Sunday, March 13, 2011

EC Brings Case Against France and Spain over Telecoms Taxes

The European Commission will bring a legal case against France and Spain because they continue to impose specific charges on the turnover of telecoms operators in breach of EU law.

In both France and Spain, these "telecom taxes" were introduced when they decided to end paid advertising on public television. The Commission considers the 'telecoms taxes' in France and Spain to be incompatible with EU telecoms rules, which require specific charges on telecoms operators to be directly related to covering the costs of regulating the telecoms sector.

The Commission has also opened an infringement case against Hungary concerning another such 'telecoms tax'.

France Telecom Acquires Stake in Iraqi Mobile Operator

France Telecom-Orange and its partner Agility have formed a joint venture to acquire a 44% state in Korek Telecom, a leading Iraqi mobile operator. The joint venture will be formed by Agility (54%) and France Telecom-Orange (46%).

Korek Telecom holds the leading position in the Kurdistan region of Iraq (population of 5 million) and plans to extend its operations across the rest of Iraq (total population of 33 million).

Stephane Richard, France Telecom-Orange's Chairman and CEO, said: "The acquisition of this stake in Korek Telecom is a new step in our policy of expansion outside Europe, and contributes to our stated aim of doubling our revenues in Africa and the Middle East by 2015. I am delighted to contribute to this strategic partnership, especially at a time when Korek Telecom is expanding its operations across the entire country, thereby offering the latest services and technologies to the whole Iraqi population."

Cisco's Acquisition of Inlet adds Digital Media Processing Capability

Cisco completed its previously announced acquisition of Inlet Technologies, a provider of Adaptive Bit Rate (ABR) digital media processing platforms. Inlet is based in Raleigh, N.C. Cisco paid approximately $95 million in cash and retention-based incentives in exchange for all shares of Inlet.

Inlet offers a set of encoding solutions that scale from mobile to web to high-definition. The line includes an IP input live streaming appliance, a high-density streaming solution and automated ad insertion for real-time streaming to desktop and iOS devices. During 2010, Inlet added several major broadcasters to its roster, including the BBC, ABC (Australia), Wealth TV and NBC Universal's Winter Olympics coverage.

Cisco said the deal strengthens its Videoscape TV platform, allowing service and content providers to deliver compelling video experiences to any device over any IP network.

Altobridge Raises US$12 Million for Rural Wireless Access

Altobridge, a start-up based in Dublin, Ireland, has raised US$12 million in funding from Intel Capital and IFC for its low-cost, low-capital, wireless communications solutions designed for rural communities.

The Altobridge solution provides wireless access for remote communities, enterprises and schools of the world's emerging markets. The company claims its "Data-at-the-Edge" reduces mobile network operators' backhaul requirements by at least 50%.

Mike Fitzgerald, Altobridge Chief Executive, said, "Our technology enables mobile network operators in emerging markets to cost effectively extend their broadband services to the billion people of the world on the other side of the digital divide. Our Data-at-the-Edge solution reduces mobile network operators' backhaul requirements by at least 50%.

NTT Communications Confirms Ongoing Arcstar Outage in Northeast

NTT Communications confirmed that its Corporate Telephone Service (Arcstar direct) and corporate communication services (IP-VPN and e-VLAN) remain out of service in the northeastern part of the country.

Submarine cables connecting Japan with the United States and other parts of Asia have been partially damaged, but the company has been using backup cable routes to maintain uninterrupted service.

NTT Com's data center services have been operating without disruption.

GENBAND Qualifies SIP Trunking for MS Office Communications Server

GENBAND announced that the SIP Business Trunking softswitch solution offered on its GENBAND C20 Converged Softswitch has achieved interoperability qualification with Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 R2. Additionally, GENBAND announced that its C20 softswitch is an integral component of the Swisscom SIP Trunking Solution which was recently certified for use with the Microsoft Lync Server 2010.

Swisscom is offering a Microsoft-certified VoIP Gate service for corporate customers.

AT&T to Impose Fixed Line Data Caps in May

AT&T will introduced a monthly data cap of 150GB for all its DSL customers and a 250 GB cap for all its U-Verse users starting in May. According to DSL Reports, the company claims its average broadband customer consumes 18 GB per month, so the new limit would effect only a small percentage of its user base. Overage charges will be $10 for every 50GB over the 150 GB or 250GB limit.

Update on Disaster Impact on Telecom Service in Japan

March 14
  • NTT again warned that TEPCO's "rolling" power blackouts, beginning on Monday, would impact many communications services, including telephone systems, Hikari, OCN, ISDN, FLET, FLET ADSL, Business Ethernet, some leased lines and PBX.

  • NTT reported that 1,928,800 people had used its emergency voice message board so far.

  • Softbank announced the some calling restrictions remain in place as of Monday at 9am.

March 13

  • As of March 13 at 6am, NTT East reported 475,400 fiber-optic lines were disconnected. This number is up 76,500 from 8 p.m. Saturday. In addition, 879,500 subscribed phone lines are out of service.

  • NTT and DoCoMo reported that some telecom equipment and base stations have gone off line after batteries were depleted and back-up generators ran out.

  • Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications reported that 11,400 mobile phone base stations were offline as of 7am on Sunday morning. Damaged or offline base stations include: NTT DoCoMo, 4,930 base stations, KDDI (au) 2,670 base stations, Softbank 1,974 base stations, EMobile 314 base stations.

  • Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications reported no damage and no current restrictions for NTT West.

  • NTT reported that 1,337,700 people had used its emergency voice message board so far.

  • NTT warned that TEPCO's "rolling" power blackouts beginning on Monday would impact many communications services, including telephone systems, Hikari, ISDN, FLET, FLET ADSL, Business Ethernet, some leased lines and PBX.

March 12

  • SoftBank opened its Wi-Fi access points for free, public usage. The company also made SMS messaging free.

  • SoftBank began accepting mobile donations to help earthquake victims.

  • SoftBank released an iPhone "Disaster Message Board" application.

  • KDDI published a long list of areas where its mobile service is not available due to base station failure.

March 11

  • All major carriers reported severe disruptions to their mobile, IP-VPN, WVS, Ether-VPN, optical access, IP phone and cable network operations, especially in the northeastern disaster areas.

  • NTT DoCoMo, KDDI, Softbank, Willcom, eMobile all activated "Disaster Message Board" services to help the public confirm the safety of relatives and acquaintances during disasters, Disaster Message Board to provide services. DoCoMo activated the Disaster Message response a 14:57 local time, about 11 minutes after the start of the earthquake.

  • NTT enabled free calling from public telephone landlines, which in many cases stayed up in areas away from the disaster.

  • NTT implemented pre-arranged plans to separately manage voice calls and data packet transmissions for some handsets in order to avoid network congestion.

  • NTT confirmed that Corporate Communications Services (IP-VPN, e-VLAN, etc.) were disrupted, possibly due to damage at a data center near Tokyo.

  • Initial reports also indicated that the APCN2 cable system may have been damaged in some segments. Subsequent reports indicated that this trouble was resolved.

  • Pacific Crossing confirmed that its PC-1 W and PC-1 N cables are out of service. The cable landing station in Ajigaura on Japan's east coast is trying to evacuate due to tsunami.

  • Amazon Web Services reported that services from its new Tokyo data center continued normal operations.

Intel Acquires Egypt-based SySDSoft

Intel's Mobile Communications business unit has acquired SySDSoft, a privately held software company based in Cairo, Egypt, and hired approximately 100 of the company's electrical engineers and computer scientists. Financial terms were not disclosed.

SySDSoft designs state-of-the-art IP solutions in the software stack and physical layer domain, and RF/analog circuits embedded in mobile platforms. The solutions address WiMAX, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Wireless USB, and LTE.

  • SySDSoft is headed by founder Khaled Ismail, who previously was General Manager of Ellipsis Digital Systems in Cairo, where he led a team of engineers to develop a fully embeddable System-on-Chip (SoC). Between 1989 and 1997, Khaled worked at IBM T.J. Watson Research Center in the design of novel devices and materials for the semiconductor industry. He is considered one of the experts in the field of SiGe materials and devices, and is the recipient of the IBM Invention Achievement Award and the IBM Outstanding Technical Achievement Award in 1997 and 1995, respectively. Khaled received his Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1989.

Allied Telesis offers Energy Efficient Switches

Allied Telesis introduced further upgrades to its best selling series of GS950 WebSmart eco-friendly Gigabit switches. The AT-GS950/8, AT-GS950/16 and AT-GS950/24 maintain the same standard of Gigabit Ethernet speeds while reducing power consumption by as much as 50%.

A number of models in the GS950 series operate with no internal fans, making them suitable for use in a range of environments. They are also smaller in size than existing models, and all ports are auto MDI/MDI-X for a simplified cabling process. Each port also contains a diagnostic LED.

Mellanox Debuts 10 GigE NICs, Switches, Software and Cables

Mellanox Technologies, which has been known for its high-performance InfiniBand fabrics, unveiled its end-to-end 10 Gigabit Ethernet connectivity portfolio for High Performance Computing, cloud computing, and mega warehouse data centers. The product set is aimed at allowing companies to scale-out their data center environment to thousands of servers while preserving a simplified, "flat" network architecture.

Mellanox said its Vantage family of 10 Gigabit Ethernet switches, combined with ConnectX-2 EN 10 Gigabit Ethernet NICs with support for industry-standard RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE), management and acceleration software and cables, provides end-users with high-performance, end-to-end Ethernet and low-latency.

Mellanox's scale-out data center fabric architecture features two new high-density Layer 2 core switches based on CEE standards. The switches can be clustered to form large, linearly scaling Layer 2 fabrics. The solution also encompasses fabric management software that controls all the physical and virtual switches and I/O devices in the fabric and provides central fabric monitoring and service-oriented policy enforcement. The product introduction includes the new "Vantage" 8500 core switch and the Vantage 6024 and Vantage 6048 top of rack switches.

Mellanox also said its new Ethernet NICs can deliver the industry's lowest 1.3 us latency performance with performance-leading 10 and 40 Gigabit Ethernet connectivity with stateless offloads.