Monday, January 8, 2007

T-Mobile Germany Selects Tekelec to Upgrade Signaling Network

T-Mobile Germany has selected Tekelec to upgrade its SS7 signaling network as it makes the transition to IP-based platforms and services. The upgrade introduces Sigtran -- IP-based signaling system 7 (SS7) signaling. Tekelec's EAGLE 5 Integrated Signaling System (ISS) supports a variety of applications in addition to SS7 signaling, including gateway functionality, number portability and integrated data acquisition.

The deployment, which began in October 2006, will be completed by the middle of 2007.

Tekelec described the introduction of Sigtran (SS7oIP) into the signaling network as the "stepping stone: for migrating to session initiation protocol (SIP) signaling in an IP multimedia subsystem (IMS) architecture. The underlying IP infrastructure can be leveraged for the parallel evolution from SS7 to SIP -- as SIP signaling is able to traverse over the same quality of service-enabled IP network.

PMC-Sierra and DASAN Win EPON with KT

KT has selected DASAN Networks, Korea's leading supplier of broadband access equipment, for a major FTTH rollout in the greater metropolitan area of Seoul. The number of subscribers under this deployment to reach 800,000 in the 2007 calendar year.

DASAN's gigabit per second EPON solution is based on PMC-Sierra's FTTH chip set using its GigaPASS architecture. DASAN provides ONUs (Optical Network Units) for FTTH Customer Premises Equipment and OLTs (Optical Line Terminal) FTTH equipment for central office equipment (COs).

Cablevision's Optimum Lightpath Connects 2,000th Fiber Building in NY

Cablevision's Optimum Lightpath division is now connected to 2,000 fiber-lit buildings in the New York metropolitan area. Its network now comprises more than 2,500 route miles of fiber optic cable (nearly 128,000 miles of actual fiber) within the New York metropolitan area, encompassing New York City, and the suburban areas of Long Island, Westchester County, Northern New Jersey and Southern Connecticut. The company delivers Metro Ethernet services.

Force10 Awarded Backplane and Routing Patents

Force10 Networks was awarded two patents protecting the 100 Gigabit Ethernet-enabled backplane and robust routing technology that powers its TeraScale E-Series family of switch/routers. Force10 now holds 18 U.S. and international patents.

Force10 said its TeraScale E-Series leverages several advances in both switching and routing technology to improve system-level processing and throughput. In its routing implementation, the TeraScale E-Series utilizes a patent-protected scheduling logic that more efficiently processes traffic, enabling very high system throughput. Working in conjunction with the routing capabilities of the Force10 TeraScale E-Series is the five Terabits per second backplane, which provides the necessary capacity to support 100 Gigabit Ethernet. The company noted that the patent-protected backplane of the TeraScale E-Series features innovations in design and fabrication to make it ideal for high performance routing functionalities. The high-layer count backplane combines significant power distribution capabilities with a large number of signaling paths to ensure support for 100 Gigabit Ethernet. Additionally, the unique techniques of construction produce a reliable and economical backplane that is a passive system component and does not act as a point of failure.

Slingbox Targets Social Networking with Clip + Sing

Sling Media, which offers the Slingbox place-shifting device, introduced a new technology called "Clip+Sling" that lets Slingbox customers share short segments of programming, live or recorded, with other Slingbox customers as well as the Web users at-large.

Clip+Sling is a feature that will be built into both the desktop and mobile versions of SlingPlayer software.

Customers will need a Slingbox to publish clips, but the content will be posted to an interactive portal accessible by anyone.

Beta testing is underway.

"How many times have you been watching one of your favorite shows or a big sporting event and couldn't believe what you had just seen and wished there was a way to share that moment with others? With Clip+Sling you now can do just that," said Blake Krikorian, co-Founder, chairman and CEO of Sling Media.

Cisco Outlines Vision of the "Human Network"

In a keynote address at CES in Las Vegas, Cisco CEO John Chambers outlined the company's vision of connected people and devices, the inevitable trend as consumer electronics makes the transition from analog to digital and become Internet enabled. Through its marketing and in its product development, Cisco is emphasizing "the human network" -- where content follows people wherever they go. Chambers demonstrated seamless handovers of a media file playing first on a car stereo, then a mobile phone, and finally a home audio system. The network tracks the users, preserving content and preferences across a range of devices.

The last wave of networking was driven from the Service Provider down to the consumer, but the next wave is being driven from the consumers up. Cisco hopes to leverage this trend through initiatives such as its recent deal with the Oakland As, helping to build new consumer experiences, and new revenue streams, through social networking. Cisco is also looking to push its life-size tele-presence systems from large enterprises to small businesses and soon to home users. The intelligence to deliver these consumer experiences will move into the network, said Chambers.

Some Cisco related news from CES:

  • Linksys announced its newest PowerLine networking products that are designed for HomePlug AV. The Powerline AV Ethernet kit comes with two Powerline AV Ethernet Adapters and two Ethernet cables. The first adapter can connect with the included Ethernet cable into a broadband wired or wireless router via the LAN port on the router, then the adapter plugs into a power outlet in the wall. The second Powerline AV Ethernet Adapter can then be plugged into a computer other networked device with the Ethernet cable via the Ethernet port and the other end of the adapter is then plugged into a power outlet within the home.

  • Linksys introduced its Wireless-N Gigabit Gaming Router (WRT330N). It includes four Gigabit Ethernet LAN ports, one Gigabit WAN port and an industrial design tailored specifically to the gamer audience. An optimized Quality of Service implementation within the router examines network traffic based on customizable settings and gives gaming packets the highest priority.

  • Linksys announced its entry-level networked attach storage solution, the Network Storage System with 2 Bays (NAS200). It includes two 3.5 inch SATA drive bays and two USB slots for additional storage capacity.

  • Scientific Atlanta demonstrated several products to help enable cable operators comply with the FCC regulations, including its Multi-Stream CableCARD and a range of set-tops, from standard-definition digital-only to dual-tuner high-definition (HD) digital video recorders (DVRs), as well as software solutions for both systems and clients. The removable security cards handle conditional access to and the encryption of premium cable channels.

Comcast Sees Triple Play and Business Services Driving Growth

Triple Play service bundles are driving growth at Comcast, said Brian Roberts, speaking at the Citigroup Entertainment Media & Telecommunication Conference, and new push into business services will extend this momentum. Growth in revenue generating units (RGUs) surged 85% in 2006 due largely to its Triple Play bundle, which provides voice, video and Internet access for $99 per month. Comcast aims to be a credible alternative to the ILECs in delivering services to small and medium businesses -- a market valued at $25 billion per year. Some highlights of the presentation:

  • Comcast now has 12 million digital cable subscribers, of which 1.7 million have the Digital Starter package ($50 per month), 6.2 million are Digital Cable subscribers ($65+ per month), and 4.1 million subscribe to Digital Cable + HD/DVR ($75+ per month).

  • Comcast's VOD library currently offers over 8,000 program choices, including some 800 film (300 available at no extra charge). Customers watched over 20 million of the free movies in December.

  • There were 1.9 billion VOD views for all of 2006 -- over 95% were for the free content. Customers typically use On-Demand viewing 27X per month.

  • Comcast's "PowerBoost" cable modem service is now delivering downlink rates in the 12~16 Mbps range.

  • Comcast now has over 11 million high-speed Internet customers.

  • Comcast's Digital Voice service now has a 4% penetration rate. The company's goal is to achieve a 20% penetration rate by year end 2009.

An archived version of the webcast is available on the company's website.

iSkoot Puts Skype on Motorola RAZR and Symbian

iSkoot, a start-up based in Cambridge, Mass., announced that the iSkoot client software has been Skype Certified. iSkoot, which is initially available only in the US market, allows mobile phone users to place and receive Skype calls from their handsets, without the need for PCs, special hardware, or WiFi hot spots. Users use local rates or minutes from their plans to speak to Skype contacts or use SkypeOut to make inexpensive calls to any phone from their mobiles.

Initially, the iSkoot client software supports Motorola RAZR phones and Symbian-based mobile phones,

Apple and Cisco Discuss iPhone Trademark

Cisco Systems said that is close to an agreement with Apple regarding the use of its "iPhone" trademark.
  • Cisco's Linksys division unveiled a new iPhone for Skype that works on 802.11g networks. The iPhone Wireless-G Phone for Skype (WIP320) makes Skype portable by integrating it into a Wireless-G handset, allowing consumers to place calls from anywhere they can connect to a wireless access point. The product is offered in North America through distribution, online retailers and VAR partners. Europe, Asia and LATAM availability is planned for Q1 2007. Estimated Street Price: $199.99.

Apple's iTunes Store Reaches New Milestones

Apple announced new milestones for its iTunes store: more than two billion songs, 50 million television episodes and over 1.3 million feature-length films have been purchased and downloaded to date. The company said this make it the leading online music, TV and movie store.

The iTunes Store now features over four million songs, 250 feature films, 350 television shows and over 100,000 podcasts.

Apple TV to Ship in February for $299

Apple will begin shipping its "Apple TV" digital hub in February at a list price of $299. The device can play iTunes content stored on a Mac or PC on a widescreen TV, including movies, TV shows, music, photos and podcasts.

Apple TV features a new user interface and the same Apple Remote available with current Macs. It can auto-sync content from one computer or stream content from up to five additional computers. The box features a 40GB hard drive to store up to 50 hours of video, 9,000 songs, 25,000 photos or a combination of each. It offers HDMI, component video, analog and optical audio ports.

Apple's iTunes store will also begin offering movies from Paramount, expanding the video content library to over 250 feature-length movies and 350 TV shows in near DVD quality; four million songs, 5,000 music videos, 100,000 podcasts and 20,000 audiobooks.

Apple Unveils iPhone, Partners with Cingular, Google, Yahoo!

Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the long awaited iPhone -- combining a GSM phone, a widescreen iPod with touch controls, digital camera, WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities and Internet communications, including email, web browsing, searching and maps. Apple also announced a multi-year partnership with Cingular -- now part of AT&T -- which will offer the iPhone starting in June for $599.

"iPhone is a revolutionary and magical product that is literally five years ahead of any other mobile phone," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "We are all born with the ultimate pointing device--our fingers--and iPhone uses them to create the most revolutionary user interface since the mouse."

Key features include:

  • a quad-band GSM phone which also features EDGE and Wi-Fi

  • a 3.5-inch widescreen display with soft controls rather than fixed buttons

  • three built-in sensors --- an accelerometer that detects when the user has rotated the device from portrait to landscape; a proximity sensor that detects when you lift iPhone to your ear and immediately turns off the display to save power and prevent inadvertent touches; and an ambient light sensor that automatically enhance the user experience and extend battery life.

  • an SMS application with a full QWERTY soft keyboard to easily send and receive SMS messages in multiple sessions.

  • a 2 megapixel camera and a photo management application that lets users organize and email photos

  • a widescreen iPod with touch controls

  • support for most POP3 or IMAP mail services

  • Yahoo! will offer a new free "push" IMAP email service to all iPhone users that automatically pushes new email to a user's iPhone.

  • a Safari web browser that shows web pages in their native format and also includes built-in Google Search and Yahoo! Search

  • Google Maps

  • iPhone will be available in the US in June 2007, Europe in late 2007, and Asia in 2008, in a 4GB model for $499 and an 8GB model for $599.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

SanDisk Backs "Flash DVD Player" for Porting Content from PC to TV

SanDisk is promoting the concept of using a small, Flash-based media player/drive as a convenient way to transfer digital media files, including downloaded movies, from a broadband-enabled PC to a TV.

A new USBTV Forum is being formed to stimulate industry-wide acceptance by consumer electronics manufacturers, TV and display manufacturers, content providers and related technology companies.

At CES in Las Vegas, SanDisk demonstrated a product concept that employs a TV cradle and a remote control, allowing USBTV to connect to a TV set. The device uses a multimedia processor that converts the stored files into various TV video/audio formats for direct playback on virtually any TV without the need for any changes to the TV set.

The first pocket-sized players, expected to be available this spring, allow consumers to access an on-screen guide where they can pick and choose from content they've stored on the USBTV player and play it on a TV.

SanDisk said it has consulted with LG Electronics, Mitsubishi Digital Electronics, Pioneer Electronics on product requirements. Other companies contributing to USBTV initiatives include Akimbo Systems and Movielink is also working closely with the Forum to enhance concepts focused on supporting and protecting movies and other rights-managed video content.


Samsung Selects Agere's TrueONE for Digital Home Apps

Samsung has chosen Agere Systems' TrueONE solutions to develop its home media server and gateway for mobile and broadband network service providers. The home media server provides high-speed streaming throughout a home for up to eight simultaneous HDTV channels. The server also delivers up to 4 terabytes of multimedia storage capacity.

Samsung's next-generation home gateway can enable deep packet inspection at up to 2 Gbps, enabling new services such as mobile tele-media and security services.

Sprint Nextel Trims Expectations and Jobs

Sprint Nextel updated its financial outlook and detailed its plans to improve operational performance, including job cuts. The company will reduce its overall full-time headcount by approximately 5,000 from the 2006 year-end level of 64,600.

Based on preliminary data, Sprint Nextel said expects to report full-year 2006 consolidated operating revenues of approximately $41.0 billion, while Adjusted Operating Income Before Depreciation and Amortization (adjusted OIBDA) continues to be projected in a range of $12.6 billion to $12.9 billion. Total capital expenditures are estimated to be $7.0 billion to $7.3 billion.

For 2007, the company now expects consolidated operating revenues of $41 billion to $42 billion. In 2007, revenue growth from a larger subscriber base is expected to be offset by lower average revenue per subscriber and lower wireline revenues. Adjusted OIBDA of $11 billion to $11.5 billion, inclusive of approximately $300 million of start-up operating costs associated with WiMAX 4G broadband services.

During the fourth quarter, Sprint Nextel added 742,000 total net subscribers and ended the period with a base of 53.1 million. The fourth quarter net additions include 876,000 from wholesale and affiliates, and 171,000 new Boost customers, which were offset by a decline of 306,000 post-paid subscribers. Post-paid performance in the quarter reflects solid gains in CDMA subscribers, offset by a decline in the iDEN base.

In a statement, Gary D. Forsee, the company's chairman and chief executive officer, said: "Our plans for the coming year build on the efforts we initiated in the second half of 2006. Sprint Nextel has substantial assets, including unparalleled spectrum ownership and network capabilities and a significant head start on providing converged services and fourth-generation wireless services. In the near term, a lower margin revenue mix, investment of an additional $1.1 billion in our business operations and start-up costs associated with the build-out of our fourth generation WiMAX wireless network will pressure profitability. We will continue to adjust our cost structure, which will include a workforce reduction, as we meet the changing demands of the business. Over the course of the year we expect to resume growth of the post-paid customer base and stabilize these revenues, improve post-paid churn to below two percent and achieve increasing merger synergies. We expect these actions to support a return to mid-single digit revenue growth and mid-to-high teen adjusted OIBDA growth in 2008, prior to dilutive impacts from the 4G initiative."

Other highlights include:

  • Sprint Nextel added more than 3,400 cell sites in 2006.

  • In the coming year, Sprint Nextel expects to further increase network coverage and capacity with the addition of approximately 4,800 new cell sites and to extend mobile broadband technology throughout its CDMA network.

  • The company expects to complete the conversion of its entire customer base to a unified billing platform in 2007 from the multiple legacy platforms in place today.

  • A new call center dedicated to serving Boost customers will be opened and the number of business and consumer centers will be expanded during the year.

  • The handset portfolio has been re-energized with 10 new models, including ultra-thin CDMA phones from Motorola and Samsung. The company has made initial customer deliveries of combined CDMA-iDEN devices and plans to launch national marketing in mid-January under the name PowerSource.

  • The company intends to use the Boost Mobile brand and leverage its lower cost structure in a trial of a new local unlimited calling plan that will operate on the CDMA network in selected markets.

  • The company expects handset subsidies to increase in 2007 as compared to subsidies in 2006.

  • The company's VoIP offering with its cable partners now covers 30 million cable households. Sprint Nextel currently serves nearly 1.5 million cable telephony subscribers, and this base is expected to double by the end of 2007.

  • Wireless service offered through the joint venture with the cable partners was commercially launched in four markets in November. More than 40 additional markets.

  • 2007 capital expenditures are expected to be approximately $8.5 billion, consisting of $7.1 billion for core wireless networks and spectrum re-banding efforts, $600 million for wireline and up to $800 million for the company's WiMAX initiative.

Verizon Unveils Verizon One Home Communications Hub

Verizon introduced a second generation version of its home communications hub. The FiOS-generation of the Verizon One device features a digital cordless phone mounted on a tablet-sized base.

Using the device, FiOS customers can access their e-mail and voice mail; log into personal calendars and address books; consult movie listings; and check the latest news and weather. Additional features planned for the future would allow customers to access traffic reports; order a pizza or movie tickets online; and send memos or text messages to family members.

Services will be available through a combined, built-in WiFi and Ethernet connection to allow access to Internet-based content. Multiple USB ports will be added to accommodate the peripheral devices. Software developed by Verizon will seamlessly connect telephone and online functions to the new device, which can be located any place in the customer's home where there is access to a phone jack and an electrical outlet.

The Verizon One device, which is expected to be available this spring, is provided under a multi-year contract with OpenPeak, a leading developer of converged technology products.

Microsoft SPOT to Beam Data to Garmin GPS Devices

Garmin is integrating Microsoft's Smart Personal Objects Technology (SPOT) into its Global Positioning System (GPS) devices to enable consumers to receive dynamic local information, including weather condition and traffic updates, movies listings, and gas prices.

Microsoft SPOT also announced plans to work with future versions of Microsoft Streets & Trips and Pharos Science & Applications Inc. to offer MSN Direct Navigation Services to their devices. In addition, Microsoft SPOT is working with Centrality Communications Inc. to integrate MSN Direct with its GPS reference designs, one built around Centrality's Atlas-III processor and a second one for the higher-end multimedia Titan processor.

The MSN Direct service is delivered through Microsoft's DirectBand Network using FM radio signals. The network covers about 70% of the U.S. population.

Motorola Lands Next-Gen Digital Set-Top Deal with Comcast

Comcast is expanding its multi-year purchase agreement for digital set-tops with Motorola. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Under the expanded deal, Comcast will purchase several set-top models from Motorola, including dual-tuner, HD DVRs, and all-digital cable receivers. These next-generation digital set-tops will support Comcast's Residential Network Gateway (RNG) specification along with the Open Cable Application Platform (OCAP) initiative. Several of the models will support Motorola's Follow Me TV solution and Motorola's Linux-Java software platform. Specific models will be compliant with government-mandated separable security, including CableCARD technology, as required.