Wednesday, April 19, 2006

ASTRA-1KR Satellite Successfully Launched

The ASTRA-1KR telecommunications satellite was successfully launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida aboard an Atlas V launch vehicle provided by International Launch Services (ILS).

ASTRA-1KR is a high-power Ku-band satellite belonging to SES ASTRA and built by Lockheed Martin. It features 32 transponders that will provide distribution of direct-to-home broadcast services across Europe.

HanseNet Launches Alice IPTV/DSL in Germany

Telecom Italia's HanseNet subsidiary is launching its "Alice" IPTV service in Hamburg, Germany and plans to expand country-wide over the coming months. The IPTV service include 100 standard definition channels and VOD delivered over DSL.

HanseNet has deployed Harmonic's DiviCom Electra 5000 Multi-Service Encoders for MPEG-4 AVC (H.264) digital video compression. The Harmonic-based headend encompasses standard definition DiviCom real-time encoders for low bit-rate MPEG-4 AVC video as well as the ProView receivers and decoders for scalable content acquisition. HanseNet also uses the versatile NMX Digital Service Manager for advanced monitoring and control.

HanseNet is Nagravision's conditional access system to secure the delivery of the content.


Harmonic Releases MPEG-2 HD Encoder

Harmonic introduced a new MPEG-2 high definition (HD) CBR/VBR encoder that can offer up to a 25% improvement in MPEG-2 HD compression efficiency relative to previous generation platforms. The new DiviCom MV 500 encoder offers and integrates seamlessly with Harmonic's DiviTrackIP distributed statistical multiplexing solution.

Harmonic said the new DiviCom MV 500 makes it possible for cable operators to deliver as many as four HD programs within a single 256-QAM channel. This represents a significant increase in channel density that can accelerate the transition to an all-HD world.

It also features a "LookAhead" multi-pass architecture, motion compensated temporal filtering (MCTF) and unique adaptive coding techniques enable the MV 500 to generate superior quality HD video at bit-rates previously unattainable with MPEG-2.

In VBR (variable bit-rate) mode, the MV 500 can be seamlessly added into an existing multiplex utilizing Harmonic's DiviTrackXE, an ASI-based closed-loop statistical multiplexer, to provide an immediate improvement in bandwidth efficiency and video quality.

The MV 500 supports both 1080i and 720p video resolutions as well as various audio formats including MPEG Audio Layer II, Dolby Digital AC-3, AAC, aacPlus and Dolby E.

Swedish MSO Selects Alcatel for IP/MPLS

Com Hem, the largest cable TV operator in Sweden, has selected Alcatel's for its IP/MPLS-based data backbone network. Specifically, Com Hem will deploy the Alcatel 7750 Service Router (SR) and the Alcatel 5620 Service Aware Manager (SAM). The IP/MPLS backbone will be capable of serving hundreds of broadcast channels, Video on Demand, VoIP and data services to 38 cities in Sweden. Alcatel is also providing a set of professional services including consulting solution design, project management, installation and maintenance.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

WildPackets Integrates Telchemy's VQmon VoIP Performance Analysis

WildPackets has integrated Telchemy's VQmon/SA into its OmniAnalysis
Platform to provide VoIP analysis and call quality monitoring. This enables media stream analysis and problem diagnosis of VoIP for enterprise customers.

WildPacket's OmniAnalysis Platform can provide visibility into multiple areas in a network from a centralized console - including Gigabit, 10/100, 802.11 wireless, VoIP and WAN links to remote offices.

Telchemy's VQmon technology can be used to detect, monitor and resolve call quality and network related problems for networked multi-media services, including Voice and Video over IP, IP Centrex, 3G Cellular, Voice over WLAN and streaming audio/video. VQmon provides subjective quality MOS scores, and detailed diagnostic information,
giving network managers both high level metrics and the ability to drill
down to identify specific problems.


Tundra Semi to Acquire Systems Solutions Business from Alliance Semi

Tundra Semiconductor, which supplies system interconnect products based on PCI-X and RapidIO, will acquire the assets of the Systems Solutions Business Unit of Alliance Semiconductor for US$5.8 million in cash.

Tundra said the acquisition broadens its product portfolio by adding PCI Express, HyperTransport and PCI bridges. These bridges are designed into systems currently in production at some of the world's leading communications companies.

Tundra expects the acquired products to generate revenues of between $1.7 and $2.0 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2007, which starts on May 1, 2006. Thereafter, it is expected that the revenues will grow between 5% and 10% per quarter.

Tundra expects to hire over fifty employees as a result of the acquisition.

http://www.tundra.comEarlier this month, Tundra Semiconductor announced the acquisition of Potentia Semiconductor (Canada) for C$1.4 million in cash. The acquisition includes the power controller business of Potentia Canada which Tundra will continue to operate. Tundra is not acquiring the digital video display device business of Potentia Canada. This business including all of its current employees and its customers will proceed as a new venture under the "Potentia Semiconductor Corporation" name.

Ericsson Renews Newport/Marconi Reseller Agreement

Ericsson Ltd has renewed the worldwide reseller agreement with Newport
Networks previously signed by Marconi.

Newport Networks' 1460 session border controller session border controller addresses the key service delivery issues of quality and security.

Iceland's Atlass�mi Deploys MERA Softswitch

Atlass�mi, an Iceland-based telco that delivers calling card and broadband telephony services, has deployed MERA Systems' VoIP Transit Softswitch for intelligent management of its VoIP sessions. Financial terms were not disclosed.

MERA noted that it now has over 450 real-life deployments in 50 countries. It estimates it controls 70% of the VoIP softswitch market in Russia & the CIS countries and about 4% worldwide. http://www.mera-systems.com

Widevine Raises $16 Million from Cisco, TELUS

Widevine Technologies, a provider of downloadable content protection and digital forensics solutions, announced strategic investments by Cisco Systems and TELUS. The Series C strategic round, worth a total of $16 million, includes follow-on investment from VantagePoint, Bear Stearns Constellation Ventures, Pacesetter Capital and Phoenix Partners.

Widevine's products enable the acquisition of premium broadcast and video-on-demand (VOD) content from all major studios and broadcasters. The company currently has over ninety telco, cable, satellite and internet service operator customers.

Cingular, Siemens and Georgia Tech Offer Cash Prizes for IMS Applications

Cingular Wireless, Siemens Communications and the Georgia Institute of Technology launched a program to encourage the creation of IMS applications. The initial project for the relationship is an IMS Research Competition, which challenges upperclassmen and graduate students in the schools of engineering, computing and business management to team together to create services blending audio, video, text messaging, chat and gaming in the open-systems IMS architecture. Qualified students who participate in the year-long competition will be eligible to receive a portion of $100,000 in cash prizes -- $35,000 of which will be awarded to the grand-prize winner.

The program includes developing an IMS laboratory at Georgia Tech, co-sponsored by the Georgia Electronic Design Center and the Office of Information Technology, for use by students and researchers.


NeuStar to Acquire UltraDNS for $62 Million

NeuStar agreed to acquire UltraDNS of Reston, Virginia, for $61.8 million in cash. UltraDNS provides managed domain name systems (DNS) services. Based on unaudited financial statements, UltraDNS' 2005 revenue totaled $12.6 million and the company was profitable. For 2006, NeuStar projects revenue growth for UltraDNS services in excess of 40 percent, and expects the acquisition to be accretive by the first quarter of 2007.

NeuStar serves as a neutral third party clearinghouse services to the global communications and Internet industry.

China Netcom Selects UTStarcom's IPTV in Harbin

China Netcom has signed a contract for the deployment of UTStarcom's RollingStream end-to-end IPTV solution in Harbin in the Heilongjiang in northeast China.

UTStarcom said this deal represents the single largest IPTV capacity deployment in China to date. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The contract is based on a commercial trial that was launched in May 2005. The initial deployment had a capacity of 100,000 concurrent media streams, covering the major metropolitan areas of the city. Currently, the service offers channels of live broadcast television with "time-shifting" capabilities, 48-hour TV-on-demand, and approximate 5,600 hours of video-on-demand.

The service has accumulated approximately 53,000 subscribers to date. UTStarcom has also announced commercial contracts in Shanghai and Fuzhou and Quanzhou in the Fujian Province, with an initial combined capacity of over 50,000 media streams.

EarthLink Increase Full Year Expectations

During the first quarter of 2006, EarthLink added 125,000 net PeoplePC Online subscribers and strengthened its position as a leading non-facilities based broadband provider by adding 85,000 net broadband and voice subscribers in the quarter. EarthLink said its was continuing to manage the decline of its premium narrowband subscriber base, which decreased by 179,000 net customers during the quarter.

EarthLink ended the first quarter with 1.4 million PeoplePC Online subscribers, 2.1 million premium narrowband subscribers, 1.7 million broadband subscribers and 123,000 web hosting accounts.

Overall, the average monthly churn rate was 4.6 percent during the first quarter, compared to 4.7 percent in the first quarter of 2005 and 4.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2005.

"Our traditional Internet access business is as robust as ever and continues to generate the cash needed to make the transition from ISP to total communications provider," said Garry Betty, EarthLink's chief executive officer. "Beyond our financial performance, we made great strides with our voice and municipal Wi-Fi initiatives during the quarter."

JDSU Adds 10G Module for Ethernet-over-SONET/SDH Test

JDSU introduced a new module for its ONT-50 and ONT-506/512 platforms that provide testing for Ethernet over SONET/SDH at up to 10 Gbps. The new module handles the differential delay generation and analysis of low- and high-order virtual containers and GFP and MAC frames for Ethernet traffic generation and analysis. The solution provides full emulation of the LCAS protocol, and easy capture and decode of LCAS messaging via the state tracer utility. By fully addressing these applications, JDSU's new SONET/SDH solution supports the test requirements of manufacturers and operators seeking faster return on investment (ROI), reduced operating expenses as well as new business and service models through these new technologies.

BellSouth Adds 263,000 DSL and 105,000 DirecTV Customers in Q1

BellSouth reported Q1 normalized revenue of $8.7 billion, up 4.5 percent year-over-year generated by growth in Communications Group, Cingular and Advertising & Publishing. Operating margins were 21.9 percent, improving year-over-year and sequentially. Normalized net income of $983 million grew 20 percent compared to the first quarter of 2005 driven primarily by Cingular's improved profitability.

Some highlights for Q1 include:

  • Communications Group revenue was $4.7 billion, a 1.3 percent increase compared to the same quarter of 2005.

  • BellSouth added a record 263,000 net DSL customers and served more than 3.1 million total customers at quarter-end.

  • Network data revenue was $1.3 billion, up 9.0 percent from the same period of the prior year. Retail data revenue grew 15.8 percent from the same period last year driven by a 31.8 percent increase in retail DSL revenue and ongoing growth in revenue from emerging retail data services such as BellSouth Metro Ethernet Service and BellSouth Virtual Private Network. Total wholesale data was stable as demand for wholesale services from wireless carriers remained strong.

  • BellSouth added 179,000 long distance customers and now serves almost 7.4 million long distance customers, a 59 percent penetration of its mass-market customer base.

  • BellSouth added 105,000 DIRECTV customers/ Through the first quarter of this year, 628,000 customers have included DIRECTV service in their communications packages.

  • As of March 31, 2006, total access lines were 19.8 million, down 238,000 compared to Dec. 31, 2005. Residential access line loss continues to be primarily driven by wireless substitution and, to a lesser extent, by competition from cable telephony providers. Retail residential access lines were down 120,000. Retail business access lines increased 21,000 driven by Small Business gains. Wholesale lines resold by BellSouth competitors were down 137,000 compared to Dec. 31, 2005.

  • Communications Group operating margin was 23.6 percent compared to 24.2 percent for the same quarter of the previous year. Margins were negatively impacted as the company incurred approximately $85 million in incremental expenses completing the network repairs associated with damage caused by Hurricane Wilma which struck southern Florida in late October 2005.

KPN Selects World Wide Packets / Lucent for Ethernet Rollout

KPN has selected World Wide Packets' Ethernet customer premise equipment (CPE) to support the rollout of Ethernet-based services to KPN's enterprise customers in The Netherlands.

World Wide Packets has entered into a reseller agreement with Lucent Technologies, which will supply the equipment, along with software and services, to KPN. Financial terms were not disclosed.

World Wide Packets' "LightningEdge" family of products provide premises-based connectivity for optical fiber-based point-to-point Ethernet networks.


TANDBERG TV Debuts IP Head-end, Following SkyStream Acquisition

TANDBERG Television introduced an IP-based system designed to change the face of IP video head-ends in both contribution and distribution networks and in large and small scale DTH cable, satellite, terrestrial and telco platforms.

The iSIS 8000 IP system includes MPEG-2, MPEG-4 AVC and SMPTE VC-1 video encoding and transcoding, IP multiplexing and new receiver/decoders, all under a single control and management system, nCompass.

The new TANDBERG MX8400 IP Multiplexer is a next generation product designed for central head-end applications including primary
multiplexing for large DTH satellite, cable and terrestrial and contribution and distribution systems. This open standards, IP based product enables the simplification of systems and with support for up to 4 independent multiplexed outputs from a single unit. The combination of statistical multiplexing and advanced multiplexing architectures ensures maximum usage of available bit-rate.

Conditional access integration is supported via the iSIS 8000, and a number of DVB Simulcrypt integrations are available at launch.

For large head-end and central office video processing, and local channel insertion and public, education and government (PEG) channel encoding, TANDBERG Television has integrated the SkyStream MediaPlex / iPlex into the iSIS 8000 system. The MediaPlex and iPlex are flexible switched digital video processing platforms capable of MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 AVC SD Encoding, MPEG-2 SD Transrating, MPEG-2 to MPEG-4 AVC Transcoding, multiplexing, de-multiplexing, routing and streaming. With their capability of simultaneous outputs over ATM, IP and ASI transport streams, the NEBS-compliant ultra-compact iPlex and high-density MediaPlex are the ultimate chassis-based solutions for hybrid transmission networks, such as dual cable and IPTV delivery to the home.

Other new iSIS 8000 system components and features to be launched at NAB include:

  • Dual GigE Encoder output - NAB will see the debut of the new TANDBERG dual GigE output card in the EN5900 and E5700 encoding ranges for MPEG-2, MPEG-4 AVC and VC-1. The encoder to multiplexer transport stream data connection has a dedicated high speed IP output and provides full redundancy protection of the transport stream data. The transport stream output from the encoder is transmitted on both outputs simultaneously as a multicast packet stream and full N+M encoder redundancy is provided. The dual GigE Encoder output option card also supports splitting of the encoder multi-program transport stream outputs into separate multicasts - so for example the EN5930's MPEG-2, MPEG-4 AVC and PIP programs can all be multicast on separate addresses.

  • TANDBERG RX1290 - a professional multiformat MPEG-2/MPEG-4 AVC SD/HD decoder that enables network operators and broadcasters to deliver IP streams of standard definition (SD) and high definition (HD) content from studio to studio and across networks to regional head-ends and affiliates. (see separate press release).

  • TANDBERG RX5130 Descrambler - the latest generation of the TANDBERG DVB-CA Common Interface Descrambler features satellite and transport stream input, with optional IP output, and is a key component in the turnaround of content into the broadcast head-end. By removing the previous transmission scrambling the RX5130 enables programming to be processed, and re-multiplexed for onward broadcast.

"IP is the great leveler in the digital video market. The future of IP is secure as the operational and cost efficiencies it provides bring enormous benefits to all operators," said Roger Bolton, VP of Business Development at TANDBERG Television.

Amino to Licence its IPTV Designs through Spinoff

Amino Technologies has established an independent business, IntAct Software Limited, to license its IntAct software solutions to set-top box (STB) OEMs and ODMs, semiconductor manufacturers, service operators and system integrators. In addition, service operators and integrators may also licence Amino's set-top box designs with unique signature form factor through IntAct Software Ltd.

The IntAct IPTV solution consists of both a client software stack and IP STB server management tools. Amino has undertaken extensive third party interoperability and pre-integration, enabling use with a wide range of middleware, conditional access, silicon, head-end system and browser technology. IntAct has been deployed in more than 500,000 set-top boxes in 80 commercial roll-outs. It has been ported onto six silicon platforms, in multiple software configurations, in MPEG2 and MPEG4 H.264, standard and high definition formats.

"The number of volume deployments of IPTV networks should increase significantly in 2007 enabling local manufacture that brings associated reductions in import costs and multi-sourcing of set-top boxes operating a common software solution to ensure service reliability. IntAct offers its licensees these benefits," commented Karthik Ranjan, Vice President Sales and Marketing, IntAct.

Sprint Nextel to Acquire Wireless Affiliate UbiquiTel

Sprint Nextel agreed to acquire UbiquiTel for approximately $1.3 billion, including the assumption of about $300 million of net debt.
UbiquiTel provides Sprint PCS services in mid-size markets in California, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Nevada, Tennessee, Utah, Washington and Wyoming, covering 8.3 million people.

As of March 31, 2006, UbiquiTel served approximately 452,000 direct wireless subscribers and 151,000 wholesale subscribers. UbiquiTel employs about 425 people and had revenues for the 12 months ended Dec. 31, 2005 of $422.7 million.

SkyStream Updates VOD and IPTV Platforms

SkyStream, which is now a newly-acquired division of TANDBERG Television, announced several enhancements to its platforms that will be shown at next week's NAB2006 tradeshow in Las Vegas. These include:

  • zBand 6.0: zBand updates SkyStream's PUSH VOD platform to enable content delivery through both unicast and multicast networks, now letting subscribers access and manage their VOD services around the home through a broadband Internet connection. ReelTime Media Ltd. of Australia is using the new version of zBand to deliver VOD over broadband Internet to subscribers' television set-top boxes.

  • PiP: SkyStream adds integrated PiP capability to its Mediaplex and iPlex video headends, enabling consumers to simultaneously watch multiple MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 AVC standard-definition video channels on a single screen.

  • All-IP MPEG-4 AVC Video Headend: SkyStream's solution features integrated MPEG-2 to MPEG-4 transcoding. The NEBS-compliant Mediaplex and iPlex video headends can receive MPEG-2 video streams over IP IRDs, transcode MPEG-2 video streams from any source into MPEG-4 in one all-digital step, and then route the MPEG-4 content to any last mile network without purchasing costly video conversion devices.

  • MovieBeam: SkyStream will showcase a full retail display of MovieBeam, the largest PUSH VOD service in the U.S., which delivers the latest Hollywood movies to customers in 29 major metropolitan areas.