Thursday, June 24, 2010

FIFA.COM Reports Traffic Spike, the official website for the 2010 FIFA World Cup, reported huge traffic spikes on its website are tournament play reached the Final 16 stage. On June 23, delivered a total of more than 410 million page views. 126 million of them occurred shortly after the match between England and Slovenia ended between 5pm and 6pm local time in South Africa, when data requests from visitors reached more than one million a second.

The numbers were expected to increase even further over the weekend and as the tournament progresses. estimates that the average internet user is now clocking up 55 minutes per day - that's a combined 28.4 hours over the 31 days of the tournament -- looking for World Cup news, statistics and video, and interacting with other fans on social networking sites such as Twitter.

A survey of European Internet users found that German fans spend the most time online, clocking up 76 minutes per day, followed by the Spanish (65 minutes) and the Swiss (61 minutes). UK-based fans average 44 minutes per day.

The survey of 5,000 people across Europe also revealed that, at the start of the tournament, over two-thirds of Europeans (71%) were planning to watch TV or go online to follow all key matches - whether involving their own team or not -- while over one-quarter (27%, comprising 38% of men and 17% of women) were planning to watch at least half of all games, regardless of their own team's success.

South Africa's Telkom Sets Sights on Mobile, CEO to Step Down

Citing a continued slide in traditional voice revenue and growing competition, Telkom, South Africa's incumbent operator, reasserted its plan of restructuring into three business units.

"Our strategy seeking to re-position the Telkom Group is imperative given the tough operating environment. Similar to the strategies of other leading operators in the world, we are focusing on growing other revenue streams -- data centre operation, mobile and Africa -- to compensate for the decline in fixed voice revenues. We are improving our execution in current growth markets, such as broadband and wholesale, and are taking actions to defend our consumer and enterprise markets," said Group CEO Reuben September.

Earlier this month, Reuben September announced his intention to retire from his position and resign his directorship at the expiry of his contract in November 2010.

Some operational notes for the 2010 financial year:

  • There was a 9.3% decrease in Telkom SA's voice traffic revenue.

  • Telkom is preparing to launch a mobile offering. A roaming agreement with MTN will cover services such as voice, 2G and 3G data, MMS and USSD on a national basis. Telkom will also offer a full international roaming agreement at launch. Initially, prepaid, post-paid and hybrid voice and data services will be offered and these will be provided by a unified 2G and 3G voice and data network.

  • Telkom has already ordered 2,000 base stations which are in the process of being constructed in the first year. The company plans to have 40% population coverage at launch which will be grown as required over five years. Full national coverage will be provided through the roaming agreement with MTN.

  • Telkom launched a new "cybernest" data centre operation in November 2009.

  • The new Telkom Management Services (TMS) has been created to provide consultancy services to telecommunications operators in Africa in order to improve their performance by providing network, IT, vendor and funding strategies, hands-on management and technical expertise best suited to meet their challenges.
    TMS is currently exploring opportunities in Malawi, Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Angola, Ghana, Uganda, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland.

  • Telkom's capital expenditure was R5.4 billion for the year ended 31 March 2010. This was down 44.2% from the R9.6 billion spent in the 2009 financial year. As a result, normalized free cash flow improved significantly to R5.5 billion.

  • Interconnection revenue increased 25.1% to R2,608 million. From February 2010, there was a reduction in the peak mobile interconnect rate from 125 cents to 89 cents, with off-peak mobile rates remaining unchanged at 77 cents.

  • With regard to broadband and data revenue, ADSL subscribers increased by 18.1% (compared to 31 March 2009) and Do Broadband subscribers have increased 25.4%. Broadband penetration as a percentage of post-paid lines equals 19%.

  • In addition, total data revenue increased 7.1%, data connectivity services increased by 3.7%, leased line revenue increased 8.1% and Internet access and related services revenue increased 12.9%. Furthermore, managed data network services revenue increased 15.9% -- this includes an increase of 16.3% in satellite services revenue and a 15.9% increase in VPN services revenue.

  • With reference to Telkom International, Telkom's equity stake in the Nigerian Multi-Links operation remains a major concern as EBITDA losses of R659 million were reported, a 191.6% increase from the loss of R226 million reported at the corresponding period last year. This was largely attributable to trading conditions in Nigeria, tough local economic conditions, pricing pressures and the short-term strategy previously in place to reduce inventories and acquire subscribers.

  • During the 2009/10 financial year, Multi-Links' deployed additional packet based mobile switching centres increasing the available capacity from 2 800,000 to 4,000,000 subscribers; rolled out an additional 373 base transceiver stations to 878, increasing total radio capacity (Rf) from 1,800,000 to 3,100,000 subscribers on 706 tower sites, 340 of which are Multi-Links owned and the remaining are co-located.

  • Multi-links also added 2,962 kilometers of optic fibre (1,822 MLTL owned and 1,140 Swop) resulting in a total to 6,673 km (4,639 Multi-Links owned and 2,034 swop). Its DWDM network has been extended to 39 cities.

Russia's MTS and Comstar to Merge

Comstar-UTS, the leading fixed-line telecommunications company in Moscow, and Mobile TeleSystems (MTS), a leading mobile operator across Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia, are planning a merger that will create the largest integrated telecommunications provider in Russia and the CIS.

Under the deal, 0.825 MTS ordinary shares would be exchanged for one Comstar Ordinary Share. The implied price represents a 13.1% Premium to the three month volume weighted average trading price of the Comstar GDR.

MTS currently owns 61.97% of Comstar (64.03% excluding treasury shares) and consolidates Comstar in its financial results. As a result of the statutory merger, Comstar will be subsumed into MTS and will cease to exist as a separate legal entity.

The companies said a full consolidation of Comstar into MTS is strategically important because it would facilitate the full integration of MTS's and Comstar's subscriber bases and enable the cross-selling and bundling of broadband and television services to MTS's customers. There are also operational synergies and cost savings across the combined entity.

Mikhail Shamolin, President and Chief Executive Officer of MTS, commented: "We believe that the merger of MTS and Comstar is attractive for our shareholders because it will accelerate the delivery of our "3i" strategic goal of realizing growth through increasing customer value, by providing our customers with a broad, innovative and integrated offering of mobile and fixed line telephony, high-speed internet access and pay-TV services. The merger will enable the full integration of the Comstar and MTS customer bases and the provision of bundled service offerings across Russia, which we believe will further enhance our combined competitive position."
  • Including its subsidiaries, the MTS Group services over 103.5 million mobile subscribers in Russia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Armenia and Belarus, a region that boasts a total population of more than 230 million.

  • Comstar-UTS provides voice, data, television and other value-added services to residential and corporate subscribers and operators, using its extensive backbone network and exclusive last mile access to 96% of Moscow households. The Company also offers communications services in 82 cities in the Russian regions, Armenia and Ukraine. Comstar had 3.6 million residential subscribers including 860 thousand residential broadband internet subscribers in Moscow, as well as 2.6 million regional and international residential subscribers, including 426 thousand residential broadband internet subscribers and 2.0 million residential pay-TV subscribers at the end of the first quarter of 2010.

Duke Energy Forms Joint Venture to Grow Communications Business

Duke Energy Corp., Alinda Capital Partners and DukeNet Communications LLC today announced the formation of a joint venture to grow DukeNet. An affiliate of Alinda will acquire 50 percent of the ownership interests in DukeNet from an affiliate of Duke Energy in exchange for $137 million in cash. Duke Energy, through it affiliate, will continue to own the remaining 50 percent in DukeNet.

The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of 2010.

DukeNet is one of the largest wholesale fiber-based carriers in the Southeastern U.S. It operates more than 5,300 miles of fiber network.

France's Covage Deploys Ericsson's GPON

Covage, a French network operator, has selected Ericsson to roll out an FTTH infrastructure to local and regional governments and estate owners. Ericsson will provide Covage with active and passive equipment for its fiber-optic networks as well as associated operator support services. The first deployment in Angoulême, France is already underway. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Covage is an open access network operator, acting as the single point of contact for local and regional governments and property management agencies. Initially focused on the enterprise market, Covage has now made its open access network available to residential users.

The first deployment is planned for a property management company in the city of Angoulême in south-west France in July 2010.

"Covage's choice centers on the Ericsson EDA 1500 -- the high-density all-IP GPON platform that efficiently manages fiber-optic networks and the traffic volumes associated with the explosion of broadband, IPTV and other multimedia services as well as enterprise services. The solution also comprises SmartEdge IP routers from Ericsson, which have already been adopted by several operators in France," says Franck Bouetard, President of Ericsson France.

Parks Associates Forecasts NAS Revenues to Exceed $4.4B in 2014

DVRs and video downloads will push the storage needs of U.S. broadband households to almost one terabyte by 2014, creating a parallel rise in the market for file backup and storage solutions, according to international research firm Parks Associates.

The firm's new report Consumer Storage Opportunities finds almost 50% of households are performing regular backups, including external storage, flash drives, and online backup, up from only 35% in 2006.

IPeak Awarded Patent for Packet Protection

IPeak Networks, a start-up based in Ottawa, was awarded a U.S. patent in connection with its "IPQ" (Internet Performance and Quality) packet protection technology designed for video conferencing, telepresence, and virtualized computing markets.

Matthew Williams, IPeak Networks founder and chief technology officer, is the author of the patent and inventor of the IPQ technology.

IPeak Networks implements the patented methods in a full line of IPQ appliance products for video conferencing and telepresence applications: IPQ VC2, IPQ Presence, and IPQ Concentrator. An optimized version of the same IP packet protection engine is also found in the company's new line of software clients and virtual machines developed for the terminal services, server-based computing, and virtual desktop infrastructure markets. Additional patents are pending.

Public Mobile Launches Service in Montreal

Public Mobile's Montreal network went live on 25-June-2010. The company has no contracts and no credit checks and offers two unlimited voice and texting plans.

"We want to give the people of Montreal an economical option," said Alek Krstajic, Chief Executive Officer of Public Mobile. Added Krstajic, "For the first time, people in Montreal can have a cell phone with unlimited talk and text at a predictable price. Whether they are calling friends and family locally, or in other parts of Canada, the United States, or overseas, Public Mobile's plans are all unlimited, which means customers will never be surprised by price, no matter how much they talk or text."

Public Mobile stores began opening in Montreal on March 18th, 2010. There are now 31 stores open in Montreal with a total of 74 Public Mobile stores open in Toronto and Montreal.

Public Mobile's plans:

  • $24/mo. Unlimited talk

  • $40/mo. Unlimited talk and text

  • $5/mo. Unlimited Canadian long distance

  • $10/mo. Unlimited Canadian and U.S. long distance

Vopium Raises $16.5 Million for Mobile Alternative Skype

Vopium, a start-up based in Copenhagen, Denmark, has raised US$16.5 million from an Indian investor to support its efforts to launch a mobile alternative to Skype. The Indian investor, Raghuvinder Kataria, along with his own investment company are underwriting the funding.

Vopium, which is headed by Tanveer Sharif, was originally intended for immigrants to Denmark who were looking for cheap telephony solutions to get in contact with family and friends in distant countries. The company's target has since been expanded to all people and companies who want to make cheap international phone calls. The mobile client software enables users to make very cheap calls, e.g. from Denmark to the US for only $0.02 per minute.

The company claims one million users have already installed Vopium on their mobile phone and 250,000 users in 49 countries are using the solution.

Senate Committee Adopts CyberSecurity Legislation

The U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved a major cybersecurity bill that would "fundamentally reshape" the way the federal government protects public and private sector cyber networks.

The Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act of 2010 (S.3480), which is sponsored by Senators Lieberman, Collins, and Carper, would create a White House Office of Cyberspace Policy to lead federal and private sector efforts to secure critical cyber networks and assets.

The office would be led by a Senate-confirmed director who would be accountable to the public. The bill also creates a new center within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to implement cybersecurity policies as they pertain to federal and private sector networks.

"Catastrophic cyber attack is no longer a fantasy or a fiction," Lieberman said. "It is a clear and present danger. This legislation would fundamentally reshape the way the federal government defends America's cyberspace. It takes a comprehensive, risk-based, and collaborative approach to addressing critical vulnerabilities in our own defenses. We believe our bill would go a long way toward improving the security of our government and private critical infrastructure, and therefore the security of the American people."

Some industry reaction:

Sara C. Santarelli, Chief Network Security Officer at Verizon: "Unfunded regulatory mandates and command-and-control type governance must be avoided. The most effective approach, which appears to be the direction that this bill is taking, is a public-private partnership where government provides assistance and expertise to the private sector, coupled with incentives like confidentiality and
liability protection to encourage the private sector to implement desired activities and with freedom to take decisive actions."

Mark Bregman, Executive Vice President & Chief Technology Officer at Symantec:

"This important legislation will enhance and modernize our nation‟s overall cybersecurity posture in order to safeguard our critical infrastructure from attack. The bill also importantly recognizes cybersecurity as a shared government and private sector responsibility which requires a coordinated strategy to detect, report and mitigate cyber incidents."