Thursday, March 13, 2014

AT&T Completes Cricket Acquisition

AT&T completed its previously announced acquisition of prepaid wireless provider Leap Wireless International Inc., which operates under the Cricket brand, for $15 per share in cash. Leap shareholders will also receive a contingent right entitling them to the net proceeds received on the sale of Leap’s 700 MHz “A Block” spectrum in Chicago, which Leap purchased for $204 million in August 2012.

Leap currently operates a 3G CDMA network, as well as a 4G LTE network covering 21 million people across 35 states. The company serves about 5 million prepaid mobile users under the Cricket brand. It currently ranks as the fifth largest mobile operator in the U.S. Its network currently covers approximately 97 million people in 35 U.S. states, and Cricket had 4.57 million customers as of February 28, 2014. Customer migrations are expected to be completed approximately 18 months after the launch of the new Cricket.

The deal would include all of Leap’s stock and wireless properties, including licenses, network assets, retail stores and approximately 5 million subscribers. As of April 15, 2013, Leap had $2.8 billion of net debt. Leap shareholders will also receive a contingent right entitling them to the net proceeds received on the sale of Leap’s 700 Mhz “A Block” spectrum in Chicago, which Leap purchased for $204 million in August 2012.

AT& said it plans to integrate Cricket with its existing operations to create the "new Cricket" for the pre-paid market -- featuring a combination of simple, low-cost rate plans and smartphones.

In addition to Cricket’s operations, AT&T also acquired spectrum in the PCS and AWS bands covering nearly 138 million people. This spectrum is largely complementary to AT&T’s existing spectrum holdings and includes unutilized spectrum covering 41 million people. AT&T will immediately begin to put the unutilized spectrum to use to support 4G LTE services for its customers. This additional spectrum will provide additional capacity and enhance network performance for customers using smartphones and other mobile Internet devices.

  • Leap Wireless was founded in 1998 as a spin-off from Qualcomm.  The company is based in San Diego.

Ericsson: Near Term Growth Expected Around 4%

From 2012 to 2016, Ericsson expects a compound annual growth rate of more than 4% in markets it serves (measured in USD with some variations), according to the company's newly published Annual Report.  Ericsson argues that the underlying fundamentals for growth in the industry are intact, driven largely by the rapid increase in smartphones and mobile broadband subscriptions.

In his letter to shareholders, Hans Vestburg, Ericsson's President and CEO, says the company's strategic plan remains focused on three components:

  1. Excel in the core business – radio, core and transmission, and telecom services
  2. Establish leadership in targeted areas – modems, cloud, IP networks, TV and media, as well as OSS and BSS
  3. Expand business in new areas.

"We have continued with our strategy of  expanding into targeted areas such as TV and  media, IP, cloud, as well as OSS and BSS. And we have refocused our position in modems, winding up the ST-Ericsson joint venture and establishing our own thin modems business. We further strengthened our global services capabilities all over the world. And we continue to invest in research and development – SEK 162 billion in the past five years alone. We build on our core assets – our technology and services leadership and our global scale – as part of our constant evolution, something that is vital for maintaining our leading position in a transforming industry," stated Hans Vestburg.

Broadcom Sells Certain Ethernet Controller-related Assets to QLogi

Broadcom completed the sale of certain Ethernet controller-related assets to QLogic Corporation for approximately $147 million in cash.

The sale includes certain 10/40/100Gb Ethernet controller-related assets and non-exclusive licenses to intellectual property relating primarily to Broadcom's programmable NetXtreme II Ethernet controller family.

The companies have entered into a long-term supply agreement whereby Broadcom will become ASIC supplier to QLogic in support of the NetXtreme II product line.  QLogic also licensed certain Broadcom patents under a non-exclusive patent license agreement that covers QLogic's Fibre Channel products in exchange for a license fee of $62 million.

In January,  Brocade has sold its network adapter business to QLogic for an undisclosed sum.  This deal included the entire Brocade network adapter product portfolio:
  • Brocade 1860 Fabric Adapters
  • Brocade 815/825 and 415/425 Fibre Channel Host Bus Adapters, or HBAs
  • Brocade 1010/1020 Converged Network Adapters, or CNAs
  • HBA and CNA mezzanine adapters for select OEM partners.
The companies also agreed to work together closely to affirm their commitment to the storage area networking industry, collaborate on the development of the next generation Gen 6 Fibre Channel technology, and strengthen the Fibre Channel vendor ecosystem for the benefit of mutual customers.

Brocade said the sale enables it to focus on meeting the data center networking needs of customers through next-generation fabrics and software defined networking -- the two critical building blocks for modern data centers.

Google Slices Storage Pricing

Google rolled out a major price cut for its paid online storage service for consumers.  Monthly storage plans for 100GB have been cut to $1.99 (previously $4.99), 1TB storage is reduced to $9.99 (previously $49.99) and 10TB of online storage now costs $99.00.  Google says it can provide more storage if you need it.

Google storage is shared across is Drive, Gmail and Google+ Photos services.

Crehan Research: 10GbE Data Center Switches Surpass 1GbE

Robust 2013 year-end growth has propelled 10 gigabit Ethernet (10GbE) data center switch port shipments past those of gigabit Ethernet (1GbE) for the first time, according to a recent report from Crehan Research.

Since first product introductions in 2001, 10GbE data center switching has overcome numerous hurdles on the path to majority adoption. These have included:

  • Very low port-density switches, with accompanying prices prohibitive to volume data center deployments. 
  • High-priced optical pluggable modules accompanied by many different multi-source agreements and form-factors, with the market cycling through the 300pin, XENPAK, XPAK, XFP and X2 modules before finally settling at the current dominant SFP+ form-factor. 
  • Limited default or free 10GbE networking on volume rack servers to seed the market for a switch upgrade, similar to what happened with 1GbE. 
  • Slower-than-expected arrival of compelling 10GBASE-T solutions. 
  • Two major recessions in the aftermath of the housing and dot-com bubbles. 

“When I first saw 10 gigabit Ethernet switches arrive on the market back in 2001, I never thought that we would be well into the next decade before these products would comprise a majority of data center Ethernet port shipments,” said Seamus Crehan, president of Crehan Research. “Despite a network traffic growth curve that turned out to be way above most expectations, this technology was encumbered by numerous obstacles on its way to becoming a majority of data center connections,” he added.

Huawei Intros Enhanced eLTE Broadband Trunking

Huawei introduced an enhanced version of its enterprise LTE (eLTE) broadband trunking solution, which launched last year and has been deployed in various vertical industries, including government, energy, transportation and smart grids around the world. Huawei's eLTE supports downlink rates of up to 100 Mbps and uplinks at up to 50 Mbps.

The enhanced version, named eLTE 3.1 Broadband Trunking Solution, supports a broad set of eLTE services, including broadband trunking video surveillance. It supports multiple frequency bands, including 400M, 800M, 1.4G, 1.8G, 2.3G for broadband trunking, and 400M ~ 5.8G for broadband access services.

The solution is interoperable with Huawei's Telepresence and TETRA systems and supports audio and video communications between 14U core network which supports 31 to 1500 sites, 2U core network which supports 2 to 30 sites, emergency communications vehicles, rapid deployment system, and visual dispatch.

"As the first vendor in the industry to adopt LTE technologies in the enterprise domain, Huawei has demonstrated deep understanding of customers' needs. With in-depth experience in the industry and upcoming technology trends, we are pleased to introduce the eLTE 3.1 broadband trunking solution," said Mr. Norman Frisch, Director of Marketing, Huawei Enterprise Wireless Solution Sales Department. "Aimed to develop smarter cities with eLTE, the new eLTE 3.1 broadband trunking solution will feature multiple frequency band support, flexible networking and strong adaption in harsh environments, enhancing overall operational efficiency of enterprises."

Huawei also noted that ,as of December 2013, it has signed 46 contracts with customers to design innovative eLTE network solutions to address specific application scenarios for the public sector, transportation, energy, and other industries globally. For instance, Huawei supplied an eLTE-based urban rail transportation solution for Zhengzhou Metro in China. The solution features highly reliable bilateral radio transmission channels for train-to-ground voice, data, and video transmissions, improving the overall communication and operational efficiency of rail transportation.