Monday, April 10, 2006

Comverse to Acquire Netcentrex for Softswitching

Comverse will acquire privately-held Netcentrex S.A., a supplier of next generation network (NGN) voice and video solutions.

Comverse provides value-added messaging and real-time converged billing solutions for network operators. The deal was valued at approximately $164 million in cash, subject to certain adjustments and a contingent earnout of up to an additional $16 million.

The companies said their merger addresses the market opportunity for VoIP, fixed mobile convergence (FMC) and IMS. The combined product portfolio would enable converged voice-video-data solutions, serving wireless, fixed, cable, MVNO and Internet-based communication service providers.

Netcentrex brings to Comverse a broad suite of software-based converged voice-video-data-over-IP solutions, supporting the consumer and enterprise offerings of approximately 50 service providers, including AOL Germany, Comunitel (Tele2), Fastweb, France Telecom, Telefonica Deutschland GmbH and Tiscali.

For the year ended December 31, 2005, Paris-based Netcentrex generated revenues of approximately $50 million. The merger is expected to close in July.

Zeev Bregman, CEO of Comverse, said, "Netcentrex complements our product portfolio, technology, and strategic direction. Netcentrex's leading telco-grade application server, rich IP Centrex, Class 5 and video services and proven market position (with over 2.8M live VoIP lines), together with Comverse's telecom VAS and billing leadership, create a synergetic, unique VoIP, FMC and IMS offering."

  • France Telecom's residential Voice over IP services, running on Netcentrex solutions, have exceeded 1 million lines in commercial service across 5 countries at the end of 2005: France, UK, Netherlands, Italy and Spain. The initial installation in 2004. After 18 months of service, the deployment rate exceeds 150,000 new subscribers every month across Europe.

  • Netcentrex has previously disclosed three rounds of funding totaling $34 million. Key investors included CDC Innovation Partners, Crescendo Ventures, Innovacom Venture Capital, Intel Capital, Natexis Investissement, Newbury Ventures, T-Venture, and Viventures.

EC Sees No Need to Extend Universal Service to Mobiles, Broadband

The European Commission has concluded that there is at present no need to extend the "universal service" safety net to mobile and high-speed Internet services.

In a new report, the EC finds that consumers already have widespread affordable access to mobile communications within their home countries, and so far only a minority has high-speed internet connections, so the cost of extending universal service obligations to these services would exceed benefits to users.

"This report reflects a broad stakeholder consensus that bringing mobile and high-speed internet services to users is best left to the market, except where structural problems such as geographical remoteness justify specific public investment to help bridge the broadband gap" commented Information Society and Media Commissioner Viviane Reding. "However, stakeholders also generally agree that the concept and provision of universal service which safeguards access to basic but vital communications services for disadvantaged users, does need to be updated for the internet age."

Skype Acquires Sonorit and Camino Networks

Skype has acquired Sonorit Holding AS and its US subsidiary Camino Networks, developers of VoIP technologies. Skype said the acquisition helps it build its online voice engineering team. Sonorit is based in San Francisco, with additional offices in Aalborg, Denmark, and Stockholm, Sweden. The companies specialize in high quality speech processing, coding, and transmission for the next generation of Internet-based networks.

Skype, an eBay company, has agreed to acquire all outstanding securities of Sonorit for approximately 700,000 shares of eBay stock. Based on the stock price as of April 10, 2006, the transaction is valued at approximately $27 million.

MetaSwitch Partners with Dash911 on VoIP E911

MetaSwitch has partnered with Dash911 to simplify the implementation of 9-1-1 emergency calling by VoIP providers. The joint solution is already being deployed by several service providers including Public Interest Network Services, Inc. (PINS), a communications provider based in New York City's "Silicon Alley."

The implementation combines MetaSwitch's Class 5 softswitch with Dash911's hosted service platform, to enable VoIP service providers to route 911 calls to the appropriate Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) based on the subscriber's current location. A full range of VoIP calling features, including custom call treatments and web-based configuration, are available to subscribers from the MetaSwitch platform. When subscribers move their VoIP device from one location to another, the Dash911 web portal - integrated with MetaSwitch's own Web Self-Care solution - offers a "ready to go" Web-based mechanism for them to easily update their location information. Call routing is achieved either via traditional MF or SS7 trunks (for subscribers within the provider's local calling area), or via the Dash911 switched 9-1-1 service using Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), for out-of-area subscribers.

PINS is serving several thousand fixed VoIP lines in downtown Manhattan from its MetaSwitch VP3510 Class 5 softswitch. PINS has partnered with Dash911 in order to expand beyond its current markets without expending significant effort and resources on additional dedicated 911 trunks.


ComSpanUSA and Ledcor Deploy Metaswitch in FTTP Network

ComSpanUSA, a facilities-based CLEC, and its development partner Ledcor Technical Services (LTS) are deploying a FTTP network in Bandon, Oregon. The network includes the MetaSwitch VP2510 integrated softswitch, a compact class 4/5 softswitch, installed in the Bandon, Oregon switching center.

Occam Networks Supports DSL Forum Plugfest

Occam Networks is supporting the operation of the DSL Forum's current TR-069 Interoperability Plugfest series with its BLC 6000 System, the company's IP- and Ethernet-based broadband loop carrier (BLC). The DSL Forum has sponsored this series of Plugfests for system integrators to test the interoperability of their implementations of DSL Forum TR-069, CPE WAN Management Protocol. This test event series allows multiple system integrators, both Auto-configuration Server (ACS) and CPE, to test their implementations with other system integrators.

ARRIS to Resell BelAir's Wireless Mesh Platform

ARRIS TeleWire Supply, a leading full-line supplier of broadband Hybrid Fiber Coaxial (HFC) products in the U.S., will resell BelAir Networks' wireless mesh product portfolio in North America.

The BelAir family of single-, dual-, and multi-radio wireless mesh nodes includes the BelAir50S and BelAir100S which are optimized for strand-mounting on existing cable infrastructure, feature a DOCSIS(R) interface and are plant-powered. With more than 120 deployments worldwide, BelAir developed the first multi-service wireless mesh architecture supporting Wi-Fi, WiMAX and cellular services on a single mesh. It is also optimized to deliver carrier-grade voice.


ICTV Offers Content Delivery Network

ICTV, which offers a hardware platform for the delivery and distribution of interactive television programming, introduced a content delivery network solution pushing Web-driven programming and elements, live video and VOD to television sets.

The service leverages IPTV's HeadendWare to deliver Web programming as MPEG video to any digital set-top box. The AVDN runs within the existing Web and VOD infrastructures, acquiring programming from standard Web servers, mixing it with live and VOD elements and delivering it from the headend as MPEG video. It integrates with and extends existing set-top based interactive approaches.

ICTV said that by using its ActiveVideo Distribution Network, network operators and programmers can complement existing channels by allowing viewers to take active control of what they see and when they see it. As an example, through simple clicks on their remote controls, television viewers can select an ActiveVideo channel from the standard program guide and enter a broadband experience that integrates video, navigational elements, channel branding, banner advertisements, and links to different video segments.

The ActiveVideo Distribution Network is a usage-based content distribution service that does not require capital investment by programmers or operators. AVDN delivers Web-driven programming and both live and VOD streams at TV quality. ActiveVideo programming is delivered using VOD infrastructure through any VOD-capable set-top and navigated with standard remotes.

"While there has been much recent discussion of viewers migrating to 'over-the-top' video on personal computers, the fact remains that the television experience over a managed network is without equal," said Jeff Miller, president and CEO of ICTV.

Alcatel Makes Executive Appointments

Alcatel announced the following executive appointments:

  • Etienne Fouques, EVP, is appointed President of Europe and South. He was previously President of Alcatel's mobile communications activities.

  • Marc Rouanne, is appointed EVP and President of the mobile communications activities. He was previously the COO of these activities.

  • Hubert de Pesquidoux is appointed EVP and President of Alcatel activities in North America. Hubert joined Alcatel in 1991 as Corporate Treasurer. In 1998, he was appointed CFO for Alcatel in the USA. Subsequently, he was appointed COO for Alcatel North America and CEO of Alcatel Canada.

  • Michel Rahier is appointed EVP and President of the fixed communications activities. Before this he was COO for this segment.

  • Olivier Picard, who is President of Alcatel's activities in France, Middle East, Africa, and South Asia, also joins the Executive Committee. He was appointed VP for South East Asia in 1999 and EVP for France in 2001.

In conjunction with these appointments, Jacques Dunogué, Executive Vice President EVP, President of Europe and South, and member of the Executive Committee is leaving the company to pursue other opportunities.

T-Com Selects Microsoft/Alcatel IPTV in Slovakia

Slovak Telekom, a group member of Deutsche Telekom and Slovakia's leading telecommunication services provider (which provides its products and services under the T-Com brand), selected Alcatel as the supplier for its upcoming IPTV deployment. The network will be based on the combination of Alcatel's services integration solution and the Microsoft TV IPTV Edition software platform. A market trial is slated for Q3 2006. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Alcatel said it is providing a complete services integration solution that brings together the network infrastructure, software platforms and integration. Slovak Telekom's service offering can be expanded to include new applications like the Alcatel 5900 My Own TV (allowing families or other groups to make their own TV channels for sharing home movies and photos), the Alcatel 5900 Amigo TV (allowing friends to share emotions and chat while watching the same TV program) and Alcatel 5900 Communications TV (allowing the TV to act as a "communications hub" where all fixed and mobile calls can be routed).


Vodafone Selects Huawei in Czech Republic

Vodafone awarded a contract to Huawei Technologies for the construction of a UMTS network in the Czech Republic. Huawei will provide a UTRAN system based on the new generation Node B technologies for Vodafone's operations in the Czech Republic. Financial terms were not disclosed.


Avanex Develops Ultra-Thin Amplifier Module

Avanex introduced an ultra-thin erbium doped fiber amplifier (EDFA) module that measures 7.5 mm in thickness, over 35% thinner than any amplifier previously available from Avanex.

Avanex said its new PureGain 400 is designed to work within the stringent space constraints found in transponder and line card applications and is an essential tool to enable increased bit rate transponders. The physical and electrical interface of this new product can be shared with transponders.

XO Tops 2.9 Billion Minutes of VoIP Traffic in Q1

XO Communications carried more than 2.9 billion minutes of VoIP traffic across its nationwide IP network in Q1 2006, a 32% increase over the previous quarter. The increase was driven by greater deployment of XO's VoIP solutions by businesses and service providers, demonstrating the increasing growth of delivering voice services over an all IP environment.

XO's commercial and wholesale VoIP services are delivered over a softswitch IP network powered by Sonus Networks and Juniper Networks. This VoIP platform delivers both traditional circuit-switched voice traffic and packet-based VoIP traffic.

Nortel Hires IBM Exec to Head Global Operations

Nortel appointed Dietmar Wendt, a 46-year-old IBM executive, as president of Global Services. He will be responsible for Nortel's financial performance, portfolio development and go-to-market strategies. Wendt will join Nortel from IBM in Shanghai, China, where he is currently vice president, Asia Pacific Information Technology Services Transformation. Prior to that, Wendt was vice president, Integrated Technology Services for IBM in Central Europe and Russia.
  • In November 2005, Nortel selected Mike S. Zafirovski to succeed Bill Owens as Nortel's president and CEO. Zafirovski previously served as president and chief operating officer of Motorola (2002 to 2005). He joined Motorola in 2000 as president and CEO of its Personal Communications Sector division. From 1975 to 2000, Zafirovski held a succession of executive positions at General Electric.

Xbox Showcases Paramount Movie Content in HD

Microsoft's Xbox Live is launching a Movie Showcase that will feature free, high-definition, downloadable content from two upcoming Paramount Picture films: "Mission: Impossible III," and "Nacho Libre."

The Xbox Movie Showcase content includes HD movie trailers, exclusive theme packs, and graphics to customize the Xbox interface.

Sunday, April 9, 2006

CopperCom Acquires Switchmaxx for Web Port App

CopperCom, a supplier of softswitches, has acquired Switchmaxx, a division of Phonetics LC, for an undisclosed sum. Switchmaxx offers a Unified Self-Care Web portal that incorporates applications such as Web-enabled voice mail, unified messaging, single-number service, parental controls, etc. Significantly, Switchmaxx software provides telcos with a single interface for managing services on both their legacy TDM and next-generation switches, such as the CopperCom CSX.

"This strategic investment furthers CopperCom's commitment to enable our customers to advance their business models with cash-generating capabilities and solid customer retention," said Mike Myers, CEO, CopperCom. "The Switchmaxx solution maps well to the CopperCom CSX in that it is able to very successfully bridge legacy switch platforms with next-generation switch platforms and new IP-based solutions."http://www.coppercom.com

Shenick Enhances IPTV Test Software

Shenick Network Systems, added significant IPTV and triple play enhancements to its "diversifEye" Version 3.0 software, which provides granularity required to test overall performance and quality of service (QoS), coupled with the ability to drill down to individual IPTV, VoIP and Internet users.

Shenick said its diversifEye handles the complete cycle of broadband customer access scenarios from obtaining an IP address via DHCP to establishing PPP tunnels through emulation of real user application traffic flows of multiple IPTV, VoIP, VoD and data applications such as Web, P2P and email. Shenick will also support real-time (or passive) IPTV video quality analysis on a per IPTV channel basis coupled with active video analysis against a known reference video stream. This enables IPTV service providers to assess video quality on an aggregate or per viewer basis by employing industry standard perceptual quality scoring based on the ITU J.144 standard with IP based video extensions such as V-Factor and PEVQ (perceptual evaluation of video quality).

Shenick has also SIP-based call generation and a security attack module that provides testing for DDoS (Denial of Service), Virus, Worm and Spam attacks.

Caspian Counters Net Neutrality with Fair Use Framework

Caspian, a supplier of multimedia traffic management solutions for service provider, large enterprise, and government networks, entered the Net Neutrality debate by outlining a Fair Use Policy Framework aimed at bridging the interests of consumers, application providers, and network operators.

To date, the Net Neutrality debate has pitted major telcos against the larger Internet community of content providers and users, who have viewed any attempt to set-up IP traffic tiers as unfair toll-booths that threaten the essence of the open Internet.

The Caspian Fair Use Policy Framework proposes three increasingly granular techniques for managing traffic in IP networks. The Framework hierarchy includes:

  • Proportioning bandwidth equally among all active users without regard to applications or service levels;

  • Prioritizing bandwidth non-intrusively to ensure regulatory compliance, including emergency calls or requests under the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA); and

  • Provisioning bandwidth in a dynamic, nondiscriminatory fashion to enable tiered service level offerings by network operators, and other content and service providers.

The Framework, which is currently implemented in Caspian's Media Controller product line, does not employ intrusive techniques that examine the packet's payload, thereby ensuring nondiscriminatory access to all Internet sites, services and content. Beyond a basic tier, tt does offer different levels of QoS to Internet-based content and service providers to accommodate various multimedia applications. For network operators, it provides a means to manage bandwidth without traffic filtering or port blocking. It also enables the network operator to charge for premium services. For regulators, the Framework provides a means to prioritize emergency traffic.

Caspian also noted that this concept is already being deployed as part of the eGov Korea project, managing traffic between KT, Dacom, SK Telecom and hanaro telecom.

A copy of the Caspian proposal, titled Fair Use Policy Framework: A Nondiscriminatory and Noninvasive Approach to Managing Internet Traffic in Full Compliance with U.S. Law and Federal Communications Commission Policy, is available online.

Use Networking: Leveraging Quality To Create Profitability
is “fair use�? of a service provider's network? Ideally, service
providers should be able to allocate capacity and be paid according to
what they carry over the network. While Internet access providers are
able to raise prices for customers who require more bandwidth, long-haul
backbone service providers pay the freight for growing volumes of
traffic from which they generate no revenue, and worse, rob capacity at
the expense of premium services

Today there seem to be two approaches to the problem of balancing
network traffic and revenue considerations. The first approach is to
simply let any customer transport any kind of traffic—and as much as
they want—over the long-haul backbone network. The second approach
available to service providers for managing bandwidth is to filter out
certain types of traffic or lock out traffic from certain content

Motorola Signs Set-top Deal with NCTC

The National Cable Television Cooperative (NCTC) has placed an order for all-digital, high-definition (HD) and digital video recording (DVR)-capable Motorola set-tops, in the consortium's first-ever volume set-top purchase. Financial terms were not disclosed.

NCTC is a programming and hardware buying cooperative that represents more than 1,000 independent cable operators and their 6,500 individual systems. The NCTC members serve 8 million cable subscribers.

The deal includes the Motorola DCT2500E home media network-ready core interactive set-top, the DCT6412 and DCT3412 high-definition digital video recorders, and a newly-announced Motorola DCT3080 standard-definition digital video recorder.

The Motorola DCT3080 is a standard-definition, dual-tuner digital video recorder (DVR) that can act as a hub for a whole-home media network -- moving content such as recorded shows, photos, or music to other devices in the home.

Motorola also unveiled the DCC100, a slim, small-footprint set-top with built-in Follow Me TV media networking capabilities.

Aperto Raises $26 Million for its WiMAX Systems

Aperto Networks, a start-up based in Milpitas, California, raised $26 million in venture funding for its WiMAX base stations and subscriber units.

Aperto is a founding board member of the WiMAX Forum as well as a founder and lead contributor to IEEE 802.16 and the ETSI-BRAN standards. The company currently claims more than 200 customers in 65 countries.

The new Series E follow-on financing round bring the company's total capitalization to $120 million. The financing round was led by GunnAllen Venture Partners with significant participation from existing investors including JK&B Capital, Canaan Partners, Alliance Ventures, Innovacom, JAFCO, and Labrador Ventures.