Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Italy's Wind Launches IPTV with Alcatel-Lucent, Microsoft

Wind, a leading Italian telecommunications company, has launched a nationwide commercial IPTV offering based on Alcatel-Lucent's solutions and the Microsoft Mediaroom Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) and multimedia platform. The launch represents an important milestone in the multi-year frame agreement under which Alcatel-Lucent has been deploying its Triple Play Service Delivery Architecture (TPSDA) and is the end-to-end network integrator. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Wind's IPTV service is available to more than 2 million households in its first phase and offers an enhanced triple play user experience by enabling user-friendly features like instant channel change, multiple picture-in-picture, personal video recorder (PVR) functionality and video on demand (VoD).

Alcatel-Lucent's IPTV solution includes an IP/MPLS network infrastructure based on its 7750 Service Router (SR), combined with integration and implementation expertise. More specifically, the deployment includes:

  • VoIP services: an overlay IP network, based on the Alcatel-Lucent 7750 SR, was deployed to enable the seamless transition of Wind's TDM network to IP;

  • High speed Internet Services (HSI): Alcatel-Lucent has provided turnkey rollout of HIS, leveraging the simplified operation and architecture of ADSL;

  • IPTV services: Alcatel-Lucent has been responsible for introducing the network's triple play IPTV services using the Microsoft Mediaroom platform;

  • Full OSS/BSS (Operations and Business Support System) integration with existing Wind systems; and

  • Global network of P Transformation Centers (IPTCs): Field-proven expertise in end-to-end IP-based network, services and OSS/BSS re-engineering and integration using products from Alcatel-Lucent and a variety of strategic partners.

Alcatel-Lucent noted that it has now deployed close to 50 IPTV network integration projects around the world based on its Triple Play Service Delivery Architecture (TPSDA).

MetaSwitch Enhances Automated Call Distribution Application Capabilities

MetaSwitch announced enhancements to its Hosted VoIP Solution, including new Automated Call Distribution (ACD) features that enable small-to-medium businesses to direct inbound calls to groups of users based on the nature of the call. With this ACD service installed, callers can be prompted to identify the purpose of their calls via the MetaSphere Auto Attendant application, that would then re-direct the calls to the appropriate groups - for example "sales" or "support." If all users in that group are busy, calls are held in a queue, and callers are played music or commercial messages using the MetaSphere Media-On-Hold application, which allows customers to upload files from the Web or record them on-site. When an agent becomes free, the next call from the queue is presented to that phone. Users can login to and logout from ACD groups by dialing codes on their phones.

Service providers can also provide regular usage statistics to customers' network administrators, providing detail on the activity of each ACD group and each of the agents that belongs to the group. Statistics include number of calls handled, average duration of calls, total time spent on the phone, average queuing time for calls as well as other data. The range of statistics available has been significantly increased in MetaSwitch's latest software release, providing business customers with much greater visibility into their agents' activity.

MetaSwitch said the ACD features complement its existing advanced telephony functionality for SMBs, including support for SIP attendant consoles, shared line appearance for key system emulation, one-touch call park and retrieve, and group features such as call pickup and multiple appearance directory numbers.

Cisco Revamps its R&D Organization

Cisco announced a reorganization of its technology development organization. The company said the changes within the Cisco Development Organization (CDO) are designed to enhance its effectiveness and efficiency in delivering integrated products and solutions, as well as to provide greater synergies in its development process.

There will be four new groups within the Cisco Development Organization:

  • The Access Networking and Services Group, led by Kathy Hill, senior vice president. This group is responsible for the Integrated Services Routers, Fixed Configuration Switches, Wireless and Security products, with a focus on the integration of networking services onto Cisco's full range of products.

  • The Consumer and Small Business Group, led by Ned Hooper, senior vice president. This group will be responsible for driving the expansion of Cisco's existing business in both the consumer and small business markets, and Linksys will be a part of this group. Hooper will retain his current role as senior vice president of Corporate Development reporting to Rick Justice. In his role as head of the Consumer and Small Business Group, however, Ned will report to Charlie Giancarlo.

  • The Data Center, Switching & Services Group, led by Jayshree Ullal, senior vice president. This group will develop Cisco's enterprise-class products framed by the Datacenter 3.0 and Campus Communications Fabric vision.

  • The Software Group, led by Don Proctor, senior vice president. This group will be responsible for setting the software strategy for the company both at the network level and at the services level. This team will include Network Software, Management, Unified Communications and Collaboration technologies, and will lead Cisco's efforts in software as a service (SaaS).

The remainder of the technology leadership team, including the Service Provider Technology Group, which includes Scientific Atlanta, co-led by Tony Bates, senior vice president and Pankaj Patel, senior vice president; Emerging Technologies Group, led by Marthin DeBeer, senior vice president; Global Government Solutions Group, led by Brad Boston, senior vice president; and Research and Advanced Development, led by Joel Bion, senior vice president, will continue with their current roles and responsibilities.

China Netcom Selects ZTE for AVS-IPTV Network

China Netcom has selected ZTE for what is described as the world's first AVS-IPTV commercial network development.

AVS is a digital rights management technology approved by China's Ministry of Information Industry. ZTE said trials of AVS-IPTV have been underway in the city of Dalian.

ZTE claims to hold over 50 percent share of China's current IPTV product solutions market, having previously clinched deals to construct IPTV projects for Beijing Telecom, Shanghai Telecom, and China Netcom.

Taiwan's Tatung to Deploy NEC's Mobile WiMAX

Taiwan's Tatung InfoComm awarded a contract to NEC for the supply of mobile WiMAX systems, which will be used for commercial service in Taiwan. NEC will deliver a total mobile WiMAX system consisting of approximately 200 base stations along with peripheral equipment to Tatung InfoComm. This marks the first order received by NEC for a commercial mobile WiMAX system.

Tatung InfoComm is an affiliate of a major Taiwanese conglomerate that focuses on broadband wireless access, while Tatung Co. operates as a leading manufacturer/seller of consumer electronics and LCDs. In August 2007, WiMAX commercial licenses were issued to six operators in Taiwan, including Tatung InfoComm.

Sprint Launches Nationwide Ethernet Access Service

Sprint announced availability of an Ethernet Access service as an alternative to Local Exchange Carrier (LEC) options. The new Ethernet offer complements other converged access services including Sprint Data Link and Sprint Business DSL.

Sprint Provided Ethernet Access is now available nationwide and connects from the customer's premises to the Sprint Global MPLS or DIA networks using an Ethernet local loop. Benefits of Sprint Provided Ethernet Access include:

  • Sprint coordinates all aspects of the local loop delivery for its end-user customers.

  • Broadband speeds ranging from 2 Mbps to 1 Gbps, subject to market availability.

  • Lower costs for both equipment (customer router ports) and circuits (local loops) over TDM.

Critical Path Pursues Privatization

Critical Path, which provides messaging software and services to mobile operators, announced a privatization agreement with CP Holdco and CP Merger Co., a California corporation and wholly owned subsidiary of Newco (Merger Sub). Under the deal, holders of Critical Path's common stock (other than Newco and shareholders entitled to and who properly exercise dissenters' rights under California law) will receive $0.102 in cash (without interest and less any required withholding taxes) for each share of common stock they own. Newco is beneficially owned and controlled by certain affiliates of General Atlantic, LLC (collectively, "General Atlantic"), certain affiliates of Cheung Kong (Holdings) Limited (collectively, "Cheung Kong") and certain other shareholders of Critical Path.

Motive and AT&T Knowledge Ventures Team on IPTV Assurance

Motive announced a partnership with AT&T Knowledge Ventures to market an IPTV service assurance solution to network operators. The solution provides customer care agents and field technicians with access to real-time IPTV service performance information. This information is used to help diagnosis and repair systems and applications that span the IPTV service delivery infrastructure -- including the customer premise, the network and the back-office.

Hong Kong's PCCW Deploys Juniper's E320 Routers

Hong Kong-based PCCW has deployed Juniper Networks' E320 Broadband Services Routers to improve the capacity and performance of its broadband network and leverage its existing installed base of Juniper E-series routers. The E320 supports high subscriber density, high system capacity and high-density Gigabit Ethernet and 10 Gigabit Ethernet interfaces. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Juniper noted that in two years since introduction, it has shipped of over 800 E320 platforms to over 70 service provider customers worldwide.

Solera Releases DPI-based Stream-to-storage Appliances

Solera Networks announced the availability of its DS 5100 series of capture and stream-to-storage appliances capable of lossless, deep packet capture and recording on 10 Gbps networks.

Solera Networks said its appliances act much like a digital video recorder (DVR) for the network, capturing every single packet (header and payload) that crosses the network to enable post-event analysis, remediation and prevention. The platform allows network analysts to search, reconstruct and analyze all of the captured traffic using any tool of their choice, including popular open-source applications such as Snort and Wireshark.

Panama's CTV Selects Amino's STBs

Panama's CTV Telecom has selected Amino's AmiNET125 multi-codec Set-Top-Box (STB) for Central America's first IPTV service.
CTV is deploying a fiber optic network in the capital, Panama City, exclusively to deliver the new IPTV service. CTV offers IPTV services including telephone, broadband internet and television, with a choice of over 100 broadcast, music and on demand channels. Amino said an initial order for a substantial volume of AmiNET125 STBs has been placed. Further orders are expected. Financial terms were not disclosed.

SureWest to Acquire Everest Broadband in Kansas City

SureWest Communications, which serves the Sacramento, California region, agreed to acquire Everest Broadband, which serves the greater Kansas City area, for $173 million. Everest is a portfolio company of Seaport Capital. The deal, which is expected to close by the end of the first quarter 2008, will more than double SureWest's triple-play residential subscriber base and facilitate the rapid expansion of its business services.

The combined company will serve a broader customer base across two comparable areas and together possess over 200,000 revenue generating units (RGUs) in the greater Sacramento, California, and Johnson County, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri areas. This includes approximately 95,000 data, 54,000 video and 53,000 voice RGUs in addition to roughly 117,000 voice access lines.

"Over the past two years, we have made great strides in transforming SureWest into a premier triple-play provider that delivers a superior customer experience," said Steve Oldham, president and chief executive officer of SureWest. "The Everest transaction significantly accelerates our growth and geographic diversification strategy by adding Everest's rapidly expanding customer base in the greater Kansas City area to our northern California service territory."

IBM Announces Nano-photonic Modulator

Researchers at IBM have developed a silicon Mach-Zehnder electro-optic modulator that could someday be used to interconnect thousands of processor cores on a single chip. IBM said the modulator is 100 to 1,000 times smaller in size compared to previously demonstrated modulators of its kind and could significantly reduce cost, energy and heat while increasing communications bandwidth on chip.

"We believe this is a major advancement in the field of on-chip silicon nanophotonics," said Dr. Will Green, the lead IBM scientist on the project. "Just like fiber optic networks have enabled the rapid expansion of the Internet by enabling users to exchange huge amounts of data from anywhere in the world, IBM's technology is bringing similar capabilities to the computer chip."

The report on this work, entitled "Ultra-compact, low RF power, 10 Gb/s silicon Mach-Zehnder modulator" by William M. J. Green, Michael J. Rooks, Lidija Sekaric, and Yurii A. Vlasov of IBM's T.J.Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. is published in Volume 15 of the journal Optics Express. This work was partially supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) through the Defense Sciences Office program "Slowing, Storing and Processing Light".

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Comcast Trims Guidance, Cites Challenging Market Conditions

Citing an increasingly challenging economic and competitive environment, Comcast trimmed its financial guidance.

Revenue Generating Units (RGUs) are now expected to increase by approximately 6 million to 57 million, versus previous guidance of approximately 6.5 million additions. This represents a significant increase compared to the 5 million RGUs added in 2006. Comcast said this RGU growth is expected to contribute to cable revenue growth for 2007 of approximately 11%, compared to previous guidance of at least 12%, cable operating cash flow growth of approximately 13% as compared to previous guidance of at least 14%, and consolidated operating cash flow growth of approximately 13% as compared to previous guidance of at least 13%.

Cable capital expenditures are expected to be approximately $6.0 billion for the year, a 5% increase from originally issued guidance, reflecting increased advanced digital set-top box purchases, the Company's digital acceleration program, expanded network enhancements and acquisition-related investments.

Reflecting the impact of all the items described above, Comcast's consolidated Free Cash Flow is expected to be approximately 80% of 2006, compared to previous estimates of 2007 consolidated Free Cash Flow of at least 90% of 2006.

Cisco Unveils Role-Based Enterprise Security Architecture

Cisco announced a new role-based security architecture that integrates identity and role-based security measures for scaled implementation across enterprise networks.

The Cisco TrustSec architecture creates a trusted enterprise network encompassing Cisco switches along with Cisco routers and Cisco Unified Wireless Network controllers as a foundation for authenticating users, assigning roles, enforcing access policies and delivering integrity and confidentiality to network traffic. Key attributes of Cisco TrustSec include:

  • Role-Aware Secure Campus Access Control: Anytime, anywhere access to the network is determined by an individual's role in the company. This "role aware" network helps enforce identity-based security policies pervasively across the network regardless of the network access method or device (wired, wireless, mobile, laptop, printer).

  • Converged Policy Framework: Various authentication mechanics are converged into a single central policy engine that dynamically communicates across the entire switch infrastructure. This framework addresses the information technology (IT) challenge of managing policies consistently across the network by greatly simplifying the management of identity policies over disparate authentication methods.

  • Pervasive Integrity and Confidentiality: Helps maintain the integrity and confidentiality of data as it moves through all points in the network. This safeguards against data leakage, supports regulatory requirements and increases the privacy of the network itself.

Cisco also announced industry relationships with Intel and Ixia to increase interoperability with this architecture.htt://

Cisco Names Ex-Motorola Exec as CTO

Cisco announced the appointment of Padmasree Warrior as chief technology officer (CTO). Warrior comes to Cisco from Motorola where she was executive vice president and chief technology officer. She was named Motorola's CTO in 2003 and held numerous positions at the company over her 23 year career, including corporate vice president and general manager of Motorola's energy systems group and corporate vice president and chief technology officer for Motorola's Semiconductor Products Sector (SPS). Warrior holds a M.S. degree in chemical engineering from Cornell University and a B.S. degree in chemical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in New Delhi.

Broadcom Spins New 65nm Chip for Satellite HD STBs

Broadcom announced a new single-channel, multi-format high definition (HD) satellite receiver chip for low cost satellite set-top boxes (STBs). The new satellite system-on-a-chip (SoC) uses 65 nanometer (nm) process technology and integrates a single tuner/demodulator, as well as the latest AVC (advanced video coding) decoder with support for multiple video formats. Broadcom said it has reduced power consumption by more than 50% over competing solutions while lowering system bill of materials (BOM) cost.

The new single-chip Broadcom BCM7325 satellite receiver enables unmatched functionality for direct broadcast satellite (DBS) set-top boxes and supports multiple formats including the DVB-S, DVB-S2 and 8PSK standards.

XO Deploys Sonus' Network Border Switch

XO Communications has deployed Sonus' Network Border Switch (NBS), an IP-based solution that combines session control, PSTN gateway services and security into a single, high performance, highly scalable, carrier-class solution.

XO's IP voice network carried more than 15 billion minutes of IP voice traffic in 2006, and is currently carrying approximately 1.6 billion minutes of IP voice traffic every month.
  • In August, Sonus unveiled the latest version of its NBS platform, available on both the GSX9000 and GSX 4000 platforms. The new version includes new features to support direct media, Denial of Service (DoS) protection for access networks and consumer VoIP deployments, advanced encryption support for call set-up, and additional Secure Real Time Protocol (RTP) to protect call content. In addition, the platform upgrade includes new features for advanced management and Operational System Support (OSS) functionality.

Fujitsu and Taiwan's III Collaborate on WiMAX

Fujitsu and Taiwan's Institute for Information Industry (III), a non-governmental organization jointly sponsored by the Taiwan government and prominent private enterprises, agreed to establish a new company in Taiwan that will develop application platforms and provide engineering support based on WiMAX technology from Fujitsu and III.

The new joint venture, scheduled to be established in March 2008, will leverage Fujitsu's WiMAX SoC solutions and III's software technologies. It will develop WiMAX application platforms and provide them to ODM vendors in Taiwan. Since numerous global brand equipment vendors are using Taiwanese ODM vendors as manufacturing partners, it is expected that application platforms and localized engineering support provided by the new company will spur the rapid growth of the global WiMAX industry.

The new joint venture's initial target applications will include mobile WiMAX handsets, and femto/pico base stations.

Veraz Appoints VP of Marketing

Veraz Networks has appointed Dawn Hogh as its new Vice President of Marketing. Previously, she served as Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at OpVista. Ms. Hogh has also held senior executive positions at Ciena as Senior Vice President, Product Management and Marketing, Kestrel Solutions as Vice President, Marketing, and Lucent Technologies, as Vice President, Market Management.