Wednesday, January 5, 2005

Tejas Networks Secures $15 Million for SONET/SDH

Tejas Networks, a start-up based in Bangalore, India, completed a $15 million Series C round of financing for its next generation SDH/SONET products. Since it's founding in 2000, Tejas equipment has been deployed in over 25 live carrier networks worldwide. The company has also forged several international OEM partnerships.

The new funding was led by Battery Ventures. Existing investors Dr. Gururaj "Desh" Deshpande, Intel Capital and IL&FS Investment Manager also participated in the round.

Atheros Introduces Smart-Antenna MIMO Wireless Chipset

Atheros Communications introduced a wireless chipset that employs multiple-radio, smart-antenna technologies to deliver MIMO (multiple-input, multiple-output) performance and throughput to standard 802.11 WLAN products. The new chipset uses phased array beamforming, cyclic delay diversity, and optimal receive combining to deliver higher performance even when the new chipset is only on one end of a wireless connection.

Atheros said its design is unique in its ability to boost performance when on both ends of a wireless link (multiple input and multiple output), on the transmit side only (multiple output), or on the receive side only (multiple input). As a result, home routers, enterprise access points, or public hot spots that use the Atheros technology to deliver higher performance with a wide array of non-MIMO wireless LAN devices, including end users' existing network interface cards, laptops with embedded wireless LAN, and digital media adapters.

The chipset is available in both 802.11g and 802.11a/g versions, supporting configurations with up to four antennas. The 802.11a/g version of the costs under $23 in 10,000-unit quantities.

VOOM Expands HD Programming

VOOM announced plans to expand its satellite-delivered HD programming and add a full array of popular cable networks in standard-definition (SD). In March 2005, VOOM programming will increase from its current total of 130 channels to 355 HD and SD channels. The HD lineup will grow from 39 channels to 71 channels. To facilitate the expansion, VOOM is leasing 16 transponders on the SES Americom AMC-6 satellite, which VOOM refers to as "Rainbow 2."

Broadcom Offers IP Set-top Box with H.264

Broadcom announced a reference design platform for IP set-top boxes incorporating the H.264 advanced video compression technology. The H.264 compression technology (also known as MPEG-4 Part 10/Advanced Video Coding (AVC)) produces digital-quality video streaming at less than 1 Mbps (for standard definition television applications), enabling telecommunications companies to offer high quality digital broadcast services to subscribers over their current network infrastructures.

Broadcom's IP set-top box reference design includes its single-chip IP set-top box decoder and its AVC video decoder/audio processor chip. These chips are combined with the Broadcom ADSL2+ chip. The design supports both the widely deployed MPEG- 2 compression standard and the new emerging H.264 standard. Broadcom's new reference design also enables personal video recording (PVR) in an IP set-top box.

Panasonic, Mitsubishi Electric and Sony Agree on Powerline Networking

Matsushita Electric Industrial (Panasonic), Mitsubishi Electric and Sony are establishing an alliance for high-speed power line communication (PLC) specifications for networking consumer electronics.

The new alliance, tentatively called the CE-Powerline Communication Alliance (CEPCA), will promote PLC-capable home networking worldwide by encouraging other consumer electronics and information technology companies to collaborate.

Panasonic, Mitsubishi Electric and Sony are already working collaboratively in interface technologies and the potential applications of home networking based on high- speed powerline communication.

BellSouth Initiates Technical Trial of Microsoft TV IPTV Edition

BellSouth is launching a technical trial of Microsoft TV Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) Edition software platform over its DSL network. BellSouth plans to leverage new DSL technologies, including ADSL2+ and copper pair bonding, as well as its deep fiber network, to test a feature-rich IP video offer during the first half of 2005. The company said it is currently completing testing of IPTV hardware and software within its labs and will later expand its trial to set-top boxes within customers' homes selected for the trial. BellSouth will then evaluate further deployment based upon results of the trial.

BellSouth will also continue to expand its fiber-to-the-curb (FTTC) network, which currently passes one million homes, to an additional 180,000 customers in 2005.

"IPTV will potentially forever alter the way we consume video content much like personal video recorders have done," said Bill Smith, BellSouth's chief technology officer.
  • BellSouth passed the two million DSL customer milestone in November.

TiVo Outlines its Competitive Strategy

TiVo unveiled its next generation service strategy for digital video recorders (DVR) using either broadcast or broadband IP networks. The company seeks to further differentiate itself from generic cable and satellite DVRs by offering consumers greater choice, bringing together music, home videos and digital photos, broadband and broadcast content on their own "Personal Entertainment Network." TiVo plans to pursue an open software platform which will enable third parties to develop applications and distribute content to the TiVo subscriber base. TiVo intends to roll out components throughout this year and into 2006. Key elements of this plan include:

1. Introduce new Content Delivery Service. TiVo is developing a new content delivery service that will enable TiVo Series2 subscribers to search and access broadband content. In conjunction with this effort, TiVo is also developing television commerce capabilities allowing subscribers to purchase products with a push of a button on the TiVo remote control.

2. Develop Entertainment Applications Platform to facilitate new services in the living room. These services could range from music services to network promotions to on-line video stores, etc.

3. Offer a TiVo HD Digital Cable Ready DVR. integrating an HD digital cable receiver and TiVo DVR in a single set top box. CableCARD technology will be built-in, giving consumers access to digital cable programming and other features of the TiVo service. The unit is expected to be available in early 2006.

4. Allow Portability, so that consumers can watch what they want, when they want, and, now, where they want. The Humax and Toshiba DVD recorders with TiVo service let consumers record their favorite shows and then burn them to DVD for playback anywhere they have a DVD player. With "TiVoToGo", consumers can securely transfer their favorite shows from a TiVo box to a laptop or portable media player in their home. The TiVoToGo service enhancement is available now as a service update and is included in the TiVo service at no additional charge.

5. Provide PC and Online Integration. TiVo desktop software 2.0 allows consumers to integrate music, photos and video into their TiVo experience. Online Scheduling lets subscribers schedule a recording on their TiVo box from anywhere they have internet access. This will be extended to make it easy to record broadband content as well.

6. Increase Personalization features

7. Promote its TiVo Series2 box, which ties into a home network.

TiVo also announced strategic partnerships with Microsoft, Sonic Solutions and AMD.

"As with digital music, we expect to see a continued shift in the control of TV entertainment towards consumers," said Mike Ramsay, Chairman & CEO, TiVo. "This means consumers will expect the increased choice in ala carte programming that Internet-based TV will offer, fair and reasonable use of the TV they pay for, and the ability to take their shows with them on business travel or family road trips. In short, consumers tell us that they want entertainment to fit into their busy lives, not the other way around."

Motorola Debuts "Ojo" Personal Videophone

Motorola unveiled its new Motorola Ojo Personal Videophone at the 2005 International CES trade show in Las Vegas. The unit transmits full-motion video (30 fps) with synchronized audio over broadband services. For video calls, Motorola Ojo uses the MPEG-4 coding standard (H.264), which enables transmission of 30 frames-per-second video with synchronized audio at data rates as low as 110 Kbps. Ojo supports SIP and network-based call signaling (NCS), making the product interoperable with video phones provided by other manufacturers.

It features an elevated (eye-level), portrait-oriented LCD digital display (7"diagonal) and camera along with a cordless handset for calling using either the PSTN or a VoIP network. This allows Motorola Ojo to work within the upstream data rates for both DSL and cable broadband networks, and ensures that existing broadband infrastructures can handle the video phone traffic. For audio, Ojo uses the iLbc audio codec. A full-duplex speaker phone provides advanced noise reduction, automatic gain control and echo cancellation. Ojo has a MSRP of $799 and requires cable or DSL broadband connectivity. Monthly service fees apply.

Marvell Integrates TCP/IP into 802.11a/g Single Chip

Marvell introduced an 802.11a/g featuring integrated TCP, UDP and IP networking and designed for high volume consumer electronic products such as gaming consoles, digital still cameras, digital video cameras, printers, cellular phones, PDAs and MP3 players.

The chip features an integrated ARM CPU, audio codec interfaces for true high-fidelity sound, high-speed serial host interfaces including USB 2.0, SDIO, and SPI to ensure interoperability with a variety of host systems. Sampling is underway.

UTStarcom Cites Weakness in China for Revenue Shortfall

UTStarcom expects to report Q4 2004 revenue in the range of $740 million to $745 million, versus initial guidance of $875 million to $885 million. The company cited difficult market conditions in China as the primary reason behind the lower than expected financial results . The company said its China operations were adversely impacted by several factors, including an overall slowing of the Chinese economy, maturation of the PAS market, and decreased capital spending. In particular, UTStarcom said there were disruptions associated with changes in senior management at the main carriers in China, and the shift of decision-making away from regional entities and towards carrier headquarters, which caused delays in both the execution of contracts and final acceptances. In addition, both China Telecom and China Netcom did not implement the anticipated increase in promotional spending at year-end that UTStarcom has benefited from historically. Additional material was provided by the company in an investor conference call.

Hong Lu, chief executive officer and president of UTStarcom, said "The difficult environment that UTStarcom faced in China in the fourth quarter speaks to the importance of our aggressive globalization and product diversification strategy. We made important progress across many fronts in the fourth quarter and gained momentum with both our international and Audiovox businesses."

Alvarion Targets First WiMAX Broadband Mobility Within a Year

Alvarion expects to complete development of a mobile WiMAX solution based on the 802.16e standard within a year. The target launch in 2006 is intended to coincide with the availability of WiMAX-enabled devices such as laptops and PDAs that utilize chips currently under development.

Mobile WiMAX, as defined in the 802.16e standard, will offer mobile data solutions that deliver broadband services of several Mbps per subscriber or more with full QoS capabilities that enable applications such as VoIP.

Alvarion also has established a dedicated business unit to focus on defining the company's strategic direction and position in this market. Seven year Alvarion veteran, Zvika Harnik, former Executive Vice President and head of R&D, will lead the new unit as its President and his team will draw on the capabilities of the rest of the organization to speed product development,

Momentum Builds for Secure Video Processor Alliance

The Secure Video Processor (SVP) Alliance announced that twelve new companies have joined the content protection organization, illustrating the endorsement of SVP technology from across a broad array of industries. The group promotes content protection based on conditional access technology. New members include Broadcom, Humax, LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics, TFT-LCD and Twentieth Century Fox, among others.

The SVP Alliance is also joined by seven new associate members including: ADB, BSkyB, Caton Overseas, DIRECTV, Macrovision, Pace Micro Technology and Widevine Technologies. These new members join founding members NDS, STMicroelectronics and Thomson, and existing associate members NEC and Conexant.

SBC to Adopt "U-Verse" Brand for Broadband IP Services

SBC Communications will promote its forthcoming IPTV, accelerated broadband and wireless/wireline services under the "U-verse" brand when the services begin rolling out later this year. At the heart of the U-verse portfolio is Project Lightspeed, the company's previously announced approximately $4 billion initiative to deploy fiber to 18 million households across 13 states by the end of 2007.

"This is the year when excitement and dependability finally get on the same page -- when connections and electronics finally come together to provide the convergence that our industry has been promising and our customers have been expecting," said Edward E. Whitacre Jr., SBC's chairman and CEO, speaking at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Whitacre said testing of Microsoft's IPTV platform was going well. Whitacre also noted that SBC Communications recently activated its 5 million DSL line, giving it a leadership position in the U.S. broadband market.

The U-verse suite will also include Unified Communications, which combines wireline and wireless voice mail, e-mail and faxes into one mailbox. The service is available today but will continue to be enhanced in the coming months. Also, the U-verse family of services will include a consumer-based VoIP service that the company plans to unveil in first-quarter 2005.
  • In October, SBC Communications selected Alcatel as its primary network infrastructure and services supplier for Project Lightspeed. The deal is estimated to be worth $1.7 billion to Alcatel over the next five years. Specifically, Alcatel will supply access and fiber technologies, IP routing and Ethernet switching solutions, and network systems integration services.

DIRECTV Demonstrates MPEG-4 AVC HD via Satellite

DIRECTV has demonstrated the first live MPEG-4 AVC/DVB-S2 high-definition (HD) transmission via satellite. DIRECTV plans to use the encoding technology to expand its video offer by launching hundreds of local and national HD channels later this year and in 2007. The demonstration used equipment from Tandberg, Radyne/Comstream, Conexant, Broadcom and ST Microelectronics.

MPEG-4 AVC/DVB-S2 significantly reduces the amount of bandwidth required to deliver HD via satellite. DIRECTV will continue to use MPEG-2 for standard definition broadcasts and will eventually convert all existing HD customers to the new technology introduced today.

"This is the most advanced transmission in the world, mapping out a bold new path for the delivery of HDTV via satellite to every consumer in America," said Romulo Pontual, executive vice president and CTO, The DIRECTV Group. "

DIRECTV announced last September plans for a dramatic expansion of local and national HD programming over the next two years via four new Ka-band satellites to support the carriage of 1,500 local and 150 CONUS HDTV channels plus other enhanced services. The satellites are now under construction and two will be launched early this year.
  • In September 2004, DIRECTV announced the planned launch of four new next-generation satellites aimed at significantly expanding its programming capacity in local and national high-definition (HD) channels, as well as capacity for new interactive and enhanced services and standard-definition programming.

  • The first two of these satellites, Spaceway 1 and Spaceway 2, will launch in 2005 with programming being offered to consumers by the middle of the year. These satellites will have the capacity for more than 500 local HD channels. With these satellites, DIRECTV will have the ability to bring local HD programming to most of the U.S. population, as well as continuing to expand standard-definition local offerings and other enhancements.

  • The next two satellites, DIRECTV 10 and DIRECTV 11, will launch in early 2007. These satellites will have the capacity for more than 1,000 additional local HD channels, more than 150 national HD channels, and other new programming offerings. These satellites will provide DIRECTV the capability to bring local and national HD programming and other advanced services to every U.S. household. Consumers will be able to receive all of these services, as well as existing DIRECTV(R) programming, with a single small satellite dish.

  • DIRECTV 10 and DIRECTV 11, to be built by Boeing, will be among the largest and most powerful Ka-band satellites ever launched. The satellites, which will take advantage of DIRECTV's advanced transmission techniques and state-of-the-art video compression technology, will deliver national HD programming and will be capable of supporting spot beams carrying local HD broadcast channels in all 50 states. Boeing will also build a third satellite for DIRECTV that will serve as a ground spare.

  • The Spaceway 1 and Spaceway 2 satellites, also being built by Boeing, are approaching completion and the satellites were recently converted to be capable of offering both video and a broadband Internet service. Boeing is also constructing a third Spaceway satellite. "Today's announcement is one of the most significant in the history of DIRECTV. We are reinforcing our commitment to best serve our customers with the most attractive and compelling array of programming services available," said Mitch Stern, president and CEO, DIRECTV.

Samsung Develops MIMO Wi-Fi for Consumer Electronics

Samsung Electronics has developed a high-throughput wireless AV entertainment (HiWAVE) technology for delivering distortion-free connectivity over a 20 meter range.

The system leverages high-throughput MIMO (multiple input multiple output) technology to minimize channel distortion and interference, enabling network devices to transmit data streams over great distances. The system has been designed to effectively service multiple AV streams for the home network environment.

HiWAVE's throughput of more than 60 Mbps enables streaming of HD video. The new system, which Samsung developed over a two-year period, is backwards compatible with 802.11 standards. Samsung plan to launch HiWAVE-enabled products in the second half of 2005.

Tuesday, January 4, 2005

pulver.Communicator Interconnects with Skype

FWD Communications announced that the pulver.Communicator application now interoperates with Skype's VoIP service. The pulver.Communicator is the first outside application to offer Skype functionality.

Key features of the free pulver.Communicator application now include:

  • the ability to make free calls to millions of VoIP users worldwide (not only to other pulver.Communicator users, but also to subscribers from the more than 80 VoIP service providers with whom FWD Communications has established peering partnering agreements), as well as to a wide variety of Free-Call services in the US, UK, Holland, Japan, France and numerous other locations

  • the ability to initiate on-the-fly conference calls

  • the ability to establish person-to-person IM sessions with other pulver.Communicator contacts, as well as between contacts on the four most popular IM networks (AOL, Yahoo!, MSN, and ICQ!)

  • the ability to establish multi-party IM sessions that cross IM service provider boundaries

  • the ability to place video calls.

Since its official launch in October pulver.Communicator has been downloaded more than 50,000 times.

FWD Communications is a division of the group.

Shaw Deploys Nortel's Multimedia Communication Server

Shaw Cablesystems, one of the largest Canadian multi-system cable operators, has deployed multimedia solutions from Nortel, including its Multimedia Communication Server (MCS) 5200.

The SIP-based platform could be used to deliver a variety of multimedia services, including desktop video calling, voice call management, instant messaging, collaboration tools, and personalization services. Shaw plans to offer these services in conjunction with its high-speed Internet service and is expected to be the first cable operator in Canada to offer SIP-based multimedia services. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Hanaro Telecom Deploys Juniper's Edge Platforms for Premium Services

South Korea's Hanaro Telecom has deployed the Juniper Networks E-series edge routing platform and SDX-300 Service Deployment System to enable an enhanced suite of per subscriber management broadband services. The deployment is the first phase of a complete plan to enable a wide range of new user-provisionable services including unified Web login authentication based on RADIUS and DHCP. Financial terms were not disclosed.

See also