Thursday, September 7, 2006

Intelsat Supports 3 Italia's DVB-H Service

Intelsat was selected by Reti Radiotelevisive Digitali (RRD) to support 3 Italia's commercially available Digital Video Broadcasting-Handheld (DVB-H) mobile TV service. Launched in June, the service, called WalkTV, has already attracted over 140,000 clients.

3 Italia is using the IS-905 satellite, located at the 335.5°E orbital location, to broadcast a multiplex of 12 television channels from the 3 Italia network operations to over 450 UHF transmitters throughout Italy. The signal is then re-transmitted terrestrially from the UHF transmitters directly to mobile phones.


SFT Evaluates Hybrid Satellite/Mobile Broadcasting from Alcatel

Alcatel and SFR, the second largest mobile telecommunications operator in France with 17.4 million customers and 8,000 employees, are working together on different growth scenarios for the mobile TV market in France, as well as on a variety of marketing approaches to match different usage profiles and consumption models. Specifically, SFR will evaluate the technical performance of Alcatel's "Unlimited Mobile TV", a hybrid satellite and terrestrial solution in the S-Band. This solution has received the support from the French Industrial Innovation Agency.

Alcatel and SFR have exchanged comparative deployment cost information for the different mobile broadcasting solutions. Alcatel provided SFR with information regarding configuration, as well as the number of sites needed to deploy such an S-band network, and the two companies have jointly validated certain technical and cost hypotheses associated with this deployment.


FCC Considers Changes to 700 MHz Guard Band Licenses

The FCC is considering possible changes to the rules governing the licensees in the Guard Band portions of the 700 MHz spectrum band.

Although the main purpose of the Guard Bands is to protect public safety from adjacent commercial operations, the FCC has also permitted operations in the Guard Bands in order to allow for effective and valuable use of the spectrum. The Guard Band licensees, or Guard Band Managers, make the 700 MHz Guard Bands spectrum available either to system operators or directly to end users in varying degrees of quantity, geographic areas, and duration through private, written contracts known as "spectrum user agreements."

In 2000 and 2001, the FCC completed two auctions of Guard Band licenses. According to existing Guard Band licensees, only a handful of systems have been deployed since the completion of the auctions.

The FCC said it is now is seeking to promote more efficient and effective use of this spectrum.

"I am pleased that we are seizing this opportunity to simultaneously consider allowing more flexible operations for existing services while ensuring that public safety users have access to adequate spectrum. As we move forward in this proceeding, however, we must not overlook the digital television transition and our statutory mandate to soon commence an auction of 700 MHz spectrum," said Kevin Martin, FCC Chairman.

NDS Extends DRM from PC to the Set-top Box

NDS introduced a solution for TV operators that allows digital media on subscribers' PC's to be consumed via the set-top box (STB) over the home network. The new "XTend" software is designed for STBs that are capable of providing IP connectivity. It enables the STB to automatically detect PCs and Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices. XTend handles all format conversions so that content can be seamlessly transferred and viewed through the STB. XTend also provides a content filtering option, giving consumers a way to manage access to their PC content, while viewed on TV.

NDS, Intel and Viasat Demonstrate PayTV Broadcast Over WiMAX

NDS, in co-operation with Intel and Modern Times Group's Viasat Broadcasting (Viasat), demonstrated live pay-TV broadcast over WiMAX at the IBC 2006 show in Amsterdam. An NDS-Intel pilot program is looking into the feasibility of delivering TV over WiMAX and the viability of WiMAX TV as a business model.

Operators choosing to deploy the WiMAX TV solution from NDS will be able to deliver content over WiMAX to personal Consumer Electronic (CE) devices such as laptop computers and other handheld devices. The WiMAX TV solution includes content security, support for multiple business models, an Electronic Program Guide (EPG) and a user interface, both part of the NDS secure client.

The demonstration at IBC featured Viasat content encoded in MPEG-4 AVC using a Grass Valley Argos advanced H.264 real-time encoder and then delivered through the NDS WiMAX TV system over WiMAX to an Intel Centrino Duo mobile technology based notebook PC. http://www.nds.com

Nokia Supplies DVB-H Mobile TV Service for VietNam

Nokia and Vietnam Multimedia Corporation (VTC) announced a jointly-inked deal to launch commercial mobile broadcast TV services based on Digital Video Broadcast-Handheld (DVB-H) technology in two key Vietnamese cities by end-2006.

VTC, Vietnam's leading national broadcaster and operator in digital broadcasting, will make available its mobile PayTV services to consumer subscribers in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Consumers in both cities will be able to enjoy seven digital TV channels as well as a video-on-demand service from a catalog of selected title. The service is available on Nokia's Nseries DVB-H enabled multimedia devices, delivered by the Nokia N92 which will make its debut in Vietnam for this purpose.

JDSU Launches IP Video Test Capability

JDSU added a new SimulSource IP Video Generation Application to its digital and IP video test instrument, the DTS-330. The new software helps network equipment manufacturers (NEMs) verify equipment for IPTV and other triple-play service deployment by identifying and troubleshooting issues or improving performance before it is shipped.

JDSU said the ability for NEMs and operators to conduct stress test and verification on their own allows them to adjust, troubleshoot, and improve performance before equipment is deployed in the network.

SimulSource IP Video Generation Application supports this by generating hundreds of IP video test streams typically involved in a network carrying IP Video services, allowing NEMs to verify and stress test equipment using many types of encapsulation and signal layer analysis (MPEG, upper and lower layer protocol) for a full view of the equipment's performance.

The SimulSource software also enables the DTS-330 to perform testing/verification of both the output and input of multiple aggregated IP video streams over a Gigabit Ethernet pipe.

AMD Leverages Sun Grid Compute Utility Infrastructure

Sun Microsystems announced that AMD is using the Sun Grid Compute Utility for processor design and simulation. Rather than purchase additional infrastructure to conduct processor simulations, AMD opted instead to use the outsourced facility. In addition, because the Sun Grid is powered by Sun Fire servers based on AMD's Opteron processors, the company was confident that the performance of this platform would compare to that of AMD's own internal grid.

The Sun Grid Compute Utility provides access to high-performance computing resources on a pay-for-use basis for $1/CPU-hour.

QUALCOMM Licenses FLO Technology to Newport Media

Newport Media, a start-up silicon developer based in Southern California, signed a royalty-free agreement that enables it to use QUALCOMM's patented technologies to design, manufacture and sell certain semiconductor chip products that implement FLO technology.

FLO technology, a multicast innovation, is a Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) standardized air-interface technology designed to increase capacity and coverage and reduce cost for multimedia content delivery to mobile handsets. The FLO Forum recently gained official approval and publication of the FLO Air Interface Specification by the TIA TR-47.1 Subcommittee. http://www.qualcomm.com
  • Newport Media is headed by Mohy Abdelgany, who previously was a VP, Business Director and Founder of RF Solutions Business Unit ($500 million annual revenues at the time of Mohy's departure) at Skyworks , Conexant and Rockwell (1995-2004). Prior to joining Rockwell Semiconductor Systems, he was a Member of Technical Staff at AT&T Bell Labs (1989-1995).

Broadcom Extends Stock Option Revisions to June 1998, Sees Additional Charges

Broadcom announced plans to record an option-compensation expense of at least $1.5 billion, more than double its previous estimate. The company said that although its stock option award review is still ongoing, it has identified additional stock option grants for which the measurement dates differ from those originally used to record such awards. The grants at issue were awarded between June 1998 and May 2003.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

MetaSwitch to Offer Ditech Networks' PeerPoint SBCs

MetaSwitch will offer Ditech Networks' PeerPoint C100 Session Border Controller (SBC) as an element in its voice over broadband solutions for carriers. The agreement will place Ditech VoIP products in leading VoIP carrier networks while enabling MetaSwitch to provide secure, seamless interoperability at the network edge for carriers.

Harmonic Adds Multi-Channel MPEG-4 AVC Digital Splicing Solution

Harmonic introduced a platform for seamless real-time splicing of standard definition (SD) and high definition (HD) MPEG-4 AVC (H.264) video streams.

The ProStream 2000, which is a key element of Harmonic's IP-based video processing and delivery solutions, is also fully integrated with Entone's StreamLiner digital program insertion (DPI) solution. This enables end-to-end Harmonic and Entone solution for applications including national, local and targeted advertisement insertion.

Large scale introduction of new, high quality HD and SD digital television services is a critical requirement.

IBM's Tivoli Provisioning Manager Enables Wide-scale Virtualized Computing

IBM introduced virtualization software that enables companies to deploy and install software on tens of thousands of laptops, desktop PCs, wireless devices and servers. The new Tivoli Provisioning Manager, which incorporates technology IBM acquired from Rembo Technologies, senses when the network can handle software upgrades and automatically begins those upgrades when there is sufficient network bandwidth. It also runs automatic compliance checks -- such as validating that antivirus software is up-to-date -- and deploys the software across the infrastructure.

The software includes two new virtualization technologies:

  • "Adaptive bandwidth control" gives important business operations priority but allows administrative IT tasks, like anti-virus updates, to be handled whenever network space is available. For example, this eliminates the need for a bank to reserve extra servers or network space solely for administrative tasks such as updating applications across their ATMs.

  • "Peering," which is a grid computing-based approach to distributing software over long distances. It allows files, such as email applications or video clips, to be downloaded from a local server or a nearby desktop. Software is delivered faster to computer users while network traffic and hardware.

Redback Cites Momentum in China

Redback Networks reported that its SmartEdge family of multi-service edge routers have now been deployed in 22 of China's 32 provinces. The company said that over the last 12 months, it has 22 carrier wins in China, focused on the independently operated, provincial subsidiaries of China Telecom and China Netcom.

For China Telecom, this includes provincial carriers in Guangdong, Zhejiang, Fujian, Anhui, Hubei, Jiangxi, Yunnan, Shaanxi, Ningxia, Heilongjiang and Tibet.

For China Netcom, this includes similar deployments in Shandong, Liaoning, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Jilin, Henan, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia, Zhejiang, Chongqing and Yunnan.

In Thailand, True Corporation Public Company Limited, formerly Telecom Asia, has selected the platform for its next generation broadband IP network infrastructure.

Internationally, Redback noted that eleven of the top 20 DSL carriers have deployed its SmartEdge multi-service edge routers, including British Telecom, Belgacom, BellSouth, China Telecom, China Netcom, Chunghwa Telecom, France Telecom and Turk Telecom.

Juniper and Siemens Collaborate on IPTV in RESIP Lab

Juniper Networks and Siemens have expanded the focus of their RESIP (Resilient IP) laboratory in Munich to include testing, certification and demonstration facilities to ease the deployment of IPTV and multiplay service offerings.

The RESIP laboratory, which previously focused on VoIP, now accommodates full-meshed core and edge routing, access and aggregation solutions, IPTV and multiplay applications, and the underlying infrastructure, at scale. The RESIP laboratory is working closely with the IPTV and Multiplay Center of Excellence Laboratory in Westford, Massachusetts, which is also a resource designed to help assure readiness for providers' production service deployments.

Juniper Enhances E320 Broadband Services Router for IPTV

Juniper Networks announced a series of enhancements for its E320 Broadband Services Router targeted at IPTV and multiplay networks. The upgrades include new 10 Gigabit Ethernet and High Density Gigabit Ethernet interface cards with advanced multicasting optimization capabilities, enabling providers to support more subscribers, more services, and more network interfaces on a single platform. The E320 is deployed in over 28 networks worldwide, including some of the world's largest IPTV and multiplay networks.

The E320 Broadband Services Router is available with a 320 Gbps switch fabric and capable of scaling up to 128,000 subscribers per platform.

The new 10 Gigabit Ethernet Services Cards can be used for high-capacity trunks between the E320 and downstream Ethernet aggregation devices as well as upstream core routers. They also feature fine-grained Quality of Service mechanisms and hierarchical queuing capability.

The new 8-port High Density Gigabit Ethernet Cards enable greater density of the platform and feature multicast optimization. By distributing multicast processing to the line cards, the High Density cards reduce the load on the switch fabric and line modules. The interface cards also feature both line rate and oversubscription capabilities.

The new interfaces also extend the capabilities of Juniper's Ethernet Services Cards to the broadband edge, enabling providers to deliver multiple services -- each with assured levels of QoS -- over Ethernet.

Juniper also noted that its revenue to date surpasses $1 billion for its broadband services router family.

Amazon Launches "Unbox" Digital Video Download Service

Amazon launched its "Unbox" digital video download service offering customers thousands of television shows, movies and other video content from more than 30 studio and network partners from Hollywood and around the world.

Amazon is offering DVD-quality video with content encoded at 2,500 kbps using VC-1 Advanced Profile codec. A 30-minute TV episode = 600MB, 1-hour TV episode = 1.2GB, and a 2-hour movie=2.4GB. With a 3.0 Mbps DSL/cable, the estimated download time for the 30-minute TV episode is 27 minutes, the estimated download time for the 1-hour TV episode is 55 minutes, and the estimated download time for the 2-hour movie is one hour and 50 minutes.

Users need to download an Unbox Video player application, which currently works only Windows PCs. Apple Macs are not supported.

Unbox uses progressive download and company expects that most U.S. customers using cable modems will be able to start watching the videos within five minutes.

An Unbox "RemoteLoad" capability enables customers to make their video purchase from one computer, such as an office PC, and then download the file to another.

Unbox also automatically includes a second file optimized for playback on any Windows Media-compatible portable device.

Television series episodes are priced at $1.99 per episode; most movies cost between $7.99 and $14.99. Customers also may rent movies for $3.99.

Amazon Unbox customers are provided with a "Your Media Library" Web page that indexes and organizes their media purchases from, including books, CDs, DVDs and Unbox Videos.

Participating movie studios include 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Universal Pictures, Warner Bros. Entertainment, Lionsgate and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios.

Participating TV networks include A&E, Adult Swim, Animal Planet, BBC, The Biography Channel, Cartoon Network, CBS, Comedy Central, Discovery Channel, Discovery Health Channel, Discovery Kids, E! Entertainment Television, FINE LIVING TV Network, FOX, Fuel TV, FX, HGTV, The History Channel, KBS (Korean Broadcast System), Logo, MTV, Nickelodeon, Nick at Nite, The N, PBS, Speed, Spike, Travel Channel, TV Land and VH1.

TANDBERG's Next Gen Encoders Deliver HDTV at Under 6 Mbps

TANDBERG Television introduced its next-generation high definition (HD) and standard definition (SD) MPEG-4 AVC encoding solutions claiming bandwidth improvements of up to 50% over currently deployed MPEG-4 AVC units.

The product launch includes new EN8030 MPEG-4 AVC SD and EN8090 MPEG-4 AVC SD/HD ultra compression broadcast encoders, alongside the introduction of new MPEG-4 AVC HD and SD ultra compression encoding modules for the Plex range of high density, multi-channel encoders.

TANDBERG's new encoders enable HDTV services to be delivered at data rates below 6 Mbps, with similar improvements to SD services, and are designed to enable operators to deliver HD and SD multi-channel and single channel services across cable, satellite, telco and terrestrial networks.

The company said this step change in bit-rate performance represents tangible benefits to broadcasters and telcos.

  • For IPTV operators it enables 2 full-resolution HDTV channels over ADSL2+ @ 2km.

  • For satellite broadcasters it delivers transponder cost savings and the opportunity to add in more HD channels. For example, a 36MHz transponder with:

    DVB-S2 and QPSK - can fit more than 6 channels of full-resolution HD

    DVB-S2 and 8PSK - can fit more than 8 channels of full-resolution HD

The next-generation encoders also feature multi-channel capability and high density configurations. Running in HD mode from a single HDTV input, the platform is capable of generating 3 channels:

  • the main HD full resolution channel,

  • a secondary version of the main channel running up to full SD resolution, allowing operators to internally convert HD content to SD to also deliver their services to SD-only set-top-box consumers

  • a third "micro" channel for use in Picture-in-Picture, mosaic, and alternate/multi-view applications.

This multi-channel feature results in the new EN8090 HD MPEG-4 AVC broadcast encoder being able to deliver 1 HD + 1 secondary SD + 1 low resolution PiP service per 1RU, while the high density Plex systems are capable of 12 channels - 4 HD + 4 secondary (up to full SD) + 4 Low resolution (up to SIF / 1/4SD) services - in 1RU.

The NEBS-certified, telco-designed Plex encoders include both encoding and MPEG-2 to MPEG-4 AVC transcoding solutions.

Skype Offers Free Calls to All Landlines in France

French-based Skype users can make unlimited SkypeOut calls to landlines in France for free. The offer is valid in France from 07-September-2006 to 31-December-2006.

Skype said it launched the initiative after seeing a "huge success" from a similar program launched in North America in May.

TI Shows Mobile Personal Video Recording (PVR)

Texas Instruments, along with partners PacketVideo and Silicon & Software Systems Ltd. (S3), are showcasing mobile designs with personal video recording (PVR) technology. The demonstrations of TI's Hollywood DVB-H single chip and OMAP 2 platform include mobile PVR and picture-in- picture (PIP) functionality using PacketVideo's pvTV technology over a live DVB-H network.

Additionally, TI is showcasing an OMAP2420 mobile DTV solution, which also integrates S3's onHandTV DVB-H middleware. The onHandTV solution is a middleware platform for mobile TV applications. The demonstration shows a DVB-H Group C broadcast stream at up to 30 frames per second, supported by the PacketVideo framework. The S3 solution is also designed to enable PVR and PIP functionality.