Friday, September 28, 2012

Arianespace Launches 2 Satellites: Astra 2F and GSAT-10

An Ariane 5 rocket successfully orbited two telecommunications satellites: Astra 2F, which mainly provides direct-to-home (DTH) broadcast services for the Luxembourg-based operator SES, and the GSAT-10 communications satellite for the Indian Space Research Organization, ISRO.
ASTRA 2F, which was built by Astrium using a Eurostar E3000 platform, weighed 6,000 kg at launch. It carries both Ku- and Ka-band transponders. ASTRA 2F will be positioned at 28.2 degrees East for delivering DTH TV broadcast services to Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
GSAT-10, which was designed, assembled and integrated by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) in Bangalore, weighed about 3,400 kg at launch.  The satellite is fitted with 18 C-band and 12 Ku-band transponders. Positioned at 83 degrees East, it will provide direct-to-home broadcasting, weather and radio-navigation services. Its coverage zone encompasses the entire Indian sub-continent.

This marks the fifth Ariane 5 launch in 2012.  Ariane 5 is the only commercial rocket capable of simultaneously launching two payloads.

FCC Readies First Incentive Auction for Repurposed TV Spectrum

The FCC voted to approve plans for the first incentive auction to repurpose broadcast spectrum for mobile broadband use.

Incentive auctions offer financial incentives to broadcasters to put their unused, licensed spectrum up for public auction, including giving broadcasters a portion of the auction proceeds.  The U.S. is the first nation to move ahead with incentive auctions for traditional TV spectrum.

The major outlines of the incentive auction are given as follow in the FCC's NPRM:

(1) a “reverse auction” in which broadcast television licensees submit bids to voluntarily relinquish
spectrum usage rights in exchange for payments.  The reverse auction consists of three broad issues: bid collection, determination of which bids are accepted, and determination of payment amounts to winners.

(2) a reorganization or “repacking” of the broadcast television bands in order to free up a portion of the ultra-high frequency (UHF) band for other uses. Repacking involves reorganizing the broadcast television bands so that the television stations that remain on the air after the incentive auction occupy a smaller portion of the UHF band, subject to interference and other constraints imposed by the Spectrum Act and treaties with Canada and Mexico.   The goal it to configure a portion of the UHF band into contiguous blocks of spectrum suitable for flexible use.

(3) a “forward auction” of initial licenses for flexible use of the newly available spectrum. The forward auction will resemble prior competitive bidding systems that the FCC has utilized,  except that the FCC will not know in advance the amount of spectrum we can make available in the forward auction, the specific frequencies that will be available and, perhaps, the geographic locations of such frequencies.

The FCC is now seeking comment on these issues.

600 MHz Band Plan. The FCC is also seeking comment on a 600 MHz band plan for reclaimed broadcast television spectrum using 5 megahertz blocks and with 6 megahertz guard bands between mobile broadband use and broadcast use.

The FCC said it is committed to make a substantial amount of spectrum available for unlicensed uses, including a significant portion that would be available on a uniform nationwide basis for the first time. This unlicensed spectrum would continue to include television white spaces.  In addition, the FCC is considering making the 6 MHz guard bands in the 600 MHz band plan available for unlicensed use, making channel 37 available for such use, and making two channels currently designated for wireless microphone use available for white space devices.

  • In February 2012, the U.S. Congress passed the "Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012", which also granted voluntary incentive auction authority to the FCC.

Alcatel-Lucent Builds Ghana’s e-government Services

Alcatel-Lucent is working with NITA - the information and communications technology (ICT) policy arm of Ghana’s Ministry of Communications - to connect central and regional administration offices in support of "e-Ghana", a national initiative to develop local IT services and improve the transparency and efficiency of government functions.  Alcatel-Lucent will design and implement a 600km fiber backbone. In addition, Alcatel-Lucent will provide a national data center facility to support the network, through close collaboration with HP, a global alliance partner for the delivery of converged ICT solutions.

The network uses Alcatel-Lucent's 1830 Photonic Service Switch (PSS), which can support a mixture of 10G, 40G and 100G channels on the same fiber pair, helping ensure support for future needs as demand grows. Alcatel-Lucent is working with IPMC, local IT hardware and services provider, to establish a large-scale data center using technology from HP.

Huawei Completes LTE TDD/TD-SCDMA Interoperability Testing

Huawei has completed LTE TDD/TD-SCDMA multi-mode interoperability testing using Qualcomm's MDM9615 modem, which is highly optimized to support LTE (FDD and TDD), dual-carrier HSPA +, and EV-DO Rev. B. In addition, MDM9615 can also support TD-SCDMA, allowing for interoperability to occur between TD-SCDMA and LTE TDD.

ADTRAN Cuts Guidance on Weak U.S. Carrier Spending

Citing weakness in spending by U.S. carriers, ADTRAN cut its revenue and earnings estimates for the third quarter ending September 30, 2012.

The company now expects revenue for the quarter to be approximately $162 million. GAAP earnings per share for the quarter, assuming dilution, are expected to range from $0.14 to $0.15. Non-GAAP earnings per share for the quarter are expected to range from $0.18 to $0.19.

ADTRAN Chief Executive Officer Tom Stanton stated, “Our performance this quarter continued to be affected by a challenging spending environment stemming largely from macro-economic and regulatory concerns. The largest impact continues to be in the U.S. carrier market where we saw continuing delays in project rollouts exacerbated by a decrease in legacy product sales. Although timing the resolution to these macro concerns remains challenging, recent bidding activity in Tier 1 and Tier 2 carrier accounts both domestically and abroad leave us very confident about our positioning as these markets rebound.”

CTIA Endorses FCC's Incentive Auction of Broadcast Television Spectrum

"Since spectrum is a finite resource, we're pleased the Commission has begun the process of establishing the rules that will fulfill the goals of the recently adopted, bipartisan spectrum legislation.  We also commend the Commission for working to ensure that it not only establishes rules that result in a successful auction, but also completes its efforts in a timely manner. In order to maintain our global leadership in the mobile ecosystem, we must ensure that this spectrum is brought to market more quickly than the almost ten years it took to bring the last two spectrum blocks to market," stated CTIA-The Wireless Association President and CEO Steve Largent.

Intel Strikes at the Tablet Market

Intel, in partnership with Acer, ASUS, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Lenovo, LG, Samsung and ZTE, showed off new tablets and tablet convertible designs based on Intel Core vPro, Intel Core and Intel Atom processors, including the new Intel Atom processor Z2760 (formerly codenamed "Clover Trail").

Intel said its new chip allow for tablets as thin as 8.5mm and as light as 1.5 pounds. The dual-core, four-thread SoC enables long battery life with more than 3 weeks of connected standby and more than 10 hours of local HD video playback.  Intel also highlighted support for the upcoming Windows 8.

"This is just the beginning of Intel's effort in the tablet market, and our goal is to deliver products that fit the spectrum of evolving needs of both consumers and business users without compromising on compatibility, experience or battery life," said Erik Reid, general manager, Application Processor Platforms for Intel's Mobile and Communications Group. "When people or corporations buy a device with Intel Inside®, they're getting the best of Windows 8 features with a computing experience that just works."

Bloomberg: DDoS Attacks on U.S. Banks Worrisome

A group calling itself Izz ad-Din al-Quassam Cyber Fighters is claiming responsibility for the series of DDoS attacks on major U.S. financial institutions over the past 2 weeks, according to Bloomberg, and were possibly inspired as revenge for the controversial YouTube video.  The attacks, which escalated last week, are raising concerns across the industry in part because it was assumed that the major U.S. banks have sufficient cyber security to defend against distributed denial of service attacks.

The Financial Services Information Sharing and Analysis Center, which gathers threat, vulnerability, and risk information about cyber and physical security risks faced by the financial services sector under a Presidential directive, is maintaining an orange "High" warning level on its 5-level warning scale of Cyber Threats. (the highest level is 5-point red for "Severe" risk of cyber attacks on financial institutions).   FS-ISAC raised the warning level to Orange on September 19th.

Crown Castle to Acquire 7,200 Towers from T-Mobile USA for $2.4 Billion

Crown Castle reached an agreement to acquire approximately 7,200 towers from T-Mobile USA for $2.4 billion in cash.

The deal gives Crown Castle the exclusive right to lease and operate the T-Mobile towers for a weighted average term of approximately 28 years. In addition, Crown Castle will have the option to purchase such towers at the end of the respective lease terms for aggregate option payments of approximately $2.4 billion, which payments, if exercised would be primarily between 2025 and 2048.

Crown Castle said the deal helps it to consolidate its share of the telecom tower leasing business.  T-Mobile USA said the cash will help it to accelerate its 4G rollout.

"T-Mobile USA is working aggressively to make our 4G network stronger, faster and more dependable for consumers, and this transaction will support our ongoing $4 billion network modernization initiative that is the cornerstone of this effort as we work tirelessly to continue to deliver our amazing 4G services nationwide."

  • Earlier this year, Crown Castle International acquired NextG Networks for approximately $1.0 billion in cash.  NextG, which specializes in outdoor distributed antenna systems ("DAS"), currently has over 7,000 nodes-on-air and a further 1,500 nodes under construction. In addition, NextG has rights to over 4,600 miles of fiber. Over 90% of NextG nodes are in urban and suburban locations, with 80% in the top ten US metropolitan areas, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Dallas Fort Worth. The NextG assets are expected to provide significant growth, as they currently average only 1.25 tenants per network. Crown Castle said this deal made it the largest independent DAS operator in the US, with approximately 10,000 nodes and 26 venues in operation or under construction. Previously, Crown Castle owned, operated and managed over 22,000 and approximately 1,600 wireless communication sites in the US and Australia,
  • In September, Deutsche Telekom appointed John Legere as CEO of T-Mobile USA, replacing Jim Alling, who will return to his position of Chief Operating Officer. 
  • Legere previously was CEO of Global Crossing.