Monday, May 30, 2011

COMPTEL Weighs In Against AT&T + T-Mobile Deal

AT&T's proposed acquisition of T-Mobile would not serve the public interest and should be blocked by regulators, according to COMPTEL, an industry organization representing competitive carriers and their suppliers.

In a filing with the FCC, COMPTEL argues that the deal would create a significant increase in horizontal market concentration in the mobile telephony/broadband services market by reducing the number of national competitors from four to three, increasing AT&T's market share from 32 percent to 43 percent and vesting control of more than 77 percent of the wireless lines in service in two carriers -- AT&T and Verizon Wireless. As the sole, national GSM operator, other regional carriers would have no choice but to secure roaming agreements with AT&T. The mega-carrier would also be in a position to control access to backhaul facilities in many markets, according to COMPTEL, and this could lead to exorbitant prices for special access services.

France Telecom-Orange Outlines 2015 "Conquest" Plan

France Telecom-Orange's strategic and financial ambitions for the 2011-2015 period will be characterized by an initial "adaptation" phase (2011-13) of network investments followed by a "conquest" phase (2014-15) during which its goal will be the return to sustained growth of both revenues and operating cash flow. The company's CAPEX plans are forecast to be EUR 18.5 billion in the first phase compared to EUR 10.8 billion in the second phase. This translates to a CAPEX/Sales ratio of approximately 13.4% in the initial phase compared to 11.0% in the second phase.

As part of its Conquests 2015 Investor's Day, executives at France Telecom-Orange outlined the following objectives:

1. During the adaptation phase (2011-2013), the company aims to progressively accelerate revenue growth
over the period (CAGR of +0.6%) with EBITDA stabilized in 2013 above the 2011 level. The Group's goal is to achieve a cumulative EBITDA of around 45 billion euros in the 2011-2013 period.

This goal notably accounts for the implementation of a new performance plan and the
benefits expected from the ramp-up of the procurement joint venture with Deutsche Telekom.
Overall, the Group forecasts gross savings of at least 3 billion euros by 2015 (including over 2
billion euros by the end of 2013) versus the cost base in 2010.

From 2011-2013, the Group forecasts cumulative CAPEX of around 18.5 billion euros,
including 1 billion euros for fiber deployment in France. This represents an average rate of
CAPEX to revenues of 12.6% over the period (excluding FTTH in France). The rate of
investment is expected to peak in 2012 (~14%) as the deployment of fiber accelerates and
the Group fulfills its network coverage and capacity objectives.

Taking these items into consideration, the Group announces cumulative operating cash flow
guidance (EBITDA – CAPEX) of around 27 billion euros over the 2011-2013 period, excluding
exceptional items.

2. During the 2014-2015 "conquest phase", the group expects revenue growth rate of +2.7% (2013-2015 CAGR), with
a return to growth in France and in the Enterprise segment, and a continued solid contribution from Europe and AMEA; EBITDA, with 3.4% growth (2013-2015 CAGR).

CAPEX, with the return to a normalized investment level of 10% over the period, equal to
approximately 9.8 billion euros (excluding FTTH in France, which represents an additional
point, for a total CAPEX rate of 11% equal to 10.8 billion euros); and operating cash flow, with a CAGR of +9% over the 2013-3015 period.

"Our Conquests 2015 business plan now moves into an adaptation phase that is
preparing the ground for a subsequent, even more decisive conquest phase. In the pursuit of our
ambitions, we will be able to capitalize on a number of positive factors between now and 2015.
These include the economic outlook in the countries in which we operate, an increasingly favorable
regulatory environment, the quality of our networks, strategic new growth opportunities that we have
identified, as well as our new strategy for building partnerships with other players in the digital
ecosystem. I am certain, as always, that the competence and commitment of our 170,000
employees will enable us to meet these objectives," stated St├ęphane Richard, Chairman and CEO of France Telecom-Orange.

Some additional data points:

  • France Telecom-Orange now has 169,000 employees worldwide, of which 39% frontline staff

  • 210 million customers

  • operating in 35 countries

  • 7,000 Orange branded stores

  • 300 TB of mobile traffic per day

  • 98% 3G+ coverage of France's population by end of 2011

  • FT-Orange targets at least €3bn in gross savings by 2015 vs. 2010 cost

Nokia Cuts Outlook as Device Sales Fall

Nokia cut its financial guidance for its second quarter and full year 2011 citing substantially weaker sales of mobile devices and services. The company attributed the decline to competitors across multiple price categories, particularly in China and Europe; a product mix shift towards devices with lower average selling prices and lower gross margins; and pricing tactics by Nokia and certain competitors. Nokia was unable to predict an annual target for 2011 given the current uncertainty and the major product transition underway.

"Strategy transitions are difficult. We recognize the need to deliver great mobile products, and therefore we must accelerate the pace of our transition," said Stephen Elop, president and CEO of Nokia. "Our teams are aligned, and we have increased confidence that we will ship our first Nokia product with Windows Phone in the fourth quarter 2011."

The updated guidance includes:

Nokia now expects Devices & Services net sales to be substantially below its previously expected range of EUR 6.1 billion to EUR 6.6 billion for the second quarter 2011.

Nokia now expects Devices & Services non-IFRS operating margin to be substantially below its previously expected range of 6% to 9% for the second quarter 2011 -- the figure could be around breakeven.

Nokia's previous targets for the third quarter, fourth quarter, and full year 2011 were: 1) Net sales in Devices & Services to be at approximately the same level in the third quarter 2011 as in the second quarter 2011, and seasonally higher in the fourth quarter 2011, compared to the third quarter 2011; 2) Devices & Services non-IFRS operating margin to be between 6% and 9% in 2011. These targets are no longer valid.

Nokia has taken price actions on its current smartphone portfolio, and Nokia is intensifying its focus on retail point-of-sales marketing.

Nokia started shipping its new dual-SIM devices last week.

The company notes continued progress on its Windows Phone strategy, and predicts the first Nokia Windows Phone will ship in the fourth quarter 2011.

CWA Lobbies for AT&T/T-Mobile Merger

The Communications Workers of America believes the merger of AT&T and T-Mobile will create as many as 96,000 new, quality jobs, accelerate broadband build out, and improve wireless communications and innovation.

In a filing submitted to the FCC, the CWA cited a new analysis by the Economic Policy Institute shows that the merger will create about 12,000 quality jobs per billion dollars invested in a wireless network. The study says the additional $8 billion in capital expenditures that AT&T has committed to invest in wireless broadband buildout will create up to 96,000 jobs.

Australia's NBN Co Picks Ericsson for Rural Broadband Wireless

NBN Co, which is building Australia's national broadband network, has awarded a 10-year contract to Ericsson to design, build and operate a 4G fixed-wireless network. The deal is valued at up to AUS $1.1 billion.

The fixed-wireless broadband network will deliver up to 12 Mbps downstream to locations not reachable by fiber. Broadband satellite will also be used as part of the NBNCo plan.

Design of the fixed-wireless network has already started although exact locations for initial rollout won't be announced for several month following the completion of detailed network planning and consultation with local communities.

NBN Co Head of Corporate Services, Kevin Brown said: "It's only right that those parts of the country with some of the poorest access to high-speed broadband should be among the first to receive the National Broadband Network either via satellite or the fixed-wireless solution we are announcing today.

"Those receiving our fixed-wireless service will benefit from the latest 4G fixed-wireless technology, LTE. While wireless spectrum is shared between users, unlike a mobile network, fixed-wireless will allow us to plan a network for a more predictable number of users in a given area. This gives us greater consistency in the speed and quality of service the NBN Co network will provide to each user."

NBN Co has initially entered into a turnkey arrangement for at least 12 months to enable a fast start to construction and delivery. Over time NBN Co intends to assume greater responsibility for construction and operation of this world-leading infrastructure.
  • NBN Co announced in February that it had acquired wireless spectrum from AUSTAR that is sufficient to meet most of its needs for the fixed-wireless services. Spectrum has still to be acquired for WA and the Northern Territory, however the Australian Communications and Media Authority has initiated a public process for the allocation of spectrum in these locations that would be suitable for fixed-wireless services.

Broadcom Develops 1G-EPON SoC

Broadcom unveiled a system-on-a-chip (SoC) solution for the Ethernet Passive Optical Network (EPON) market – China's fastest growing broadband technology.

The new BCM53600 series is the first in a family of highly optimized, 1G to 10G scalable, and fully integrated single chip PON MDU SoCs. The highly integrated 1G-EPON SoC offer TR-101, TR-156, and CTC2.1 specification compliance. It delivers end-to-end quality of service (QoS), classification, filtering, and security. IPv6 support provides a future-proof solution for next generation deployments and service upgrades. Multiple interfaces provide flexibility for a smooth transition to evolving technology and multiple deployment scenarios including VDSL, VoIP, 10G-EPON and GPON.

Eutelsat's Ka-band Satellite Goes Live -- up to 10 Mbps

Eutelsat Communications announced commercial activation of its KA-SAT High Throughput Satellite, marking the official launch of its new-generation Tooway broadband service across Europe.

Up to 10 Mbps downstream and 4 Mbps upstream is immediately available for consumers irrespective of location across Europe and the Mediterranean Basin. The service is sold by various channel partners in each national market. The Tooway system can also be used for Voice over IP and IPTV. With a dual-feed (Ku-Ka), Direct-to-Home reception of television channels from adjacent broadcast satellites is also possible.

Michel de Rosen, Eutelsat CEO commented on the entry into service: "The entry into service of KA-SAT, the world's most powerful spotbeam satellite, turns a new page in affordable and immediately available IP solutions, and places Europe at the forefront of high-capacity satellite technologies that can serve to quickly close the broadband gap. We look forward to working with our service and technology partners to unleash the huge potential of this new pan-European wireless infrastructure."

NetLogic Releases LTE Base Station Processors

NetLogic Microsystems announced volume production of XLP316L multi-core, multi-threaded processors for LTE base stations. The multi-core processor integrates 16 high-performance NXCPUs and a quad-issue, quad-threaded processor architecture with superscalar out-of-order execution capabilities for delivering high performance Layers 2-7 processing for mobile wireless infrastructure.

NetLogic' XLP316L processor also offers a number of base station-specific features, such as an advanced floating point unit (FPU), Kasumi and SNOW3G security protocol acceleration and a low-latency Serial RapidIO (SRIO) interface.

The design uses NetLogic's high-speed, low-latency Enhanced Fast Messaging Network to enable efficient, high-bandwidth communication among the 16 NXCPUs and to support billions of in-flight messages and packet descriptors between all on-chip elements. A unique tri-level cache architecture with more than 6 Megabytes of fully coherent on-chip cache delivers 40 Terabits per second (Tbps) of extremely high-speed on-chip memory bandwidth. A 72-bit DDR3 interconnect that yields more than 100 Gbps of off-chip memory bandwidth.

"The receipt of orders for volume production from our leading customers for the XLP316L processor, just months after its announcement, is a testament to the compelling benefits of the product and to its success in addressing the critical requirements of advanced LTE networks," said Chris O'Reilly, vice president of marketing for NetLogic Microsystems.

Vitesse's SimpliPHY 1G Devices Support 1588v2 and Ethernet/MPLS

Vitesse Semiconductor has expanded its Carrier Ethernet physical layer (PHY) portfolio with new Gigabit Ethernet (GE) devices offering an upgrade path for network equipment requiring IEEE 1588v2 timing synchronization and Ethernet/MPLS Operations Administration and Maintenance (OAM) features.

The new SimpliPHY 1G devices, the dual-port VSC8572 and quad-port VSC8574, support accurate timing distribution in wireless backhaul, data center, industrial automation, smart grid and other applications that leverage real-time services over newer packet-based networks. The two new devices complement the previously announced VSC8488-15 and VSC8494.

With the ability to handle encapsulations, such as Q-in-Q, IP/MPLS and MPLS Pseudowire, common in packet-based networks, the VSC8572 and VSC8574 deliver packet monitoring capabilities that enable service providers to reliably monitor services to Service Level Agreement contracts. Additionally, the devices offer full IEEE 1588v2 network synchronization support with one-step and two-step time stamping with accuracy better than 10ns in
1000BASE-T mode, sufficient for WiMAX and LTE backhaul and other timing critical applications.

"For businesses that need to deliver real-time services to customers over the Internet, such as the provision of cloud computing services, the customer experience can be improved by leveraging accurate key performance indicators and end-to-end service verification in the network equipment," said Brian Jaroszewski, senior product marketing manager at Vitesse. "Vitesse's goal is to provide a seamless upgrade path for equipment vendors and service providers to improve their networks with accurate OAM monitoring and precision timing features necessary for next-generation services over lower-cost packet networks."

Vitesse also offers a broad portfolio of Layer-2 and Layer-3 Switches with support for IEEE 1588v2 and Ethernet/MPLS OAM. The portfolio of physical layer devices offers timing accuracy improvements and cost savings at the system level by implementing these features in physical-layer silicon, thus allowing a simpler upgrade path to add these capabilities to existing equipments without changing switch, MAC, or processor silicon.

The devices will be available in 17-mm-square BGA packages. Sampling is underway.

IEEE Ratifies 802.3bf - Ethernet Support for Time Distribution and Synchronization

The IEEE ratified 802.3bf-2011, offering Ethernet support for time synchronization protocols. An amendment to the IEEE 802.3TM Ethernet standard, IEEE 802.3bf provides the hardware support for time distribution and synchronization protocols, e.g., IEEE 1588 and IEEE 802.1AS -2011. This amendment to the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet standard paves the way for the rapid adoption of the IEEE 802.1TM Audio/Video Bridging (AVB) protocol technologies in existing and future networks.

"The audio and video communities have been using Ethernet technologies for years as a high-performance, low-cost transport. IEEE 802.3bf-2011 and the IEEE 802.1 AVB protocol suite allow for precise timing across the network-a critical function for delivery of high-quality audio and video in real time. For the first time, this can be accomplished using interoperable IEEE 802 technologies, rather than many proprietary and incompatible solutions," said Steve Carlson, Chair, IEEE 802.3bf Task Force, President, High Speed Design, Inc.

Chattanooga's EPB Plans Smart Grid with Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs

EPB, Chattanooga's electric power distributor and communications provider, is working with Alcatel-Lucent's Bell Labs on tools to help consumers manage their energy usage in detail. EPB currently is building an advanced and automated smart grid network with widescale deployment of sensors and control devices. Coupled with pervasive broadband communications, the smart grid network will provide the utility the ability to measure, monitor and control their electricity distribution network in real time at fine levels of detail.

Alcatel-Lucent's Bell Labs is developing advanced analytical techniques and tools to help EPB even further mine the wealth of information from smart meters, Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems and other data to help reduce electric service outages, help EPB's customers manage energy costs, manage power consumption during peak consumption periods, and improve operational efficiencies.

Alcatel-Lucent is also providing EPB with a GPON infrastructure that delivers residential services at up to 1 Gbps -- the fastest in the U.S. The 1 Gbps service is priced at $350 per month. EPB also offers 100, 50, and 30 Mbps.

Vitesse Expands its EcoEthernet PHYs

Vitesse Semiconductor continues to build its portfolio of energy-efficient SimpliPHY family of Gigabit Ethernet (GE) physical layer devices.

Vitesse's EcoEthernet 2.0 silicon, which is designed for enterprise LAN, data center and carrier Ethernet switches, optimizes performance for all link speeds, while providing unique energy-saving capabilities for temperature monitoring, smart fan control, and adjustable LED brightness. EcoEthernet is compliant to the Energy Star framework with unique features such as "PerfectReach", an intelligent cable length algorithm that saves power based on the reach of a connection and "ActiPHY", which reduces power consumption by 75 percent or more for unconnected ports.

The two-port VSC8552 and four-port VSC8504 devices support dual media copper and fiber ports. Vitesse's EcoEthernet 2.0 technology enables power dissipation between 160mW and 400 mW per port depending upon traffic utilization levels for an active link over twisted-pair copper wiring. The VSC8552 features an RGMII-to-SGMII conversion mode for a low-power solution. Similarly, the VSC8504 can perform SGMII-to-QSGMII conversion.

Sampling is underway for the lead-free RoHS 6 devices, which come in 17-mm-square 256-pin BGA packages.

"Network equipment vendors across all segments are looking for ways to reduce system power and increase system efficiency," said Dinesh Kannappan, product marketing manager at Vitesse. "Vitesse is committed to remaining at the forefront in green innovations, which helps our customers gain a competitive edge and bring differentiated energy-efficient network solutions to market."

Cortina 's 4th Generation EPON ONU

Cortina Systems unveiled its 4th generation EPON ONU featuring new power saving capabilities compliant with SIEPON's power saving feature and supports the new IEEE Energy Efficient Ethernet standard. The device could be used for home gateways of EPON-enable mobile backhaul, or business Ethernet surfaces.

The single chip EPON ONU offers a 500MHz CPU and multiple embedded memory options, has a flexible architecture that allows it to be used as a SFU (Single Family Unit), IP Voice and Video, HGU (Home Gateway Unit), and MDU (Multi-dwelling Unit). It features a VoIP interface that can support up to 4 instants of conversation. It also supports the IEEE802.3az Energy Efficient Ethernet as well as the SIEPON's power saving mode.

Cortina noted that the new EPON ONU could also be used for mobile backhaul and business connectivity applications as it supports 1PPS/ToD timing synchronization based on China Telecom V2.1 EPON Specification and IEEE 802.1AS. The rich feature set and the low BOM cost make the chip an ideal candidate for a single platform solution for a one-port ONU to a full featured triple play home gateway.

"Carriers are implementing PON as a way to deliver fast optical connections to support end users demand for both high speed bandwidth and advance services," said Rick Li, Vice President Marketing, Cortina Systems. "Not only does the CS803x reduce BOM costs by embedding the memory, it supports IPv4/IPv6 co-existence for seamless migration from IPv4 to advanced IPv6 services and a powerful processor for VoIP service. The CS803x provides a solution for the FTTx industry with leading benchmark of performance over power and cost."

Qualcomm Atheros Debuts Tri-Band Wi-Fi Chip with In-room 60 GHz

Qualcomm Atheros introduced the industry's first tri-band Wi-Fi chipset that integrates the multi-gigabit performance of in-room 60 GHz band with seamless handoff to 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz band Wi-Fi.

The new AR9004TB solution, which was developed in partnership with Wilocity, a developer of 60 GHz multi-gigabit wireless chipsets, could support a range of applications, from I/O to video to networking, at the same speeds as equivalent wired connectivity technologies.

This could include devices using 802.11n Wi-Fi for whole home connectivity along with 802.11ad for networked synchronization of HD movies in seconds (versus tens of minutes), I/O connection to USB3/SATA hard drives, instant "sync and go" between mobile platforms, streaming display to projectors/TVs/monitors, and high-performance wireless docking.

The 60 GHz technology found in AR9004TB is based on the latest specifications from the Wireless Gigabit Alliance and IEEE 802.11ad and will be Wi-Fi Alliance certified. The AR9004TB also supports the latest Bluetooth 4.0 specification, which includes both high-speed and low-energy operation to extend personal area connectivity to a variety of devices. It includes a new message-based coexistence interface that allows superior interference avoidance and cancellation for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth coexistence.

"The new AR9004TB solution strengthens and expands our industry-leading portfolio of wireless and wired connectivity technologies for consumer and enterprise devices," said Amir Faintuch, senior vice president and general manager, consumer business unit, Qualcomm Atheros. "By incorporating 60 GHz multi-gigabit transfer with proven 802.11n Wi-Fi technologies, Qualcomm Atheros and Wilocity are creating an even more valuable offering for customers looking to expand their presence in the market. AR9004TB will allow users to enjoy new generations of rich applications in the home and at work while also helping keep their devices and information fully synchronized."

Sony's PlayStation Network Fully Restored this Week

Sony Network Entertainment International will fully restore all PlayStation Network services in the Americas, Europe/PAL territories and Asia, excluding Japan, Hong Kong, and South Korea by the end of this week. The company said it has implemented considerable security enhancements to the network infrastructure, as well as conducted testing of the payment process and commerce functions.

The first phase of PlayStation Network and Qriocity restoration began on May 15 in the Americas and Europe/PAL territories, followed by Japan and Asian countries and regions on May 28, when the company brought partial services back online.