Friday, April 8, 2005

Verizon Acquires MCI Shares from Carlos Slim

Verizon Communications will purchase 43.4 million shares of MCI from Carlos Slim Helu, the largest individual stakeholder in MCI, for $25.72 per share in cash.

The shares represent approximately 13.7% stake in MCI.

Verizon Chairman and CEO Ivan Seidenberg said, "While this was an opportunity for us to purchase a block of shares under unique circumstances and is an important step forward in our acquisition of MCI, we will continue to assess the situation as we move toward a vote by the MCI shareholders."

In response, Qwest issued a statement saying "By entering into its deal with Mr. Slim, Verizon has both created two classes of shareholders and called into question the MCI board's previous determination that Verizon's lower offer to the other MCI shareholders was superior and fair. We believe Qwest has a superior proposal for all shareholders."

Thursday, April 7, 2005

European Commission Promotes Broadband over Powerline

Hoping to open the market to new suppliers of broadband services, the European Commission issued a recommendation designed to clarify rules on using electric power cables to carry data services. Specifically, the EC is requiring Member States to remove "any unjustified regulatory obstacles, in particular from utility companies, on the deployment of broadband power line communications systems."

Power Line Communications (PLC) is a broadband access technology that uses the low and medium voltage electricity grid to transmit voice, data and video. Data is sent as a high-frequency signal piggybacked on the 50 or 60-hertz mains electricity supply.

The EC estimates that several thousand customers are already being served broadband over PLC, with commercial deployments underway in Germany, Austria and Spain.

Siemens Acquires Myrio for IPTV Middleware

Siemens Communications has acquired Myrio, a supplier of IPTV middleware, for an undisclosed sum. Siemens Venture Capital made a strategic investment in the Seattle-based start-up in late 2003.

Myrio specializes in middleware and applications for home entertainment solutions, which includes components to create a compelling consumer experience and provide network operators with the management systems for pricing, packaging and applications development. The Myrio IP Video Platform consists of two core products, Myrio TotalManage, the back-office subscriber and content-management application, and Myrio Interactive, the full-featured end-user application. The Java-based platform enables the carrier to add new features, such as multiple language support, client Personal Video Recorder (cPVR), and web browser enhancements.

In addition to the account successes with Siemens AG in Europe and Asia, Myrio also has more than 65 other customers globally.

Myrio has about 75 employees.

Kevin Kosche



Role of Middleware in Triple Play Networks

As service providers increasingly focus on the operational efficiency
aspects of their telco video networks, solution providers have shifted
toward the standardization of video system components, particularly the
middleware element.
  • In October 2004, Siemens signed a worldwide OEM agreement to sell and integrate the Myrio IP Video Platform with its SURPASS Home Entertainment platform for triple play services.

  • In June 2004, Siemens announced that Belgacom was the first carrier to begin testing its SURPASS Home Entertainment solution. For the TV-centric online project, Siemens was working with Myrio for the middleware to enable the application, nCube for the Video on Demand server, Verimatrix for content protection system, and Tandberg Television for the video broadcast equipment.

Micromuse to Acquire Quallaby for Fault Management

Micromuse agreed to acquire Quallaby, a privately-held software company based in Lowell, Massachusetts, for $33 million in cash.

Quallaby supplies network performance management and service level reporting software for service providers. Micromuse's Netcool software suite provides realtime end-to-end network visibility and troubleshooting for enterprise and service providers.

Micromuse said the acquisition would advance its ability to manage converged IP services through an integrated console that combines Micromuse's Netcool realtime fault management technology with Quallaby's ultra-scalable PROVISO performance management software.

Micromuse and Quallaby have been alliance partners for several years. Both companies also partner with leading companies such as Alcatel, Cisco, Sun Microsystems, Juniper Networks, and Tecsidel.

Micromuse and Quallaby already are integrated within several large service provider networks, including those of BT, France Telecom, Telefonica, Neuf Telecom, Telia Sonera, Completel, and Telecom New Zealand.

Motorola Labs Launched in Bangalore

Motorola announced the opening of an applied research lab in Bangalore. This lab, the 11th for Motorola and the company's first in India, augments Motorola's existing India R&D infrastructure of more than 1700 software engineers.

Comcast and Time Warner Near Deal on Adelphia

Comcast and Time Warner reportedly neared an $18 billion deal for bankrupt Adephia, the fifth largest U.S. cable operator. Adelphia serves customers in 31 states and Puerto Rico, serving more than 5 million customers, including in the Los Angeles area, where it is the largest cable operator.

A deal might give Comcast a way to unwind its 21% stake in Time Warner. Comcast would get more subscribers in exchange for the shares. Time Warner would also grow its subscriber base. A deal would require the permission of the bankruptcy court.

New York-based Cablevision had been seen as another potential suitor.
  • In May 2002, following allegations of financial wrong-doing, founder and CEO John Rigas and CFO Timothy Rigas resigned from the company and its Board of Directors. They were subsequently indicted. Adelphia filed for bankruptcy protection the following month.

Cablevision Confirms Closure of VOOM HD Satellite Service

Cablevision Systems confirmed plans to shut down its VOOM HD satellite TV at the end of April. Cablevision's chairman and founder Charles Dolan had fought to keep the venture alive, or to sell it, while the company's board of Directors, led by James Dolan (the son), had sought to shutter the money-losing satellite division.
  • In January 2005, EchoStar Communications agreed to acquire Cablevision's direct broadcast satellite and certain other related assets for $200 million. The deal includes the Rainbow 1 satellite, located at the 61.5 degree W.L. orbital position, as well as FCC licenses to construct, launch and operate DBS services over 11 frequency channels at the 61.5 degree W.L. orbital location. In addition, EchoStar will acquire the contents of Rainbow DBS's ground facility in Black Hawk, S.D. and related assets.

BT acquires CW Business Solutions in Spain

BT has acquired Cable and Wireless Business Solutions group in Spain for EUR 6 million. CW Business Solutions provides major corporate and public sector organisations with networked IT services such as the design and implementation of LAN/WAN propositions within single managed solutions. It also provides connectivity and hosting, including business continuity and disaster recovery services, to some of the main media companies and enterprises in Spain. The company claims 170 corporate clients.

Wednesday, April 6, 2005

Staccato and Fujitsu Develop UWB-Enabled Camera

Fujitsu has developed a digital still camera platform incorporating wireless USB chipset from Staccato Communications. The platform uses the world's first single-chip all-CMOS, Multiband-OFDM Alliance (MBOA) --compliant PHY module based upon the Fujitsu 0.11 micron semiconductor process. It also includes Staccato's MBOA MAC that provides rapid device discovery, fast stream establishment, QoS and efficient use of spare capacity in a decentralized architecture.

Staccato and Fujitsu are jointly demonstrating the system in the Wireless USB Community at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) spring events this week in Tokyo, Taipei and Beijing.

Wireless USB is the first major application for ultrawideband, and this demonstration shows how close we are to delivering products," said Rick Kornfeld, President and CEO, Staccato Communications.
  • In December 2004, Staccato Communications, a start-up focused and wireless ultrawideband (USB) silicon, named Rick Kornfeld as president and CEO. Kornfeld most recently was vice president and general manager of Texas Instruments' Wireless Center, where he was responsible for TI's wireless chipset business.

  • Also in December, Fujitsu Limited and Staccato Communications announced a partnership under which they will provide all-CMOS, single-chip wireless universal serial bus (USB) and ultra-wideband (UWB) solutions for the global marketplace. Fujitsu will offer its SoC/ASSP together with Staccato Communications' UWB products as part of its next-generation wireless USB/UWB technology-based solutions to its customers.

Tekelec Moves HQ from California to North Carolina

Tekelec is moving its corporate headquarters from Calabasas, California, to Morrisville, North Carolina. Over the past year, the number of Calabasas-based employees has been reduced from about 145 to 40 people as Tekelec aligned its manufacturing operations with its business units and expanded the use of contract manufacturing.

"During the past year, our company's revenue grew more than 50%, we greatly expanded our global business and we completed several major acquisitions that increased our capabilities to provide integrated communications solutions for our customers on a global basis," said Fred Lax, president and CEO of Tekelec.

The company announced a number of executive appointments, including Lori Craven as executive vice president, Global Sales & Marketing and Customer Service, and Rick Mace as executive vice president, Global Business Group Operations,

America Online Launches its Consumer Internet Phone Service

America Online rolled out its AOL Internet Phone Service in 40 cities across the U.S., saying the enhanced VoIP service would provide current and new AOL members with an easy-to-use choice for integrating all of their voice, e-mail and instant messaging communications needs.

For the AOL Internet Phone Service alone, current AOL members can choose from three price plans with introductory offer rates:

  • Local Plan: $13.99 per month for the first three months for unlimited local and regional calls and $0.04 per minute for long distance calls anywhere in the US and Canada ($18.99 per month thereafter);

  • Unlimited Calling Plan: $24.99 per month for the first three months for one flat fee for local and long distance calls within the US and Canada ($29.99 per month thereafter); and

  • Global Calling Plan: $29.99 per month for the first three months, including unlimited local and long distance calls within the US and Canada and low international rates ($34.99 per month thereafter).

America Online is giving current AOL members who sign up a free wireless home network base station. America Online is also working with Linksys and NETGEAR for the CPE.

The AOL Internet Phone Service "Dashboard" provides a central Web page to manage account settings, call handling and call forwarding preferences, call logs of incoming and outgoing calls, as well as access contact lists with click-to-dial functionality and their address book.

AOL is providing E-911 service, which delivers a user's address-specific information with the emergency call, using direct trunking to local public safety agencies. However, AOL warns that all 911 calls must be placed from the customer's service address location in order to e routed to the right public safety agency. Also, the VoIP service will not work in the event of a power or broadband outage.

AOL is also featuring Parental Controls for blocking specific in-bound or out-bound calls.

America Online has named Sonus Networks and Level 3 Communications as key technology partners for the VoIP service. America Online has deployed Sonus' GSX9000 Open Services Switch, the Insignus Softswitch and the Sonus Insight Management System. It is also using a customized version of Level 3's consumer-oriented VoIP service.
  • The AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) service is currently handling about 2.5 billion messages per day.

ZTE to Open R&D in Pakistan

ZTE announced plans to open R&D facilities in Islamabad, Pakistan as part of its growing presence in international markets. The new office will be the 12th R&D centre created by ZTE around the world and comes less than a month after the company announced similar plans in India.

ZTE said its already has more than 10% of the fixed line market in Pakistan, while its wireless products are also increasing their penetration. Last December, ZTE built Pakistan's first NGN (next generation network) while a CDMA WLL (wireless local loop) network for local operator Telecard will eventually be enlarged to cover the whole country.

In neighboring India, ZTE's new facility will manufacture CDMA, GSM, DSL and NGN equipment, as well as handsets.
  • ZTE is China's largest listed telecommunications equipment manufacturer and wireless solutions provider.

Nortel Invests in India's Sasken for R&D Outsourcing

Nortel has invested US$10 million in Sasken Communication Technologies Limited, an Indian company specializing in telecom R&D outsourcing. Sasken has been a supplier to Nortel since 1991 and is currently focused on supporting Nortel's GSM and enterprise communications solutions. Sasken will also play a major role in training, technical support and other engineering services in Nortel projects in India.

Sasken employs over 2,000 staff and has facilities in Bangalore and Pune, India and has offices in Canada, China, Germany, Japan, Sweden, France, the UK and the U.S.

Ericsson Supplies IMS to Telefónica

Telefónica selected Ericsson's IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) to support IP telephony and IP Centrex to business users. The
deployment will start during the spring. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The IMS based IP Centrex functionality hosts a complete set of
personal and group services, with the addition of multimedia support
such as video telephony, conference calling, sharing of documents and
web pages (collaboration), presence management, instant messaging,
e-mail integration and support for remote workers.

Ericsson Completes Testing with NTT DoCoMo

NTT DoCoMo completed interoperability testing of Ericsson's WCDMA/GPRS platform U100. Tests have been performed in DoCoMo's laboratories followed by fully completed field tests in DoCoMo's live FOMA network.

Zyxel Offers Palm-Sized Firewall

ZyXEL Communications announced its ZyWALL P1 Personal Internet Security Appliance, a small, lightweight, plug-n-play firewall and VPN device for mobile computer users.
The portable device, which has an MSRP of $299, is equipped with a 10/100Mbps Ethernet WAN and LAN ports and can be powered by the USB port. It integrates a Stateful Packet Inspection (SPI) firewall and also includes ICSA-certified IPSec VPN client support. Network administrators could use it to enforce security policies on every endpoint PC whether in the office or in the field.

Zyxel said its hardware-based VPN that is much faster than software VPN counterparts.

Tiscali Chooses ECI for Pan-European IP/MPLS Upgrade

Tiscali International Network selected the Enstara platform from ECI Telecom to upgrade its international IP/MPLS backbone. The announcement was made today by ECI and their partner, Chiaro Networks, the developer of the Enstara infrastructure-class IP/MPLS platform. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Tiscali International Network's IP/MPLS backbone spans Europe and the United States with approximately 120 POPs. The company delivers IP Transit, Remote Peering, clear channel and Voice services to the wholesale market of carriers and ISPs.

The deal represents the first major customer for the ECI-Chiaro partnership.
  • In December 2004, ECI Telecom and Chiaro Networks announced a strategic partnership under which ECI Telecom provided $6 million in financing to Chiaro Networks and also became the exclusive distributor of Chiaro's Enstara IP/MPLS platforms worldwide.

  • In March 2004, Chiaro announced that the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) selected its "Enstara" router for its DataTAG project, a large-scale intercontinental Grid test bed. CERN is testing the Enstara platform for its ability to provide consistent and sustained ultra reliability for high-performance data replication and guaranteed real-time traffic delivery over long-distance, high-bandwidth connections. Chiaro said its STateful Assured Routing (STAR) technology enables five nines availability with seamless, transparent protection of hardware and software during switchover following failures and maintenance activities, including "hitless" upgrades. Its router features a modular distributed software architecture that provides automatic fault detection and recovery, intelligent fault monitoring and network stability, with software modules added or upgraded as needed. <.li>
  • In May 2003, Chiaro Networks introduced its network core, multi-chassis, IP routing platform. Chiaro's design leverages a gallium arsenide (GaAs) optical switch fabric for scalability from 10 slots to a multi-chassis with 315 slots. The company claims that the scalability and flexibility provided by its optical backplane, along with network-processor based line-cards, will lead to a 7 to 10 year lifecycle for the platform. Key features of the Chiaro platform include an Optical Phased Array (OPA) switch fabric coupled with a Global Scheduler providing a single-hop optical crossbar architecture.

BT Passes 5 Million Broadband User Milestone

BT has connected its five millionth wholesale broadband customer, beating a target set by the company a year ahead of schedule.

Broadband is now one of the fastest growing consumer products of all time in the UK, with a higher take up rate than televisions, CD players, video recorders or mobile phones.

More than 95% of UK homes and businesses are now connected to broadband-enabled central offices (exchanges) and that figure will reach 99.6% by this summer, putting the UK ahead of any other G7 country in terms of DSL availability.

The five million connections are shared between more than 200 service providers with BT's own retail arm having around 35% of the total DSL market. There are also an estimated two million cable broadband customers in the UK.

Ben Verwaayen, BT's CEO said: "Three years ago when we set a target of five million by 2006 it seemed a daunting task. To have reached this milestone so early into 2005 is a massive achievement for the whole industry. The momentum of broadband is continuing to build. The latest million connections have come in just four months, and BT is connecting a customer every ten seconds. But now the focus needs to move from broadband availability towards the ways in which broadband can improve people's lives.

See also