Thursday, January 19, 2006

SCOPE Alliance Aims for Open Specifications on Carrier Platforms

A new industry alliance has been formed by Alcatel, Ericsson, Motorola, NEC, Nokia and Siemens to accelerate the deployment of carrier grade base platforms for service provider applications.

The mission of the new alliance, called SCOPE, is to help, enable and promote the availability of open carrier grade base platforms based on Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) hardware / software and free open source software building blocks, and to promote interoperability to better serve Service Providers and consumers.

SCOPE will not create its own specification, but will complement the work of several industry initiatives such as PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group, Service Availability Forum, Open Source Development Lab and others that have successfully created high quality open specifications that enable the creation of carrier grade base platforms.

SCOPE's initial activities will be focused on creating profiles for hardware, operating system, base platform middleware and tools suites based on Advanced Telecom Computing Architecture (ATCA), Carrier Grade Linux, and SA Forum's interface specifications. SCOPE expects its first profile to be published in Q1 of 2006.

"Creating carrier grade profiles will enable the network equipment provider ecosystem to develop and manufacture hardware and software building blocks and platforms with higher volumes, thus lowering costs. Such profiles will serve to create products which include the features that are required by the telecommunications industry to bring high quality and innovative new services to consumers," said Timo Jokiaho, chairman of SCOPE.

Eutelsat's Hot Bird 7ATM Readies for Launch

Eutelsat's HOT BIRD 7A broadcasting satellite has been schedules for launch from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana on 21-February-2006.

HOT BIRD 7A will be positioned at 13 degrees East, Eutelsat's prime
neighborhood for television and radio broadcasting to satellite and cable homes. Equipped with 38 Ku-band transponders, its dual mission is to replace existing capacity at 13 degrees East and, in conjunction with HOT BIRD 8 which is due for launch in second quarter, to provide complete in-orbit redundancy at the HOT BIRD location. Eutelsat's HOT BIRD neighborhood today hosts 850 television channels and 550 radio stations, serving 110 million homes in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

Alcatel Alenia Space serves as the prime contractor (platform and payload).


SwissCom Appoints New CEO

SwissCom's Board of Directors appointed Carsten Schloter as its new CEO, following the resignation of Jens Alder. At his own request, Jens Alder is standing down as Swisscom CEO. In so doing, he is drawing personal conclusions from the change in international expansion plans prompted by Switzerland's Federal Council.

Switzerland's Federal Council has instructed its representative on the Board of Directors of SwissCom to vote against the company's proposed acquisition of Eircom, the incumbent telco in Ireland, and other possible acquisitions that Swisscom might make abroad. Market observers believed that Swisscom might have been contemplating a bid for Tele Danmark (TDC). Instead, the Swiss government is encouraging SwissCom to distribute available capital to its shareholders. The Swiss state holds approximately 66% equity stake in SwissCom.

In a statement, Swisscom's Board of Director said that, in principle, it now takes a positive view of plans to sell off the Swiss government's majority holding in Swisscom, and welcomes the measures initiated by the Federal Council to clarify the question as soon as possible. In addition to payouts in accordance with the current return policy, Swisscom aims to pay out some CHF 1.5 billion to shareholders by no later than 2009.

Carsten Schloter, the new CEO, previously served as CEO of Swisscom Mobile and as a member of the Group Executive Board. Before joining Swisscom in 2000, he worked for Mercedes and debitel in France and Germany.

Fluke Closes Acquisition of Visual Networks

Danaher Corporation's Fluke Electronics subsidiary completed its previously announced acquisition of Visual Networks.

Visual Networks, which is based in Rockville, Maryland, supplies a range of enterprise network and application performance management solutions. Its flagship product, Visual UpTime Select, provides in-depth, real-time and historical information that enables organizations to intelligently manage application and network performance and availability across the entire enterprise. Over the past year, the product has evolved from a WAN-based focus to a full application and network performance management solution with software modules that auto-discover applications and obtain end-to-end performance data for those applications. The company has also released a suite of Ethernet appliances and VoIP software solutions. Visual Networks had revenues of $52 million in 2004.

Fluke Networks provides testing, monitoring and analysis of enterprise and telecommunications networks and the installation and certification of the fiber and copper foundation of those networks.

Covad Offers VoIP PBXi over T1s

Covad Communications introduced a VoIP PBXi Plus service aimed at small businesses and distributed enterprises with existing on-premise phone equipment. The service runs over Covad's Voice-Optimized Access (VOA) T1 lines. It is based on the Covad hosted platform and supports both the features of the PBX system and some of its own, including new online management and configuration capabilities. Covad also offers a hosted business-class VoIP product, Covad vPBX, for customers who want the convenience and reliability of a fully-managed VoIP solution.

Covad VoIP PBXi Plus integrates easily into business phone systems because all the original handsets, phone numbers and equipment are retained. Full e-911 service is included.

Ciena Lands Key Win at Progress Telecom

Progress Telecom, a leading broadband and wireless services provider, selected Ciena as a key supplier in the evolution and expansion of its existing network for next-generation services. Progress Telecom selected Ciena's CN 4200 FlexSelect Advanced Services Platform for 10G DWDM metro and regional transport and CN 3600 Intelligent Optical Multiservice Switch for international gateway and SONET/SDH applications. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Progress Telecom operates one of the largest regional networks in the United States spanning 8,254 route-miles of fiber, 29 metro networks and 10 states from Florida to New York. The service provider delivers a variety of broadband services to its carrier, ISP and large enterprise customers, including SONET/SDH conversion, private line, wavelength, Ethernet and IP. Progress Telecom's nearly 200 points of presence range from carrier hotels and undersea cable landing stations to wireless network towers and end-user locations, putting a wide variety of operating requirements on its network equipment.

In the initial deployments, Ciena's CN 4200 is creating a 10G DWDM backbone for aggregating and transporting Ethernet, IP and other services between metro networks, such as New York to Washington, D.C., while the CN 3600 is providing a single platform that supports next-generation translation, transport and switching of both SONET and SDH for its international gateway locations and metro SONET/SDH services.


QUALCOMM Completes Acquisition of Flarion Technologies

QUALCOMM closed its acquisition of Flarion Technologies, a pioneer and leading developer of Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplex Access (OFDMA) technology.

QUALCOMM paid approximately $600 million in QUALCOMM stock and cash. Upon the satisfaction of certain milestones, QUALCOMM may also pay an additional $205 million in the form of cash and QUALCOMM stock.

The deal was first announced in August 2005.
  • Flarion, a start-up based in Bedminster, New Jersey, developed a fast, low latency air interface technology that combines attributes of TDMA and CDMA. Flarion's flash-OFDM mobile broadband system is a packet-switched radio access network with QoS capabilities that overlays onto a mobile operator's existing cell sites and spectrum. Flarion's platform provides a seamless routing interface to the operator's existing IP network.

  • Flarion Technologies was founded in 2000 by Dr. Rajiv Laroia, who previously was with Bell Laboratories. In 1997, he became head of Bell Labs' Digital Communications Research Department in the Wireless Research Center where he and his team started to develop FLASH-OFDM technology based wireless data system.

AOL to Invest in Local Loop Unbundling in the UK

AOL will invest in Local Loop Unbundling (LLU) in the UK. The initial phase of the program, costing around GBP 50 million, will take place in the first half of 2006 and reach up to 300 exchanges, equivalent to 20% of UK households. If successful, AOL may extend this rollout to up to 1,000 exchanges in the UK, based on an estimated additional investment of GBP 70 million, in order to be able to offer the possibility of 'unbundling' the telephone line for more than 50% of UK households. AOL's investment in the local telephone network in the UK is being funded by parent company Time Warner.

AOL said it has already completed beta testing of the LLU process in two London exchanges, Battersea and Ealing and has created a team of more than 100 people in the UK to carry out a large-scale LLU rollout. AOL's unbundled services will be ADSL 2+ compatible, creating the potential for broadband services of more than 8 Mbps in the future.

The AOL Internet service and AOL Talk are provided to UK subscribers by AOL Europe Services SARL, a company in the AOL group based in Luxembourg. AOL has more than 1.1m broadband subscribers out of a total of more than 2.3 million members in the UK, as at November 2005.

The America Channel Secures Carriage in Telco TV Market

The America Channel, a new, independently-owned cable programming network set to launch in 2006, announced its fifth telco deal -- a digital IP carriage agreement with Optical Entertainment Network (OEN). The America Channel previously reported deals with Verizon FiOS and other telcos, for nationwide deployment in 2006. The America Channel has now secured carriage with companies representing approximately 80% of the projected telco video market.

Time Warner Telecom Extends Atlanta Fiber Network

Time Warner Telecom announced a 130-mile extension of its fiber network in the greater Atlanta region. Time Warner Telecom operates and maintains a fiber infrastructure and a 10 Gbps IP backbone delivering metro Ethernet, next generation services and integrated voice and data solutions to medium and large Atlanta-area businesses.

As of September 30, 2005, Time Warner Telecom had more than 20,000 route miles of fiber in its network.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

IEEE Confirms 802.11n Wi-Fi Draft Specification

The IEEE Task Group "N" voted to confirm the proposal for the 802.11n Wi-Fi standard. The draft will now proceed through the IEEE ratification process.

The proposed IEEE 802.11n standard supports speeds of up to 600 Mbps and will enable wireless systems to deliver greater range.

http://www.enhancedwirelessconsortium.orgIn October 2005, a group of 27 Wi-Fi companies formed an Enhanced Wireless Consortium to accelerate the IEEE 802.11n standard development process. The EWC specification comprises a number of technical elements, including:

  • Mixed-mode interoperability with 802.11a/b/g networks -- provides enhanced performance while maintaining communication with legacy devices;

  • PHY transmission rates up to 600Mbps -- supports applications requiring high data rates (such as transmitting multiple HDTV streams), and reduces battery drain by minimizing the time required to send and receive data streams;

  • Enhanced efficiency MAC with frame aggregation -- brings actual throughput closer to the raw PHY rate, providing end users with at least 100 Mbps application level bandwidth;

  • Use of 2.4GHz and/or 5GHz unlicensed bands -- matches the frequency plan of existing 802.11 devices;

  • 20MHz and/or 40MHz channel support -- uses more of the wireless spectrum when available to enhance performance;

  • Spatial multiplexing modes for simultaneous transmission using 1 to 4 antennas -- increases robustness of wireless connections to support very high data rates;

  • Enhanced range via multiple antennas and advanced coding -- provides for a wider coverage area with consistent wireless speeds.

LGC Wireless Optimizes Multi-Carrier Cellular Coverage for Atlanta Airport

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, which ranks as the worlds busiest passenger air terminal, has installed LGC Wireless' InterReach Unison system to deliver cellular and public safety wireless coverage throughout the airport's 5.8 million square foot facility.

The multi-operator system has been funded by the airport itself, and will provide coverage in its terminal as well as in the underground transportation mall, where a train system links the airport's concourses. The InterReach Unison system will support traffic for all major cellular network carriers as well as the airport's own public safety organizations. The legacy wireless extension systems (supplied by Cingular, Sprint Nextel, and Verizon) did not cover the entire airport.

LGC's InterReach Unison system is a Distributed Antenna System (DAS) that uses active Ethernet-based technology and standard fiber and copper transport cabling. The Atlanta airport deployment uses 36 main hubs, 96 expansion hubs, and more than 700 individual antennas.

Sprint Nextel Plans 4G Rollout in 2008

Sprint Nextel plans to leverage its extensive 2.5 GHz Broadband Radio Service (BRS) spectrum holdings with a major rollout of 4G services in 2008, said Len Lauer, COO of Sprint Nextel, speaking at WCA conference in San Jose. Its market strategy will be to deploy the network quickly in top 100 U.S. markets, giving it as much as a two-year lead over its major wireless competitors. Sprint Nextel is currently evaluating a number of different wireless technologies and network architectures, including multicarrier DO (MCDO), f-OFDM, WiMAX, HSPA, TD-CDMA and 3G LTE. Discussions and trials are underway with a number potential suppliers.

Lauer outlined a number of key requirements for the new network. Ideally, it would like be an architecture that is also deployed globally, especially in Europe. The company does not want to become a wireless island. Technologies must be part of a larger ecosystem. Base stations and client devices must be delivered at competitive price. And the network must be able of offer new services, content, experiences that provide a true mobile alternative to home DSL and cable connections. Sprint Nextel initially is looking for 2 to 3 Mbps per user.

In the meantime, Sprint Nextel is gaining momentum with its EVDO network, which currently delivers downlink speeds of 400-700 kbps and is available in over 200 markets across the country. An upgrade to the EVDO network is planned for 2007/8. Lauer also demonstrated the company's currently mobile TV application. As the subscriber numbers for this multimedia service climb, Sprint Nextel may be in the position of needing more capacity before its 4G rollout is ready. The company is evaluating QUALCOMM's MediaFLO and DVB solutions to handle such a contingency.

As for the joint venture with the cable operators, Lauer said Sprint Nextel already is the largest supplier of VoIP services to MSOs. The first new services from the joint venture are expected to debut in mid-year.

NTT Communications and Telefonica Wholesale Interconnect

NTT Communications Corporation (NTT Com) and Telefonica International
Wholesale Services (Telefonica Wholesale) agreed to interconnect their
international data networks. The agreement will enable both companies to increase their coverage through a seamless international network covering almost all the Asia Pacific Region, the United States, Latin America and Europe.

France Telecom Reaches 200,000 IPTV Subscribers, Launches "Le Bouquet" MPEG4

France Telecom now has over 200,000 subscribers for its MaLigne TV, a premium IPTV service that was first launched in December 2003. As of 30-Sep-2005, there were 142,000 MaLigne TV customers in France, compared to 116,000 at the end of June.

Starting February 1, France Telecom is expanding the offering with the launch of "Le Bouquet TV", featuring free access to a range of general and specialized channels as well as all the free channels available with Digital Terrestrial Television.

Le Bouquet TV will use an MPEG4-standard decoder.

MaLigne TV is already providing access to some 200 channels.

France Telecom will also begin carrying exclusive channels for major events. For the Turin Winter Games, it will have seven dedicated channels.

France Telecom is also launching "Mon Magneto", another DSL-based video service that lets customers manage live recordings directly on their decoder's hard drive (PVR).

Agere Hits 100 Million Unit Milestone for GSM Chipsets

Agere Systems has shipped in excess of 100 million Global System for Mobile (GSM)-based wireless chipsets for mobile phones. The company began supplying solutions for GPRS mobile phones in limited quantities in 2000, achieving its highest shipment levels over the last two years.

WiMAX Forum Announces First Certified Products

The WiMAX Forum announced the first fixed wireless broadband network products to achieve the designation of WiMAX Forum Certified. These include:

  • Aperto Networks' PacketMAX 5000 base station

  • Redline Communications' RedMAX AN-100U base station

  • SEQUANS Communications' SQN2010 SoC base station solution

  • Wavesat's miniMAX customer premise equipment (CPE) solution.

To date, the WiMAX Forum's certification laboratory, Cetecom Spain, has confirmed 26 additional reservations from manufacturers for testing slots for both subscriber and base station equipment certification. In order to handle this additional capacity, Cetecom already has set up multiple test lines for testing and certification for these products -- a process that will continue over the next two months.

The first round of WiMAX Forum Certified products were developed according to the WiMAX Forum-defined certification profile for 3.5 GHz systems, which is based on the IEEE 802.16-2004 and ETSI HiperMAN standards. Each hardware system was required to pass stringent and extensive test procedures, consisting of protocol conformance, radio conformance and interoperability testing in order to attain the WiMAX Forum Certification seal.

Earthlink Signs Motorola and Tropos for Wi-Fi in 5 Cities

Earthlink signed a contract with Motorola for it to provide wireless equipment, design, installation and system integration for the initial five major cities where EarthLink will deploy municipal Wi-Fi Internet access networks. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Motorola will provide its MOTOwi4 portfolio of products, including its Canopy high-speed backhaul and Wi-Fi mesh network equipment supplied to Motorola by Tropos Networks.

Motorola will also install and provide system integration and support services for the networks operated by EarthLink.

The Tropos MetroMesh equipment on city light poles that will enable wireless data connectivity between consumers and the Internet.


ITV Expands Web Video with Narrowstep

ITV, the UK's top, and Europe's second largest commercial broadcaster, has extended its contract with Narrowstep to broadcast its new local broadband TV service.

ITV first signed Narrowstep in October 2005 to test TelVOS, its Television Operating System, in order to offer Brighton and Hastings their local news, weather, community activities, travel and other ITV entertainment. With the expansion of the trial, Narrowstep has increased its services to ITV by creating a further four channels on the site with the inclusion of Teachers' TV, Brighton Property, Regional news and weather and the Upload Channel for advertising for local businesses and individuals which will be revenue generating.

In the short time since the start of the trial, over 10,000 individuals per week in the Brighton and Hastings area have been using the service. Many of the viewers watch for more than one hour at a time.www.itvlocal.tv

vs. Multicast:  The Challenge for Cablecos

The world of television is becoming a confusing place. Technology that has
remained stable and consistent for over four decades is suddenly being
usurped.  On the one hand, there is an increasingly rapid shift to HD
underway. On the other, IPTV is arriving to shake things up. It is
therefore not surprising that the world of programming is undergoing a

Broadcom Launches "Intensi-fi" Silicon for 802.11n

Broadcom announced the availability of its new "Intensi-fi" WLAN chipsets designed to comply with the IEEE 802.11n draft specification. The chipsets incorporate all mandatory elements of the IEEE 802.11n draft specification and are software upgradable once the standard is finalized. Broadcom said it is working closely with other industry leaders to demonstrate real-world interoperability among brands as draft-802.11n products become available.