Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Intel Signs MOUs with KT, SK Telecom

At a press conference in Seoul, Intel signed separate memorandums of understanding (MOUs) with KT and SK Telecom.

Intel and KT agreed to cooperate on wireless broadband technologies, including WiMAX and WiBro -- a locally-developed standard similar to 802.16e that Korea plans to commercialized later this year.

Intel and SK Telecom agreed to collaborate on consumer devices and services, including SK's new music and video download service named MelOn. The companies plan to port the "MelOn" service to TVs and audio systems using Intel's digital home technologies within the first half of 2006. Earlier this month, SK Telecom announced that it had signed up 2 million subscribers for MelOn, including 470,000 for the paid music service. The goal that Melon has set for 2005 is to acquire a total of 3 million subscribers, including 800,000 paying subscribers.

I.T.U. Launches "Connect the World" Initiative

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) launched a "Connect the World" initiative aimed at bringing access to information and communication technologies (ICTs) to the estimated one billion people worldwide for whom making a simple telephone call remains out of reach. At present, ITU estimates that around 800,000 villages -- or 30% of all villages worldwide -- are still without any kind of connection.

The initiative has three elements:

  • Enabling Environment, which is aimed at helping nations develop transparent, fair and technology-neutral policy and regulatory frameworks, adopt national and regional technical standardization and harmonization initiatives, adopt intellectual property legislation, establish transparent dispute settlement mechanisms, and undertake other related business and social development initiatives.

  • Infrastructure & Readiness, which is aimed at helping nations promote the deployment of network infrastructure, raise the awareness of the value of ICTs, pursue universal service/access projects, and support the development of relevant and accessible local content.

  • Applications & Services, which focuses around e-Governance, e-Learning and e-Health programmes, the use of ICTs to improve disaster readiness and response, and initiatives designed to promote use of ICTs among young people.

Speaking at a press conference in Geneva, Yoshio Utsumi, Secretary-General of the ITU, said "It is time to stop regarding access to ICTs as a privilege available to the rich few within a country, and the rich few countries in the world. ICTs now underpin just about every aspect of modern life. They are basic infrastructure, as necessary to economic and social development as postal services, banks, medical centres and schools."

"Connect the World" has 22 founding partners, including Alcatel, Huawei, Intel, Microsoft, KDDI, Telefónica, Infosys and WorldSpace, whose CEOs have all embraced the goals of the initiative. Partners also include governments and government agencies including Egypt, France, Senegal and the Korea Agency for Digital Opportunity and Promotion (KADO), regional and international organizations including UNESCO, the Universal Postal Union (UPU), the European Commission, the International Telecommunication Satellite Organization, RASCOM and the United Nations Fund for International Partnerships (UNFIP), as well as a range of organizations from civil society including Télécoms Sans Frontières, the M S Swaminathan Research Foundation and Child Helpline International.

Alcatel-led consortium Supports BT Fusion

Alcatel confirmed that it is the lead contractor for BT Fusion, previously known as "Project Bluephone", the new fixed/mobile service from BT. Alcatel leads a consortium that includes Ericsson, Inventel, IVT, Lucent, and Motorola. Alcatel said its role as prime contractor includes project management as well as extensive development and integration work in BT labs, and interoperability testing between the consortium vendors.

BT Fusion uses the UMA standard, which has now been formally released and accepted into the 3GPP standards group for generic radio access. UMA allows BT to carry GSM signalling and telephone calls over the public Internet using DSL access, with a Bluetooth interface. BT Fusion will be technology agnostic and in time, will work across other standards including WiFi and SIP.

Verilink Hires VP of Engineering

Verilink announced the appointment of Thi Nguyen to Vice President of Engineering. Previously, he was the Vice President of Software Engineering at Polaris Networks, where he led the development of a next-generation, multiservice optical digital cross connect product. Prior to Polaris, Nguyen was a Director of Engineering at Cisco Systems, where he led a 100+ member team across multiple sites that was responsible for the development of software and hardware platforms for Cisco's voice and media gateway products.

Sprint Offers EV-DO-Ready Card from Novatel Wireless

Sprint has begun offering a CDMA 1xEV-DO (Evolution, Data Optimized) PC card from Novatel Wireless. The card will support broadband-like speeds (400-700 kbps and peak rates of up to 2.0 Mbps) when Sprint EV-DO coverage is available later this year and is backwards compatible to provide 1xRTT throughput speeds (up to 144 kbps) in Sprint coverage areas where EV-DO service is not yet available.

By early 2006, Sprint plans to make EV-DO service available in approximately 60 metropolitan areas across the U.S.

Photron Implements Ultra Spectral Modulation in FPGAs

Photron Technologies Ltd., a start-up based in Singapore with offices in Los Angeles, has implemented its Ultra Spectral Modulation (USM) technology in FPGAs using technology from AccelChip. Photron's technology is expected to significantly increase spectral efficiency and boost wireless data transmission.

Photron describes USM as a paradigm shift away from traditional modulation theories and conventional practices that have endured for the past 50 years. The company's ultra efficient modulation techniques are designed to support data rates exceeding 5 Mbps through narrow frequency channels (50 KHz and smaller). In comparison a GSM channel of 200 KHz in bandwidth can deliver only a fraction of the information. USM is designed to be overlaid in existing wireless systems such as GSM, narrow PCS, AMPS, etc., or operate as a stand alone new network.

Azure Raises $15 Million for Revenue Assurance Systems

Azure Solutions, a spin-out from BT, raised $15 million in new venture funding for its revenue-assurance solutions. Azure enables service providers to reduce losses and safeguard profits from malicious and unintentional revenue leakage. The company estimates that global operator revenue losses are currently at 10.7% of turnover. This equates to over one hundred billion dollars of lost revenue and this figure is likely to increase with the emergence of next-generation telecoms services and technology. The company's existing customers include tier 1 operators such as BT, KPN, Vodafone, Telenor and Verizon.

The new round of funding was led by Doughty Hanson Technology Ventures with additional financing coming from Intel Capital. Existing investors New Venture Partners (NVP), AG Edwards and Hexagon Investments also contributed. NVP managed the spin-out of Azure from BT in 2003 and acted as the lead financial investor.

Motorola Ventures Invests in Anam Mobile

Motorola Ventures has made an equity investment in Anam Mobile, a start-up offering SMS & MMS delivery platforms. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Anam's patented Smart Services Framework intercepts messages and applies additional consumer oriented service logic to them. This allows operators to launch new SMS and MMS services to their subscribers. Anam was founded in 1999 and is headquartered in Dublin, Ireland with offices worldwide.

Agilent Offers Testing for Wireless Video Streaming

Agilent Technologies announced a test and optimization solution to verify the quality of service (QoS) for wireless video streaming. The company's Network Optimization Platform correlates RF measurements and subscribers' service experience to reduce troubleshooting and problem-resolution time, producing a higher-performing network and better QoS. The drive-test solution that measures network connection time, packet loss, buffer time, stream set-up time, jitter, bit rate measurements and other key video streaming performance indicators, giving RF engineers insight into their network's air interface performance.

Agilent said its automated data service tests ensure high QoS for all major wireless services, including video streaming, video telephony, website browsing, e-mail, multimedia message service (MMS), short message service (SMS), and FTP data transfers. The solution is technology-independent, monitoring all wireless networks such as UMTS, CDMA 2000, EDGE, WLAN and HSDPA.

Nortel Achieves TL Certification for HSDPA, UMTS, GSM

Nortel has become the first wireless networks supplier to successfully complete a TL 9000 consolidation registration across an end-to-end portfolio of hardware, software and services for HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access), UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) and GSM.

The scope of this certification covers portfolio marketing, product management, design and development, build, delivery, introduction and support of wireless networks using UMTS/HSDPA and GSM/GPRS/EDGE telecommunications network equipment.

Specific products covered include GSM and UMTS access, circuit core, packet core, and network management systems product categories. The certification also includes network engineering, installation, and technical support services.

SBC to Continue Usage of WilTel through 2009

SBC Communications will continue to carry traffic across WilTel's national fiber network through 2009 under a new master services agreement announced by the firms. The agreement outlines parameters for continued SBC usage of WilTel services throughout the planned AT&T acquisition and integration process. Additionally, the agreement calls for WilTel to be a preferred long-term provider of the combined SBC and AT&T for off-net and diverse network services.

"Our top priorities during the planned AT&T acquisition process are to ensure security and reliability for our customers. This agreement with WilTel is designed to facilitate those efforts and to enable us to provide even greater network diversity options for our customers moving forward," said Ferguson, group president and CEO, SBC Enterprise Business Services.

Additional financial details related to the agreement will be disclosed in each party's related SEC filing.
  • WilTel is a subsidiary of Leucadia National Corporation.

  • In October 2002, Williams Communications emerged from Chapter 11 proceedings and changed its name back to WilTel Communications Group, a Nevada corporation. The company emerged with a new $375 million credit facility and no other substantial debt obligations other than those related to its headquarters building. As part of the restructuring, Leucadia National Corporation acquired the majority position in the firm.

  • In January 2003, WilTel announced a deal to supply SBC Communications with 10 Gbps OC-192c transport for building out its national IP network. WilTel described the contract as the largest in its history.

  • In April 2005, WilTel was awarded a contract valued at up to $35 million to provide the Department of Defense with Optical Wave services. Earlier this year, WilTel also announced Vonage as a customer. Vonage's service area encompasses more than 2,000 active rate centers in more than 150 global markets.

Charter Taps Kasenna for VOD Servers

Charter Communications has deployed Kasenna's MediaBase XMP video servers in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and Rochester and St. Cloud, Minnesota to support is expanding VOD library of movies, premium channel hits, sports, music and other programs. Charter had previously deployed the MediaBase XMP video servers to upgrade and expand capacity in the Madison, Fond du Lac and Janesville, Wis. markets.

These six deployments follow Charter's installation of MediaBase servers to support the initial rollout of VOD services in Malibu, Calif. last June, using the C-COR nABLE demand management system. Kasenna's cable market partner, N2 Broadband, facilitated these new deployments for Charter.

EADS Astrium and Alcatel Selected for Europe's Next Gen Satellites

EADS Astrium and Alcatel Space have been selected for the full development of Alphabus, the new European platform for next generation communications satellites. The contract was awarded by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the French space agency CNES.

EADS Astrium and Alcatel Space have decided to federate their technical and financial resources on a common development programme, taking into account the amount of new technologies and facilities. Responsibilities of EADS include: Electrical power, Solar array, Chemical propulsion, as well as the Assembly, Integration and Test of the spacecraft. Alcatel Space is in charge of the Mechanical and Thermal subsystems, Avionics, as well as Electrical propulsion.

EADS Astrium and Alcatel Space will market the Alphabus for commercial communications satellites beginning in 2007.

The Alphabus platform is designed for communications satellites with payload power in the range 12-18 kW of power. This will support the renewal of the fleet for large operators, offering a lower cost per transponder and the ability to accommodate reconfigurable missions, as well as the development of applications such new generation mobile and broadband services, digital audio broadcast and HDTV. Satellites based on Alphabus will have a launch mass in the range 6 to 8 tonnes, and take full benefit of the capabilities of the new generation of 5 meter fairing commercial launchers. In order to cover the mission range in an optimized way, the platform product line includes several options such as electric propulsion, and features scalable resources (solar array, radiators for thermal dissipation, etc.). The platform will be able to accommodate up to 190 high power transponders and large antenna farms, and will have a significant growth potential.
  • In January 2005, Alcatel and Finmeccanica reached a final agreement to merge their space activities through the creation of two joint ventures companies, to which both partners will contribute their respective satellite industrial and service activities. The first company, Alcatel Alenia Space, of which Alcatel will hold 67% and Finmeccanica 33%, will combine Alcatel Space and Alenia Spazio's activities. It will concentrate on the design, development, and manufacturing of space systems, satellites, payloads, instruments and associated ground systems for civilian and military applications. The headquarters of Alcatel Alenia Space will be located in France, with plants in France, Italy, Belgium and Spain. With estimated 2004 sales of EUR 1.8 billion and around 7,200 people, it will create the European leader in satellite systems and services. The second company, Telespazio, of which Finmeccanica will hold 67% and Alcatel 33%, will combine Telespazio with Alcatel Space Services and Operations activities. It will concentrate on operations and services for satellite solutions, which includes control and exploitation of space systems as well as value-added services for networking, multimedia and earth observation.

New Whitepaper: FTTx: Selecting the Best Architecture for the Access Network

FTTx: Selecting the Best Architecture for the Access Network

by Occam Networks

As telecommunications providers consider the best method for delivering fiber to their subscribers, they have a variety of FTTx architectures to consider. No one-size-solves-all architecture exists today, so providers must make a series of technology decisions based on their service goals. One primary consideration for providers is whether to deploy an active (point-to-point) or passive (point-to-multipoint) fiber network.. View PDF online

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Motorola Outlines Home Digital Media Strategy

At the Cable-Tec Expo, Motorola outlined a unified hardware and software strategy that will enable digital cable customers to move and share digital media throughout their homes.

Motorola's software strategy for whole-home media takes advantage of the Ucentric Digital Home Platform, a software suite that enables digital media to be shared by any connected device in the home. Because of the growing momentum for the open cable applications platform (OCAP), Motorola plans to offer extensions for OCAP that will enable operators to tap into the robust networking capabilities of the Motorola Ucentric platform by Summer 2006. This will enable cable operators to take advantage of features such as the sharing of tuners and storage across the network from within their own custom OCAP applications.

Motorola's hardware strategy begins with the introduction of the DCT3412, an all-digital, dual-tuner, high-definition digital video recorder. This model, along with its sister set-top (the widely deployed Motorola DCT6412, which also includes analog recording), would serve as the centerpiece of a whole-home media network. The set-top will be offered with various hard drive sizes (120GB, 160GB, 320GB), enabling to serve hours of digital recordings, along with music, pictures, etc. to any room in the home.

Motorola also plans to offer other all-digital set-tops designed for secondary rooms in the home. These products will support OCAP and the Ucentric Digital software, and include built-in adapters that will enable the creation of a whole-home network. The goal is to make it as easy as connecting a coaxial cable to the set-top.

The products will include a "proxied" DOCSIS set-top gateway (DSG) feature that can simplify the operator's ability to administer multiple set-tops in the home. With this functionality, operators can independently access each set-top attached to the home media network through a single cable modem.
  • In January 2005, Motorola acquired privately-held Ucentric Systems, a provider of media networking software for the connected home. Financial terms were not disclosed. The Ucentric software solution provides access to stored digital entertainment -- such as high-definition video on a DVR, music on a computer hard drive, or pictures on a laptop -- from any connected device in the home. The software is designed to operate with electronic program guides from multiple vendors, and service providers can customize the interface with applications that personalize the subscriber experience. Ucentric had recently announced a licensing agreement with DIRECTV to deploy its Home Media Center software platform.

  • The OCAP specification, which was developed under the OpenCable project led by CableLabs, allows retail consumer electronics devices to run any compliant application or service. With OCAP middleware, consumer electronics manufacturers can build digital cable products capable of running interactive program guides and premium services including on-demand television. CableLabs provides certification testing of OpenCable host devices, including host devices implementing the OCAP specification, for delivery and use in the North American cable market.

Alcatel Lands ADSL2+ Contract from Taiwan's Chunghwa Telecom

Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan's incumbent carrier, has named Alcatel as sole supplier for 870,000 ADSL2plus lines. The deal is one of the world's largest single ADSL2plus orders to date. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The deployment will include the Alcatel 7302 Intelligent Services Access Manager (ISAM) and the Alcatel 7324 Remote Unit, as well as ADSL2plus modems. The equipment delivery will begin in September 2005.

Telewest Upgrades Head-Ends with Cisco's GigE

Telewest, the UK cable broadband communications and media group, is upgrading 14 regional head-ends and 64 hub sites to Gigabit Ethernet, using Cisco 7609 Series routers at its regional head-ends and hub sites, with integrated DWDM pluggable optics. The upgrade provides a highly-resilient dual 10Gbps capacity network to support its distributed TVOD service deployment. The Cisco 7609 Series routers with Supervisor Engine 720 comprises the multiservice edge platform for TVOD services, Layer 2 and Layer 3 VPNs and Cable Modem Termination Systems (CMTS) aggregation, together with Cisco Catalyst 6748 and 6704 Ethernet line cards with Distributed Forwarding Cards to create a high performance and scalable Gigabit Ethernet infrastructure.

Vodafone D2 and The Cloud Form WLAN Partnership

Vodafone Germany and The Cloud formed a strategic WLAN partnership that enables Vodafone customers will be able to use around 1,000 WLAN hotspots in Germany, in addition to the Vodafone 3G network. The Cloud plans to establish a nationwide network of 10,000 hotspots over the next four years, which will provide wireless Internet at key public access points.
  • The Cloud currently has almost 6,000 hotspots in the UK, Germany and the Nordic countries. In the UK, The Cloud is market leader with over 5,400 hotspots, adding an average of over 100 new hotspots per week.

  • The Cloud was founded in spring 2003 and its partners include O2, BT, Ericsson and Intel.

Ciena Supplies Optical Ethernet to Japan's Largest Cable Operator

Jupiter Telecommunications (J:COM), the largest cable service operator in Japan based on the number of customers served, is adopting Ciena's optical Ethernet platforms for the transport of Video on Demand (VOD) services, specifically for its "J:COM On Demand" digital service offering. The deployment is a result of Ciena's relationship with its authorized business partner, NETMARKS, a Japanese network solution provider, and represents Ciena's first announced customer win with a major international cable operator for video applications. The Ciena equipment is enabling the cable operator's VOD roll-out in the Kansai region of Japan, one of the major regions in which J:COM provides its VOD services, including the metropolitan areas around Osaka, Kobe and Wakayama. Financial terms were not disclosed.

J:COM is rolling out VOD services using a variety of equipment from Ciena, including the CN 2200 Managed Optical Ethernet Multiplexer; CN 2100 Passive Optical Multiplexer; CN 2130 Managed Optical Amplifier; and CN 2110 Dispersion Compensation Module.

Harmonic Offers Variable Bit-Rate Encoding Platform for MPEG-2

Harmonic introduced a new IP-based DiviCom Electra compression platform for standard definition (SD) MPEG-2. The scalable, one rack-unit (1-RU) system can be configured with up to four high-performance VBR encoders. When combined with Harmonic's versatile DiviTrackIP statistical multiplexing solution, Electra enables service providers to maximize the service carrying capacity of their video networks while dramatically reducing operational complexity.