Tuesday, December 20, 2005

U.S. Senate Approves FCC Nominees

The U.S. Senate officially confirmed the nominations of Deborah Taylor Tate and Michael Copps to be Commissioners on the Federal Communications Commission. On December 13, 2005, by unanimous consent, the Senate discharged the Senate Commerce Committee from further consideration of the Tate and Copps nominations. A hearing had been held on the nominees earlier that day.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

TI to Acquire Chipcon for Low-power RF Devices

Texas Instruments (TI) agreed to acquire Chipcon, a leading company in the design of short-range, low-power wireless RF (radio frequency) transceiver devices, for $200 million.

Chipcon's CC2430 is the world's first true System-on-Chip ZigBee solution. The company also provides a ZigBee-compliant protocol stack, the Z-Stack, which was acquired when Chipcon purchased Figure 8 Wireless in January 2005. Chipcon also offers a proprietary RadioDesk technology platform to wireless input device manufacturers.

TI said combining Chipcon's design experience in RF transceiver and System-on-Chip devices with TI's advanced analog silicon technologies and broad systems expertise would enhance its ability to offer customers complete short-range wireless solutions for consumer, home and building automation applications. The acquisition also broadens TI's offering of RF solutions and strengthens TI's position in ZigBee.

Chipcon will become a wholly-owned subsidiary of TI and will continue to operate from its Oslo, Norway headquarters. Its other facilities include a software design center in San Diego, California; and sales offices in New Hampshire, Germany, Hong Kong, and Tokyo. The company employs about 120 people.

Videotron Selects Nuera Media Gateways for Cable Telephone Expansion

Videotron, which serves some 1.4 million cable television customers and 96,000 residential phone customers in Quebec, is deploying Nuera ORCA media gateways to provide telephone service to their cable television customers. Videotron is using the Nuera media gateways to initially interoperate with traditional switching systems. The network is designed to deliver the service, security features and 911 capabilities that allow Videotron to meet consumer and regulatory requirements, while positioning Videotron to take advantage of softswitch technologies. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Nearly 40 Million DSL Adds and 1.5 Million IPTV Adds in 2005

Nealy 40 million new DSL lines were activated in 2005 - over 100,000 every day - bringing the global installed base close to 140 million, according to the latest data produced for the DSL Forum by industry analyst Point Topic. Some highlights:

  • European Union countries accounted for close to 40% of the total growth in new broadband DSL subscribers in the period, confirming the EU's position as the number one most active DSL region worldwide. The UK and France led the way, each adding more than three million subscribers.

  • The Middle East and Africa region was the fastest growing, with a 140% increase in DSL subscribers - led by Turkey, which added more than 850,000, becoming the first country in the region to pass the one million mark. Latin America has established a DSL subscriber base of more than five million. Brazil added 1.1 million in the year and Mexico saw 98% growth in its subscribers to DSL.

  • A total of 19 countries achieved more than one million subscribers by the third quarter of 2005, with Australia, Belgium, Turkey, Poland, Sweden and Switzerland breaking through the barrier in the past year.

  • China alone added almost 10 million DSL subscribers and is rapidly approaching 25 million in total. The USA extended its lead over Japan as the second largest DSL population in the world, and nine countries increased their DSL population by more than one million new subscribers. Of the established nations, the fastest growth rates were in Australia, at 97%, and the UK, at 91%.

  • Seven countries have over 20% of phone lines delivering broadband services using DSL. Switzerland, Spain and the UK are likely to reach that initial target for mass market status around the end of 2005.

  • IPTV has already attracted 1.5 million subscribers around the world in the first half of 2005, 30% of them in Hong Kong alone and a further 18% in France.

Vonage Raises $250 Million

Vonage raised $250 million in convertible debt funding with a group of investors led by affiliates of Bain Capital, with participation from leading financial institutions and existing investors including New Enterprise Associates (NEA) and Meritech Capital Partners. The latest round of financing brings total investment in the company to $658 million.

Vonage said it plans to use the money for general working capital to build-out its network across the United States, including deployment of Enhanced 911. Vonage senior management also participated in the round.

Vestel Integrates OpenTV in Set-Top Boxes

Vestel Group, Turkey's largest consumer electronics and white goods manufacturers, will integrate OpenTV Core Middleware 1.1 into its next generation set-top boxes.

Separate from this deal, DigiTurk, the first and only digital direct-to-home satellite network operator in Turkey, recently announced that it selected Vestel's OpenTV middleware enabled set-top boxes for deployment to its ever-growing pay-television subscriber base.

Sumitomo Selects Ikanos' 100 Mbps Symmetrical VDSL

Sumitomo Electric Networks (SEN), one of Japan's leading communications equipment manufacturers, has selected Ikanos Communications' Fx100100-4 and Fx 100100S-4 chipsets. Previously, SEN has used Ikanos' chipsets for products supporting speeds up to 100 Mbps downstream and 50 Mbps upstream. http://www.ikanos.com

First Modernized GPS Satellite Is Operational

A joint U.S. Air Force/Lockheed Martin team announced that the first modernized Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite has been declared fully operational for GPS users around the globe following extensive on-orbit testing of the spacecraft's new military and civilian signals.

The GPS IIR-14 (M) satellite, which is the most technologically advanced GPS satellite ever developed, was built by Lockheed Martin and launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on September 25. http://www.lockheedmartin.com

Motorola Names Mader to Head Networks Wireline Business

Motorola named Tom Mader to be corporate vice president and general manager of Wireline Networks. Mader will be responsible for further establishing Motorola's global leadership in Fiber-to-the-Premise (FTTP) and Fiber-to-the-Node (FTTN) solutions, including the deployment of next-generation entertainment services such as IPTV, video on demand (VOD) and digital recording.

Prior to joining Motorola, Mader was founder of Mader & Associates, a VoIP) equipment company that offers outsourced marketing, distribution, order fulfillment and accounts receivables management expertise to small/start-up VoIP testing equipment companies worldwide. Previously, he served as chief executive officer for Netrake, a leading provider of session border controllers. Before joining Netrake, Mader worked for Lucent Technologies in two senior leadership roles, first as regional vice president in Texas where he managed global marketing, sales, technical support and service delivery to Independent Telco customers, and second as regional vice president and managing director in Germany where he was responsible for operations and product management of its Global Optical Networking product family.

Foundry Adds 48-port GigE Module

Foundry Networks announced a wire-speed 48-port 10/100/1000 Mbps module for its BigIron RX-Series family of high-performance Layer 2/3 Ethernet switches. The new module increases the non-blocking Gigabit Ethernet capacity to 768 ports for a single switch and 2,304 ports in a standard 7 foot equipment rack. All ports are non-blocking to ensure wire-speed performance. The new module utilizes compact mini RJ-21 connectors and cables to streamline cable management.

The RX-BI48T 48-port 10/100/1000 I/O module with mini RJ-21 connectors is available in the first quarter of 2006 and priced at $15,995 for US customers and $17,595 for International customers.

Foundry Adds 48-port GigE Module

Foundry Networks announced a wire-speed 48-port 10/100/1000 Mbps module for its BigIron RX-Series family of high-performance Layer 2/3 Ethernet switches. The new module increases the non-blocking Gigabit Ethernet capacity to 768 ports for a single switch and 2,304 ports in a standard 7 foot equipment rack. All ports are non-blocking to ensure wire-speed performance. The new module utilizes compact mini RJ-21 connectors and cables to streamline cable management.

The RX-BI48T 48-port 10/100/1000 I/O module with mini RJ-21 connectors is available in the first quarter of 2006 and priced at $15,995 for US customers and $17,595 for International customers.

Coaxsys to Unveil 200Mbps Ethernet-over-Coax with ST

Coaxsys is planning to introduce a 200Mbps Ethernet-over-Coax networking solution in January at the International CES show in Las Vegas. The solution will be demonstrated in conjunction with STMicroelectronics, a leading developer of IPTV set-top box silicon.

Gary Hoffman, Coaxsys VP of Business Development, stated, "TVnet 2X provides a major leap over the speeds specified by current networking solutions, such as 10/100 Ethernet, HomePlug-AV, and IEEE 802.11n. Like existing 100Mbps TVnet products, it works over existing TV coaxial wiring--but its higher bandwidth paves the way for the features and functions required by operators delivering IPTV and other high-speed applications within the home."

Coaxsys noted that during 2005 it has deployed tens of thousands of TVnet adapters for voice, video, and data with more than sixty service providers.
  • The existing Coaxsys technology delivers up to 104 Mbps transfer rate and supports distances up to 250 feet, enabling it to deliver multiple HDTV signals simultaneously throughout a home. The TVnet technology is also compatible with TV splitters and supports Ethernet unicast, multicast, and broadcast. The solution consists of a Coaxsys IPTV 7000 TVnet adapter that connects to any network-enabled operating system or device with an RJ-45 Ethernet network interface. It can be used for connecting IPTV set top boxes, gaming console systems, PVRs, multimedia servers, and VoIP phones.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Deutsche Telekom moves into Telekom Center München

Deutsche Telekom AG relocated into its Telekom Center München -- a new state-of-the-art facility near the Munich city center. A total of around 2,800 employees of the Group's divisions T-Com, T-Systems and T-Mobile as well as the central units, who had previously been spread over various locations around the city, will now work in the Telekom Center München.

Alcatel Deploys 40 Gbps Links in Stuttgart and Karlsruhe, Germany

Alcatel deployed its 40 Gbps optical transmission link connecting the data centers of the University of Stuttgart and the University of Karlsruhe in Germany. The 105 km link connects two supercomputers, which deliver a computing power of over twenty TeraFlops. The deployment is part of the "Baden-Württemberg Extended LAN" scientific network (BelWü), which is funded by the Baden-Württemberg state and is integrated in the European research association GÉANT.

The Alcatel 40 Gbps WDM solution, which includes the Alcatel 1626 Light Manager (LM), interconnects multiple 10 Gigabit Ethernet interfaces of the two university supercomputers through a single wavelength. Four bidirectional 10 Gigabit Ethernet interfaces are aggregated onto the one 40 Gbps wavelength that is transported over an optical fiber without repeaters. The new line is designed to support multiple 40 Gbps wavelengths to cope with future traffic growth.

TotallyFreeConferenceCalls Selects Vapps SIP-Based Platform / Metaswitch

TotallyFreeConferenceCalls, a large conference call service provider, has chosen the Vapps Conference Bridge 1000 (CB1000) platform as the foundation for delivering next-generation conferencing services. Together with MetaSwitch's fault-tolerant Class 4/5 softswitch architecture for bridging legacy circuit switched and IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) networks, TotallyFreeConferenceCalls can now integrate service across multiple network types to reach new markets and expand its customer base.

A VoIP-native IMS application server (AS) network element, the Vapps CB1000 is a SIP-enabled, carrier-grade conferencing platform that delivers reservation-less conference calls on both legacy and IP-based telecom systems. CB1000 supports up to 18,000 total conference participants in multiple simultaneous conferences and offers both standard and advanced calling features including: participant lists, volume control, mute, multiple languages, call detail records and web-based on-demand feature control. http://www.vapps.com

Sprint Nextel to Acquire Velocita Wireless for 900 MHz Spectrum

Sprint Nextel agreed to acquire Velocita Wireless through a stock purchase agreement for an undisclosed sum.

Velocita Wireless, headquartered in Woodbridge, N.J., serves about 400,000 business and governmental customers, with products that include wireless email, messaging, machine-to-machine, automated vehicle location, point-of-sale and field force automation applications.

Sprint Nextel plans to use a portion of Velocita's spectrum assets to supplement its coverage for customers on its iDEN national network. That spectrum use is not expected to impact Velocita's network coverage or availability. Sprint Nextel will continue to honor existing Velocita customer contracts after the close of the transaction, and will work with customers as appropriate to provide wireless network services that most closely meet their business needs.

Nokia to Build Global Networks Solutions Center in Chennai, India

Nokia will locate its new Global Networks Solutions Center in Chennai, India. The Solutions Center will perform network operation tasks for selected operator customers in the Asia Pacific region as well as Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and play a key role as part of Nokia's expanding and innovative managed services offering. It will start operations in the first half of 2006 and initially employ around 100 people, with this figure expected to rise in the next few years.

SureWest Names Oldham as CEO

SureWest Communications, which serves the Sacramento, California region, named Steve C. Oldham to serve as the company's president and chief executive officer effective January 1, 2006. Oldham, 55, has served as a member of SureWest's Board of Directors since January 2004, and has been chair of the Board's Audit Committee since June 2004. He retired from Sierra Pacific Resources in 2002 as senior vice president, energy supply after a 26-year career during which he held various positions in its accounting, finance and regulatory departments, including senior vice president, corporate development and strategic planning.

SureWest also announced that Brian H. Strom, the company's current president and CEO will remain an employee of the company until March 31, 2006, at which time he will retire as an executive officer after 17 years of service, but continue in a consulting role.

Senator DeMint Proposes Market-based Communications Reform Bill

Senator Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, introduced the Digital Age Communications Act (DACA). The bill aims to create a communications regulation system that is market-oriented and competition-based. According to the Senator, under DACA:

  • The communications industry would be regulated like other businesses, by protecting consumers and ensuring businesses do not engage in unfair competition.

  • Services that are alike from a consumer's perspective would be treated alike. For example, phone service, whether offered by a cable, land-line, or wireless company, would have to comply with the same regulations.

  • The Universal Service Program would be reformed to make all service providers contribute equally and make the distribution of the funds more efficient, transparent, and technologically neutral.

  • Cable television franchises would be phased out over 4 years.

  • Each state would continue to play an important role in enforcing federal rules and would retain the authority to protect consumers and manage public rights-of-way.

In a statement, BellSouth's Herschel L. Abbott, Vice President - Government Affairs, said "We applaud Senator DeMint on the introduction of this forward looking legislation that is designed to assure that market forces and competition replace the outdated regulatory forces that continue to hold our industry back. We are particularly pleased with the bill's focus on further clarifying the role that state commissions should play in regulating the industry."http://demint.senate.gov/index.cfm?FuseAction=Home.Homehttp://www.bellsouth.com

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Sigma Designs to Acquire UWB Chipset Start-Up Blue7

Sigma Designs, which specializes in silicon-based media processors for IPTV set-top boxes, digital media receivers, high definition DVD players and other consumer media devices, agreed to acquire Blue7 Communications, a start-up focused on the development of advanced wireless technologies, and Ultra-Wideband (UWB) semiconductor products.

Blue7 is currently developing its "Windeo" chipset, encompassing an all-CMOS solution with the Baseband and MAC integrated chip along with an RF front-end chip, both of which are expected to move into production during the second half of 2006. Target applications for these high-performance, wireless chipsets include wireless video/audio streaming within the home, wireless connections from set-top components to HDTV displays, and future potential for a wireless USB standard.

Sigma Designs will pay a total of approximately $14 million for all outstanding shares of Blue7 capital stock and the assumption of all outstanding employee stock options, less amounts for securities held by Sigma in Blue7.

"Wireless connectivity is becoming an integral part of the consumer entertainment landscape," said Thinh Tran, chairman and CEO of Sigma Designs. "With Sigma's focus on IP video and networked consumer products, the addition of wireless communication products and technologies will enable us to address broader solutions and increase our value-add in each product."http://www.sigmadesigns.com/
  • In August 2005, Sigma Designs has begun sampling its new SMP8634 media processor, designed for IPTV set-top boxes and high-definition DVD players. The device represents a milestone for media processors in that it not only decodes H.264 (AVC), VC-1 and MPEG-2, but also supports multi-stream decoding of any format, up to the equivalent of two simultaneous high-definition streams, along with full-screen graphics. In the years ahead, Sigma said it expects to see a digital media duopoly shared by two new video codecs: VC-1, a SMPTE specification based on Microsoft's Windows Media Video 9 (WMV9), and H.264, a shared specification from ITU and MPEG associations, also known as AVC (advanced video codec) or MPEG-4 part 10. Moving forward, Sigma said VC-1 and H.264 appear destined to equally share the role as next generation digital media standards.

  • Blue7 was founded in 2002 and is currently located in San Jose. The company employs 20 people, 18 of which are engineers with experience in wireless LAN, CDMA, CMOS mixed signal RF, and other wireless technologies. A total of 13 patent applications have been filed during the development of Blue7's technologies.