Monday, April 2, 2007

AT&T Introduces IP-based Toll-Free Service

AT&T introduced IP Toll-Free service allowing business customers to efficiently manage and intelligently route calls using IP trunks.

Initially available to U.S. customers, the new service includes announcement options, routing management and reporting features that can bolster the capabilities of toll-free-number services used in contact centers, teleconferencing, voice messaging and other critical toll-free applications.

The AT&T IP Toll-Free service can intelligently route calls to both traditional and IP-based customer equipment, enabling customers to migrate their traditional circuit-switched-based call center and other applications to advanced IP-based infrastructures at their own pace. AT&T can also now provide AT&T IP Toll-Free to AT&T wholesale customers for use in their own, large call centers, supporting their evolution to the contact center of the future.

Later in 2007, AT&T plans to introduce Session Initiation Protocol (SIP)-based advanced routing functionality, including IP Transfer Connect Service. SIP-based technology allows for call transfers to take place either before or after calls are answered.

In addition, enhanced information delivery allows more data to be delivered to the transferring party or forwarded to the final called party. AT&T said these capabilities are designed to further improve the call-handling efficiency and resource optimization and, as a result, further reduce the customer's cost structure.

AT&T Launches "Free Access to HD Programming for a Year"

AT&T is offering HD programming at no cost for 12 months to qualifying new video customers within its traditional 22-state service area. New subscribers to AT&T U-verse TV service, where it is available, or to DIRECTV Service, and AT&T | DISH Network service (which is offered through Echostar) who mail in the required redemption forms, are eligible.

AT&T is offering more than 25 channels of HD programming through its AT&T U- verse TV service (where available) and up to 31 HD channels through AT&T satellite video broadcast services, DIRECTV Service and AT&T | DISH Network service. These HD lineups include premium movies, sports, news, home and gardening, food, family programming, classic films and pay-per-view channels.

The free access to HD programming offer, which is a value of up to $240, is one of the first consumer promotions to be featured across the AT&T 22- state footprint and is part of AT&T's efforts to deliver consumer benefits following the AT&T-BellSouth merger in December 2006.

The AT&T satellite video broadcast entertainment offer through AT&T | DISH Network is available now through May 31, 2007; through DIRECTV, the offer is available through June 26, 2007; and the AT&T U-verse TV offer is available now through June 30, 2007.

QUALCOMM Files GSM Patent Suits Against Nokia in Texas

QUALCOMM filed suit against Nokia in the Eastern District of Texas for infringement of two patents and in the Western District of Wisconsin for infringement of three patents. These cases are directed exclusively to Nokia GSM/GPRS/EDGE cellular phones.

QUALCOMM said its litigation is part of a worldwide effort to prevent Nokia from using its patented innovations without paying royalties. QUALCOMM has previously filed two other patent infringement lawsuits against Nokia's GSM/GPRS/EDGE cellular phones in the United States. There are similar cases pending in the U.K., France, Germany, Italy and China.

Sun Licenses Multithreaded 10 GigE Tech to Marvell

Marvell will build and sell high- performance networking products based on Sun Microsytems' Multithreaded 10 Gig E networking technology, which is a network interface designed to optimize throughput between multithreaded processors and the network. Sun said its technology can bridge the gap between the high throughput of increasingly powerful multicore, multithreaded processors and 10 Gigabit-per-second networks via a multithreaded, high-performance network interface.

Under the licensing agreement, Marvell will also build specific products for Sun using this technology. Marvell will offer its customers true 10 Gig E throughput tuned for virtualization. Marvell and Sun are collaborating to further spur innovation for upcoming generations of highly threaded Ethernet I/O in silicon, which are expected to include 10GbaseT, 40 Gig E and eventually 100 Gig E technology.

The Sun Multithreaded 10 Gig E Networking Technology employs multiple DMA channels to reduce the need for CPU resources for I/O processing. Sun said that in tests using SPARC or x64-based multicore servers, the Sun Multithreaded 10 Gig E Networking Technology can deliver application performance improvements of up to four times Sun's current network interfaces.

Sun also said the agreement with Marvell validates its charter to drive innovation and adoption of Sun technology in networking, cryptography and high-performance computing. It also affirms Sun's multithreaded, multicore computing strategy-embodied in the Solaris operating system and all Sun's SPARC- and x64-based systems.

Baynote Secures $10.75 Million for Content Guidance Software

Baynote, a start-up based in Cupertino, California, secured $10.75 million in Series B funding for its content guidance software for the business web.

Offered as a suite of Web 2.0 services, Baynote's Content Guidance software uses the "wisdom of community," or the implicit, emergent behaviors of peers, experts and the greater community to guide website visitors to the products, content, and social search results that increase website conversions.

The company said interest from online retailers in real-time product and content recommendations based on its patent-pending "UseRank" technology has risen sharply. For online retailers, Baynote presents shoppers with other products and related accessories that have proven up-sell and cross-sell capability, automatically increasing website conversion rates and average order sizes.

The funding round was led by Steamboat Ventures, the venture capital arm of The Walt Disney Company, with participation from Series A investors Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, JK&B Capital and Chess Ventures. Concurrent with the investment, Dan Beldy, managing director of Steamboat Ventures, has joined Baynote's Board of Directors.

The latest round brings total funding for Baynote to more than $15 million.

Comcast to Acquire Patriot $483 Million -- $6K per Subscriber

Comcast agreed to acquire the cable systems owned and operated by Patriot Media & Communications, a privately-held company owned by cable veteran Steven J. Simmons, Spectrum Equity Investors and Spire Capital, that serves approximately 81,000 video subscribers. Comcast will pay approximately $483 million in cash -- the equivalent of $5,963 per subscriber.

The deal covers systems located in central New Jersey including Princeton and other operations in Somerset, Hunterdon, Morris and Mercer counties, which are contiguous to Comcast systems in Monmouth, Ocean, Trenton and Northwest New Jersey.

Local Governments Ask Courts to Reverse FCC Ruling on Video Franchising

Several organizations representing local governments, including the National League of Cities (NLC) and the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM), file papers in federal court seeking to reverse the recent franchising order adopted by the FCC.

The groups argue that the FCC's Video Franchising order would severely restrict the ability of local governments to protect their citizens, rights-of-way, community channels and public safety networks. In addition, the groups believe that the FCC order would lead to a tremendous reduction in the revenues received by local governments for use of their rights of way, as well as loss of cable services to many governmental buildings and schools.

The formal Petitions for Review filed said the FCC order "exceeds the FCC's statutory authority," is "arbitrary and capricious," "an abuse of discretion, unsupported by substantial evidence, and in violation of the United States Constitution." The FCC order also "violates both the Communications Act and Administrative Procedure Act's public notice requirements," according to the Petitions.

Other organizations participating in the court challenge to the FCC order include the Alliance for Communications Democracy (ACD), Alliance for Community Media (ACM), National Association of Counties (NACo), and the National Association of Telecommunications Officials and Advisors (NATOA).
  • In late December 2006, the FCC voted 3-to-2 to approve new rules that prohibit local franchising authorities from unreasonably refusing to award competitive franchises for the provision of cable services. The vote is a victory for A&T, Verizon and other telephone providers seeking to enter the market for video services.

  • The majority of FCC commissioners concluded that the current franchising process required by local municipalities constitutes an unreasonable barrier to entry that impedes the achievement of the interrelated federal goals of enhanced cable competition and accelerated broadband deployment.

  • The new rules would prohibit towns or cities from engaging new market entrants in drawn-out local negotiations with no time limits; unreasonable build-out requirements; unreasonable requests for "in-kind" payments that attempt to subvert the five percent cap on franchise fees; and unreasonable demands with respect to public, educational and government access.

Tellabs Adds GigE Card to its Tellabs 1000 Multiservice Access Series

Tellabs has added a new Gigabit Ethernet card to its Tellabs 1000 multiservice access platform, enabling service providers to migrate their DSL and PON-based networks to IP by replacing older ATM switches with Ethernet infrastructure.

BEK Communications, a telecommunications cooperative serving 6,000 customers in south central North Dakota, is among the first service providers to trial the Gigabit Ethernet card. A long-time user of the Tellabs 1000 series, BEK will use the card to deploy IPTV in mid-2007.

Alcatel-Lucent to acquire Tropic Networks for Wavelength Tracker ROADM

Alcatel-Lucent will acquire Canadian-based Tropic Networks, a developer of metro optical transport systems, for an undisclosed sum. This transaction builds upon the collaboration the two companies established in July 2004 with the Alcatel-Lucent investment and global supply agreement.

Tropic Networks features a "Wavelength Tracker" technology that tags each wavelength in the DWDM layer with a unique signature that tracks, monitors and reports faults -- without requiring any additional DWDM transponders. This capability even distinguishing between multiple instances of the same color traveling through the network. Tropic said its Wavelength Tracker allows carriers to expand their optical services without adding unnecessary cost, yet still maintaining critical management capabilities. Tropic supports an IP-over-DWDM capability that allows third party transponders to be launched directly from the switch/router into the DWDM layer together with associated optical management and power control. A major cable operator has been using this IP over DWDM solution in their network for several years.

Alcatel-Lucent described the acquisition as a new, strategic step in focusing on cable MSO and telecom operators' key requirements for simplified network planning, accelerated wavelength/service provisioning and advanced optical monitoring technology. The further integration of key intellectual property developed by Tropic Networks, namely the Wavelength Tracker, enhances the competitiveness of Alcatel-Lucent's optical product portfolio. In combination with Alcatel-Lucent's ROADM technology, the advanced optical layer management technology developed by Tropic Networks delivers the flexibility and security to maximize network efficiency and operational cost savings. In addition, this acquisition provides for uninterrupted supply to Alcatel-Lucent and Tropic Networks' customers.
  • In January 2007, Tropic Networks announced a new means to measure chromatic dispersion in fiber networks. The new Wavelength Tracker technology enables Tropic to characterize the loss characteristics of each wavelength across an entire network, providing carriers with a chromatic dispersion map of their networks and enabling them to adapt as needed. Chromatic dispersion limits the optical network reach and data rate that the network can support. The issue becomes increasing critical at higher transmission, especially 40 Gbps.

    Tropic Networks already offered the capability to uniquely identify wavelengths (including multiple instances of the same ITU grid wavelength) and provide colorless add/drops on its ROADM modules.

  • Tropic Networks was founded in May 2000 by Kevin Rankin, formerly co-founder of the Broadband Copper Access division at Newbridge Networks; Dr. Dan Oprea, former senior architect at Nortel Networks and Mitel; Dave Coomber, former assistant VP of xDSL at Newbridge Networks; and Ben Bacque, co-founder of the Broadband Copper Access division at Newbridge Networks.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Apple Offers DRM-free Music Downloads -- 256 kbps Quality

EMI Music's entire digital catalog of music will be available for purchase DRM-free (without digital rights management) from Apple's iTunes Store starting next month. The DRM-free tracks from EMI will be offered at higher quality 256 kbps AAC encoding and will cost $1.29 per song.

In addition, iTunes customers will be able to upgrade their entire library of all previously purchased EMI content to the higher quality DRM-free versions for just 30 cents a song.

Apple said that iTunes will continue to offer its entire catalog, currently over five million songs, in the same versions as today -- 128 kbps AAC encoding with DRM -- at the same price of 99 cents per song, alongside DRM-free higher quality versions when available.

Rogers Wireless Offers Video Calling over HSDPA

Rogers Wireless, Canada's largest mobile operator with 6.8 million customers, unveiled a wireless video calling service over its new High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) network, the fastest wireless network in Canada.

In addition to wireless video calling, Rogers VISION allows customers to access video-on-demand, including the best on YouTube, ET Canada, CSI, and CNN; radio-on-demand, featuring live XM Satellite radio; and Rogers MusicStore with hundreds of thousands of music tracks.

As part of Rogers VISION, Rogers Wireless is first in Canada to offer subscribers access to the top 50 YouTube clips, updated on a weekly basis.

Freescale Develops Voice-Enabled GPON Chipset

Freescale Semiconductor introduced a voice-enabled Gigabit Passive Optical Networking (GPON) SoC. The multi-core MSC7120 integrates a Power Architecture CPU, a "StarCore" DSP and a data path engine to deliver a complete PON sub-system in a single device. Sampling is underway.

Freescale and Alcatel-Lucent initiated joint development of the MSC7120 after the companies agreed in 2005 to collaborate on delivering compatible, interoperable and cost-effective GPON technology to the market.The delivery of rich digital content to the home and small office via fiber takes a major step toward reality today with the introduction of the MSC7120 from Freescale Semiconductor -- the industry's first voice-enabled Gigabit Passive Optical Networking (GPON) SoC.

The multi-core MSC7120 integrates a "Power Architecture" CPU, a "StarCore" DSP and a data path engine to deliver a complete PON sub-system in a single device. It combines the high channel voice density of Freescale's MSC711x DSP device with the high-speed networking capabilities of the "PowerQUICC" II Pro platform featuring Power Architecture technology, a GPON media access controller (MAC) and Freescale's packet engine, which achieves Gigabit wire rate packet forwarding. The device supports the G.984 GPON GEM protocol and is designed to be compliant with the ITU-T standards.

North Carolina's Star Telephone Deploys Ciena's CN 4200

Star Telephone, an independent operating company (IOC) based in southeastern North Carolina, has selected Ciena's CN 4200 FlexSelect Advanced Services Platform for its core network infrastructure upgrade. Star is transitioning its legacy SONET network to a next-generation, service-enabled architecture to better support the delivery of high-bandwidth services including metro Ethernet, wireless, high-speed data and IPTV.

Supporting the ITU's G.709 Optical Transport Network (OTN) standard, Ciena's CN 4200 enables Star to overlay its SONET ring with a Coarse Wave Division Multiplexing (CWDM) system on existing lit fiber to carry two GbE circuits over the ring--with the capability to grow to 16 GbE circuits--to deliver more services faster.

Comcast Interactive Capital Invests in Vyatta

Vyatta, a start-up developing open source routing, completed its Series B financing led by Comcast Interactive Capital (CIC). The Vyatta system is available as a software subscription with tiered service and support options, or as a pre-configured hardware appliance. Vyatta has also sponsored the Vyatta Community, a public forum for Vyatta users and developers who are interested in open-source network innovation.

In addition to leading the round, CIC has joined the Vyatta board of directors, where it will assist the company in addressing service provider market opportunities for its open-source networking solutions that include routing, firewall, and VPN functionality as well as extensibility for many other network applications.

Comcast Interactive Capital was joined in the new funding round by all of Vyatta's existing investors, including JPMorgan Partners (as advised by Panorama Capital), ComVentures, and ArrowPath Venture Partners, bringing the total venture funding in Vyatta to $18.5 million. The funds will be used for operating capital as the company scales its market penetration and product delivery.

UK's Virgin Media Deploys Juniper Networks T-series

Virgin Media Group, the UK's largest cable operator serving 3 million customers, has deployed Juniper Networks T-series core routers, including the multi-terabit TX Matrix, to upgrade its IP backbone network. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Virgin Media, which was formed through the merger between ntl, Virgin Mobile and Telewest Global in 2006, is using the T-series for its next-generation IP network supporting bandwidth-intensive multiplay services such as IPTV, video on demand and VoIP. In addition to supporting all of its own broadband customers, Virgin Media also leases capacity on its core network to several of the UK's leading ISPs, so the Juniper Networks T-series will be supporting an expansive network capable of delivering Internet-based communications services to more than 12 million UK homes (more than 50 percent of the total households in the UK), and 85 percent of UK businesses.

Virgin Media also uses Juniper Networks integrated firewall/VPNs in its VoIP infrastructure, and the Juniper Networks Steel-Belted Radius family of high-performance RADIUS/AAA servers to provide centralized user authentication and access policy management.

Juniper noted that over 2,500 units of its T-series have been deployed worldwide.http;//

Vyyo to Supply 3GHz Network Passives by Cox

Vyyo has been selected as a supplier of 3GHz taps and passive network elements by Cox Communications, the fourth largest cable system operator in the U.S. Cox will use 3GHz elements from Vyyo within its coaxial network as part of its new build architecture and for business services in its existing network. Vyyo has received initial orders for 3GHz passives from multiple Cox systems.

Vyyo said its Spectrum Overlay solution is designed to allow cable companies to substantially increase bandwidth to fiber-like performance, leveraging their existing infrastructure and at a fraction of the cost (under $125 per home passed) to build new fiber networks. Spectrum Overlay leverages higher frequencies on the existing coaxial cable doubling downstream bandwidth and increasing upstream bandwidth by a factor of at least four.

AT&T Offers Managed Web-Security Service

AT&T introduced a network-based security service that provides advanced Web content and instant-messaging filtering.

AT&T Web Security, which is available to companies in the U.S. and internationally, is the newest addition to AT&T's enterprise security portfolio, which is focused on providing companies with security services "in the cloud" to help remove the dependency on hardware and software while supporting a "defense in depth" architecture with security features built into different network layers and supporting processes.

AT&T Web Security provides companies with network-based capabilities to perform Web-content filtering and screening for malware and spyware, and IM filtering for malware, without dedicated hardware or software requirements.

AT&T Web Security is designed to monitor all nonencrypted Web traffic, including HTTP requests, and replies to HTTP requests and IM traffic. It can operate independently or become fully integrated with AT&T's other managed security solutions.

Key features include:

  • Monitoring and reporting of Web traffic at the network level. Customers may choose to monitor individual end-users, which would require that the customer install software on the user's PC.

  • Web-based portal for administration and reporting, including customized browser alert capabilities and automated reports.

  • Near-real-time scanning of requested Web sites and files to ensure that even trusted locations and files are monitored.

  • IM-filtering capabilities with storage.

Nokia Siemens Networks Starts Operations, Offer 2007 Outlook

Nokia Siemens Networks officially started its operations as a merged company. It has five product business units - Radio Access, Broadband Access, Service Core and Applications, IP/Transport, and Operations Support Systems - that provide a full range of products and applications for fixed, mobile and converged networks. Additionally, the new company addresses the growing demand for services through its Services Business Unit, which has some 20,000 professionals worldwide.

Nokia Siemens Networks said its mission is to help its hundreds of customers across the globe meet the challenges of connecting the five billion people that the company believes will be "always on" by 2015. It has approximately 600 customers and operates in about 150 countries.

"Already starting as one of the leaders of the industry, we have a clear objective: to become number one. We want to be the number one communications enabler for our customers; the number one company connecting the world through seamless connectivity of mobile and fixed communications; and the number one workplace of choice for our employees. We also want to be known for operating with the highest standards of ethics and integrity," said Simon Beresford-Wylie, chief executive officer of Nokia Siemens Networks.

In terms of market outlook, Nokia Siemens Netwoks said that over the last couple of months there has been a narrowing of visibility and indications of a slowdown in spending in some regions. . As a result, Nokia and Nokia Siemens Networks now expect very slight market growth for the mobile and fixed infrastructure and related services market in euro terms in 2007. Previously, Nokia expected slight growth in the mobile and fixed infrastructure and related services market in euro terms in 2007. From April 1, 2007, the financial results of Nokia Siemens Networks will be consolidated to Nokia.

See also