Wednesday, June 1, 2005

MetaSwitch Delivers Open Packet Host/Remote Architecture

MetaSwitch is delivering an open "packet host-remote" architecture for telephone companies seeking to migrate from legacy switching platforms. Metaswitch said its open solution is currently being adopted by independent operating companies (IOCs) including Southern Kansas Telephone (SKT), which had been serving more than 6,000 telephone customers using a legacy host-remote network before migrating to the open "packet host-remote" architecture.

MetaSwitch highlighted several unique elements to its open host/remote architecture:

  • Multi-level ESA -- traditional host-remote architectures typically implement emergency standalone (ESA) switching at one level only - the monolithic "remote switch". In contrast, MetaSwitch is working with major access vendors including Occam Networks, Paradyne and Zhone Technologies to implement multiple levels of ESA, whereby remote switch nodes, CO-based line shelves / broadband loop carriers, or even remote cabinets can lose their upstream connection and retain switching functionality, including 911 calling. This is achieved through synchronization of subscriber data between the MetaSwitch Call Agent and broadband loop carriers' own ESA functions, and/or MetaSwitch's planned ESA Call Agent that will enable standalone operation for media gateways and legacy digital loop carriers.

  • Openness -- including SIP, H.248 and SIGTRAN - and proven interoperability with a wide range of equipment including broadband loop carriers and next generation remotes (trunk gateways).

  • Connectionless Trunking -- instead of provisioning point-to-point TDM links between a single host and multiple remote sites, service providers can simply connect all the remotes to an IP network and let the centralized Call Agent server figure out the most efficient path to route traffic between sites. Of course, point-to-point TDM trunks can still be used instead of or alongside IP, enabling seamless migration and support for individual remote sites that are not yet connected to the core IP network.

  • Distributed PSTN Trunking -- PSTN connections - whether SS7 signaling links, TDM trunks (ISUP, MF or PRI) or IP trunks using SIP - can be located in any of the switching sites in the network. In combination with Emergency Standalone (ESA), this enables remote sites to fall back to local TDM or IP trunks in the event of loss of host connectivity.

  • Complete Site Redundancy -- true site redundancy is provided through the use of a fully distributed architecture, with backup Call Agent servers and Media Gateways located across two or more sites. Any one switching office can be completely lost (for example, as a result of a hurricane) with no loss of service. In this architecture, the only single point of failure for a subscriber is the line termination unit.

  • Scalability -- the MetaSwitch solution scales to more than 28,000 concurrent calls per chassis, with multi-node networks (multi-chassis or multi-site) of up to 500,000 subscribers. Equally importantly, the solution scales down with cost-effective 16xT1 remotes.

  • Proven Packet Architecture -- the MetaSwitch Class 5 Softswitch has been shipping with native VoIP and Ethernet interfaces since mid-2002.

  • Simplified Management -- since a network can be configured as a single "virtual switch", management of subscribers, signaling links and trunks is much simplified. Operators need no longer know which remote a particular subscriber is provisioned on in order to manage its service profiles. In addition, with MetaSwitch's Web Self-Care, a single web server can seamlessly provide access to all switches in the network.

Ciena Report Income of $104 Million, Loss of $75 Million

Ciena reported quarterly revenue of $103.8 million, representing a 9.6% sequential increase, and an increase of 39.0% over the same period a year ago. Net loss (GAAP) for the quarter was $74.8 million, or a net loss of $0.13 per share.

The company said it reduced cash burn from operations by 15.5% sequentially, from $43.3 million in the preceding quarter to $36.6 million in the current quarter. Ciena ended the quarter with cash and short-and long-term investments valued at $1.19 billion.

"With our fifth sequential quarter of solid revenue growth, we are growing faster than the market and beginning to take share on a global basis. In addition to strong revenue growth, we continue to improve other important financial metrics, including delivering gross margin improvement and reducing our use of cash in our fiscal second quarter," said Gary Smith, Ciena's president and CEO.

Ciena Extends its CoreStream Platform for Regional Networks

Ciena announced an extension of its CoreStream Agility Optical Transmission System designed for serving metro and regional core networks that have moderate capacity and distance requirements. Existing CoreStream DWDM platforms support long-haul and ultra long-haul (ULH) applications.

The new CoreStream Regional system, which is part of Ciena's recently announced FlexSelect Architecture, features flexible optical add/drop multiplexing (OADM) options, including a fixed OADM that allows up to eight add/drop channels per add/drop site and a "Select OADM" that provides reconfigurable OADM (ROADM) functionality for fully configurable add/drop support. The platform uses programmable transport modules that can support SONET, SDH, OTN and Ethernet interfaces. In addition, CoreStream Regional features a lower-powered erbium-doped fiber amplifier (EDFA) for efficient transport while still allowing optional Raman support for difficult span designs. Like CoreStream Agility, the CoreStream Regional platform provides for common sparing, a single management platform, and has been field demonstrated to be 40G upgradeable.

The modular DWDM architecture allows service providers to install incremental, in-service capacity upgrades up to 80 channels x 10 Gbps over distances in excess of 1,200 km.

Siemens Venture Capital Invests in Global Locate

Siemens Venture Capital has made a multimillion-dollar investment in Global Locate, a start-up offering Assisted Global Positioning Systems.

Global Locate is focused on the emerging market for Location Based Services (LBS) by marketing a portfolio of Assisted-GPS semiconductor solutions, network products and services. Siemens plans to integrate Global Locate's A-GPS technologies into its new solution for A-GPS.

The company is headquartered in San Jose and has sales offices in the New York metropolitan area, Tokyo and Madrid.

Swisscom/Bluewin Deploys Windows Media Video 9

TANDBERG Television has commenced the installation of an end-to-end IPTV delivery system for the commercial roll-out of the Swisscom/Bluewin triple play service. Swisscom has chosen the TANDBERG Television professional hardware encoding solution for Windows Media Video 9 (Microsoft's implementation of VC-1, the proposed SMPTE standard) following a competitive tender process.

As part of the new contract, TANDBERG Television will provide a number of its EN5920 encoders, TT1260 MPEG-2 professional receivers and an nCompass control and monitoring system and also support Swisscom's engineering team with the integration of the video head-end with the Microsoft TV IPTV platform, set-top-boxes and other third party equipment.
  • In April 2005, Swisscom selected Alcatel's Intelligent Services Access Manager (ISAM) product family to deliver enhanced Triple Play services to its customers in Switzerland. Swisscom plans to deliver IPTV services by the second half of 2005. With this contract, Alcatel remains the sole supplier of Swisscom's broadband access network. Under the terms of the contract, Alcatel will supply Swisscom with a VDSL-enabled broadband access network consisting of the Intelligent Services Access Manager (ISAM) product family.

Tut Systems Deploys First MPEG-4 Digital TV Headend in North America

Farmers Telephone Cooperative in South Carolina has deployed an MPEG-4 AVC digital TV headend from Tut Systems. The deployment is believed to be the first MPEG-4 AVC digital TV headend in North America.

Tut Systems' Astria Digital TV platform will serve as the core video processing system for the all-MPEG-4 AVC digital headend. Tut Systems is also providing comprehensive systems integration services to Farmers Telephone Cooperative, including design, assembly and pre-launch testing of its digital headend. FTC plans to commercially launch its Digital TV service in the fourth quarter of 2005.

Farmers Telephone Cooperative is the 3rd largest telephone cooperative in the United States, serving more than 60,000 consumers. The company currently offers local, long distance, paging, digital wireless, high-speed Internet services, business solutions and data networking.

Verizon Holds its Dividend Steady

Verizon Communications declared a quarterly dividend of 40.5 cents per outstanding share, unchanged from the previous quarter. The dividend is payable on Aug. 1, 2005, to Verizon Communications shareowners of record at the close of business July 8.

ARRIS' DOCSIS Channel Bonding Achieves 100+ Mbps

ARRIS unveiled further details about its "FlexPath Wideband," its implementation of Wideband functionality on its Cadant C4 CMTS platform and new Touchstone Wideband Modem. The technology is positioned as a way for cable operators to outperform the forthcoming ADSL2+ and VDSL2 services from telco competitors. DOCSIS channel bonding is expected to deliver data rates well in excess of 100 Mbps to subscribers.

ARRIS' FlexPath uses the same Packet Bonding technique as CableLabs' chosen approach for DOCSIS 3.0. Channel bonding is an efficient way to combine multiple DOCSIS channels together for a higher effective data rate to the subscriber. It is also expected to backwards compatible.

The first release of the Wideband Cable Modem with FlexPath will support 4 bonded channels in both the upstream and downstream directions, and that number will increase with subsequent releases. Four DOCSIS 2.0 channels bonded together create over 100 Mbps in both directions, significantly surpassing xDSL data rates.

ARRIS said future releases of FlexPath could support up to 32 downstream channels in a bonding group, enabling downstream data rates of over one gigabit per second to a single node.

FlexPath will be deployable on the ARRIS Cadant C4 CMTS through a software upgrade, and will work on existing 2D:12U and 1D:8U cable access modules (CAM's).

The FlexPath solution will be commercially available to cable operators in Q4, 2005. The ARRIS technology is currently in live trials with several MSOs.

McAfee Acquires Wireless Security Corp.

McAfee announced the acquisition of Wireless Security Corp, a start-up offering Wi-Fi security solutions to protect home and small business wireless networks from unauthorized access. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The Wireless Security Corp. solutions employ strong industry standard encryption and authentication with intrusion detection technology. It supports WEP and WPA-PSK and virtually 100% of network cards. Additionally it supports the most popular routers from the largest vendors such as Linksys, D-Link, and Netgear, along with support for some devices from Buffalo, Belkin, Proxim, ZyXEL and 3COM. The technology will be developed by McAfee with plans for a Fall consumer product launch. Additionally, the company will integrate the technology into the small business Managed VirusScan solution to provide comprehensive protection for the business user that is automatically delivered and managed to protect against evolving threats.
  • Wireless Security Corp is based in Redwood City, California.

Sun Acquires StorageTek for $4.1 Billion

Sun Microsystems agreed to acquire StorageTek in a deal valued at $4.1 billion, including the assumption of employee stock options. Sun expects the transaction to be accretive to non-GAAP earnings in the first 12 months following the closing.

Sun offers a line of storage and networking products, including the Sun StorEdge 6920 storage system, a platform for virtualization and data services on almost any vendor's storage system.

StorageTek offer a line of data protection and intelligent archive products, including its Storage Resource Management software and virtual tape solutions.

Together, the companies said they can offer customers a complete range of products, services and solutions available for securely managing mission-critical data assets. The companies plan to provide a systems approach to Information Lifecycle Management (ILM), helping customers better manage their growing privacy, security, compliance and policy requirements.

European Broadband Deployments Accelerate -- 45,000 New Lines per Day

Take-up of broadband connections in the EU25 continues to accelerate, according to figures released this week by the European Commission.

As of 01-January-2005, there were 40,064,671 broadband lines in services across the EU -- an increase of 16.5 million broadband lines over 2004, representing a growth of 70%. This increase represents 45,000 new broadband lines on average per day for the year, up from 29,000 per day in 2003. Growth accelerated during the second half of 2004, with 9.9 million lines added.

The vast majority of the new broadband connections were xDSL (14,258,273 lines). Incumbent fixed line operators provided 66% of these new lines, down from 74% in January 2004.

However, while overall European performance is strong, the picture across individual Member States is diverse. Broadband take-up is higher than 10% in 9 countries compared with only 4 such countries in January 2004. The Netherlands, with take-up of 19%, and Denmark with 18%, top the list and are among the best-performing countries in the world in terms of broadband take-up. Belgium, Sweden and Finland also show strong take-up.

There is a second group of countries where the take-up rate is around 8%. In the third group of countries, the penetration rate is below 6% of the population.

The Netherlands is also the fastest growing country for broadband with the UK, France, Denmark, and Finland also growing rapidly. Among the new Member States, Estonia is performing very well.

A 34-page report on European broadband trends is available online.

Verizon Sees Convergence Driving Market Expansion

"The overall communications market is expanding due to convergence," said Ivan Seidenberg, Verizon's CEO, speaking at the Bernstein Strategic Decisions Conference in New York earlier this week. This expansion will not be just a linear function of combining voice, data and video into a single offering, said Seidenberg, but a much broader expansion of telecom spending. Verizon estimates the overall U.S. telecom services market will grow from $440 million in 2004 to $570 million in 2009. Almost all the growth is projected to come from home entertainment/communication services, wireless services, and enterprise service. To capitalize on this opportunity, Verizon is pursuing a long-term strategy of building its FiOS consumer brand, upgrading its wireless network for 3G, and acquiring MCI.

Seidenberg said key differentiators for the upcoming FiOS TV service will include 175 all-digital video and music channels, competitive pricing, more HD channels (over 20) than cable competitors, at least 1,800 VOD titles, and a much more friendly interactive programming guide. The video content for FiOS TV is nearly in place, according to Seidenberg, as Verizon has now signed distribution deals with major content holders. Furthermore, early market trials for FiOS TV in Keller, Texas, have been "nothing short of spectacular." A consumer take rate of 30% has been well ahead of the company's expectations.

Verizon is undertaking a multi-state initiative to secure the necessary video franchise licenses for FiOS TV. Despite the recent regulatory setback in the Texas Legislature, Seidenberg said the company remains on schedule for initial market launches later this year. More than 200 franchise applications are underway. Seidenberg said getting these applications approved is a time consuming issue but that it could be done. Verizon is also working hard to change the regulatory environment to favor IPTV at the federal level. The the bulk of the FiOS TV rollout will start in 2006.

Seidenberg said the pending acquisition of MCI would provide added vertical depth and breadth in enterprise services, extending Verizon's presence in many markets. He said the MCI deal would allow Verizon to grow more quickly than SBC+AT&T -- its larger competitor .

Seidenberg also stated that Verizon Wireless continues to hold the leading market position in terms of net customer adds, churn, net service revenue growth, ARPU growth, network reliability and EBITDA. Verizon Wireless currently has 45.5 million users. The company is moving towards a common user interface across all its mobile handsets.

Mangrove Announces Piranha 600EX Pseudowire Transport Hub

Mangrove Systems, a start-up based in Wallingford, CT, introduced its Piranha 600EX Pseudowire Transport Hub designed specifically for wireless and wireline operators for migrating between TDM, ATM and Ethernet/IP access networks. The platform offers dynamic pseudowire signaling with robust per flow traffic management, enabling Mangrove's customers to rapidly provision subscriber services over a shared infrastructure.

Mangrove's Piranha 600EX provides native support for high density, protected ATM IMA, PPP, Frame Relay and Ethernet service aggregation, in addition to pseudowire encapsulation, a dynamic MPLS control plane and multi-wavelength optical transport. Mangrove's solution provides end-to-end service management, along with the grooming, aggregation and optimization required for the access and metro infrastructure.

Mangrove said its unique ATM IMA over MPLS pseudowire approach enables a wireless operator to deploy converged ATM access in support of 3GPP Release 99 and Release 4 without investing in legacy ATM core switching equipment. This re-use of the same MPLS technology present within the mobile core network provides a viable alternative to "islands of ATM" access and simplifies the transition to the next-generation Ethernet and IP infrastructure specified by the 3GPP for the Release 5 and Release 6 IP UTRAN.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

SBC Launches $14.95 DSL Promotion

SBC Communications launched a limited promotion offering DSL (384Kbps - 1.5 Mbps) for $14.95 a month (other charges apply) with a 12-month term for new residential subscribers who order online. The SBC Yahoo! DSL Pro (1.5Mbps - 3.0Mbps) service is available for $24.99 a month for 12 months if they order online (other monthly charges apply).

The move is expected to lead to further price cuts across the U.S. broadband market.

Marconi Debuts Service Router

Marconi introduced a new routing platform designed to help service providers deliver high value, low touch IP services such as virtual private networks (VPNs) based on network virtualization capabilities.

Marconi said the service provider market is being driven by the same virtualization trends seen in data centers, where storage and other resources are virtualized. Carrier networks need to evolve into commodity cores with differentiated edges.

The new Marconi Service Router, which is available as a 16-slot mid-plane chassis, uses Dynamic Services Blades to provide its virtual router capabilities. The platform supports up to 8,000 virtual router instances and up to 5,000,000 BGP routes, with all CPU, packet processing, and memory resources managed dynamically in software. Each virtual router has a unique processing context and distinct memory allocation. Virtual router route tables can be set for maximum routes. No sharing of routes or topology is possible, and BGP or MPLS is not required. Each virtual router can be remotely enabled and disabled. Each virtual router can be rate limited and CPU constrained, and one VPN cannot interfere with another VPN.

Significantly, the platform uses Linux and open APIs that allow new application development by Marconi, ISVs and/or end customers. Key hardware features of the platform include:

  • a 80 Gbps switch fabric, which will be upgradeable to 320 Gbps

  • 60 Gbps I/O bandwidth

  • Front-loaded route control processing and packet service engines

  • Up to three chassis per 7-ft rack

  • NEBS Level 3 ready, CE Mark

  • Common Criteria Level 3

  • Hot-swap capability

  • Redundant A and B power feeds

  • AC Chassis

The platform is currently being deployed by Dalton Utilities, which provides a wide range of fiber-based telecommunications services to business and residential customers in and around Dalton, Georgia.

Deployments for the Marconi Service Router are also expected to include the federal market, where the company supplies its other high-end routing platforms.

Marconi said the new platform would complement the routing products offered through its alliance with Huawei.

SBC Sees DSL as Foundation for Next Gen Services

"Broadband is much more than just another add-on service... broadband is the foundation for the newxt generation of wireline services," said Rick Lindner, CFO of SBC Communications, speaking at the Lehman Brothers conference in New York. "That's why we/ve made broadband a high priority and why you can expect us to remain aggressive with DSL. Speaking to investors, Lindner outlined a roadmap for SBC based on five strategic initiatives: broadband, wireless, service integration, business markets, and cost savings.

In broadband, SBC added more than 504,000 DSL lines in Q1, ahead of its industry peers, giving the company more than 5.6 million broadband customers. Lindner said SBC is now winning more than 50% of new broadband customers in its territory. He noted that penetration has increased from 13% a year ago to 20% overall. In California and Nevada, consumer penetration is now at 25%. Lindner also said the alliance with Yahoo! has been a plus. One third of new DSL customers are also buying a home networking solution from SBC. Meanwhile DSL churn rate is down over the last year. DSL is also the stickiest product in the SBC consumer service portfolio.

Project Lightspeed lab testing is "progressing very well," said Lindner. In its trials, SBC has seen seen data rates of up to 25 Mbps over 4,000 ft. of copper, which he considers to be very good considering that most Project Lightspeed end customers are expected to be at under 3,000 ft. Lindner is also optimistic that the new "U-Verse" brnaded services enabled by Project Lightspeed will be warmly received by consumers as well as regulatory policy makers.

Regarding the recent regulatory fight in Texas, Lindner expressed disappointment that the IPTV bill it support did not come up for a vote before the legistative session ended because SBC believes the bill would have passed. Even so, SBC will not change its Project Lightspeed plans. Lindner contends that Project Lightspeed does not fall under traditional broadcast television regulation because it will use an advanced two-way network.

In wireless, the new Cingular has tremendous scale, extensive spectrum, and is preparing to launch 3G UMTS with HSDPA in its first 15 major markets by the end of this year. Other markets will be added in 2006. Cingular's migration to GSM is going well, said Lindner, with 84% of minutes now riding the GSM network.

As for integrated services, SBC has been very successful with its consumer bundles to date. The new challenge, said Lindner, is to transition from product bundles to integrated networks. Architectures such as IMS will improve interoperability across wireless and wireline networks. Lindner believes this integration will be an important key for differentiation for SBC.

In enterprise services, SBC is looking to its pending acquisition of AT&T to significantly boost its industry presence. The AT&T acquisition will add a global network and strength in enterprise services, especially IP VPNs for large companies.

A final opportunite for SBC is to reduce its overall cost structure. To this end, SBC is enhancing its online capabilities and streamlining and standardizing all its operating procedures across all its services. The new announced $14.95 DSL promotion is an example of a new offering that is available only online and for self-install customers.

Net Insight Introduces Video-Centric SONET/SDH Platform

Net Insight introduced its Nimbra 600 series of next generation multi-service switches, offering up to 1 terabit per second switching capacity per rack. The Nimbra 600 series utilizes next generation SDH/SONET and Net Insight's switching architecture to provide guaranteed video transport over fiber for triple-play and professional broadcast media networks. The Nimbra 600 series also provides lower-order granularity for all services including Ethernet.

In a triple play network, the Nimbra 600 could be use to transport video from a head-end facility or a video server farm to neighborhood DSLAMs or ONTs. In a media network, it could be used to switch video traffic from a central site to fiber-connected affiliates.

The Nimbra 600 series presently consists of two multi-service switches:

  • Nimbra 680 -- an 80 Gbps multi-service switch for metro core, triple play, and high-capacity professional media networks.

  • Nimbra 688 -- Twice the access and switch capacity e.g. for replacement of multiple legacy platforms in metro and core PoPs.

An automatic optical control plane enables both unicast and multicast services to be provisioned in a one step process, as well as easy network expansion. The internal non-hierarchical switch plane with 0.5 Mbps granularity can be extended across the network via SDH/SONET interfaces to achieve 95+% network utilization and maximum flexibility. The Nimbra 600 series also provides full carrier class features including full redundancy for switch planes, power supply, node controllers, and control paths.

SureWest Offers 20 Mbps Residential Access in Sacramento

SureWest Communications will begin offering a residential Internet connection of up to 20 Mbps in selected areas of the Sacramento, California market. The service is delivered over the company's FTTP network. The new 20 Mbps service will be added to SureWest's lineup that already includes a 10 Mbps residential Internet connection. When combined with a home telephone or television package, the 10 Mbps service is $49.95 a month and the 20 Mbps service is $89.95 a month. Both the 10 and 20 Mbps services are "synchronous," which means that users will get 10 or 20 Mbps upstream as well as downstream.

See also