systems, The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, the University of Colorado Denver, and University of Texas at Austin have agreed to join the AT&T Business Sustainability Advisory Council, with a number of additional organizations expected to be added soon.

The AT&T Business Sustainability Advisory Council will work to further the cause of measurement, methodologies and technology use cases to help business customers better quantify the impact of ICT-enabled solutions for greenhouse gas reduction. This includes validating the findings of the SMART 2020 report developed by The Climate Group and the Global eSustainability Initiative (GeSI), which identified ICT-enabled solutions with the potential to reduce CO2e emissions by up to 15 percent worldwide annually by 2020.

By arming companies with this information, the council aims to help businesses make smarter sustainability choices and investments and better prepare for potential environmental regulation.

"In forming this council, we've taken an important step in helping companies realize the benefit of responsible action that, in parallel, can have compelling business benefits," said Ron Spears, President and Chief Executive Officer, AT&T Business Solutions. "AT&T is looking forward to working with the council as it helps us develop measurement methodologies to communicate the environmental benefits of ICT products and services to customers."http://www.att.com/sustainability

Broadband Forum Releases Global VDSL2 Test Suite

The Broadband Forum released three new technical reports to help telecom operators with their VDSL2 deployments.

  • TR-114 provides a set of performance requirements and test methods that assure a consistent level of performance between the DSLAM in the network and the Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) -- giving providers a high confidence level when deploying VDSL2 multi-play services such as IPTV. Essentially, TR-114 sets the performance requirements for VDSL2 (ITU-T G.993.2) modems. The test plan facilitates VDSL2 over POTS and over ISDN performance testing. It embodies definitions of VDSL2 interoperability between one DSLAM and one CPE at a time and focuses on physical layer testing, as well as validation and verification of selected higher layer functionalities.

  • TR-115 boosts chipset functional interoperability to create improved interworking and increased competition in the market. TR-115 establishes the test methods to verify selected transceiver functional requirements of VDSL2 modems implemented in accordance with ITU-T G.993.2, as well as physical layer OAM configuration and performance monitoring parameters as defined in ITU-T G.997.1. Its key value is in the verification of transceiver functionalities and management parameters in order that network operators may deploy interoperable and successful VDSL2 services in their networks.

  • TR-138 enhances the reporting accuracy for better management of VDSL2 and ADSL2+ modems. TR-138 specifies accuracy requirements for VDSL2 and ADSL2/2plus management parameters. This provides service providers with the assurance that their DSL equipment accurately reports DSL modem signal characteristics.

"VDSL2 already allows service providers to deliver high bandwidth services to customers with copper access but until now these service providers have been limited both in their choice of vendor and what they can safely promise to deliver to their customers," said Broadband Forum Chief Operating Officer Robin Mersh.

Romtelecom Outsources Field Operations to Ericsson

Romtelecom, Romania's largest wireline operator, will outsource its field operations to Ericsson. Under a five year managed services agreement, Ericsson will be responsible for corrective and preventive field maintenance of switching and power systems. As a result of the agreement, about 400 employees from Romtelecom will be transferred to Ericsson. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Ericsson noted that the contract marks its first managed services deal in Romania.

Verizon's Growth Prospects in 2010

Verizon's CapEx for the first nine months of 2009, including incremental spending related to Alltel, totaled just below $12.5 billion, said John Killian
Chief Financial Officer of Verizon, speaking at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York this week. This is about 1% below last year. For the full-year, Verizon's CapEX should be about $17.4 million.

Verizon's topline performance this year has been driven by wireless data. FiOS broadband and video. Within the enterprise market, IT services continue to increase, driving sequential growth of 2.5% in global enterprise revenue. However, due to the recession, there has been weakness in volume-based core products.

Looking ahead, Killian expects revenue growth in wireless will be driven by the continued explosion in data plans, applications and content, and
machine-to-machine usage. LTE is also seen as very promising, with more revenue growth opportunities and a more efficient network. Verizon is also looking to LTE for lower operating costs and capital requirements. He confirmed that all systems are go next year's LTE rollout, which is expected to hit 25 to 30 markets by the end
of 2010, representing 100 million POPs.

On the wireline front, Killian expects Verizon will substantially complete its FiOS build program by the end of 2010. This should yield about $2 billion of capital savings each year. Verizon will thereby reduce its capital requirements beginning in 2011, improving free cash flow and investment returns.

An archive of the webcast is on the company's website.

AT&T Pursues Higher Wireless Margins in Mid-40% Range

AT&T sees its significant opportunities ahead in consumer wireless service and U-verse TV service, said Ralph de la Vega, President and CEO of AT&T Mobility, speaking at the UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York.

Despite the weak economic conditions, de la Vega said AT&T did a good job this year in adding wireless subscribers, growing the U-verse franchise and upgrading both its wireless and wireline network. He believes the U.S. now leads the world market in smartphones and 3G -- trends that he expects will expand rapidly in 2010. The network augmentation that AT&T has put in place for the current HSPA 7.2 upgrade program puts the company in good place for rolling LTE out later.

The company is not planning any significant uptick in its CAPEX budget. AT&T is still negotiating on the LTE upgrade process with its vendor.

Some notes from the presentation

  • The growth in wireless data in concentrated markets like Manhattan and downtown San Francisco has been unprecedented. Growth has spike due to iPhone usage. Activating the 850MHz network also led to a sudden traffic spike due to building penetration, as indoor iPhone users suddenly could access the network. The company is upgrading its backhaul and replacing older microcells that have not scaled well for 3G.

  • Three percent of smartphone customers are driving about 40% of mobile data traffic. The company is considering steps to make those heavy users reconsider or reduce their usage so they don't crowd out others in the same cell site. One problem is that customers are not aware of their data traffic patterns. Longer term, de la Vega there is likely to be a pricing structure to address data usage, but such a change would depend on competitive pressures and regulatory requirements.

  • AT&T will launch HSPA 7.2 in six markets by the end of this month

  • AT&T plans to have HSPA 7.2 running in 25 of its top 30 markets by Q2 2010

  • More than a dozen HSPA 7.2 devices are available now, including the iPhone 3GS

  • AT&T sees big opportunity for Emerging Devices, such as eReaders, personal navigation devices and NetBooks.

  • Wireless business now represents an annual revenue stream of more than $50 billion

  • AT&T just crossed the 2 million subscriber milestone for U-verse

  • U-verse now passes 20 million homes and the company plans to pass 30 million by the end of next year

  • U-verse operational metrics continue to improve and the company said it is seeing speeds in excess of what it had predicted

  • AT&T is launching 24 Mbps Internet access in an initial 3 markets

  • The company continues to pursue a "One AT&T" convergence solution with application portability across 3 screens

An archive of the webcast is on the company's website.