Thursday, March 4, 2010

Cloudmark Raises $23 Million for Secure Messaging

Cloudmark, a start-up based in San Francisco and Boston, raised $23 million in a new round of funding for its carrier-grade secure messaging software.

Cloudmark leverages a unique combination of "Advanced Message Fingerprinting" technology, real-time corroborated feedback from Cloudmark's Global Threat Network system, automated, anonymous traffic analysis and dedicated security analysts to provide spam, phishing and virus protection. The company said it is able to detect messaging abuse with up to 99 percent accuracy and near-zero false positives.

The latest funding was led by new investor Summit Partners and joined by Nokia Growth Partners. Existing investors Ignition Partners and Industry Ventures also participated in the round.

The new funding was used to assist in Cloudmark's acquisition of Bizanga, Ltd. and is the first investment Cloudmark has raised since 2004.

ZTE Picks Siverge Networks' Chip for Multi-Service Access

ZTE has selected Siverge Networks' flagship "Griffin" chip for use in multi-service and wireless backhauling products.

The Griffin family of chip solutions collapses multiple systems into a single multi-service card, performing transport and aggregation functions needed to create a bridge between legacy systems and new services and networks.

In addition, Siverge Networks recently unveiled a low-cost, high-performance Universal Gateway solution for mobile backhauling infrastructure and evolving Carrier networks. The new offering, known as the "SivGate" extends the Griffin family of products, enabling cost-efficient multi-service transport and aggregation solutions -- starting with low-end wireless cell site collocation and aggregation, up to high speed complete multi-service gateway for the Access and Core. Siverge's SivGate is compliant with required physical interfaces (Ethernet, PDH, SONET/SDH), as well as complete set of associated Layer 2 data and bundling protocols (i.e. ATM/IMA and HDLC/MLPPP) along with CES and PWE3, QoS and TM. Siverge said its SivGate solutions could be used in linecards designed to fit any existing or new network equipment.

RCN Accepts Investor Group Buyout Offer

RCN, a competitive broadband provider serving Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Lehigh Valley (PA), New York City, Boston and Chicago, agreed to a $1.2 billion buyout offer from an investment fund managed by ABRY.

As part of this agreement, each share of RCN common stock issued and outstanding immediately prior to the effective time of the merger will be entitled to receive $15 in cash, representing a 43% premium over RCN's average closing share price during the past 30 trading days and a 22% premium over the closing share price on March 4, 2010. The transaction has fully committed financing, consisting of a combination of equity to be invested by ABRY and debt financing to be provided by SunTrust Robinson Humphrey, Inc., GE Capital, Societe Generale, and certain of their affiliates.

The transaction is expected to be completed in the second half of 2010, subject to receipt of stockholder approval, regulatory approvals, including the receipt of required consents and approvals of the FCC, as well as satisfaction of other customary closing conditions. The transaction is not subject to any financing condition.
  • For Q3 2009, RCN reported having approximately 430,000 residential/small-medium business, an increase of 2,000 compared to the third quarter of 2008 and flat compared to the second quarter of 2009.

    Total revenue generating units of approximately 903,000 decreased by 12,000 compared to the third quarter of 2008 and decreased by 8,000 compared to the second quarter of 2009, as continued growth in video and data RGU's was offset by a reduction in voice RGU's, consistent with trends for highly-penetrated landline voice providers. Third quarter 2009 bundle rate and digital video penetration rate remained stable at 67% and 91%, respectively.

BSNL Cancels US$10 Billion Tender for GSM Expansion

State-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) has canceled a tender valued at up to US$10 billion for the provision of up to 93 million new GSM lines. Critics had pointed to a lack of transparency in the contracting process. Ericsson and Huawei were the sole remaining suppliers in the tender, which had been underway for two years. The carrier is now expected to invite fresh bids.

Verizon Keeps Quarterly Dividend Unchanged

The Board of Directors of Verizon Communications declared a quarterly dividend of 47.5 cents per outstanding share, unchanged from the previous quarter. The dividend is payable on May 3, 2010, to Verizon Communications shareowners of record at the close of business on April 9, 2010.

Verizon has approximately 2.5 million shareowners and approximately 2.8 billion shares of common stock outstanding. The company made $5.3 billion in dividend payments in 2009.

FCC to Recommend "Connect America" Broadband Fund Instead of USF

The FCC's upcoming National Broadband Plan will propose major changes to the Universal Service Fund, a program that will distribute more than $8 billion in support in 2010. In a blog posting on the FCC's website, the following recommendations were made:

  • "Transition to a new Connect America Fund to extend broadband where it is not available now and to support ongoing service in those areas where it is uneconomic to provide service without governmental support -- meaning that the total costs to deploy and provide broadband service exceed the total revenues derived from that broadband-capable network. Funding will be provided on a technology-neutral basis and open to any entity that can satisfy the thresholds established by the FCC."

  • Create a new, targeted Mobility Fund to ensure that everyone in the country has access to 3G wireless services. Some states are significantly lagging behind the national average for 3G coverage. The Mobility Fund would provide a targeted subsidy in such areas to bring those states up to the national average."

  • "Reform intercarrier compensation to gradually phase out per-minute charges, while providing carriers with the opportunity for adequate cost recovery from customers, and, where necessary, from the Connect America Fund. Adopt interim rules to address arbitrage. "

AT&T & CWA Reach Accord on 3-Year Contract

Members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) ratified a new three-year agreement with AT&T covering 35,000 CWA-represented workers at AT&T Southeast. The previous contract expired on August 8, 2009 and employees have worked under the terms of the expired contract while negotiations continued. The settlement was ratified by a 65 percent vote.

In a press statement, the CWA said the agreement provides for a compounded 9 percent wage increase over the contract term, plus additional increases for workers covered by progression scales. Pension bands will increase by 2 percent in June of each contract year, and the lump sum payout option was retained.

AT&T noted that six of the seven bargaining units, representing nearly 97 percent of the approximately 120,000 employees covered under AT&T's core wireline contracts, now have ratified agreements. In addition to the Southeast Region agreement, agreements between AT&T and the CWA have been ratified in AT&T's Midwest, West and Southwest regions, as well as with AT&T Corp., which covers employees across the country. An agreement between AT&T and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) has also been ratified.

Zhone Announces One-for-Five Reverse Stock Split

Zhone Technologies announced a one-for-five reverse stock split of its common stock which will become effective on or about March 11, 2010. The reverse stock split was authorized by Zhone's shareholders at a special meeting held on October 16, 2008. No fractional shares of common stock will be issued as a result of the reverse stock split. Shareholders of record will receive cash in lieu of fractional shares to which they otherwise would be entitled, based upon the closing price of Zhone's common stock on the last trading day before the reverse split becomes effective.

Utah Pursues Google High Speed Fiber Network Partnership Bid

Utah Governor Gary Herbert endorsed local efforts to encourage Google to bring its experiment in fiber optics to the state.

UTOPIA, which is a group of 16 Utah cities, operates a municipal fiber optic network using an open service provider model.

"UTOPIA is a good candidate to partner with Google in the new project and to bring the experiment to well-prepped ground," said the Governor in a letter of support. "UTOPIA has successfully pursued models of deployment and found a sustainable and reliable model," he said.

Google announced last month that it wants to partner with municipalities to develop and experiment with an ultrafast fiber network that would reach 50,000 to 500,000 people across the country.

DS2 Files for Bankruptcy Reorganization

DS, which supplies high-speed powerline and coax communications silicon, initiated a voluntary Concurso de Acreedores (similar to a Chapter 11 filing) in the Spanish courts while it develops a plan of reorganization to address its debt. DS2 said it will continue to operate as usual and continue its long-standing commitment to its customers, suppliers, partners and employees.

DS2 is in the process of finalizing development of its chipset and will have samples in Q3. DS2's next generation silicon is also compatible with the installed base of UPA devices providing extended life cycle and investment protection for current deployments of DS2 technology.

"Our business is returning to normal and 2010 run rates are back at 2008 levels. We expect to emerge from this process as a stronger, healthier and more competitive company and continue our legacy of delivering excellence in innovation and customer satisfaction by creating the most advanced and sustainable standards based semiconductors for high-speed communications over existing wires", said José Angel Mart�n, DS2 CFO.