Wednesday, September 21, 2011

AT&T Still Confident in T-Mobile Deal

AT&T remains confident that its T-Mobile acquisition will come to a successful resolution, said Randall Stephenson, AT&T's CEO, speaking at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia XX Conference. Despite the DOJ lawsuit, Stephenson said the deal continues to gain support from the high tech community, labor unions, and numerous politicians because of the advantages it offers -- more services from the combined spectrum, $8 billion in additional network investment, and the repatriation of overseas call center jobs. The trial date of February 13 has just been set. If the case goes to trial, it might take 4-6 weeks to reach a conclusion. AT&T is seeking to pursue a separate negotiation track with DOJ and FCC that might bring resolution before the trial. Should the deal collapse, in addition to the break-fee and certain spectrum, T-Mobile would also gain a multi-year 2G/3G roaming agreement, which Stephenson said would not have a material impact on AT&T. Some other notes from his talk:

* AT&T had forecasted low growth for the U.S. economy in 2011 and so no adjustments are needed for its cost structure at this time. The company expects the low-growth or no-growth scenario for the U.S. economy to persist in 2012.

* Stephenson does not expect the availability of the iPhone on the Sprint network will be a factor for AT&T. The smartphone's adoption rate has continued to grow on the AT&T network even after if became available on Verizon.

* The nationwide HSPA+ upgrade was completed on schedule.

* Stephenson is very excited about LTE. The company had just launched its first five LTE markets and is on pace to add 15 more markets by the end of the year, covering a total of 75 million POPs. He sees big possibilities in LTE + Cloud services. The network is delivering 15 Mbps but the biggest advantage for LTE is its low-latency.

* The Chicago LTE network is using 2.1 GHz AWS spectrum.

* The cost curve benefits of the LTE network are going to be significant. There will be a capacity gain for the network and there will be a margin boost.

*The Uverse rollout will hit its target of a 30 million POP footprint this year. Going forward, AT&T is only planning fill-in upgrades to its plant. The deployment of new IP DSLAMs in certain markets will continue.

* As for sharing video content between Uverse and its LTE subscribers, Stephenson said AT&T has long been pursuing a multiscreen strategy. The issue is not really a technological one. The content guys are still trying to figure out the right business model for distributing across platforms.

A recording of the presentation is on the AT&T investor relations web page.

Oracle Acquires GoAhead for Service Availability Management Software

Oracle agreed to acquire GoAhead, a supplier of privately-held Service Availability and management software, for an undisclosed sum.

GoAhead's packaged service availability software is deployed by leading Network Equipment Providers (NEPs), such as Ericsson, Motorola and Alcatel Lucent to ensure the highest level of up-time for carrier services -- seven 9s of reliability. The middleware leverages the OpenSAF open source high availability software project. It also enables rapid provisioning, configuration and monitoring. GoAhead is headquartered in Bellevue, Washington.

Oracle said the acquisition enables it to deliver a more comprehensive stack of carrier grade software and hardware from a single vendor for network equipment providers.

“NEPs are moving to a standardized software and hardware platform that can deliver and manage highly available services,�? said Nigel Ball, Vice President, Oracle Communications Industry Solutions. “GoAhead software is the leading commercially-available solution that is compliant with Service Availability Forum specifications, the most widely adopted standard for service availability software. The addition of GoAhead technology will help us deliver a comprehensive, standards-based, carrier-grade platform that supports the delivery of new services in the call path of the network.�?

“With over 100,000 deployments of GoAhead software by leading NEPs, GoAhead brings significant domain knowledge and engineering strength, coupled with a strong track record of delivering solutions to global network equipment providers,�? said Asif Naseem, President and COO, GoAhead Software.
  • In March 2010, GoAhead announced its move to OpenSAF-based solutions and the simultaneous acquisition of the Avantellis product line from Emerson Network Power.

Facebook's Open Graph Protocol Aims for New Ways to Connect

Facebook is working to "define a new language for how people connect", said Mark Zuckerberg, speaking at the company's fourth annual F8 developer's conference in San Francisco. Facebook now has over 800 million users. On a single day last week, over 500 million users signed into Facebook.

Facebook is adding the following new capabilities:

Timeline -- a visual chronology of major event's in a person's life. This is meant to be long term archive that might be shared with family and friends.

Ticker -- a feed of less important updates that can now be shared and stored in a more socially acceptable way that the existing News Feed

New OpenGraph protocol -- enables other applications, such as Spotify, to track what you are doing and share this information on line. This provides an easier way for applications to post updates on your music listening, TV viewing, reading, eating, traveling etc.

News integration -- publishers, such as The Daily, Washington Post, Economist etc., will now present their content inside of Facebook and be able to share which articles you read as well as any comments you make.

Video discovery -- as part of OpenGraph, content aggregators such as Netflix and Hulu will share your current viewing and viewing history to enable your friends to discover new content.

France Awards LTE Licenses to Four Operators

ARCEP, the office telecoms regulator in France, awarded licences to four operators to use the 2.6 GHz frequency band. The result of the auction is as follows:

Bouygues Telecom will be allocated a duplex frequency block of 15 MHz, for which the company bid the sum of €228,011,012.

Free Mobile will be allocated a duplex frequency block of 20 MHz, for which the company bid the sum of €271,000,000.

Orange France will be allocated a duplex frequency block of 20 MHz, for which the company bid the sum of €287,118,501.

Société Française du Radiotéléphone (SFR) will be allocated a duplex frequency block of 15 MHz, for which the company bid the sum of €150,000,000.

The licenses specify a maximum data rate of at least 60 Mbps. Each of the winning bidders also a commitment to host MVNOs on its network.

In total, the bids amounted to €936 million – significantly exceeding the reserve price of €700 million. ARCEP said the allocation procedure for the 2.6 GHz band marks the first stage in the award of 4G licences. The second stage will consist of the allocation procedure for the 800 MHz band, resulting from the digital dividend, for which the deadline for applications is 15th December 2011.

Alcatel-Lucent Pushes Broadband Faster with VDSL2 Vectoring

Alcatel-Lucent is pushing broadband over copper further and faster with VDSL2 Vectoring technology. The company is first to market with a VDSL2 vectoring solution capable of delivering 100 Mbps over existing copper loop lengths of 400 meters.

Alcatel-Lucent is equally committed to FTTx and VDSL2, said Stefaan Vanhastel, Fixed Access Product Marketing manager at the company. While fiber access is seen as the end game for wireline access, the company sees copper as a big opportunity to meet national broadband goals quickly and at a lower cost than fiber, especially in markets with high labor costs. There are approximately 1.25 billion households worldwide currently connected by a copper telephone line.

VDSL2 vectoring uses digital signal processing to remove crosstalk between copper pairs in a bundle, similar to noise cancellation in headphones. From line cards at the central office or DSLAM, the system measures the crosstalk from all the lines in the bundle and then generates an anti-phase signal to cancel out the noise. For this solution, Alcatel-Lucent developed its own chipset and software. It began field trials in 2010 with a number of operators, including Belgacom, A1 Telekom Austria, Swisscom, Orange, P&T Luxemburg and Türk Telekom.

Alcatel-Lucent's VDSL2 Vectoring solution includes both Board-level Vectoring (ideal for small nodes) and System-Level Vectoring options for the company's existing ISAM DSLAM platforms, including the 7356 ISAM, the 7330 ISAM and the 7302 ISAM. The new products include a 48-port Board Level Vectoring card, a 48-port System Level Vectoring card, and a Vector Processing card supporting 192 ports initially and expanding to 384-ports of system level vectoring by next year.

Alcatel-Lucent is also working with carriers to improve broadband speeds over copper by pursuing VDSL2/FTTx architectures where the goal is to push fiber as deep as possible into the network and shorten the copper loops, as well as by applying VDSL2 bonding where two copper pair are aggregated into one connection. Work continues on Phantom Mode techniques. The company noted that it has supplied more than half of the VDSL2 lines in the field today, worldwide. http://

  • In April 2010, Alcatel-Lucent's Bell Labs unveiled a "DSL Phantom Mode" technique that achieves downstream transmission speeds of 300 Mbps over distances up to 400 meters and up to 100 Mbps at 1km. This new DSL performance boost is expected to reinvigorate copper access network, including in-building VDSL2 network, for 100+ Mbps services.

    The gains are achieved using a virtual or "phantom" channel that supplements the two physical wires that are the standard configuration for copper transmission lines. This analogue phantom mode technique is further enhanced using vectoring to eliminate interference or "crosstalk" between copper wires, and the bonding of two copper pairs into an aggregated pipe. The company has demonstrated these techniques in lab tests.

    The "phantom mode" technique of creating virtual channels has actually been understood for decades. Alcatel-Lucent said this breakthrough was enable by combining phantom mode with the power of fast processor to eliminate crosstalk between copper pairs in a binder. Practical implementation will require CPE capable of bonding the 3 channels over two copper pairs. Vectorized VDSL2 silicon will also be required.

Zarlink Finally Accepts Acquisition Bid from Microsemi

After having previously declined multiple unsolicited acquisition bids from Microsemi, the Board of Directors at Zarlink Semiconductor agreed to a new offer. Microsemi will increase the price offered for all of the issued and outstanding common shares and 6% unsecured, subordinated convertible debentures maturing September 30, 2012 of Zarlink by 19% to CAD$3.98 in cash per Share and CAD$1,624.49 in cash per CAD$1,000 principal amount of Debentures plus accrued and unpaid interest to the date Debentures are taken up.

The total transaction value is approximately US$525 million, net of Zarlink's cash which is currently US$107M, representing a 67% premium over the closing price of the shares on the TSX and a 48% premium over the closing price of the Debentures on the TSX on July 19, 2011, the day prior to the initial public announcement of Microsemi's proposal to acquire Zarlink.

Zarlink supplies, mixed-signal chip technologies for a broad range of communication and medical applications. Its core capabilities include timing solutions that manage time-sensitive communication applications over wireless and wired networks, line circuits supporting high-quality voice services over cable and broadband connections, and ultra low-power radios enabling new wireless medical devices and therapies.

Microsemi offers a portfolio of semiconductor solutions for aerospace, defense and security; enterprise and communications; and industrial and alternative energy markets. Products include high-performance, high-reliability analog and RF devices, mixed-signal and RF integrated circuits, customizable SoCs, FPGAs, and complete subsystems. Microsemi is headquartered in Aliso Viejo, California.

"We are excited to add Zarlink to the Microsemi family and to enter into this transaction on a friendly basis," said James J. Peterson, Microsemi's president and chief executive officer. "Entering the process and performing diligence enabled us to confirm the compelling strategic fit between the two companies. Furthermore, Zarlink's fundamentals, technology capabilities, product roadmap and revenue growth opportunities exceeded our expectations. By bringing Microsemi's scale and discipline to this tremendous property, we expect to deliver outstanding results for our shareholders."

Adam Chowaniec, Chairman of Zarlink's Board of Directors, stated, "After careful consideration of strategic alternatives, protracted negotiations and the receipt of two fairness opinions from our financial advisors, the Zarlink Board of Directors unanimously recommends that Shareholders and Debentureholders tender their Shares and Debentures to the Amended Offers from Microsemi."