Saturday, March 19, 2005

Nortel Supplies DWDM Upgrade for China's Customs Bureau

The Customs General Administration of the People's Republic of China has selected Nortel's Optical Metro DWDM equipment to extend its networked storage capabilities from its main data center in Beijing to multiple sites across major metropolitan areas. The new China Customs deployment will also support the state-owned Golden Customs initiative, a nationwide project developed to connect the information networks of the customs and foreign trade sectors, promote EDI (electronic data interchange) business communication, and supplement information exchanged on networks with magnetic media.

China Customs' first storage network using DWDM technology will be based on Nortel Optical Metro 5200, which delivers up to 32 protected or 64 unprotected DWDM wavelengths and offers up to 10 Gbps per wavelength via a network modeling tool that simplifies and enhances the efficiency of DWDM deployment and operation. The China Customs network upgrade will also include the compact Nortel Optical Multiservice Edge 6110 to provide low-cost, multiservice aggregation and transport of client services over SONET/SDH networks, and Nortel Optical Metro 1200, a new carrier-class device to simplify delivery of Ethernet services. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Harmonic Introduces Video Transport for Small and Mid-Sized MSOs

Harmonic introduced a 1550 nm broadcast video transport system for small to mid-sized cable operators. The new MAXLink R Series 1550 nm broadcast video transport system incorporates Harmonic's MAXLink 1550 nm transmitter, power optical amplifier and broadband receiver components -- each in a compact one rack unit (1RU) enclosure -- to enable a more flexible and economical way of carrying a full line-up of analog and/or digital television services. Harmonic said it expects the MAXLink R Series will be particularly attractive to operators in regions such as China.

Internet Usage Patterns Vary Geographically

The amount of time most home Internet users spend online is hitting a plateau in some markets, according to Nielsen//NetRatings, while growing rapidly in others.

Nielsen//NetRatings found that Americans spend on average nearly 14 hours online each month, which is close to the worldwide average. This figure is 2% lower than a year earlier. Those living in Hong Kong surf the longest out of the 12 countries, averaging nearly 22 hours, and up 25% compared to a year earlier. Some others:

  • Japan, 14 hours and 50 minutes, up 12%

  • France, 14 hours and 25 minutes, up 19%

  • Brazil, 13 hours and 13 minutes, up 6%

  • Germany, 12 hours and 31 minutes, up 4%

  • Spain, 11 hours and 36 minutes, up 5%

  • U.K., 11 hours and 20 minutes, up 8%

  • Sweden, 10 hours and 29 minutes, up 8%

  • Italy, 8 hours, up 15%

Shifts in media consumption, steadily improving online offerings, and growing broadband penetration are seen as the likely factors in growing the number of online user sessions on a global basis.

Europe's eMobility Group Seeks to Extend Wireless Lead

A group of 15 telecommunications companies launched an "eMobility Technology Platform" aimed preserving and extending Europe's lead in wireless communications in a way that best serves Europe's citizens and the European economy. The group will work with the research community and public authorities, most notably the European Commission, to create and maintain the required momentum in wireless R&D. The European Commission is currently in the process of finalizing its seventh Research Framework Programme. The hope is to see the current level of R&D funding doubled.

The European Commission estimates that 2.8 million jobs currently depend directly or indirectly on the mobile services industry in EU member states. The mobile services industry is believed to have contributed more the EUR 106 billion to EU GDP in 2004, and end users spent more the EUR 95 billion on mobile services and terminals during 2004, according to an Ovum study.

The key objectives of the eMobility Technology Platform are:

  • Development of a common mid- to long-term vision to maximize the benefit of mobile and wireless communications, thus enabling economic and social advance in the EU

  • Formulation of the requirements and options for major leading-edge
    applications of common interest

  • Identification of a set of generic applications for 2010 - 2020

  • Formulation of an action plan and time-table for the key developments

  • Investment in technology including R&D and human resources

  • Evolution of a consistent policy, spectrum and regulatory framework
    facilitating the long-term investments required.

The resulting work is expected to overcome technical challenges such as secured electronic payments, ensuring personal and business data access anywhere at anytime and seamless continuity of services between networks and devices.

Magnus Madfors, Chairman of the eMobility Steering Board, said "Mobile and wireless communications have created unprecedented possibilities for people to communicate and have been instrumental in generating economic growth. Europe has been leading this development, based on the timely initiative of administrations, the scale of the EU market, a consistent regulatory approach, as well as considerable industrial and R&D investment. In order to maintain the position of Europe in the global market for mobile and wireless systems in the 2010 - 2020 time frame, it will be necessary to develop large-scale European approaches to system research and development as well as to wireless services and applications in the context of digital convergence."

The fifteen participants in eMobility include Alcatel, Deutsche Telekom, Ericsson, France Telecom, H3G, Lucent Technologies, Motorola, Nokia, Philips, Siemens, STMicroelectronics, Thales, TIM, Telefónica Móviles España, S.A.and Vodafone. 1984, the European Commission first endorsed GSM as a pan-European solution for mobile communications.
  • Telstra Upgrades to ADSL2+

    Telstra is undertaking a AUS $210 million upgrade of its broadband network to ADSL2+. Since January this year, Telstra has been installing ADSL2+ hardware and software to provide additional broadband capability in its exchanges. The Australian carrier plans to launch services at up to 12 Mbps. By mid 2005, 200 exchanges covering about 500,000 premises will have ADSL2+ capability at a cost of AUS $60 million. Telstra has budgeted a further $150 million in financial year 05/06 for the purchase and installation of ADSL2+ technology and coverage will rapidly increase so that by mid-2006 nearly all ADSL-enabled exchanges will have ADSL2+ capability.

    Telstra confirmed that ADSL2+ technology would also be available to Telstra wholesale customers.

    Broadcom Acquires Zeevo for Wireless Headset Chips

    Broadcom completed its acquisition of Zeevo, a provider of semiconductor solutions for Bluetooth wireless headset products, for $32.0 million -- approximately $31.3 million in cash consideration and $0.7 million in restricted stock units that entitle the holder to receive shares of Broadcom Class A common stock as the award vests.

    Zeevo has introduced multiple generations of semiconductor and software solutions specifically optimized for the unique needs of stereo wireless headsets, all of which are shipping in volume production.

    Broadcom is a leading supplier of semiconductor solutions for Bluetooth wireless applications and was first to market with a Bluetooth-qualified single-chip radio. Broadcom's Blutonium line of products includes devices for mobile phones, PCs and PDAs, as well as application-specific chips for cellular phones and wireless mouse and keyboard applications. The addition of Zeevo's products to the Blutonium portfolio will allow Broadcom to immediately offer solutions for the wireless headset segment of the Bluetooth market, a segment which analyst firm In-Stat/MDR estimates will grow to nearly 90 million units per year by 2008.

    Zeevo is based in Santa Clara, California.
    • In November 2003, Zeevo raised $20 in Series E funding led by Taiwan's Winbond Electronics and China Development Bank. Previous investors, Sequoia Capital, Raza Ventures, WK Technology Fund, Focus Ventures and Capitol Research also participated. This round brought total funding in Zeevo to $85 million since its founding in 1999.

    Corinex Offers 200 Mbps Powerline Module

    Corinex Communications announced a new 200 Mbps embedded module for manufacturers of PCs, set top boxes, and ADSL2+ residential gateways. Corinex is partnering with DS2 , a supplier of silicon and software for Power line Communications (PLC).

    Corinex plans to manufacture the embedded module and provide consulting and design modification services to manufacturers. Complete software system integration services will also be offered to third parties by Corinex.

    BellSouth Reaches Union Labor Deal with CWA

    BellSouth Long Distance and the Communications Workers of America agreed to extend their current working agreement, which was to expire March 19, 2005. The extension will be from March 19, 2005 until December 31, 2005.

    In addition to extending the terms of the current contract, the following items were included in the agreement:

    • Wages will be increased by 1%, effective March 20, 2005.

    • All employees will receive a lump sum payment equal to 4% of their annualized basic pay.

    • Pension bands will be increased 3%, effective July 1, 2005.

    Telenor Satellite Unveils Global Broadband Services

    Telenor Satellite Services unveiled a portfolio of broadband services via satellite aimed at a variety of end users from international corporations and governments to small and medium enterprises and small office, home office customers. Telenor is now providing broadband services under two portfolios, one for on land and one for at sea.

    Telenor delivers its broadband solutions using fixed installation and transportable very small aperture terminal (VSAT) equipment and Demand Assigned Multiple Access (DAMA) or Single Carrier Per Channel (SPCP) technologies with typical throughput in excess of 2 Mbps. Telenor broadband services use a variety of global and regional satellite systems including Intelsat, New Skies, Eutelsat, Spacecom and Telenor's Thor satellites, all carried over Telenor Satellite Services' own worldwide teleport network. When commercially available, Telenor will add Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) service via the Inmarsat I-4 satellite system to its portfolio of broadband solutions, enabling mobile broadband connectivity for users on land.

    Xten Networks Reports One Million Endpoints

    Xten Networks, a developer of voice and video SIP softphones, reported than 1,000,000 IP endpoints deployed worldwide through its customers worldwide. The company reported quarterly revenue of $928,608, compared to $677,364 for the preceding quarter, an increase of 37% quarter-over-quarter.

    Wednesday, March 16, 2005

    IEEE 802.11n Task Group Favors TGn Sync Proposal

    The IEEE 802.11n Task Group voted to eliminate one of the two remaining 802.11n proposals for next generation Wi-Fi capable of speeds well in excess of 100 Mbps.

    The Task Group voted: 181 in favor of the TGn Sync proposal and 140 in favor of the WWiSE proposal. According to Atheros, with the WWiSE proposal eliminated from consideration, the next step is a second confirmation vote in May. During which a 75% supermajority is required to approve TGn Sync's proposal as the final 802.11n standard.

    Backers of the TGn Sync proposal included Agere Systems, Atheros Communications, Cisco Systems, Intel Corporation, Marvell Semiconductor, Nokia, Nortel Networks, Royal Philips Electronics, Samsung Electronics, SANYO Electric Co., Sony, Toshiba and Qualcomm. In previous briefings, the group has claimed its specification would enable wireless LAN data rates to scale up to 243 Mbps in two-antenna designs and over 600 Mbps in larger systems. The proposal also includes methods to reduce power consumption for small mobile phones and increase the user capacity of public networks. The proposal also uses adaptive radio techniques to ensure that wireless products can adjust to the planned expansion of unlicensed and licensed spectrum in China, Japan, South Korea, North America, the European Union (EU), and other regions.

    Members of the WWiSE consortium included Airgo Networks, Bermai, Broadcom, Conexant Systems, STMicroelectronics and Texas Instruments.

    DirecTV's First Spaceway Satellite Prepared for Launch

    The DIRECTV Group and Boeing announced the arrival of the Spaceway F1 satellite at the Sea Launch home port in Long Beach, California, where it will undergo final preparations for a late April launch aboard a Zenit-3SL vehicle.

    Spaceway F1, which is built on the Boeing 702 platform, is described as "the most complex commercial satellite system ever manufactured." The spacecraft includes a flexible payload with a fully steerable downlink antenna that can be reconfigured on orbit.

    Spaceway F1 is one of four Boeing-built Ka-band satellites DIRECTV has scheduled for launch over the next three years as part of a historic expansion of programming capacity. The expansion will enable DIRECTV to deliver more than 1,500 local and national high definition channels and other advanced programming services to consumers nationwide by 2007.

    EchoStar Adds 430,000 Net Subscribers in Q4

    EchoStar Communications added approximately 430,000 net new subscribers during Q4, giving the company a total of approximately 10.905 million subscribers as of year end, an increase of 1.48 million subscribers compared with the number of subscribers as of Dec. 31, 2003. In January, EchoStar's DISH Network satellite television service reported that it had surpassed 11 million subscribers.

    BT Expands its Network in Asia Pacific

    BT is investing approximately US$48 million to expand and enhance its network in the Asia Pacific region for integrated voice, video and data services. The enhancements are already underway, with expected completion this year.

    The implementation of a new voice platform which will support the convergence for the wholesale, corporate and video segments will begin in June 2005. The installation of the new voice platform for an integrated international and domestic offering is progressing on schedule for Bangalore, Delhi, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Mumbai, Seoul, Singapore, Sydney, Taipei and Tokyo.

    New MPLS node locations to be added in 2005 include: Auckland, Bangkok, Jakarta, Manila, Melbourne and Osaka. Additional nodes are being added to Hong Kong, Singapore and Taipei.

    BT has over 60,000 customer sites connected or on order on its MPLS platforms and, on average, deploys a new MPLS node every 10 days.

    Additionally, BT is increasing its direct coverage to 13 countries and 30 cities with its own infrastructure across Asia Pacific, with reach also increased to over 50 cities. BT delivers services to multinational organisations in 115 countries across the globe.

    The core subsea backbone operated by BT which supports its harmonised portfolio is also being upgraded from 300 Mb/s to 1.5 Gb/s following the growth of over 400 per cent in traffic to and from Europe and the US and within Asia Pacific in the past two years. Network paths added include from Hong Kong to Europe, from Singapore to the US, and between London and Singapore.

    Allen Ma, president, BT in Asia Pacific, said "In 2003, we began rebuilding BT's network in Asia Pacific. The strategy moving ahead is in tune with BT's 21st century network (21CN) implementation and timetable, and will allow us to integrate domestic and international voice capacity across nine countries in this region."

    BT Pursues Market for Global Digital Content Management

    BT unveiled plans to establish a global digital media distribution capability with major hubs in continental Europe, the US and Asia. To support this vision, BT Broadcast Services, which has been supporting the broadcast industry for over 40 years, is merging with BT Rich Media, which develops channels to market for digital content. The division will be known as BT Media and Broadcast (BTM&B).

    This global offering and new structure will build on BTM&B's investment in its UK-based "BT Mediahive" digital content management capabilities, enabling it to capture, store, manage and distribute any type of media file, including video, audio and still images.

    "BT Mediahive," in partnership with software partner Blueprint, is already providing a marketplace for the secure global distribution of digital music. Further applications, currently in development, will cover film and television production, digital cinema and advertising, in addition to bespoke solutions for individual market sectors.

    BTM&B will continue to support the broadcast industry with solutions to transport and manage video, audio and data.

    The recently-established BT Entertainment division will also take advantage of BTM&B's capabilities to deliver compelling consumer-facing broadband content.

    "The market for digital content grows exponentially year on year and BT fully intends to become a leader in this space," said Andy Green, CEO BT Global Services.

    Mexico's Cablemas Selects Cedar Point's SAFARI Switch for VoIP

    Cablemas S.A. of Mexico will deploy Cedar Point's SAFARI C(Cubed) Media Switching System for the delivery of voice services. Cablemas will initially trial the integrated SAFARI C(Cubed) system in Tijuana, in anticipation of widespread deployments throughout the Cablemas service area of more than 1.5 million home passed.

    Cablemas delivers video and high speed data to 500,000 subscribers in Tijuana, Juarez, Cancun, Ensenada, Mexicali, Cozumel, Merida, Acapulco and other locations. Cablemas also is pursuing "carrier of carrier" strategic opportunities, and is working with the Mexican federal authorities on securing telephony licenses across its franchise area.

    TeliaSonera Deploys Ericsson's Ethernet DSL in Denmark

    TeliaSonera has selected Ericsson's Ethernet DSL Access solution for deployment in Denmark. The IP/Ethernet broadband access network will enable TeliaSonera to deliver triple play services such as high-speed Internet access, voice and video/TV simultaneously for residential and business users. Financial terms were not disclosed.

    Cox Reports its Strongest Quarter for Telephony

    Cox Communications reported Q4 growth in all its service offerings, including a record number of net additions of telephone subscribers. Total revenues for the fourth quarter of 2004 were $1.7 billion, an increase of 11% over Q4 2003.

    For the fourth quarter of 2004, Cox:

    • Ended the quarter with over 6.6 million total customer relationships, up 1.0% from December 31, 2003.

    • Ended the quarter with approximately 12.6 million total RGUs, up 10% from December 31, 2003, driven by 23% growth in advanced-service RGUs year-over-year.

    • Added 58,825 Cox Digital Cable customers, ending the quarter with over 2.4 million digital cable customers, representing year-over-year customer growth of 13%. Cox Digital Cable is now available to 99% of the homes in Cox's service areas with 38% penetration of our basic video customer base.

    • Added 140,691 high-speed Internet customers, ending the quarter with approximately 2.6 million high-speed Internet customers, representing year-over-year growth of 29%.

    • Added 89,119 Cox Digital Telephone customers, the most Cox Digital Telephone customers ever added in a quarter. Cox ended the quarter with over 1.3 million telephone customers, representing year-over-year growth of 32%.

    • Generated $554.8 million in cash flows provided by operating activities and $173.6 million in free cash flow (cash flows provided by operating activities less capital expenditures).

    • Generated 11% revenue growth during the quarter and 12% revenue growth during the year ended December 31, 2004, compared with the same periods in 2003.

    "Our bundled customer penetration signals that Cox customers are embracing multiple communications and entertainment services from a single provider they trust. In fact, we expect the number of advanced revenue generating units will soon surpass the number of basic cable customers we serve, illustrating that we've truly arrived as a full service broadband communications company."

    See also