Saturday, November 17, 2007

China to Allow Fixed-Line Operators to Enter Mobile Market

China's Ministry of Information Industry (MII) will grant fixed-line operators licenses for mobile telecom services "at an early date", according to a report from Xinhua news service. Mobile services are growing rapidly in China, while the number of fixed line additions (excluding broadband) has been stagnant in recent months.

Spreadtrum Acquires Quorum Systems for CMOS RF

Spreadtrum Communications agreed to acquire Quorum Systems, a San Diego-based fabless semiconductor company that specializes in CMOS radio frequency (RF) transceivers, for $55 million in cash and $15 million in stock, with up to an additional $6 million in cash for performance based earn-outs expected to be achieved over the next two years.
Spreadtrum offers baseband processors for the mobile wireless communications market.

Quorum, which was founded in 2003, has developed CMOS multi-band multi-mode RF transceivers, including its QS1000 transceiver for multi-band GSM/GPRS/EDGE applications and its QS3000 transceiver for combined GSM/GPRS/EDGE and 3G HSDPA applications.

SES SIRIUS 4 Satellite Successfully Launched

The SES SIRIUS 4 communications satellite was successfully launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome aboard a Proton/Breeze M launch vehicle by International Launch Services (ILS).

SIRIUS 4, which was designed and built by Lockheed Martin, will provide direct-to-home broadcast and interactive services across Scandinavia, Europe and Africa. It features 46 active Ku-band high-power transponders in the BSS and FSS frequency band. In addition, it is equipped with an active Ka-band transponder for interactive applications in the Nordic and Baltic regions. The spacecraft is equipped with a sub-Sahara African beam to complement existing coverage of Africa, which is accomplished using six additional active Ku-band FSS transponders. Additionally, there is an interconnect payload that connects Africa and Europe with a second Ka-band transponder.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

MontaVista and Movial Target Linux Mobile Devices

MontaVista Software and Movial announced a joint solution based on the ARM architecture for developers of consumer electronics and mobile devices. The joint solution includes the MontaVista embedded Linux operating system, MontaVista DevRocket development tools, and the Movial Internet Experience Suite (IXS) to provide custom-branded user interfaces that seamlessly combine Internet browsing, Internet communications, media consumption, and other functionalities needed in mobile devices.

The joint solution will be available in the first quarter of 2008 based on MontaVista Mobilinux 5.0 running on the Texas Instruments OMAP platform, and will be enabled on MontaVista Linux Professional Edition later in 2008.

SMC's Offers 10G Network Adapter at $799

SMC Network announced a new line of 10G network adapters --- including a standards-compliant 10GBASE-T server adapter: the SMC10GPCIe-10BT with an MSRP of $1299. Also available is a 10Gigabit optical server adapter: the SMC10GPCIe-XFP, at and MSRP of $799.

"Price has been a barrier to widespread 10-gigabit Ethernet adoption," said SMC Network's Director of Product Marketing, Iain Kenney. "SMC's new 10G network adapters are designed around the concept of stateless offload, or leveraging the host CPU more efficiently to get the job done, which allows for a more attractive price/performance ratio."

Zayo Acquires VoicePipe

Zayo Bandwidth, a regional provider of high bandwidth services, announced the formation of a new business unit called Zayo Managed Services and has named Dennis Kyle as the unit's president.

In addition, the company announced that it has acquired privately held VoicePipe Communications, a provider of retail VoIP services. VoicePipe originated as a hosted PBX service offering of ICG Communications, a Colo.-based company, until early in 2006 when the business unit was spun off to form VoicePipe Communications, Inc. ICG subsequently was sold to Level 3 Communications. VoicePipe will become part of the newly formed business unit. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Zayo Bandwidth has recently completed four acquisitions: Onvoy, a 1,400-mile fiber network serving Minnesota; Indiana Fiber Works, a 2,200 fiber-route-mile network serving Indiana; PPL Telcom, a 4,600 fiber-route-mile network based in Allentown, Penn. serving areas in the Northeast; and Memphis Networx, a 200 fiber-route-mile network serving the greater Memphis, Tenn. area.

Vodafone and Verizon Wireless Form Global Services Group

Vodafone and Verizon Wireless announced a new global services program aimed at multinational companies. The program will provide a consistent approach to products and pricing. In addition, business customers served by a global account team will be able to have one contract to cover their mobile needs -- in the United States, Europe and elsewhere.

EarthLink Considers Strategic Alternatives for Municipal Wi-Fi

EarthLink is evaluating strategic alternatives for its municipal wireless business, including the possible sale or shut down of the operations. The company said the net book value of the assets attributable to its municipal wireless business is approximately $40 million.

"After thorough review and analysis of our municipal wireless business we have decided that making significant further investments in this business could be inconsistent with our objective of maximizing shareholder value," said Rolla P. Huff, EarthLink president and CEO.
  • In August 2007, Earthlink announced a corporate restructuring that included the elimination of approximately 900 jobs and the closure of its offices in Orlando, Knoxville, Harrisburg (PA) and San Francisco. The company cited weakness in its subscription based model.

Tollgrade Appoints Ferrara as CEO

Tollgrade Communications, a supplier of network service assurance products for the cable and telecom industries, has appointed Joseph Ferrara as president and CEO, replacing Mark Peterson, who resigned to pursue other career interests. Ferrara, who joined Tollgrade in August 2007, previously served as the company's Senior Vice President of Marketing and Sales. Before that, he was with Ericsson, where he managed the integration of Marconi North America following its acquisition and was the General Manager of Ericsson's Data Networks division.

Previously, Ferrara was CEO of Marconi's North American operations where he managed the global business of its wireless and data networks divisions.

Cisco WebEx MeetMeNow Integrates with Microsoft Office

Cisco's WebEx group launched a new version of its Web meeting service that adds personal video conferencing capabilities and one-click Web meetings from within Microsoft Office.

The MeetMeNow service, priced at $49 per month, integrates data, voice and video. Capabilities include:

  • The ability for the user to share the entire desktop in real time, complete with rich annotation tools

  • View Web meeting participants via integrated video conferencing

  • Launch meetings directly from the Windows system tray, Microsoft Outlook and Office, Yahoo, MSN Messenger or AIM

  • Invite attendees to join a conference call

  • Pass control of documents or applications to any attendee in real time.

Cisco Authorizes Up To $10 Billion in Additional Stock Repurchases

Cisco's board of directors authorized up to $10 billion in additional repurchases of its common stock, increasing the total authorized amount under the program to $62 billion. There is no fixed termination date for the repurchase program.

Since the inception of the repurchase program in September 2001 through the close of Cisco's first quarter of fiscal year 2008 on October 27, 2007, the company had repurchased and retired 2.3 billion shares at an average price of $19.89 per share for an aggregate purchase price of $46.2 billion, with a remaining authorized amount of $5.8 billion

France Telecom to Acquire 51% of Telkom Kenya

The Kenyan State selected a consortium controlled by France Telecom as the preferred bidder for the acquisition of a 51% stake in the incumbent operator, Telkom Kenya, for a consideration of US$390 million (about EU 270 million). The consortium also includes Alcazar Capital Limited (15% stake in the consortium). The transaction is planned to close before the end of the year.

Telkom Kenya serves over 280,000 fixed line customers and will benefit from a new mobile license.

France Telecom said the investment fits with its strategy of targeted development in fast growing markets. Mobile penetration is currently lower than 30% in Kenya. The planned deployment of new submarine cables in 2009 is expected to boost Telkom Kenya potential in broadband services.

WSJ: Google Has Even Bigger Plans for Mobile Phones

Google is preparing to bid up to $4.6 billion on its own in the upcoming FCC spectrum auction, according to The Wall Street Journal, is a move that could position the company as a self-standing, national wireless operator. Though the company lacks experience in operating a carrier-grade network, it is running a prototype network on its campus in Mountain View, California.
  • In July 2007, Google declared its intention to bid in the upcoming auction for 700 MHz spectrum if the FCC adopts a framework requiring greater competition and consumer choice. Google outlined four criteria that it believes should be cornerstones of FCC policy regardless of who wins the spectrum at auction. Specifically, Google encouraged the FCC to require the adoption of four types of "open" platforms as part of the license conditions:

    * Open applications: Consumers should be able to download and utilize any software applications, content, or services they desire;

    * Open devices: Consumers should be able to utilize a handheld communications device with whatever wireless network they prefer;

    * Open services: Third parties (resellers) should be able to acquire wireless services from a 700 MHz licensee on a wholesale basis, based on reasonably nondiscriminatory commercial terms; and

    * Open networks: Third parties (like internet service providers) should be able to interconnect at any technically feasible point in a 700 MHz licensee's wireless network.

  • Sprint and Google have also previously announced an alliance focused on broadband mobile apps.

Nyquist Capital: Google's Secret 10GbE Switch

Google has designed, built and deployed its own 10 GigE switches in its datacenters rather than using any of the commercially available switches, according to a report posted by Andrew Schmitt on his blog at Nyquist Capital. Google is also known to build its own servers.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

IBM Envisions "Blue Cloud" Distributed Computing

IBM unveiled its "Blue Cloud" grid computing initiative to links large pools of systems and IT resources, allowing corporate data centers to operate more like the Internet. The goal is to enable computing across a globally accessible fabric of resources, rather than on local machines or remote server farms.

IBM said Blue Cloud will be based on open standards and open source software supported by IBM software, systems technology and services. The first Blue Cloud offerings are expected to be available in the spring of 2008.

IBM's first Blue Cloud offerings will use Power and x86 processors. At an event in Shanghai, IBM demonstrated how cloud computing technologies, running on IBM BladeCenters with Power and x86 processors and Tivoli service management software, dynamically provision and allocate resources as workloads fluctuate for an application. IBM also expects to offer a System z "mainframe" cloud environment in 2008, taking advantage of very large number of virtual machines supported by System z. IBM also plans to offer a cloud environment based on highly dense rack clusters.

"Blue Cloud will help our customers quickly establish a cloud computing environment to test and prototype Web 2.0 applications within their enterprise environment," said Rod Adkins, Senior Vice President, Development and Manufacturing for IBM Systems & Technology Group.

Cox Reaches 3.6 million Cable Modem Customers

Cox Communications reported continued growth in mature markets and noted the tenth anniversary of its bundle of video, telephone and high-speed Internet services this fall.

Key year over year growth metrics at the close of the third quarter include:

  • 5.9 million total residential customer relationships; 1.65% growth

  • 3.7 million bundled customers; 9.5% growth

  • 2.3 million telephone subscribers; 19% growth. Phone penetration has reached 25% companywide. Sell-in of telephone service to new customers is greater than 33%, and in Orange County, the company has greater than 50% share of the landline phone market.

  • 3.6 million high-speed Internet subscribers; 12.3% growth

  • 3.0 million digital cable subscribers; 11.3% growth

  • 531,000 "non-video" residential customers; 23% growth.

Cox launched residential telephone service in Orange County, California, in September 1997 and digital cable a month later. High-speed Internet service was launched in December 1996.

Airvana Develops CDMA Femtocell

Airvana announced several milestones in its development of CDMA femtocell technology. The company is working on a femtocell that supports both 1xRTT and EV-DO services -- an industry first. Airvana's CDMA femtocells are currently in trials with mobile network operators and are expected to be commercially available in the second half of 2008.

Airvana said it will offer operators a complete access network infrastructure solution for femtocells. This includes CDMA femtocells, Femto Network Gateway service provided by the Universal Access Gateway (UAG), and configuration, monitoring and management software.

Nortel Outlines SOA-based Communications-Enablement Strategy

Nortel outlined a new SOA-based Communications-Enablement strategy, which includes plans to enhance many of its existing call server and SIP application products by enabling web service capabilities, as well as introduce a new generation of products that are built specifically to meet the needs of SOA-based environments.

Nortel's Communications Enablement strategy, which is aimed at both enterprises and carriers, is based on four core components:

  • enabling web services on selective products and solutions,

  • the development of a software-based foundation environment to simplify the creation of customized communications-enabled applications and business processes,

  • alliances with IBM and others,

  • the development of a global services practice to support these SOA-based applications and solutions.

Nortel recently unveiled Web Services enablement on the Application Server 5200 and Communication Server 2000 IP Multimedia Softswitch, which allow service providers to offer their enterprise and residential customers interactive multimedia communications tools for their websites based on functionalities such as instant messaging, videoconferencing and presence.

Nortel has also rolled out Web Services capabilities on its Contact Center and Advanced Speech platforms.

In addition to enabling Web Services on existing softswitches and SIP application servers, Nortel is developing a software-based foundation environment that enables network engaged applications (or services) across a customer's multi-vendor communications infrastructure. Nortel said this new product, which is expected to be available in Q1 2008, will integrate real-time services in a multi-vendor infrastructure environment across multiple domains (enterprise, carrier, wireless and wired).

Nortel Teams with IBM for Service Oriented Architecture (SOA)

Nortel and IBM will collaborate to offer a software-based foundation that ties together business applications and processes with unified communications and collaboration tools using the principles of service oriented architecture (SOA).

Under a newly announced deal, the IBM WebSphere Application Server will be integrated into Nortel's new software-based solution foundation environment. Nortel is abstracting communication components from the underlying existing telecom infrastructure and making them available within this new web services-based environment. br>

In addition, Nortel's software based foundation environment will be integrated with IBM's unified communications and collaboration platform, Lotus Sametime. This will enable capabilities like click to call, click to conference, telephony presence and shared directory services in Lotus Sametime. br>

The companies said their collaboration will allow companies to create SOA-based communications-enabled applications and business processes by linking together business systems and applications with communication systems and networks.

The companies also agreed to market communications-enabled solutions comprised of services, the Nortel software based foundation environment, IBM software and services and multiple hardware platforms including IBM BladeCenter and System x servers. br>

Nortel and IBM are initially targeting companies in the healthcare and retail markets.

Holland's SURFnet Deploys Nortel's Common Photonic Layer

SURFnet, which operates an advanced research network in The Netherlands, is using Nortel's intelligent optical solution to power its StarPlane project, which utilizes pure optical technology to deliver on-demand computing power.

The 40Gbps-ready Adaptive All Optical Intelligent solution for SURFnet includes the Dynamic Resource Allocation Controller (DRAC) which enables user-control of network resources for high-performance networking applications like computing and media services.

The StarPlane project provides researchers with access to massive computing power delivering the equivalent of the processing capacity of 500 personal computers to the desktop. StarPlane uses pure optical technology to link the Distributed ASCI Supercomputer 3 (DAS-3) computer clusters at five locations in The Netherlands into a grid to enable delivery of bandwidth on-demand, e.g. enabling computer scientists to reconfigure the topology of the distributed supercomputer. On-demand service activation of photonic networking is delivered using an extension to Nortel's Dynamic Resource Allocation Controller (DRAC) platform.

The SURFnet6 network, built using Nortel's Optical Multiservice Edge 6500 and Nortel's Common Photonic Layer, is deployed across the more than 7000 kms of optical fibre. SURFnet6 links to the international lightpath-capable networks in Amsterdam through NetherLight, the GLIF Open Lightpath Exchange in Amsterdam and to other European research networks for example through the pan European GEANT2 network.