Thursday, October 14, 2004

Implementation Agreements for MPLS Proxy Admission Control Completed

The MPLS & Frame Relay Alliance (MFA) completed two implementation agreements (IAs) for improving the service quality of real-time applications such as audio and video streaming, VoIP, and multimedia conferencing. The IAs define highly scalable resource reservation and admission control capabilities for IP-addressed traffic in an MPLS Traffic Engineered (TE) network.

The MPLS Proxy Admission Control capability is an extension of MPLS User-to-Network Interface (UNI) 2.0.1. Building on the MPLS UNI, MPLS Proxy Admission Control allows application equipment, such as IP telephony and multimedia, to request and release resources from the MPLS core network as needed. The requested network resources are dedicated to the application traffic, enhancing the service quality to the application end-user. Since network resources are requested and released when needed, the core network is used more efficiently.

The capability is defined in two documents. MFA 6.0.0, MPLS Proxy Admission Control Definition, provides a user's view of the operation and provisioning of the capability. MFA 7.0.0, MPLS Proxy Admission Control Protocol, details the extensions to the MPLS UNI protocol necessary to implement the capability.

"Conventional IP transport provides the necessary scalability, but not the reserved bandwidth required for these applications. Conventional MPLS Traffic Engineered Label Switched Paths (LSPs) provide the reserved bandwidth, but don't scale well in an IP telephony environment," said Tom Phelan (Sonus Networks), editor of the MPLS Proxy Admission Control IAs.
  • In July 2004, The MPLS & Frame Relay Alliance and The ATM Forum announced plans to merge into a single organization aimed at advancing the deployment of multi-vendor, multi-service, packet-based networks, associated applications and interworking solutions. The merged organization will have a combined membership of more than 100 companies representing the world's major service providers, equipment vendors, software and silicon suppliers, and enterprise end-users.

Sprint to Take Impairment Charge, Trim Staff

Sprint plans to take a pre-tax non-cash impairment charge in its Q3 financial report, reducing the value of its long- distance network assets. The size of the charge will be disclosed this week. Sprint said it decided to take the charge after conducting an analysis of long-distance business trends and projections that took into account current industry and competitive conditions, recent regulatory rulings, evolving technologies and the company's strategy to expand its position as a leader in telecom solutions.

Sprint Business Solutions plans to ramp up efforts to increase customer migration to wireless-enabled and IP-driven solutions, including transparent wireless and wireline connectivity. The company said it expects to reduce its workforce by up to 700 in SBS, primarily in sales and support areas.

Sprint expects to report third quarter Adjusted EPS, which excludes network impairment, restructuring and certain other one-time items, that is in excess of the current mean analyst estimate of 21 cents per share.

EDS and Vodafone Launch Managed Mobility Service

EDS and Vodafone announced a global-scale, fully-managed BlackBerry mobility service for corporate clients. The new service provides access to e-mail, calendars, contacts, task lists, corporate intranet and the Internet. EDS contributes end-to- end solution design, architecture and implementation, third-party connectivity, first-line helpdesk, device configuration, managed services (applications, network and servers), and break-fix support. Vodafone contributes the mobile network and all of its functionalities, second-line support and the mobile devices. ABN AMRO Bank of the Netherlands was named as the first customer.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

ITU Outlines its Future Global Standards-Setting Efforts

The World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly drew to a close, following 8 days of meetings in Florianópolis, Brazil by 475 delegates from 75 countries. The event focused on next-generation networks (NGN) and the process for setting future global standards.

Key outcomes of the meeting included:

  • streamlined the ITU-T work programme with the goal of achieving greater efficiency in the production of ITU standards (ITU-T Recommendations).
    a new Study Group on NGN was created

  • the adoption of new resolutions on Internet-related issues (ENUM, spam, internationalized domain names, country code top level domain (ccTLD) names)

  • the adoption of a resolution on cybersecurity

  • the adoption of measures aimed at enhancing a greater involvement of developing countries in standardization activities

  • a group to oversee the sector's seminar and workshop programme and to monitor the market for new topic areas

  • the inclusion of a gender perspective in the work of the ITU-T with the adoption of a resolution on gender mainstreaming

  • the setting up of 13 Study Groups with their areas of responsibility and the designation of their chairmen and vice-chairmen. WTSA also designated the chairman and vice-chairmen of the telecommunication standardization advisory group (TSAG)

  • a request for a study on the economic effect of call-back and other similar calling practices in developing countries and how they impact on their ability to develop their telecommunication networks and services.

White Rock Provides Faster SONET Upgrades

White Rock Networks announced an upgrade to its VLXpert Element Management System (EMS) that significantly boosts the speed at which a customer can download new network element software to a remote White Rock network element being upgraded.

White Rock said a three-node OC-192 BLSR ring can now be upgraded with a new software image in as little as sixteen minutes, whereas other transport systems often take as much as one hour to upgrade even the first network element.

Juniper Reports Revenue of $375.0 million

Juniper Networks reported Q3 revenue of $375.0 million, compared with $172.1 million for the same period last year, an increase of 118%.

GAAP net income for the third quarter was $48.8 million or $0.09 per share, compared with a GAAP net income of $7.2 million or $0.02 per share in the third quarter of 2003.

"We are once again pleased with our revenue and earnings growth for the quarter, and as a result we are investing that success in scaling the business for continued expansion," said Scott Kriens, chairman and CEO of Juniper Networks.

Riverstone Reports Preliminary Revenue of $16.6 million

Riverstone Networks reported preliminary quarterly revenues of approximately $16.6 million, an increase of 28% over the preceding quarter rand a 44% increase over the same period last year. Riverstone expects to report improved margins, saying its margins "are approaching a range more typical of a company of its size in the networking sector. "

Cash was positively impacted during the second quarter by receipt of $28 million in proceeds from the previously announced sale of the company's enterprise technology platform to Hewlett Packard in June, and a $7.2 million reimbursement from the Company's primary directors and officers liability insurance carrier for litigation costs incurred to date.

Marconi Provides Trading Update

Marconi issued the following trading update for the three months ended 30 September 2004.

Sales from Continuing Operations £305 million - consistent with full year guidance
  • Up 6 per cent on Q1 FY05

  • In line with Q2 FY04 reported sales (£305 million)

  • Up 4 per cent on Q2 FY04 at constant currency (£293 million)

Higher level of tender activity and customer trials

Modest increase in Q2 adjusted gross margin from Continuing Operations compared to previous quarter (Q1 FY05: 32.2 per cent) to approximately 33 per cent

Solid progress in H1 adjusted gross margin compared to the first half of the previous financial year (H1 FY04: 27.7 per cent

Restructuring debt now fully repaid; net cash £335 million at 30 September 2004

  • Full year sales guidance maintained; low single digit growth at constant currency

  • Full year adjusted gross margin guidance maintained at 34 per cent from Continuing Operations; more challenging target in light of first half business mix

  • Additional £10 million focused investment planned in R&D and Sales & Marketing to support future growth opportunities

  • Customer endorsements of next generation portfolio reinforce confidence in medium-term prospects

The company noted an increased demand for access equipment, as well as an increase in customer tenders and trials, as operators plan for their next generation networks.http//

MetaSwitch Demonstrates Softswitch for PSTN Migration at Global MSF

As part of the Global Multiservice Switching Forum (MSF) Interoperability event (GMI 2004), MetaSwitch demonstrated H.248, SIP, MGCP and SS7 interoperability. A MetaSwitch VP3500 Series Softswitch, comprised of a MetaSwitch Media/Signaling Gateway and separate MetaSwitch Call Agent was located at British Telecom's GMI facilities in Ipswich and successfully interoperated with call agent, media gateway, access gateway and customer premise equipment from multiple vendors.

MetaSwitch's Class 5 Softswitch product suite provides multiple components of the MSF architecture, including Call Agent, Media Gateway, Media Gateway Controller and Signaling Gateway.

FCC Clears Spectrum for Advanced Wireless Services in 1710-1755 MHz Band

The FCC allocated spectrum to allow Federal operations to be cleared from spectrum that has been allocated for advanced wireless services (AWS). The action is an important step towards the future auction of 90 MHz of spectrum for AWS.

The Commission previously allocated the 1710-1755 MHz (1.7 GHz) and 2110 2155 MHz (2.1 GHz) bands for AWS. The 1.7 GHz band was transferred from the Federal Government for private sector use, but Federal operations at certain locations were to remain in this spectrum indefinitely. The U.S. Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration ("NTIA"), working with the Department of Defense and other Federal agencies, developed a set of proposals to clear this spectrum so that it could be made available.

FCC Gives Go-Ahead to Incumbents on Deep Fiber Buildouts

The FCC took action to relieve incumbent local telephone companies of most obligations to lease advanced fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network facilities to competitors at a regulated, cost-based price. Specifically, incumbents are relieved from unbundling requirements for fiber-to-the-curb (FTTC) loops, where fiber is extended within 500 feet of a customer's premises. The new rules free companies to choose between FTTH or FTTC networks based on marketplace characteristics, rather than disparate regulatory treatment.

The FCC also clarified that incumbent LECs are not obligated to build time division multiplexing (TDM) capability into new packet-based networks or into existing packet-based networks that never had TDM capability.

FCC Chairman Michael Powell said "By limiting the unbundling obligations of incumbents when they roll out deep fiber networks to residential consumers, we restore the marketplace incentives of carriers to invest in new networks. "

In a dissenting statement, FCC Commissioner Michael Copps wrote "Though today's Order speaks in glowing terms about broadband relief, the reality is far less radiant. I don't believe competitive telecommunications have been faring very well under our watch and this particular proceeding strikes me as yet another in a series of prescriptions this Commission is willing to write to end competitive access to last mile facilities. It seems every month brings a new onslaught.. The loop represents the prized last mile of communications. Putting it beyond the reach of competitors can only entrench incumbents who already hold sway. Monopoly control of the last mile created all kinds of problems for basic telephone service in the last century, and now we seem bent on replicating that sad story for advanced services in the digital age."
  • In its Triennial Review Order released last year, the FCC ruled that the broadband capabilities of fiber loops that extend to a customer's premises, also known as FTTH loops, would not be subject to unbundling under section 251 of the Act.

  • In August 2004, the FCC issued an order clarifying fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) rules and relieving the incumbent LECs from certain unbundling obligations that apply to multiple dwelling units (MDUs), or apartment buildings. The FCC said its ruling increases the incentives for incumbent LECs to deploy next generation facilities. The order concludes that determining what constitutes a predominantly residential MDU will be based on the dwelling's predominant use. For example, a multi-level apartment building that houses retail stores such as a drycleaner or a mini-mart would be predominantly residential, while an office building that contains a floor of residential suites would not. The Order further clarifies that a loop will be considered a FTTH loop if it is deployed to the minimum point of entry of a predominantly residential MDU, regardless of the ownership of the inside wiring.

HP to Launch Wi-Fi Printers with Broadcom's 802.11g Chips

HP is using Broadcom's 54g chips for a line of Wi-Fi-enables printers. The companies expect printers to be a next logical step in the wireless computing revolution.

UTStarcom Signs $37 Million Contract with China Netcom

UTStarcom was awarded a contract valued at approximately $37 million to help China Netcom expand its IP-based PAS (Personal Access System) network in 11 cities in China's Hebei Province. Currently, the penetration rate for PAS is only about 3 percent in the province, which has a total population of approximately 68 million residents.

UTStarcom noted that over the last several quarters, there has been a maturation of the PAS market in China as operators are spending less on new network construction and are currently focused on optimizing and expanding their existing networks. UTStarcom expects PAS revenues to be approximately $1.5 billion in 2005. Although some short-term volatility associated with the flattening of the PAS market may arise, UTStarcom expects to see increased gross margins on PAS handsets with the introduction of new ASICs in January 2005 that will reduce the cost of handsets for the end user.

AT&T Introduces Local Residential VoIP Plan

AT&T introduced a CallVantage Local Plan that provides unlimited local calling for $19.99 per month. It includes all of the advanced features of the CallVantage service. Local toll and long distance calling in the U.S. and to Canada will be billed at $0.04 a minute.

Verizon Expands DSL Availability in Rural Areas

Verizon has upgraded its network to enable DSL service on more than 1.2 million telephone lines. For the first time, Verizon Online DSL service is available to qualifying local customers in Idaho, Ohio and South Carolina. Additionally, the high- speed Internet access service is now available in more communities in California, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

BellSouth Plans to Accelerate Fiber Build out in 2005

In the wake to the FCC ruling exempting Fiber-to- the-Curb (FTTC) loops from unbundling requirements, BellSouth said it plans to increase the number of homes it annually equips with an advanced fiber platform by 40% in 2005.

"The FCC has taken a step in the right direction by putting functionality over form with their decision to treat Fiber-to-the-Curb and Fiber-to-the-Home architectures equally. We urge the FCC to take the additional step of making clear that there are no unbundling requirements under Section 271 for broadband elements. As the FCC continues to clear out the regulatory underbrush, consumers will increasingly gain access to the broadband products and services they desire, " said Herschel Abbott, Vice President - Governmental Affairs at BellSouth.
  • In September 2004, Ron Dykes, Chief Financial Officer at BellSouth, said more than half of BellSouth households are now served by fiber-fed, short copper loops (<5000ft). IPTV lab tests are underway and look promising, he said, and the company's next steps will be a field trial, followed by an economic validation of the business case. Meanwhile, BellSouth's DirecTV offer has been extended to all of its retail channels.

Vonage Completes Enhanced 9-1-1 Trial in Rhode Island

Vonage and Intrado successfully completed a VoIP E9-1-1 trial in the state of Rhode Island. As a result of a successful collaboration with Rhode Island E9-1-1, Vonage was able to deliver both caller's location and call back number to 9-1-1 emergency services personnel for 9-1-1 calls placed using its broadband phone service.

Emergency call are routed over Vonage's 9-1-1 server using industry standard SIP protocol. The Vonage server then queries Intrado for routing instructions. The call is then directed to the selective router that serves the Rhode Island Public Safety Answering Point ("PSAP"). Simultaneously, Intrado places the customer's address and telephone number into the Automatic Location Information (ALI) server. The supplementary special key unique to the call is included in signaling, and allows the PSAP 9-1-1 operator to pull the customer's address and phone number from the ALI database. Vonage and Intrado are working with other states to provide similar solutions and intend to roll them out market by market. http://www.vonage.com

SBC "Project Lightspeed" Targets Rapid Fiber to the Node Deployment

SBC Communications vowed to dramatically accelerate its plan to build a new fiber-optics network into neighborhoods, following the FCC's ruling clarifying broadband rules. SBC now aims to provide 18 million households with "super high-speed data, video and voice services" by year-end 2007 -- rather than five years as previously announced.

Under Project Lightspeed, SBC will provide integrated IP-based television, ultra-high-speed broadband, IP voice and wireless bundles of products and services. Through Project Lightspeed, the company will deploy 38,800 miles of fiber - double the amount used to build out the company's DSL network - at a cost of $4 billion to $6 billion.
  • In June 2004, Ed Whitacre, chairman and CEO of SBC Communications, outlined plans to invest up to $6 billion over the coming five years to push fiber deeper into neighborhoods and fully compete with cable network operators. SBC expects that a FTTN (fiber-to-the-node) architecture will enable it to deliver 15 to 20 Mbps DSL downstream to every home. Under its previous Project Pronto initiative launched in the late 1990s, SBC extended fiber into remote terminals located 12,000 ft from customers. The new plan would push fiber into remote terminals located with 5,000ft of the customer. SBC will also start using FTTP for all new builds in its territory.

  • SBC is working with Microsoft on IPTV services that would include standard and high-definition programming, customizable channel line-ups, video-on-demand, digital video recording and other advanced features. Field trials are slated for later this year. So far, SBC's partnership with EchoStar is going very well, said Whitacre, indicating "lots of pent-up demand" for cable competition.

  • In March 2004, SBC Communications and EchoStar Communications launched SBC/ DISH Network satellite TV service across SBC's 13-state service area. SBC's residential service bundles now include a "quadruple play" or TV, wireless, broadband and local/long distance service on a single, monthly bill.

See also