Saturday, December 10, 2005

Hong Kong Broadband Deploys Axerra's Pseudo-Wire

Hong Kong Broadband Network Limited, which operates one of the largest metro Ethernet networks in the world, has selected Axerra Networks' Pseudo-Wire solution to provide voice and data backhaul services to mobile wireless operators, providing a packet-based full-service alternative to TDM in the mobile radio access network (RAN).

Axerra said its Pseudo-Wire platform was chosen for this application because it preserves native signaling and features across packet networks, enables bandwidth sharing, and provides the clock recovery capabilities that are required for reliable mobile services. AXN Pseudo-Wire Gateways and Access Devices support circuit emulation and service emulation, including Frame Relay/HDLC, Ethernet, and even ATM services for 2G, 2.5G, and 3G voice and data aggregation from a single box. AXN Pseudo-Wire platforms control latency, jitter, and packet loss.
  • In October 2005, Hong Kong Broadband (HKBN) became the first service provider in the world to achieve the Cisco Powered Network Metro Ethernet QoS Certified status.

  • Hong Kong Broadband Network (HKBN) is expanding its coverage and capacity with a Cisco IP Next Generation Network (IP NGN), using Cisco ROADM (Reconfigurable Optical Add/Drop Multiplexer) technology together with HKBN's existing ONS 15454 Multiservice Transport Platform (MSTP) optical core. The expanded optical core will assist HKBN in achieving its goals

  • In April, Hong Kong Broadband Network (HKBN) officially launched its 1 Gbps symmetric service for the residential market. Approximately 800,000 households, out of a total of 2.2 million households in Hong Kong, are wired to receive the service. The 1 Gbps symmetric service is priced at US$215 per month. HKBN noted that its 1 Gbps service is up to 166x faster downstream and 1,950x faster upstream than the advertised bandwidth of the incumbent's ADSL service. HKBN Premium bb1000 service is being offered on the same metro Ethernet infrastructure that delivers the company's Mass Market bb100 (symmetric 100 Mbps for US$34/month) and Entry Point bb10 (symmetric 10 Mbps for US$16/month) services.

  • HKBN is installing more than 10,000 Cisco Catalyst LAN switches and more than 800 Cisco routers in buildings throughout Hong Kong. Category 5e copper cables are wired from the LAN switch cabinet to the apartments of each target customer. Fiber-to-the-building (FTTB) was deployed between the buildings using the Cisco ONS 15454 Multiservice Transport Platform (MSTP) and Cisco Catalyst 4507R Switches.

3Com's European HQ Damaged by Oil Depot Explosion in UK

3Com's Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) headquarters facility in Hemel Hempstead, United Kingdom was damaged in Sunday's oil depot explosions, but the company has no report of any employee casualties or injuries. The company said it anticipates minimal impact on its customers as it works to restore full business operations. Approximately 300 employees and contractors work at 3Com's Hemel campus, primarily in its Sales, Marketing and Product Operations groups. The facility is located approximately one quarter mile from the site of the explosions.

Thursday, December 8, 2005

Alltel Spins Off Wireline Business and Merges It with VALOR

Alltel will spin off its wireline business and merge it with VALOR Communications Group, creating a major wireline operator focused on the rural U.S. market. The deal was valued at about $9.1 billion. The following are the highlights for the combined wireline business:

  • Revenues and operating income before depreciation and amortization (pre-synergy) for the last 12 months ending Sept. 30, 2005, were $3.4 billion and $1.7 billion, respectively. The company will have about 3.4 million customers in 16 states.

  • The company expects to gain $40 million in net annual synergies from the combination.

  • The company expects to pay an annual dividend of $1 per share of common stock, which equals $1.05 per equivalent Alltel share.

  • The combined company will have net debt of about $5.4 billion.

  • Alltel's wireline business will keep the majority of communications support services, including publishing, IT outsourcing services, retail long distance and the wireline sales portion of communications products.

Alltel will reposition itself as a pure-play wireless service provider with roughly 11 million customers in 34 states. Here are the highlights for the wireless business:

  • Alltel will remain the nation's fifth-largest wireless carrier. Revenue and operating income before depreciation and amortization for the last 12 months ending Sept. 30, 2005, were $7.5 billion and $2.6 billion, respectively, pro forma to include Western Wireless and Midwest Wireless.

  • Alltel will own and operate the nation's largest wireless network covering a population of 75 million with its 850 MHz business. Alltel also will remain the largest independent roaming partner to the top four wireless carriers.

  • Alltel expects to receive cash proceeds and debt reduction totaling about $4.2 billion resulting from the spin-off.

  • Alltel plans an open market $3 billion share repurchase program for the two years following the spin-off. The company also plans to implement a $1 billion debt-reduction program.

  • The wireless business expects to pay an annual dividend of 50 cents per share of common stock.

  • After the spin-off, Alltel will have net debt of about $1.2 billion and be levered at about 0.5 times net debt to operating income before depreciation and amortization, prior to the planned repurchase program.

Alcatel and KT Enter WiMAX Partnership

Alcatel and KT will establish a new center in Seoul, Korea, that will serve as a venue for conducting interoperability tests of WiBro/mobile WiMAX (IEEE 802.16e) infrastructure with WiMAX-enabled devices and to showcase WiMAX technology.

Alcatel said it is convinced that mobile WiMAX has enormous potential and decided to partner with KT to accelerate the introduction of new mobile broadband services in the global marketplace.

For the new WiMAX center, Alcatel will provide the radio access and core network elements for this WiBro/mobile WiMAX reality center, and will integrate this equipment with a set of application platforms that will be used to test applications with local 3rd party developers. The center will be linked to the KT R&D Center to facilitate testing of the convergence of fixed and mobile broadband applications and to evaluate the experience of end-users. A team of Alcatel and KT's engineering and marketing staff will work together within this framework.

Prior to this cooperation, Alcatel and KT have already taken a number of important steps in developing broadband wireless solutions. Earlier this year, KT announced that it would introduce KT Wireless Broadband services in the first half of 2006 that will enable users to access the Internet with a mobile device at multi-megabit speeds anywhere and at anytime.

Yahoo! Partners with Seven in Australia & NZ

Yahoo! and Seven Network, one of Australia's leading media companies, will form a 50-50 joint venture media company focused on the delivery of relevant content across a number of delivery platforms in Australia and New Zealand. Yahoo! Australia & NZ and Seven will be combining their online teams and are expected to launch a new name and an exciting online presence in late January, coinciding with Seven's coverage of the Australian Open and the Olympic Winter Games in Torino, as well as the opening weeks of the 2006 television season. The vision for the combined teams is to create the best entertainment, information and communications experience for Australian internet and mobile users.
  • Seven is the largest television company in Australia reaching 74 per cent of the market through its owned and operated television stations, and 98 per cent of Australians through its owned and operated stations and affiliate agreements. Seven's publishing company - Pacific Magazines - is the second largest magazine company in Australia, with a 21 per cent share of the magazine market.

Portugal's Novis Selects Amino for IPTV Rollout

Novis, a major Portuguese telco, selected Amino's miNET110 set-top boxes for its IPTV launch in Lisbon and Porto this month. The service will include an electronic programme guide (EPG), Video on Demand (VOD), and a personalised choice of channels.

Novis is offering 50 channels for the test launch, increasing to 100 when the commercial deployment commences. The AmiNET110 is compatible with the ReadyLinks Smartfoot and Coaxsys home networking adapter.

AT&T Selects 2Wire Residential Gateway for U-verse

AT&T awarded a $43 million, one-year contract to 2Wire to supply its new IP-based residential gateways for the forthcoming AT&T U-verse suite of services.

AT&T said the residential gateway device will create a home network that delivers IP-based services throughout the home - IP-based video, high-speed Internet access and, eventually, VoIP.

Specifically, AT&T plans to use the 2Wire HomePortal 3000 series, which supports fiber-to-the-premises and VDSL. The residential gateways support multimedia coaxial networking within the home for distribution of bandwidth-intensive applications, such as high-definition video, over existing home wiring. The gateways come equipped with an integrated wireless access point, remote management capabilities, and advanced security features such as a professional grade firewall and automatic wireless security.

"The residential gateway plays a significant role in ensuring customers have access to IP-enabled services throughout the home and on various IP-enabled devices," said Lea Ann Champion, senior executive vice president, in charge of operations for AT&T Project Lightspeed.

In September 2005, the AT&T companies, formerly the SBC Communications Inc. family of companies, announced an agreement with Motorola and Scientific-Atlanta to provide set-top boxes for AT&T U-verse TV. These set tops will connect to the residential gateway to deliver the IP video to TVs.
  • Earlier this month, Alcatel agreed to acquire a 25% percent stake in 2Wire, a developer of home broadband network equipment. In addition, AT&T and Telmex have also agreed to acquire minority interests in 2Wire from 2Wire's existing shareholders. Alcatel said the strategic partnership broadens and extends its end-to-end, fully integrated triple play solution.

BellSouth Endorses IPTV A La Carte Programming Model

BellSouth announced its endorsement of the "a-la-carte" video programming model recently endorsed by FCC Chairman Kevin Martin and some Members of Congress. In a statement, Herschel Abbott, BellSouth vice president governmental affairs, said:

"IPTV, which can be delivered over phone lines, fundamentally is about offering consumers competitive choice in video programming. Currently, one of the most significant business obstacles new competitive entrants face in offering innovative technologies like IPTV is the existing local franchising process and lack of a streamlined franchising framework.

"But as we contemplate the future of our video business, we are fully supportive of Chairman Martin's call for a la carte and family friendly programming tiers. IPTV holds much promise for the consumer and greater programming options is just one example of how consumers will benefit by having choice in video service providers. As long as content can be acquired in a manner that allows flexibility, we would look forward to meeting the needs of our customers with even more choice through a la carte and family-tiered offerings."

BellSouth Teams With 8x8 for Residential VoIP

BellSouth will begin offering a residential Digital Phone Service based on 8x8's VoIP platform. This includes a suite of VoIP service components including a call switching platform, feature servers, customer portals and consumer premise equipment. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Comcast Sees Surge in On-Demand Content Delivery

Comcast has seen rapid changes in consumer viewership patterns as video on-demand (VOD) has become available across 90% of its cable footprint. In a keynote address at the UBS Global Media Conference, Comcast executives John Alchin and Dave Watson said that as on-demand viewership continues to soar, new partnerships become possible with advertisers and content producers to better monetize the viewership.

Comcast reported a record 126 million on-demand program views in November, pushing its total VOD views past the 1.1 billion views to date. This includes over 13 million movie views in the month, although pay-per-view represents only a single-digit fraction of the total, as most views came from the free content library (currently about 3,800 programming choices). About 75% of digital cable customers are using on-demand capabilities every month. Comcast believes that DVRs complement rather than cannibalize on-demand services because 80% of DVR customers are using on-demand every month. Comcast is looking to add a TiVo-enhanced DVR experience next year.

Some other notes from the presentation:

  • Comcast now has 2.3 million HD DVR boxes in services

  • Comcast now has 8.1 million cable modem users. The basic High-Speed Data service tier in now 6.0 Mbps and the premium level is 8.0 Mbps.

  • Comcast Digital Voice is on target to reach 250,000 subscribers by year end. The company is aiming for 1 million Digital Voice customers next year and believes it can achieve a 20% market penetration in five years.

  • The new Sprint relationship will add 1,600 retail locations. The first integrated services are expected by mid-2006.

Israel's MiRS Deploys IMS with Tekelec/Convergin

MiRS Communications, an Israeli provider of integrated wireless
services with 333,000 subscribers, selected a core convergence switching solution from Tekelec. The solution enables MiRS' transition to an IMS architecture and enables next-generation capabilities, including fixed mobile convergence (FMC) and hosted SIP services. Tekelec's IMS architecture drives switching for both MiRS' entire mobile device line and SIP-based clients, and it supports the execution of common network applications. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The Tekelec next-generation gateway mobile switching center (GMSC) server solution includes the Tekelec 9000 Distributed Switching Solution (DSS) and the Accolade Core Wireless Convergence Server (WCS) from Convergin, a provider of core wireless convergence servers.

Tekelec will package the Accolade WCS as a product in the Tekelec wireless convergence gateway (WCG) family of products.

MiRS has also purchased the next-generation Tekelec 6000 VoIP Application Server (VAS) to offer advanced, feature-rich mobile, VoIP
and hosted Centrex services. MiRS will use the wireless convergence server with its Tekelec 6000 VAS to develop and deliver enhanced services such as voice virtual private network, black/white lists, private numbering plans (PNP) and call treatment services, intelligent voice-assisted routing, fleet management, and wireless PBX services for its mobile GSM-based iDEN subscribers, its fixed-line IP-based endpoints and voice over WiFi clients.

Octasic Gains ISO 9001:2000 Certification

Octasic Semiconductor has been assessed and certified as meeting the quality management system requirements of the International Organization of Standardization (ISO) 9001:2000.

Octasic is a fabless semiconductor company offering processors that are optimized to perform key voice functions such as carrier-grade echo cancellation, packetization, and compression.

BT Offers Consumer VoIP Promotions

During the Holiday season, BT will be offering free calls to any landline in 30 different countries for users of its PC-based BT Communicator application. The company said international calls made with the PC to regular landlines are already cheaper with BT Communicator than with rivals such as Skype.

Meanwhile, the price of Broadband Talk, which allows customers to use a normal phone, rather than the PC, has been slashed by up to 50 per cent to just £2 per month for evening and weekend calls or £7 a month for anytime calls and with BTs top two Broadband packages, evening and weekend calls are completely free.

BT plans to introduce an enhanced VoIP offering in Spring which will be available globally and feature new high definition sound quality. This sound quality will also be available on BT's new video phones -- also available in Spring.

BT Signs IPTV Content Deals with BBC, Paramount, Warner

BT announced key content partnerships for its forthcoming IPTV service with BBC Worldwide, Paramount and Warner Music Group.

Starting next Autumn, BT aims to provide customers with a vast range of on-demand film, music and television programming as well as a compelling interactive and communications service. Significantly, BT's service will combine access to digital terrestrial channels, an extensive video on demand library and a range of interactive services.

Ian Livingston, BT Retail CEO, said: "A partnership between the country's leading communications company and three of the world's leading entertainment groups is great news for consumers in the UK."

The agreement with Paramount provides BT with Paramount's blockbuster films in the pay-per-view window as well as an extensive range or older and classic films from the famous Paramount movie archive, all on demand. October 2005, BT outlined its vision for nationwide next generation TV delivered over broadband and incorporating digital terrestrial channels. BT, which previously disclosed plans to use Microsoft TV IPTV Edition, announced its selection of Philips to supply set top boxes. Every set top box will include a personal video recorder (PVR) capable of storing up to 80 hours of programming and capable of delivering High Definition content.

BT said its service will be a world first combining access to digital terrestrial channels, an extensive video on demand library, "catch-up" TV and a range of interactive services.

BT is planning a commercial launch across the UK from late summer / autumn 2006. Trials are slated to begin next spring / early summer.

BT's next generation TV service will be available to BT customers without the need for a subscription fee. Services available at launch or shortly afterwards will include:

  • Entertainment on demand – an extensive library of movies, TV and music all available instantly

  • Catch-up TV – programmes from the previous seven days broadcast schedule will be available on demand without the need to record.

  • Flexible payment – no mandatory subscriptions. Pay-per-view options

  • Personal Video Recorder capable of storing up to 80 hours of programming

  • More than 30 digital terrestrial TV channels

  • Communication services – instant messaging, chat and video telephony on TV

  • Interactive services – online games, retail opportunities and community services

  • In August 2005, the BBC announced plans to launch an Internet video player application that lets viewers legally download up to seven days of its most recent TV programs. For UK viewers, a simulcast of BBC One or BBC Two would be available online at the same time as the television broadcast. "MyBBCPlayer", which is expected to launch in 2006, would also let viewers purchase additional content.

Ciena Reports Seventh Quarter of Revenue Growth

Ciena reported Q4 revenue was $118.2 million, representing a 7% sequential increase from fiscal third quarter revenue of $110.5 million and an increase of 44% over revenue of $82.0 million for the same period a year ago. For the twelve months ending October 31, 2005, Ciena's unaudited revenue was $427.3 million, representing an increase of 43% over revenue of $298.7 million for the same year-ago period.

For Q4, there was a GAAP net loss of $252.9 million, or a net loss of $0.44 per share. This loss compares to a GAAP net loss of $495.1 million, or a net loss of $0.87 per share. For the twelve months ending October 31, 2005, Ciena's GAAP net loss was $435.7 million, or a net loss of $0.76 per share. This compares to a GAAP net loss of $789.5 million, or a net loss of $1.51 per share, in the same twelve-month period a year ago.

"In the last year, Ciena's employees have demonstrated extraordinary focus on execution of our strategy and, as a result, have driven the Company's significant revenue growth and meaningful financial performance improvement," said Ciena CEO and President, Gary Smith. "With our seventh sequential quarter of revenue growth, and with continued gross margin improvement, our fiscal fourth quarter's results demonstrate Ciena's steady progress toward profitability and positive cash flow, and more importantly, our continued progress toward future earnings growth."

Digital Fountain's Forward Error Correction Standardized for DVB-H

Digital Fountain's patented DF Raptor technology has been made part of the global standard to support content delivery services over DVB-H (Digital Video Broadcasting-Handheld) wireless networks.

The adoption of DF Raptor technology for DVB-H follows its standardization earlier this year as part of the 3GPP (3rd Generation Partnership Project) MBMS (Multimedia Broadcast/Multicast Service) specification for GSM-based 3G cellular networks. Because the DF Raptor FEC provides exceptional packet loss protection but can be readily supported by general-purpose processors, the technology is ideally suited for the delivery of multimedia content to mobile wireless devices.

Digital Fountain's DF Raptor technology is an advanced and highly flexible type of FEC that enables the efficient and error-free download of multimedia data files in the presence of a wide range of network impairments.

Digital Fountain said that by employing DF Raptor FEC as part of IP datacasting services over DVB-H to protect against packet loss, DVB-H service providers and end users can be assured that multimedia content will be delivered complete and error-free in a minimum amount of time across a wide coverage area.

Within DVB, DVB-H is an open industry standard for the delivery of mobile broadcast digital services to handheld devices. DVB-H has already generated significant industry activity, including technical and commercial trials, a range of product launches, and several planned network rollouts around the world.
  • In June 2005, Digital Fountain's forward error correction (FEC) technology has been standardized by 3GPP, the 3rd Generation Partnership Project, as a mandatory component of the Multimedia Broadcast/Multicast Service (MBMS) for 3rd generation (3G) cellular networks. Digital Fountain's "DF Raptor" technology will be used as part of the MBMS standard for both streaming and file download services.

– The Newest Mobile Multimedia Standard
June of 2005, the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) completed
Release 6 of its technical specifications for the continued evolution of
3rd generation (3G) cellular networks based on the GSM infrastructure.
Included in 3GPP Release 6 are the specifications for the Multimedia
Broadcast/Multicast Service (MBMS), an IP-based technology designed to
more efficiently deliver multimedia (video, audio, and text) content over
3G radio and network resources. Here is an overview.

Picolight First to Ship 4G 1310nm VCSEL Transceivers

Picolight is the first to ship 1310 nanometer (nm) vertical cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) transceivers in a 4 Gbps triple-rate (1, 2 and 4G bps) Small Form Factor Pluggable (SFP) configuration that meets the needs of one of the fastest growing segments of the data center market.

Picolight said the new device meets the extended reach capability and low power consumption needs to satisfy a broad range of short-to-medium distance applications, including 4Gbps Fibre Channel at 10km for storage area networks (SANs). Similar to 850nm VCSEL transceivers, 1310nm VCSEL transceivers have the potential to dominate short-to-medium distance single-mode fiber applications, displacing existing edge emitting laser transceivers in high-bandwidth and high-density optical systems.

TCS Deploys Acme Packet

TeleCommunication Systems (TCS), a provider of wireless communications, is using Acme Packet's Net-Net session border controllers (SBCs) to securely deliver its VoIP E9-1-1 location information routing and delivery solution. The Acme Packet solution securely connects managed VoIP providers to TCS' Internet Protocol (IP) network using numerous features from Acme Packet Net-SAFE. Access control, topology hiding and DoS protection against both signaling and media attacks and overloads are some of the specific features used to protect TCS' E9-1-1 service infrastructure.