Thursday, March 23, 2006

SkyStream Selected for NTELOS Headend in Virginia

SkyStream was selected as video headend partner for NTELOS' new IPTV service over FTTP that will serve its Virginia ILEC footprint.
NTELOS has built a "super video headend" center where it has deployed the SkyStream Mediaplex-20 video headend. From there, NTELOS is distributing the MPEG-2 feed over a 10-Gigabit Metro Ethernet ring to several regional offices and will deploy the SkyStream iPlex edge video headend system for additional video aggregation and distribution. NTELOS will be able to offer local channels, advertising and other programming from these regional centers.

The new TV service will feature national, regional and local video and music programming, including several that will be in HD. NTELOS will receive a video feed from the National Cable Telephone Cooperative (NCTC) for some of its channel lineup.

NTELOS has been an incumbent local exchange carrier (ILEC) in western Virginia for 109 years and is offering the new IPTV service initially just in its ILEC territory. NTELOS also operates a competitive local exchange carrier network in Virginia, and is a leading wireless provider in the region.


ATEME Releases Single-Chip MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 Encoder

ATEME introduced a single-chip MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 Standard Definition Main Profile Encoder. The ATE4000 device uses state-of-the-art FPGA technology instead of the more traditional multi-processor approach. Target markets for the device include Broadcast Digital Television, IPTV, Satellite, Telco Head-Ends and professional encoders for distribution of video over wired or wireless IP networks where bandwidth and picture quality cannot be compromised.

European Broadcasting Regulators Seek "Television without Frontiers"

Europe's broadcasting regulators from the 25 EU Member States and Croatia, Turkey, Norway and Liechtenstein met to discuss a "TV without Frontiers" directive. Top issues at the meeting in Brussels included measures that limit any programming that incites hatred while also respect media freedom and free speech. The regulators agreed to deepen the discussion with respect to the issues of mobile TV and digital TV. The Commissioner warned that divergences among national licensing systems for mobile broadcasting could throw up unintended obstacles to the deployment of pan-European services and infrastructure. The regulators underlined that licensing decisions remain a national prerogative, but indicated their readiness to discuss the mobile broadcasting license issue with the European Commission. Besides licensing procedures, the lack of a common spectrum allocation could become an obstacle to cross-border mobile services.

Motorola Opens R&D Center in Hangzhou, China

Motorola inaugurated its 17th R&D facility in China, this time in Hangzhou. The new R&D center is designed to provide Chinese operators with local access to Motorola's network technologies as well as to develop local talent while driving network innovation and the growth of China's wireless communications industry.

Groove Mobile Raises $8.5 Million for Mobile Music

Groove Mobile, a start-up based in Andover, Mass., raised $8.5 million for its mobile music e-commerce platform. Groove Mobile is powering the new Sprint Music Store as well as mobile music services for wireless carriers in Canada, the UK (Orange), the European Union, and Asia. The company said it will use the funding to accelerate the growth of its mobile music platform while it continues to expand in global markets.

Groove Mobile's Complete Music Gateway includes Full Track Mobile Downloads, Peer-to-Peer Sharing and Personalized Music Recommendations, in addition to providing Personalized and Programmed Streaming Radio, Music Subscriptions, etc. The service provides access to music from EMI, Warner Music International, V2, Beggars Group, Digital Rights Management and The Orchard libraries.

The new funding was led by Egan Capital and included continuing investors Charles River Ventures, Kodiak Venture Partners, and Star Ventures.

Napatech Secures $5 Million for Programmable Adapters

Napatech, a start-up based in Copenhagen, raised $5 million in new funding for its programmable network adapters. Napatech's product portfolio includes a 1 Gbps and a 10 Gbps platform that offer solutions for network management, traffic analysis and recording, security applications and a toolbox enabling OEM customers to implement their own proprietary intellectual property on the network adapter. The investment coincides with Napatech's acquisition of the network adapter business of Xyratex.

The round was led by Ferd Venture and included Northzone Ventures and DTU Innovation.

Vyyo Raises $25 Million from Goldman, Sachs & Co.

Vyyo, a global supplier of broadband access equipment for cable and private wireless broadband network solutions, completed its previously announced $25million in financing from Goldman, Sachs & Co. The company said the new equity and long-term debt will provide it with increased resources and flexibility as it scales its business in the U.S. cable and utility businesses.

Nortel, Sierra Wireless Achieve First EV-DO Rev A Calls

Nortel and Sierra Wireless achieved the industry's first over the air test calls using EV-DO Revision A wireless technology and pre-commercial wireless data devices. The companies said their milestone confirms the commercial viability of EV-DO Revision A wireless services.

The companies completed over the air tests using Sierra Wireless AirCard 595 wide area wireless network cards, Sierra Wireless MC5725 PCI Express Mini Card embedded modules, and EV-DO Revision A equipment from Nortel. EV-DO Revision A technology will offer significant performance improvements to both the uplink and the downlink speeds compared to current EV-DO (Release 0) networks. EV-DO Revision A enables peak data rates of up to 3.1 Mbps on the downlink and 1.8 Mbps on the uplink.

Nortel noted that it has provided EV-DO equipment to 18 operators worldwide, including Verizon Wireless and Sprint in the United States, VIVO in Brazil, Pelephone in Israel and EURtel in the Czech Republic.


Wednesday, March 22, 2006

German Regulator Opens Consultation on Bitstream Regulatory Order

Germany's Federal Network Agency has invited comments on its regulatory order for ATM bitstream access. The Agency is planning to commit Deutsche Telekom AG (DTAG) to offer a transparent, non-discriminatory wholesale product, the charges for which will be subject to ex post price controls.

"Now that we have established DTAG's dominance in this wholesale market, we want to oblige it to provide its competitors with a broadband access wholesale product whose service levels the competitors can decide for themselves. Differentiation will thus be possible for competing companies not just via price, but also via quality", Matthias Kurth, Agency President, declared.

Yahoo! Implements Global IP Sound for Voice

Yahoo! is using Global IP Sound's (GIPS') VoiceEngine Multimedia in its Yahoo! Messenger with Voice IM client. The GIPS VoiceEngine Multimedia software handles voice quality issues such as jitter, delay, packet loss and acoustic echo.
  • The GIPS one-end and end-to-end voice quality enhancement software provides capabilities including adaptive jitter buffer and error concealment, high-quality wideband and narrow band codecs, echo cancellers and speech enhancers. The technology provides "better than PSTN voice quality and fidelity" in end-to-end IP communications even under adverse traffic conditions with packet loss.

  • In July 2005, Global IP Sound (GIPS) announced an OEM license agreement with Microsoft for its voice processing solutions. GIPS technology is expected to be used with MSN and Microsoft Office Real-Time Collaboration (RTC) solutions.

  • Global IP Sound, which is based in Stockholm, also supplies its voice quality software to Skype, Ericsson, Nortel, WebEx, Texas Instruments, LongBoard, Inter-tel, PMC-Sierra and others.

Orange France's TV Portal Uses Bluestreak Platform

Orange France, the top wireless network operator in France, will launch the Orange World TV portal using Bluestreak's MachBlueT for Mobile platform. The new mobile TV portal delivers 52 channels across 3G and EDGE and allows end users to access daily program guides for broadcast and exclusive mobile TV channels via their mobile phones.

This is the second rich-media portal deployed by Orange that uses MachBlueT technology; the first service, the Orange League 1 soccer portal, was launched at the 3GSM World Congress in Barcelona in February.

The MachBlueT platform allows all program information to be loaded on the mobile phone screen while the customer watches television.

U.S. Telecom Transport Revenue Reaches $310 Billion in 2005

Total U.S. telecommunications transport services revenue reached $310.8 billion in 2005 and is expected to reach $324.7 billion in 2006, according to the newly released TIA's 2006 Telecommunications Market Review and Forecast. Total spending on transport services is expected to grow at a 4.6 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR), reaching $372.7 billion by 2009. The Market Review and Forecast is an annual study published by the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA).

Loss of landline subscribers has hurt the local exchange market, a trend that will continue, though at moderating rates in the coming years. In the transport services market, landline revenue continued to fall in 2005, totaling $192.3 billion, its fifth consecutive year of decline, and wireless continued to grow at double-digit rates, reaching $118.6 billion. Between 2000 and 2005, the landline subscriber base fell 20.4 million. Households have shifted to broadband, canceling second lines for Internet access and for their children, who now rely on wireless. Some households have cancelled their landline subscription altogether and now use wireless exclusively. The introduction of bundled services at flat-rate prices should neutralize one of the advantages of the wireless market. The addition of television distribution combined with broadband Internet access will give current subscribers incentives to retain their landlines.

The number of wireless subscriptions passed landline subscriptions in 2005, reaching 194.5 million and 172.1 million subscribers respectively, and with approximately two-thirds of the U.S. population subscribing to a wireless service, the market still has room for expansion. TIA expects wireless penetration to rise to 88.3 percent by 2009, which would translate into 270 million subscribers. Landline subscriptions will continue to fall, but the rate of decline will moderate as new services such as VoIP and broadband video help landline carriers retain subscribers. By 2009, TIA estimates there will be 111.0 million more wireless subscribers than landline subscribers in the United States. Total spending on wireless services is expected to reach $180.4 billion in 2009, growing at an 11.1 percent CAGR.

Despite the overall market decline, cable-operator telephone revenue will grow at double-digit rates. Non-cable CLECs will record the largest declines; incumbent local exchange carriers (ILECs) will see their local revenue decrease at slower rates through 2008 and edge up in 2009. For the forecast period as a whole, TIA projects local exchange services revenue to fall at a 0.6 percent CAGR to $115.8 billion in 2009 from $118.5 billion in 2005.

Long-distance or toll service revenue has been declining since 2000, falling from $109.6 billion in 2000 to $73.8 billion in 2005, a 33 percent drop. The market was hurt by weak economic conditions, by the reduction in landline subscribers and by the migration of traffic from landline to wireless. With landline carriers now bundling local and long-distance services at a single flat-rate price, the historical long- distance model of per-minute charges will fade. This will eliminate the cost incentive for landline subscribers to make long-distance calls on their wireless devices when a landline alternative is available. The domestic long-distance landline calling volume is expected to begin to expand in 2007. For the forecast period as a whole, long-distance revenue will rise at a 0.9 percent compound annual rate, reaching $76.5 billion in 2009.

The overall landline network services market in 2005 was 15.8 percent lower than in 2000. However, the 2005 decrease of 1.4 percent was the smallest in five years. Although landline services revenue is expected to continue to decline over the next two years, decreases will moderate further, and in 2008- 09 the market will expand. By 2009, revenue will total $192.3 billion, climbing back to the level of 2005.

Siemens Supplies HSDPA for Vodafone Germany

Siemens has supplied High Speed Data Packet Access (HSDPA) technology for Vodafone's German network using the W-CDMA standard. As Vodafone recently announced, the mobile broadband service is being launched under the name "UMTS Broadband," initially in Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Hanover and Munich, at speeds of up to 1.8 Mbps. There are also plans to roll out HSDPA technology quickly in all 1,800 German towns and cities supplied with W-CDMA.

Tut & Verimatrix Partner on IPTV

MBO Video is deploying an IPTV service utilizing Tut Systems' Astria content processor (CP) and the Verimatrix Content Authority Systems (VCAS). Tut Systems' Astria Content Processor (CP) platform serves as the core video processing system for MBO Video's 192 channel MPEG-2 digital headend, currently serving 10 video service providers throughout the states of Oklahoma and Missouri. MBO Video's recent announcement to add MPEG-4 AVC video to their headend will yield better picture quality while significantly lowering the bandwidth required for MPEG-2 video. The addition of VCAS enables MBO Video to protect video content delivered to multiple downstream operators using one centralized server to both encrypt and watermark premium content.

The companies said the MBO Video win is the latest in a series of mutual customer wins, but the first in which Tut Systems acted as the prime vendor for the VCAS solution under a recently signed reseller agreement.


Asia-Netcom Adds 40 Gbps Lit Capacity to Cable System

Asia Netcom completed a major network upgrade that will bring a 50% increase in lit capacity to its pan-Asia submarine cable systems, EAC.

As part of the upgrade, 10 Gbps was lit up on each of EAC's four fiber pairs, effectively adding 40 Gbps of new bandwidth to EAC's existing 80 Gbps. The EAC system spans 19,500 km within Asia connecting Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Philippines, Singapore, Hong Kong and soon, China.

The additional capacity will support Asia Netcom's extensive service and product portfolio, which includes MPLS-based transport and network solutions, a Tier 1 Internet backbone, as well as traditional connectivity solutions such as international private lines and ATM and Frame Relay.

WiMAX Forum Issues New Certifications

The WiMAX Forum issued it latest set of product certifications based on the defined Frequency Division Duplexing (FDD) system profile operating in the 3.5GHz frequency spectrum. The WiMAX Forum member companies and products to complete certification and interoperability testing include Airspan's MacroMAX base station and EasyST subscriber station solution, Axxcelera's ExcelMax base station, Sequans Communications' SQN1010-RD subscriber station solution, Siemens' WayMAX@vantage base station and subscriber station solutions, and Wavesat's miniMAX subscriber station solution.

WiMAX Forum's certification laboratory, CETECOM Spain, worked with each WiMAX equipment supplier to conduct an extensive series of stringent and extensive test procedures, consisting of protocol conformance, radio conformance and interoperability testing. To date, 14 fixed WiMAX products have received the WiMAX Forum Certified seal in the two months since the program first started certifying equipment.

Ofcom Proposes to Deregulate BT retail Phone Cost Controls

Ofcom, the official telecom regulator in the UK, proposed that all phone companies, including BT Group plc, be free to set their own prices and compete for customers in future. The changes, which are subject to public consultation, would take effect from 1 August 2006.

Ofcom noted that the proposal comes 22 years after price controls were first imposed when the UK telecoms market was liberalized. Ofcom said new technology and the growth of competition have transformed the phone market; average call prices have fallen by more than 50% since 1996. Key developments in the market include:

  • Competing providers: more than 10 million households use providers other than BT for their phone calls, including more than 4 million households on cable networks [source: Ofcom Communications Market Report February 2006]

  • New technology: Industry estimates suggest that there are now more than 500,000 active VoIP users in the UK. VoIP services offer a significantly lower-cost alternative to traditional fixed-line calls. As more than 10 million households now benefit from broadband connections, VoIP services are likely to grow rapidly over time.

  • Competitive local access investment: Local Loop Unbundling enables a range of providers to offer customers voice, broadband and video services over existing phone lines. By February 2006 the number of lines unbundled exceeded 300,000.

Given this, Ofcom believes it is now appropriate to consider allowing existing retail price controls to lapse as increasingly effective competition between providers continues to drive down costs to consumers. These developments are also taking place against a background of continued growth in the market for mobile services. 31% of all UK voice call minutes originated from mobile phones rather than from fixed-lines, from July to September 2005. [source: Ofcom Communications Market Report February 2006.]

France Telecom Launches Wholesale Voice Service

Starting next month, France Telecom will begin providing a wholesale voice service.

France Telecom said it will provide third-party competitors with a complete telephone service, including the line subscription, most of the services related to the subscription and all calls, irrespective of the destination, including special services (audiotel, directory enquiries, etc.). The wholesale telephone line subscription offering will be available for analog access from 1st April 2006; it will be extended to individual and grouped ISDN access as well as grouped analog lines from 1st July 2006.

Danish Utility Selects Wave7 for Ethernet PON

Sydfyns Elforsyning (SEF), a major utility company based in Svendborg, Denmark, announced a major FTTP PON network that is currently the largest such system installed in northern Europe. Wave7 Optics and SEF announced further that 1,200 residential customers have been connected to the network and are receiving a suite of voice, RF video and data services. SEF expects to have more than 5,000 customers "on net" by the end of this year. Eltel Networks is managing the project as the equipment installer and integrator.

ECI Telecom Announces Mini MSPP

ECI Telecom introduced its BroadGate-20B, a miniature optical service access platform that functions as Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) for enterprises, utility companies and cellular operators. The BroadGate-20B is the entry-level unit featuring a scalable architecture with the ability to add more interfaces and new services as needed.

It can be used to deliver a mix of Ethernet, SDH/SONET, PDH and PCM services with QoS and Service Level Agreement (SLA) assurances. It uses ECI's LightSoft network management system to provide full remote management capabilities with support for multiple interfaces and traffic types.