Thursday, January 6, 2005

Akimbo Signs Content Partners for Internet-to-TV VOD Service

Akimbo Systems has signed National Geographic Television & Film, A&E, The History Channel and The Biography Channel for its recently launched Internet-to-TV VOD service. The Akimbo service offers consumers 50 categories of content, including mainstream, classic and independent films, foreign language, news, health and fitness, sports, etc..
  • Akimbo is funded by Draper Fisher Jurvetson, Sprout Group and Zone Ventures.

Tut Systems to Acquire Cosine for Financial Motive

Tut Systems agreed to acquire Cosine Communications for in a stock-for-stock transaction valued at approximately $24.1 million. Tut Systems is acquiring Cosine primarily to provide additional financial resources. Tut Systems will honor Cosine's existing customers' support agreements, but does not expect to offer its products for sale to new customers. Tut Systems will incorporate Cosine's intellectual property into its growing IP portfolio. Tut Systems will not have any additional employees or facilities as a result of the transaction.

The deal is expected to result in net cash to Tut Systems of approximately $22.75 million, and is expected to close by March 31, 2005.

Separately, Tut Systems said its revenue for Q4 2004 is expected to be $7.0 million, in line with the company's previous revenue guidance. The company anticipates its revenue for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2004, to be $25.0 million.

"During the fourth quarter, we increased the number of major digital TV headend and remote headend wins. While we have passed a number of milestones for our first multimillion dollar MPEG-4 contract, we did not recognize any revenue from MPEG-4 sales during the fourth quarter of 2004," said Randy Gausman, Chief Financial Officer. "The opportunities for MPEG-4 orders grew during the quarter, but were limited, in part by the availability of MPEG-4 set-top boxes. We also recorded our first sale of Astria product to a top tier North American carrier for further lab trials and an anticipated Telco TV field trial."
  • In September 2004, CoSine initiated actions to wind down its operations. CoSine's management team and its Board of Directors concluded that "maintaining the company's existing employee headcount was not necessary for any of the strategic alternatives currently under consideration and the ongoing employee-related expenditures could potentially decrease total stockholder value." CoSine had developed a carrier IP service switch featuring B-RAS capabilities.

  • CoSine Communications was founded in 1998 and was based in Redwood City, California. The company completed its IPO in September 2000, selling 10 million shares at $23 per share.

Verizon Wireless Launches 3G Consumer Services

Verizon Wireless will launch its 'VCAST" 3G wireless multimedia service for consumers -- beginning February 1, 2005. VCAST will run over the company's broadband EV-DO (Evolution-Data Optimized) 3G network, delivering high-quality video, 3-D games and music to new 3G phones. Verizon Wireless is featuring handsets from LG Mobile Phones, Samsung and UTStarcom Personal Communications.

Customers will be able to use new handsets to access VCAST's video on-demand service for current news, weather, sports and entertainment programming. They will also be able to download and play three-dimensional games. Verizon Wireless will charge $15.00 for monthly access in addition to a regular Verizon Wireless calling plan, VCAST customers get unlimited access to about 300 daily updated videos. Initial content providers include VH1, Comedy Central, News Corp. and 20th Century Fox. Programs are being specifically designed for the mobile phones. A broad offering of content will also be available from NBC, including newscasts made exclusively for mobile phones.

Verizon Wireless's 3G EV-DO network began commercial operation in October 2003 in San Diego and Washington, D.C. offering wireless Internet access service for business customers at average user speeds of 300-500 kbps. In addition to 20 previously launched metropolitan areas, the company also announced 12 additional markets: Chicago; Houston; Boston; Phoenix; Cincinnati; Orlando; Columbus and Dayton, OH; Providence, RI; Jacksonville, FL; Hartford and New Haven, CT. Major expansions have been made in many existing 3G markets, including New York City; Newark, NJ; Los Angeles; Philadelphia; Atlanta; Miami, Tampa and West Palm Beach, FL; Baltimore, MD; Kansas City, MO; and Milwaukee, WI areas.

China's CERNET Tests 40 Gbps Overlay with Mintera, Cisco

CERNET (China Education and Research Network) successfully tested an "overlay" application integrating a 40 Gbps wavelength carrying live traffic on an in-service DWDM link between Beijing and Tianjin, China. The connection comprised a 16 channel DWDM infrastructure equipped with STM-16 (2.5 Gbps) per channel operating over 185 km of installed G.652 and G.655 fibers.

For the live trial, Mintera's 40 Gbps terminals were connected into the existing 16 x 2.5 Gbps DWDM line system and ran 40 Gbps traffic simultaneously with the existing 2.5 Gbps traffic. No modifications to the existing in-line amplifiers or optical mux/demux infrastructure were required. The 40 Gbps wavelength was turned-up in less than one hour. There was no traffic interruption on the live-link during the turn-up and the network ran error-free over a total period exceeding ten days.

CERNET and Mintera ran two 'client-side' trials. The first used Cisco Systems' 12000 Series Routers to feed 10 Gbps (STM-64c) traffic to Mintera's MI 4010S, which multiplexed the four STM-64c's up to 40 Gbps for transport across the existing infrastructure. CERNET loaded the Cisco 12000 Series Routers with live IP traffic and was able to monitor a doubling in traffic from network users as the new path provided by Mintera and Cisco became available and immediately relieved bottlenecks.

Mintera said the 40 Gbps link worked continuously and error-free for the full trial period of more than eight days. The second trial employed Cisco's CRS-1 system, which fed true 40 Gbps OC-768c traffic to Mintera's MI 4040S, which in turn transported this data over the infrastructure, again with no effect on the existing traffic. This test was run for two days, during which no errors were detected.
  • Mintera is based in Lowell, Massachusetts.

  • Mintera is headed by Dr. Terry F. Unter , who previously was Chief Operating Officer at Corvis Corporation.

RaySat Debuts Satellite Antenna for In-Motion Broadband

RaySat introduced a vehicle-based satellite antenna providing in-motion, high-speed Internet access to motorists. The new SpeedRay 3000 is based on an enclosed low-profile, roof-mounted antenna and could turn any vehicle into a rolling "hot spot." The system provides Internet download speeds up to 2 mbps and upload speeds up to 128 kbps, shared among users in the vehicle. In addition, using technology also developed by RaySat, the SpeedRay 3000 provides moving vehicles with strong reception of digital satellite TV and music channels.

To provide continuous signal feeds, the SpeedRay 3000 uses a phased-array antenna that rotates (inside its housing). Its panels constantly move up and down and back and forth, to track and maintain the satellite signal regardless of the vehicle's position relative to the satellite with which it is in communication. The system's Wi-Fi transceiver is built into the dish antenna housing and so requires no separate installation or connections. The retail price is expected to be $3,495.00. Installation and subscriptions to TV and Internet service are additional.

Ericsson chosen by Telstra to supply 3G network

Ericsson was named as the exclusive 3G/WCDMA vendor to Telstra for up to the next five years. The estimated value of the framework agreement is more than US$78 million (A$100 million) over the term. Ericsson will supply layered architecture core and radio access network equipment, including HSDPA and network rollout services.

These contracts complement the Telstra-Hutchison 3GSM network sharing arrangement which gives Telstra access to a fully optimized, fully operational network across five capital cities from 1 July 2005.

In Australia, Ericsson also supplies and delivers the integrated infrastructure for the Hutchison 3G Australia network, 3.

Critical Path Raises $18M for Consumer Messaging

Critical Path, a provider of messaging solutions for mobile, broadband and fixed-line service providers, signed agreements for $18 million in debt financing led by Cheung Kong Group and General Atlantic Partners. Critical Path is developing a new strategy concentrating on consumer messaging solutions for mobile, broadband and fixed-line service providers. The company recently announced a restructuring to focus on consumer messaging.

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,

See also