Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Lucent Agrees to Settle Shareowner Class Action Lawsuits

Lucent Technologies reached an agreement to settle all pending shareowner and related litigation against the company, its current and former officers and directors, and certain other defendants. Lucent described the agreement as a global settlement of what were 54 separate lawsuits. Under the agreement, Lucent will pay $315 million in common stock, cash or a combination of both, at the company's option. Lucent will also seek partial recovery of this amount from its fiduciary insurance carriers under certain policies that are worth up to $70 million. Further financial terms are posted online.

Riverstone Reports Revenues of $15 Million, Net Loss of $41 Million

Riverstone Networks reported revenues of $15.1 million for the quarter ended 01-March-2003, a sequential increase of 9.7% over revenues of $13.8 million in the prior quarter, but down from $51.3 million from the same period in the prior year. GAAP net loss for the fourth quarter was $40.6 million or $0.33 per share, including a $1.3 million stock-based compensation charge, a restructuring charge of $1.2 million, impairment charges of $7.4 million related to investments in privately-held companies, a $5.1 million inventory charge associated with discontinued and excess products, a $4.5 million charge related to a customer lease guarantee, and amortization of intangibles related to the purchase of Pipal Systems of $869,000.

Broadwing Reports Positive Cash Flow in Q4, Initiates Recapitalization

Broadwing reported Q4 revenue of $503 million, an 8 percent decline over the same period in 2001. While the company's Cincinnati Bell businesses grew 4 percent, the revenue decline was due to weakness in its Broadwing Communications operations. In the quarter, the company announced an asset impairment charge due to the exit of its Broadwing Communications business. This non-cash charge produced an operating loss of $2.2 billion for the quarter. On a per share basis, the loss from continuing operations was $10.92, versus a loss of $0.95 per share for the same period last year. Additionally, the company produced $30 million of positive cash flow in the fourth quarter, its second consecutive quarter of positive cash flow. Broadwing also announced a recapitalization that includes the successful completion of an amendment to its bank credit facility for, among other things, extension of its scheduled maturities. The company said the recapitalization provides it with sufficient liquidity to meet its obligations until 2006.

SR Telecom to Acquire Netro for Fixed Wireless

SR Telecom agreed to acquire Netro Corporation for approximately US$121 million, which represents a premium of 28% to Netro's closing stock price of US$2.43 on 26-March-2003. Both companies are suppliers of carrier-class fixed wireless access solutions. SR Telecom said the merger would increase its addressable market in urban markets with licensed frequencies in the low (1.9-3.5 GHz) and the high (10-39 GHz) bands. The deal includes Netro's next generation 3.5 GHz Angel product, which benefited from hundreds of millions in development dollars, as well as Netro's AirStar fixed broadband access solution. SR Telecom supplies TDMA Point-to-Multipoint (PMP) Fixed Wireless Access solutions. Netro stockholders will receive total consideration of approximately US$3.11 per share, based on SR Telecom's closing price of C$0.75 per share as of March 26, 2003. Following the transaction, Netro stockholders will own approximately 43% of SR Telecom's common shares.
  • Netro's Angel product is a non-line-of- sight system using Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) to deliver voice and/or data services in the 1.9, 2.3, and 3.5 GHz bands.

  • In November 2002, Netro retained Goldman, Sachs & Co. as its financial advisor and said it would review its strategic alternatives in light of the continuing telecom downturn. Netro received an offer from Wyndcrest Holdings, LLC of Palm Beach, Florida to purchase all of the outstanding shares of Netro for $158.5 million "less an amount in reserve as necessary to shut down operations and arrange for the preservation and/or sale of the Company's technology," plus a 25% interest in the continuing company.

Pagoo Announces Hosting Agreement With XO for its Internet Voice Mail

Pagoo, a provider of Internet voice mail services, is hosting its application server in XO Communications' data centers. Pagoo claims 40,000 customers for its Internet Voice Mail service. Subscribers can customize their Web-based voice mail player, set-up personal greetings, define their notification options, and store and organize voice messages similar to how they manage email. Voice messages can also be forwarded to email or via SMS text messaging.

US Congressman Lobbies for CDMA in Post-war Iraq

U.S. Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) issued a public letter to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and U.S.AID Administrator, Ambassador Wendy Chamberlain, urging the U.S. Armed Forces not to deploy a mobile phone network in post-war Iraq based on GSM. The mobile communications network presumably would be operated by the U.S. Reconstruction and Civil Affairs Office for some time after the end of hostilities and then privatized. Congressman Issa is proposing CDMA technology for political and technical reasons. Issa represents California's 49th congressional district, which includes parts of San Diego county, home of Qualcomm.

Verizon Expands Coverage with Nortel's CDMA2000 1X Gear

Verizon Wireless, the largest wireless service provider in the United States, is currently deploying CDMA2000 1X wireless voice and data network infrastructure equipment from Nortel Networks in Georgia and Alabama, markets recently acquired from Price Communications. The deployment includes Nortel Networks Univity CDMA2000 1X Metro Cell radio base station equipment, mobile switches and related infrastructure for expansion of Verizon Wireless' wireless data network. Verizon's Express wireless data network is now available in 900 cities across the US.

Kagoor Networks Delivers VoiceFlow Network Aggregation

Kagoor Networks released its newest VoIP border control application, VoiceFlow Network Aggregation, to address the growing use of network-based VPNs and VLANs by VoIP service providers to aggregate and subsequently deliver VoIP network services. The new application for the carrier-side VoiceFlow 3000 platform handles a variety of security and NAT issues faced when delivering VoIP traffic at network aggregation points in conjunction with VPN network deployments.

OFS Introduces New Specialty Photonics Products

OFS introduced a series of specialty fibers designed for use in both telecom and non-telecom applications in a variety of industries, including medicine, defense, telecom, aerospace, geophysical, acoustic and sensor applications. The OFS ClearLite Micro Photonic Fibers offer 80-micron micro-cladding diameters to enable miniature components and tight sensor coils. Specialty coatings such as polyimide, carbon/polyimide, and carbon/acrylate allow fibers to withstand, and maintain optimum functionality in, temperature extremes, high humidity, and other harsh environments necessary for aerospace, oil well sensing and surgical applications.

MetaSwitch Positions for CLECs Facing the End of UNE-P

In response to recent FCC rule changes affecting the availability of UNE-P services to CLECs, MetaSwitch is positioning its VP3500 Next Generation Class 5 Switch as a next generation telephone solution for CLECs needing to move to facilities-based networks. MetaSwitch said the recent change in the FCC unbundling regulations has led many UNE-P based CLECs to revise their business models. MetaSwitch believes the key news for CLECs includes the finding that switching will no longer be an unbundled element for business customers and that individual states must determine if UNE-P is required for residential customers to provide competition. In addition, the rule changes removed the requirement on RBOCs to provide unbundled packet switching elements (including DSLAMs) and line sharing.

TeliaSonera Expands its DSL Footprint

TeliaSonera will expand its DSL network to another 104 switching centers in 73 municipalities in south and central Sweden. Approximately 450,000 customers already have broadband access through agreements with a number of the operators that use TeliaSonera's network. Slightly more than 100,000 households will be covered by the new installations. After the new installation, about 76% of Swedish households will be capable of receiving DSL.

TIA Predicts Return to Growth for both Network Services and Equipment Markets

The Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) is predicting a 6.1% increase in spending in the United States on network transport services during 2003, achieving a total market size of $345.3 billion. Unlike 2002, TIA predicts growth will be positive across all transport services, though greatest in wireless services and specialized services such as high-speed Internet access. Local service revenues will expand by 5.8%, toll services will return to positive growth with a 1.7% increase, and wireless services will sustain 12% growth in 2003. Growth in high-speed Internet access will generate additional network traffic to sustain growth through 2006. TIA expects to see major infrastructure buildouts resume as service providers prepare for greater numbers of broadband subscribers. As a result, TIA expects the wireline network equipment and facilities market to expand by an 8.5% compound annual rate from 2003 to 2006, reaching $30.4 billion in 2006. The wireline network equipment market declined by 49% in 2002, according to TIA. The 2003 edition of TIA's study was prepared in anticipation of the FCC's recent decision regarding rules for competition in the local services market.

Equant Offers Outbound Option for Network Based Internet Gateway

Equant announced a unique outbound option for customers using its network-based gateway for providing Internet access to their global VPNs. The service provides a means for accessing the public Internet without exposing the VPNs to undue security risk. With the addition, Equant now offers two Network Based Internet Gateway configurations: Premium and Basic Outbound. The Premium tier is a bi-directional Internet service for larger sites where both inbound and outbound Internet access is required. It provides customizable security policy to and from the Internet, even for remote access employees using an IPSec connection. The new Basic Outbound tier allows Internet connections only from within the customer VPN out to the Internet without being routed via central corporate firewalls. It provides protocol filtering in hardware using multi-gigabit processors.

Xerox Develops Reconfigurable Optical ADM on a Chip

Xerox has developed a single-chip that integrates a MEMS photonic switch with planar light circuits, providing the functionality of a Reconfigurable Optical Add/Drop Multiplexer (R-OADM). Xerox said it currently has a working prototype 8-channel reconfigurable OADM operating on a single crystal silicon wafer produced using a common semiconductor process. Xerox intends to license the technology to other companies in the optical switching market. The technology builds on a MEMS fabrication platform developed under a grant provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

SBC to Deploy WaveSmith's Distributed Node Multiservice Switch

SBC is deploying WaveSmith Networks' DN 7100 multiservice switch to provide DSL aggregation across 200 sites nationwide. The multiyear, multimillion-dollar contract is the largest announced to date by WaveSmith. WaveSmith's DN multiservice platform combines ATM, Frame Relay, Time-Division Multiplexing/Circuit Emulation Services (TDM/CES), and MPLS in a compact form factor.

OFC: Service Provider Architects: AT&T, DT, FT, Cogent, Sprint, Cox

Legacy support and low cost are the two vital factors in planning metro optical upgrades, said Kathy Tse of AT&T's Optical Transport Planning at the OFC Service Provider Summit in Atlanta this week. CWDM is of great interest to AT&T due to its low cost, standards-defined integrated optics for interconnection, and its ability to leverage existing and fiber. AT&T is also seeking ways to reduce capital expenditures through the elimination of unneeded OEO connections and the use of lower cost components. Operating expenses will be reduced through automation of system maintenance and growth and reduced power and footprint. However, Tse said it is rare to find a business case for new CapEx outlays that really achieve significant OpEx savings.

Planning for metro optical networks requires careful consideration of the access network, advised Dr. Andreas Gladisch of Deutsche Telekom, T-Systems. He feels that it no longer makes sense to deploy the traditional SONET/SDH systems. The time is right for next generation SONET/SDH equipment capable of carrying a mix of services. He argues this is a better option than combining pure SONET/SDH and pure Ethernet as point solutions.

France Telecom R&D's Francois Tillerot believes that the diversity of customer applications means there is no single optimal solution for metro optical networks. In reality, most carrier networks are built with different topologies or equipment in each city. This is particularly true for large service providers that have grown through mergers and acquisitions over the years. Tillerot believes that CWDM is economical for specific circumstances and customers, but it is not a global solution. To integrate and deliver Ethernet services, Ethernet over SONET/SDH and to some degree CWDM will be most effective, while DWDM remains very expensive and probably most useful online in areas where fiber is scarce.

It is still better for an enterprise to operate a separate data network rather than create or utilize converged network, according to R. Brad Kummer, CTO of Cogent Communications. Traditionally, bandwidth has been considered an expensive resource that must be carefully managed with an elaborate network made up of expensive multi-services equipment and management systems. Cogent's view is that bandwidth can be inexpensive when carried on a simply designed network, and that the liberal application of bandwidth can solve networking problems. Cogent offers data-only service over its network, which is essentially a nationwide Layer 3 switched LAN. Cogent is not positioning its network for voice or other time sensitive services, making its 1-3 second fail over time acceptable. Internet data applications are designed to deal with this, says Kummer. Cogent utilizes WDM systems in its long haul network to minimize its transport costs, and in its metro network to minimize network costs. Cogent has recently switched from DWDM systems to more cost effective CWDM.

Mark Jones of Sprint's Optical Transport and Networking Group agrees that it is easier and generally more cost-effective to add bandwidth to a simple network architecture than manage a complicated network full of differentiated services. He believes that there have been several years of hype about technologies that are unrealistic when one evaluates the equipment available and the actual network costs. His list of top fallacies created by market hype includes full transparency, wavelength-level bandwidth on demand ("a hopeless business case"), and the belief that new technology is inherently better than old. Ultimately, optical networking decisions should be driven by an evaluation of the total network cost. No one optical networking solution will be right for all situations, and those who are "technology agnostic" will have the upper hand when considering their choices.

A pure packet architecture is the endgame, said Sabrina Calhoun, Director of Operations Engineering for Cox Communications. Cox has three parts to its network: an IP backbone; a transport network made up of Cox's own fiber to connect headends out to each neighborhood; and a coaxial network to connect directly to homes. Cox embarked on the upgrade of its network several years ago in order to offer telephony. For better network reliability, Cox moved to a self-healing design in which each node is interconnected via dual fiber rings. In 2001, Cox created its own OC-48 nationwide IP backbone for its customers' Internet data traffic. The company is now evaluating the use of this network to carry long distance voice and video traffic over this IP network. In the future, Cox plans to add networking capabilities to provide services to business customers, use new DOCSIS standards to provide better service control, utilize DWDM to increase bandwidth capacity, and add Resilient Packet Ring technology in some regions.

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

OFC Service Provider Summit: BellSouth Highlights Network Evolution

BellSouth does not look at the optical part of its network in a vacuum. It is just one part of an interconnected network, said Bill Smith, Chief Product Development and Technical Officer of Bell South, speaking at OFC's Service Provider Summit in Atlanta this week. While it would be nice to create an all-new network on a fresh sheet of paper, reality requires a mix of solutions that integrate old and new, DSL, fiber and wireless. In addition, Smith said the ongoing operation of all network elements is more difficult than the initial rollout of equipment, requiring an integrated view of network planning and management. Smith described the on-going transformation of BellSouth's network to packet services, which will ultimately be delivered through MPLS, network-based IP-VPNs, and metro Gigabit Ethernet. Packet voice is developing through Internet Call Diversion (ICD), Packet Voice Tandem (PVT), VoIP, and IP Telephony Gateway (IPTG) technologies. Key optical advances for BellSouth include OC-192 MSPPs, wavelength services, and further rollouts of fiber to the business. Smith noted that BellSouth just completed deployment of an optical high performance core, which has reduced end-to-end latency from 100 to 20 ms across the carrier's entire region. In addition, key Internet access points have been reduced from nine to four, which Smith predicts will be helpful when confronting major viruses and worms like the recent Slammer virus. Future optical network upgrades will include OEO digital cross connects to address the complications, opportunities for failure, and difficulty of provisioning SONET networks. In addition, certain SONET networks will be upgraded to DWDM and systems will be deployed to offer metro Gigabit Ethernet and wavelength services. Smith also believes that disaster recovery and mainframe and off-site backup services could be very popular. Smith also shared several thoughts about the evolution of the access network.

  • Delivery of voice, video and high-speed data on an integrated network is now a requirement.

  • DSLAM deployments will take place deeper in the network

  • As services evolve, the customer interface should change as little as possible. For instance, if BellSouth rolls out FTTH, there should be no need for customers to change their in-house wiring.

  • Entertainment services via DSL are more promising than ever before. BellSouth's content partners now say that they need only 3 Mbps to deliver video. Breaking news and live sporting events need to be viewed in real time -- other programming can be delivered through personal video recorders.

  • VDSL has great potential in multi family units. However, for neighborhoods of single-family homes, it is not clear that fiber reaches close enough to make VDSL viable. If fiber has to be run in closer, it might be better to go all the way to FTTH.

  • PON has some appeal. The technology looks good, but pricing has not declined to where it needs to be. PON will be most likely used in greenfield and overbuild situations.

  • Fixed wireless provides a good fill-in strategy, perhaps in rural areas and other places where DSL and FTTH do not make sense. BellSouth is now running a trial with Navini's fixed wireless system.

Smith observed that while service providers are constantly dealing with the challenging integration of multiple functions in the network, he is concerned that many system vendors are proposing solutions that try to accomplish too much in a single "god box style" platform. Instead, he feels that it may be better to have a more straightforward platform with just the key features. These are generally easier to implement and less expensive.

Atheros Names New CEO

Atheros Communications named Dr. Craig Barratt as its new president and CEO, replacing Rich Redelfs, who will take on the new role of vice chairman of the board of directors. Barratt previously was vice president of technology for Atheros, and before that, he served as executive vice president and general manager at ArrayComm.

Packet Design Raises $14.25 Million for IP Routing Control Plane Product

Packet Design Inc., a start-up based in Palo Alto, California, raised $14.25 million in Series B venture funding for its IP routing control plane developments. Packet Design's initial product, Route Explorer, was introduced in May 2002 as the first product to look into the IP "cloud" and leverage the routing protocols to gather, display and analyze routing-path information -- both in real time and historically -- enabling network managers to detect IP anomalies early and resolve them more quickly. Route Explorer has been shipping since mid-2002. A new version will be introduced next month. Prior to March 1, the company had existed as a set of internal technology projects of Packet Design LLC, a technology incubator founded by Judy Estrin and Bill Carrico. The new funding round was led by Advanced Technology Ventures and Mayfield Fund. Also participating in the round were Allegis Capital, Masthead Venture Partners, and Packet Design LLC.

MeshNetworks Targets is P2P Wireless Architecture at Municipal Transport

MeshNetworks, a start-up based in Maitland, Florida, announced a VAR agreement with Viasys, a leading provider of infrastructure development and maintenance services for the transportation and power utility industries. The companies will position MeshNetworks' ad hoc, peer-to-peer mobile broadband architecture to help municipalities, counties and Departments of Transportation overcome the challenges of rolling out fixed and mobile wireless data networks. MeshNetworks also provides geo-location data without using GPS. Viasys installs and maintains traffic control, safety systems, and wireless communications solutions for every level of local, state and federal government.