Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The MultiService Forum (MSF) Expands Membership, Sets 2005/6 Course

The Multiservice Switching Forum has changed its name to the MultiService Forum (MSF) and published the results of its GMI Interoperability Event that was held in October 2004.

The GMI 2004 interoperability event, which ran concurrently at four carrier labs (NTT, KT, BT and Qwest) from October 4th to 16th , tested state-of-the-art network elements against the specific protocols defined in MSF Implementation Agreements (IAs) for supporting a fully integrated VoIP solution. These network elements included softswitches, application servers, media servers, service brokers, call agents, bandwidth managers and other control and management systems.

The demonstration employed more than 50 test plans to exercise the 25 new MSF IAs created since 2002. The four global carriers and 28 equipment vendors demonstrated interoperability under real world conditions. A new White Paper available on the MSF site provides a technical analysis of the event, including insight on each test scenario.

The MSF also announced that SBC Communications and Vodafone are among nine companies that have joined the MSF. This expands the roster of major worldwide carriers (BT, KT, NTT, Qwest and others) participating in the MSF. The other new members are Acme Packet, Tellabs, Huawei Technologies, IP Unity, Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, Newport Networks, and Tdsoft.

Moving forward, the MSF sees an expanding role across higher levels of the network stack as applications converge across wired and wireless networks. The MSF has set out a 2005/6 Work Plan, including the following items:

  • Refine the MSF Release 2 physical architecture and implementation agreements based on experience gained in GMI2004. The goal is to bring the implementation agreements forward to the point where they are ready for actual deployments.

  • Add more security to the MSF IAs

  • In cooperation with the MFA, develop an MPLS solution for telephony and multimedia solutions

  • Add IPv6 support for all its implementation agreements (IAs)

  • Ensure IPv4/6 coexistence in the Physical Architecture and scenarios

  • Pursue intelligent testing of its components

  • Media Server for SIP video control

  • Define SIP resource registries

  • Further define agent and active networking components and interfaces

  • Broaden the MPLS solution framework to include the use of MPLS VPNs

  • Investigate new developments in priority signaling

  • Investigate the need for new IAs that define device control for session-based services

MCI And Tellme to Deliver Internet-Based Contact Center Solutions

MCI and Tellme Networks plan to offer Internet-based contact center solutions to large enterprise customers in financial, insurance and healthcare industries and the government sector. The two companies are now jointly selling customer self-service solutions running on Tellme's network and integrated with MCI's routing platform for live agent support. This combination means MCI customers can take advantage of Tellme's Internet-based and carrier-grade network to power their customer service phone numbers.

"We are at the very beginning of what is possible on the phone when you power the conversation with Internet data. We are pleased to be working with MCI to offer these applications to a broad base of enterprise clients and to support MCI transport on our network," said David Weiden, senior vice president of marketing at Tellme.

MCI is also upgrading its speech technology capabilities across its existing platforms to address the needs of all its contact center customers. The implementation of VoiceXML 2.0 and software upgrades to its speech offerings will allow MCI to more efficiently create voice applications that work together with an organization's website. Services based on VoiceXML help businesses to extend the reach of their Web-based applications to anyone with a telephone, making their existing operations more ubiquitous.

Adelphia Selects Level 3 for Wholesale VoIP

Adelphia Communications, the fifth-largest cable operator in the U.S., selected Level 3 as its exclusive wholesale VoIP services provider for residential voice services that Adelphia expects to begin offering to customers in select markets in 2005.

Level 3 will provide Adelphia with (3)VoIP Enhanced Local service, a wholesale residential voice solution that provides connectivity to the PSTN and other enhanced features.

Adelphia currently has approximately 5.2 million cable customers and 1.4 million cable modem Internet customers in 31 states and Puerto Rico.

"This agreement with Level 3 allows Adelphia to bundle residential voice services with our existing suite of cable and Internet offerings without us incurring the costly expense of building out PSTN termination capability in LEC central offices," said Marwan Fawaz, CTO for Adelphia. "We chose to partner with Level 3 because the company provides carrier-quality, SIP-based wholesale voice services that accelerate our time to market."http://www.level3.com

Siemens Broadens its Startup Investment Focus

Siemens is broadening its start-up investment focus from wireless technologies to cover the entire communications sector.

To reflect this new mandate, Siemens Mobile Acceleration (SMAC) is changing its name to Siemens Acceleration in Communication. The company plans to invest $100 million over the next five years in start-ups in the communications field in Europe, Israel, North America and Asia. It currently holds stakes in 21 portfolio companies.

The extended scope of Siemens Acceleration follows the recent merger of the Siemens fixed and mobile communications units -- IC Mobile and IC Networks -- into Siemens Communications, one of eight divisions of Siemens.
  • Siemens Acceleration is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Siemens Communications Group.

  • Its portfolio companies include 3Dis (UK ), Atsana Semi-conductors (Canada), Dblur (Israel), Exit Games (Germany), GO Networks (USA), Jentro Technologies (Germany), Ki-Bi Technologies (Israel), LinkRich (China), Magus Soft Ltd. (China), Mobile2win (China), Mobixell (Israel), MotionBridge (France), Oplayo (Finland), PhoneBites (USA), PurpleACE (Singapore), Realeyes 3D (France), Rock Mobile (Taiwan), Scaraboo GmbH (Germany), SVOX AG (Switzerland), V-Enable( USA), Xingtone (USA), and Zero Global (China).

Siemens Signs EUR 200 Million GSM Contract with Russia's MegaFon

MegaFon, one of the top three mobile operators in Russia, selected Siemens Communications for the expansion of its GSM networks. The framework agreement that was signed in August 2004 has now been extended from EUR 60 to EUR 200 million. It covers delivery and installation of GSM switching and radio infrastructure for the MegaFon branches in the Volga and Ural regions.

MegaFon currently has over 15 million mobile subscribers. http://www.siemens.com

MASERGY Secures $45 Million for MPLS VPN Services

Masergy Communications raised $45 million in third round funding for its MPLS VPN Services for multinational enterprises. The company operates a global network with nodes in over 30 countries throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia and North and South America.

The funding round included $15 million in capital from Comerica Bank, new funding from West Asset Management, and additional investments from Centennial Ventures and Meritage Private Equity Funds. This funding exceeds MASERGY's financial requirements to reach cash flow break even, which is expected later this year. In total, MASERGY has raised nearly $140 million since its founding in 2000.

The company also announced the appointment of Royce Holland to its board of directors. Holland is a well-known pioneer in the telecommunications industry who founded MFS Communications and Allegiance Telecom.
  • MASERGY is using Alcatel's 7750 Service Router to provide enterprise customers around the world with Ethernet services to all their company locations. The Ethernet WANs offers five levels of QoS tailored to an enterprise's needs. Jeppesen, a subsidiary of Boeing, is using MASERGY's international VPLS service to manage mission critical applications such as corporate communications between the U.S. and European offices while supporting the management of all flight plans across North America.

Qwest Pushes its Bid for MCI

Qwest Communications is expected to submit a new bid to acquire MCI.

Richard C. Notebaert, Qwest chairman and CEO, said "Our activities over the next 24 hours will demonstrate our commitment to winning MCI. It is unfortunate that some in the process feel MCI shareholders should be deprived of the true value of their asset. MCI is a valuable property and shareholders deserve the present and future value that Qwest is committed to deliver. Historical commentaries serve no purpose as we look to the future of the communications sector and foster competition."http://www.qwest.com

Kevin Martin Named as Next FCC Chairman

President Bush nominated Kevin J. Martin to serve as the next FCC Chairman, replacing the outgoing Michael K. Powell. Martin does not need to be confirmed by the Senate because he has served as FCC Commissioner since 2001.

During his tenure as FCC Commissioner, Martin gained notoriety for breaking ranks with the FCC's two other Republican members on the Triennial Review Order, which Martin defended as being in the best interest of competition and consumers but which angered the RBOCs who opposed it.

Before joining the FCC, Martin was a Special Assistant to President Bush for Economic Policy. He served on the Bush-Cheney Transition Team and was Deputy General Counsel for the Bush campaign. Prior to joining the campaign, Martin was an advisor to FCC Commissioner Harold Furchtgott-Roth. He has also served in the Office of the Independent Counsel and worked as an associate at the Washington, DC law firm of Wiley, Rein & Fielding. Martin received a B.A. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a Masters in Public Policy from Duke University, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

MetaSwitch Expands in SF Bay Area

MetaSwitch has relocated its West Coast offices in order to accommodate its rapid growth over the last 12 months. The new premises in Alameda, California is roughly double in size of the previous facility and adds a Demo Lab and Training Center.

SS8 Networks Opens R&D Center in Nanjing, China

SS8 Networks opened a new research and development center in Nanjing, China to address the growing trend to converged networks of TDM and VoIP. Dr. Richard Hsueh has been named CEO of the wholly owned entity. Hsueh is also vice president, engineering at SS8 Networks, and he oversees the company's R&D efforts in the United States and internationally in India and China. He also was invited by the Chinese government to serve as chairperson of an advisory team to review China's ninth (1996-2000) National Five-year Strategic Plan for the Software Industry.

Tandberg Selected for European MPEG-4 AVC TV over DSL System

TANDBERG Television announced a contract valued over EUR 4 million to supply TV over DSL system for a leading European telco. The name of the service provider was not disclosed. The commercial TV-over-DSL network is expected to launch in summer 2005.

The contract is for an MPEG-4 part 10 (H.264/AVC) video head-end and TANDBERG Television will deploy its EN5930 encoding system to support ingest and delivery of MPEG-4 AVC video, as well as enable MPEG-2 encoding. The EN5930 is TANDBERG Television's standard definition MPEG-4 AVC encoding system which provides low bit-rate encoding of up to 50% less than MPEG-2.

Cisco to Resell OPNET's Management Software

Cisco Systems will resell OPNET Technologies' management software for networks and applications under a multiyear worldwide distribution agreement. The OEM deal includes a broad range of OPNET's advanced analytical applications for the enterprise market.

OPNET and the Cisco Network Management Technology Group will also collaborate on new network management solutions.

OPNET's solutions address: application performance troubleshooting; application deployment planning; systems capacity planning; network configuration auditing; network capacity and resiliency planning. The company offers network management software for both enterprise networks and service providers.
  • In January 2005, OPNET announced that it had been awarded the second of four possible contract extensions to continue to work on the U.S. Department of Defense's Network Warfare Simulation (NETWARS) program. NETWARS is a software application for analyzing defense-related network communications. The project is part of the DoD's vision for achieving information superiority by optimizing military communications in realistic warfighter scenarios.

  • Also in January 2005, HP and OPNET announced that Telefónica Móviles España had selected a combined solution from the companies to forecast the impact and accelerate the delivery of new mobile services. Telefónica Móviles will use HP OpenView operational management solutions and OPNET's SP Guru software to design and deploy advanced services over a new MPLS/IP network in Spain.

  • In September 2004, OPNET agreed to acquire Altaworks Corporation, a developer of advanced correlation and analysis technologies designed to enable enterprises to improve the performance and quality of mission-critical applications.

  • In August 2004, OPNET Technologies introduced a 3D Network Visualizer module for enhancing the value of OPNET simulations in mobile wireless environments, and in particular for defense networks. The new module can be used to visualize mobile wireless simulations in 3D, including detailed terrain, performance statistics, and graphical representation of communications.

Global Crossing Awarded US$100 Million Contract by British Council

The British Council, the UK's international organization for educational opportunities and cultural relations, awarded a US$100 million contract to Global Crossing to provide global network connectivity. Under the seven-year contract, Global Crossing will provide a fully managed, terrestrial and satellite IP-based network connecting more than 7,000 users at 260 offices in 110 countries.

The British Council is a registered charity whose aim is to stimulate and promote cultural relations and educational partnerships between the UK and the rest of the world. Now in its 70th year, the British Council is implementing a new global network to enable the organization to broaden its influence as the world's largest international cultural relations organization. Under its Strategy 2010, the British Council will extend services to millions more people and improve the way in which knowledge is shared globally, including services such as Internet and e-mail access, large file transfers, content distribution and videoconferencing.


Netopia Teams with VeriFone for Wi-Fi Merchant POS

Netopia's Wi-Fi gateways have been tested and qualified to interoperate with VeriFone's Omni 3750 and Vx 610 wireless payment solutions. Retail merchants are embracing the use of broadband access to speed up payment processing and support new business applications. As part of this transition, wireless networks offer important cost and usability benefits to retailers, from being able to add new equipment without additional wiring to setting up check-out kiosks anywhere in the store. VeriFone provides a broad selection of wireless payment solutions that work with both Wi-Fi and CDMA cellular networks.

Labs2 Chooses Net Insight for Scandinavian IPTV Triple-Play Network

Labs2, a Swedish broadband services developer and provider, is using Net Insight's Nimbra platform to build a Scandinavian IPTV triple-play network. The new network will be used to distribute TV, HDTV, Video-on-Demand, telephony and data services. Broadcasters and media companies will use the network for contribution and distribution of programming. Service providers will also be able to use the network to deliver triple play services to their broadband customers. The network will be fully operational during March 2005. http://www.netinsight.net

Monday, March 14, 2005

Comcast and TiVo Announce 7-Year Strategic Partnership

Comcast agreed to make the TiVo service and advertising capability widely available to its cable customers in the majority of its markets around the country.

Under the multiyear non-exclusive agreement, Comcast and TiVo will work together to develop a version of the TiVo service that will be made available on Comcast's current primary DVR platform. New software will be developed by TiVo and will be incorporated into Comcast's existing network platforms. The new service will be marketed with the TiVo brand, and is expected to be available on Comcast's DVR products in a majority of Comcast markets in mid-to-late 2006.

"It is very important that TiVo has found a way to work with the nation's largest cable operator on a cooperative basis to develop a state-of-the-art TiVo Service, fully integrated with a cable set-top box, that will make TiVo available to millions of cable viewers... This is a real milestone for TiVo and for the cable industry, but most importantly it is a milestone for television viewers," said Tom Rogers, vice chairman of TiVo.
  • Last week, Comcast and Motorola announced a multi-year set-top commitment valued at more than US$1 billion, the largest set-top purchase agreement in the operator's history. The deal extends a multi-year agreement for Comcast to purchase set-tops and network equipment. In addition, Motorola will provide high-definition digital video recorders and standard-definition entry-level models, among others.

  • Comcast and Motorola also announced an agreement to form two joint ventures focused on next-generation conditional access technologies. The first joint venture will focus primarily on development of a next-generation conditional access system, using MediaCipher as its foundation. Comcast and Motorola will jointly manage the development group. The second joint venture will focus on licensing conditional access and other cable technologies, including MediaCipher, to United States cable operators and third-party providers. The licensing venture will be managed by Comcast.

Ditech Introduces its Next Gen Echo Cancellation

Ditech Communications introduced its next generation in voice quality solutions, combining 192 millisecond hybrid echo cancellation and bi-directional acoustic echo cancellation to control the effects of echo across converging networks.

The solution is positioned to help mobile carriers provide superior voice quality in increasingly complex network interconnections and as they transition from circuit to packet, protecting both the caller and call recipient from the annoying effects of echo regardless of the network infrastructure in the call path.

The echo cancellation application is available on Ditech Communications' Broadband Voice Processor (BVP-Flex) platform and leverages the advanced voice processing capabilities of Ditech's Voice Quality Assurance (VQA).

Ditech said its bi-directional acoustic echo cancellation capability allows carriers to protect subscribers from acoustic echo originated by handsets on either side of a mobile conversation. The 400 millisecond acoustic echo processing window ensures protection from network call paths that now may have longer delays due to complex routing and packet transport.

Motorola Scales its Multimedia Messaging Service Center

Motorola has expanded the capacity of its Multimedia Messaging Service Center (MMSC) to support more than 40 million subscribers. The MMSC enhancements also enable video messaging and picture messaging interoperability.

Motorola's MMSC allows for transfer of multimedia information from various MMS-enabled handsets or devices across CDMA, GSM, EDGE, UMTS and IP networks to provide full interoperability between multiple e-mail users on the Internet, and inter-carrier multimedia messaging.

Motorola said MMS is evolving beyond person-to-person (P2P) to become a multimedia entertainment and information delivery channel.

Application-to-person (A2P) MMS provides content- and event-driven alerts, which are normally more time-sensitive than P2P MMS. As adoption of A2P continues to accelerate, this change is expected to create additional performance and throughput requirements on the operator's MMS infrastructure.

Verizon Wireless recently deployed Motorola's MMSC solution. http://www.motorola.com

See also