Monday, November 3, 2008

WiChorus Secures $18 million in Series C Funding

WiChorus, a start-up based in San Jose, California, secured $18 million in series C funding for its scalable platforms for Smart 4G Networks. Pinnacle Ventures led the oversubscribed up-round, which included existing investors Redpoint Ventures, Mayfield Fund and Accel Partners. This brings total funding in the company to $43 million.

WiChorus' SmartCore platforms enable operators to deploy smart WiMAX and LTE networks with advanced service and subscriber management, content management, and network optimizations, and to monetize the Internet for increased ARPU and profitability.
  • WiChorus was founded by Rehan Jalil, who previously served as chief architect of WiMAX for Aperto Networks.

Motorola Applauds FCC TV Whitespaces Decision

Motorola applauded the FCC to approve rules for Television White Space (TVWS). Motorola noted that in many areas in the United States, television channels lie fallow because broadcasters only occupy a certain number of channels in every television market. By allowing the use of TVWS, the FCC is advancing access to broadband services, especially in rural areas where broadband is more limited.

As part of the FCC's decision, power limits have been imposed on TVWS devices to ensure there is no interference to television signals and other permitted users within the television band. In particular, the FCC is requiring the first group of approved devices to include geo-location technology. Geo-location devices provide extremely accurate protection by using a database to determine available channels based on the precise location of the device.

Motorola noted that it has been a leader in developing and implementing the geo-location technology approved by the FCC. During the FCC's eight-month laboratory and field testing, Motorola's device was 100 percent successful in identifying television signals and preventing interference.

FCC Approves Television White Spaces

The FCC approved rules governing Television White Space (TVWS). The rules will permit fixed or mobile wireless devices to operate in broadcast television spectrum on a secondary basis at locations where that spectrum is open. The approval is expected to lead to a new class of unlicensed devices in the unused spectrum that provide broadband data and other services for consumers and businesses.

The FCC said its new rules represent a careful first step to permit the operation of unlicensed devices in the TV white spaces and include numerous safeguards to protect incumbent services against harmful interference.

Such devices must include a geolocation capability and provisions to access over the Internet a database of the incumbent services, such as full power and low power TV stations and cable system headends, in addition to spectrum-sensing technology. The database will tell the white space device what spectrum may be used at that location.

Wireless microphones will be protected in a variety of ways. The locations where wireless microphones are used, such as sporting venues and event and production facilities, can be registered in the data base and will be protected in the same way as other services.

The FCC has required that devices include the ability to listen to the airwaves to sense wireless microphones as an additional measure of protection for these devices. All white space devices are subject to equipment certification by the FCC Laboratory. The Laboratory will request samples of the devices for testing to ensure that they meet all the
pertinent requirements.

The FCC also will permit certification of devices that do not include the geolocation and data base access capabilities, and instead rely solely on spectrum sensing to avoid causing harmful interference, subject to a much more rigorous approval process.

FCC Approves Verizon Wireless-ALLTEL Deal with Conditions.

The FCC voted to approve the transfer of control of licenses and other authorizations held by subsidiaries and
partnerships of ALLTEL from Atlantis Holdings to Verizon Wireless.

The approval paves the way for Verizon Wireless to provide a more robust national wireless service to its customers.

The FCC said it examined the market for mobile telephony/broadband services and concluded that the companies have demonstrated that the transaction, subject to the conditions described below, is likely to result in public interest benefits.

Based on a case-by-case analysis that found a potential for competitive harm in five markets, the FCC is requiring that one of the two companies divest the licenses and related operational and network assets in those markets. The Commission also conditioned its approval of the proposed transaction on Verizon Wireless' voluntary divestitures in 100 markets. The FCC believes these divestitures will prevent consolidation in individual markets from advancing to a point at which it would threaten competition and potentially harm consumers.

The FCC's approval also required a finding that the public interest would be served by extending the current foreign ownership ruling to permit Verizon Wireless to acquire up to and including 100 percent of the equity and voting interests in ALLTEL, its subsidiaries, and the partnerships in which ALLTEL holds a controlling ownership interest. This was due to the share that Vodafone holds in Verizon Wireless.
  • Last week, The U.S. Department of Justice ruled to require Verizon Communications Corp. to divest assets in 100 areas in 22 states in order to proceed with its $28 billion acquisition of Alltel Corp. The Department said that the transaction as originally proposed would have substantially lessened competition to the detriment of consumers of mobile wireless telecommunications services in those areas, and likely would result in higher prices, lower quality and reduced network investments. Verizon and Alltel are significant competitors and each is the other's closest competitor for a significant set of customers in 94 Cellular Marketing Areas (CMAs), as defined by the FCC.

  • In June 2008, Verizon Wireless agreed to acquire Alltel Corporation for $5.9 billion. Based on Alltel's projected net debt at closing of $22.2 billion, the aggregate value of the transaction is $28.1 billion. Both carrier operate CDMA networks and plan future LTE migration. Together, the companies serve over 80 million wireless subscribers. Alltel serves more than 13 million customers in markets in 34 states. This includes 57 primarily rural markets that Verizon Wireless does not serve. Alltel is currently owned by Atlantis Holdings LLC, an affiliate of private investment firm TPG Capital and GS Capital Partners.

    At the time the deal was announced, Verizon Wireless expects to realize synergies with a net present value, after integration costs, of more than $9 billion driven by reduced capital and operating expense savings. Synergies are expected to generate incremental cost savings of $1 billion in the second year after closing.

FCC Approves Sprint-Nextel/Clearwire Merger

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to approve, with conditions, the transfer of control of licenses held Sprint-Nextel Corporation and Clearwire to New Clearwire Corporation. The merger is expected to facilitate the build-out of
a nationwide WiMAX-based network that will lead to increased competition, greater consumer choice and new, innovative wireless services.

The FCC concluded that the merger will be in the public interest with no competitive harm identified in any market.

The Commission conditioned its approval of this transaction on Sprint Nextel's compliance with a voluntary commitment to phase out its requests for federal high-cost universal service support over a five-year transition period and with a voluntary commitment to use counties for measuring compliance with the Commission's wireless E911 location accuracy rules
governing handset-based technologies.

The licenses, leases, and authorizations transferred in this transaction include BRS, Educational Broadband Service, Point-to-Point Microwave, and Local Multipoint Distribution Service.

Nokia Research Center Trims its Focus

Nokia announced further cuts to its sales/marketing activities as well to its R&D efforts. The company announced:

  • Changes in its sales and marketing activities in the Markets unit. Nokia estimates that approximately 450 employees, maximum 100 in Finland, in the Markets unit will be affected by the planned changes.

  • Nokia Research Center (NRC), which is specialized in long-term research activities within Nokia, plans to sharpen its focus on fewer but stronger research areas. The planned reorganization is estimated to have an impact on approximately 130 NRC employees globally, of which a maximum of 100 are in Finland.

  • Nokia plans to close its Turku site in Finland and relocate those activities predominantly to Salo (Finland). Nokia currently has 220 employees working in the Turku office and the aim is that the employees would continue in Nokia's site at Salo or in the capital area in Finland.

  • Nokia also plans some smaller workforce adjustments in global process operations. These adjustments are estimated to affect approximately 35 employees, of which almost all are in Finland.

Tunisiana chooses NSN for Network Modernization

Tunisiana, the leading telecommunications operator in Tunisia, has deployed Nokia Siemens Networks' Flexi Intelligent Service Node (ISN) to modernize its GPRS core network. The Flexi ISN, which performs GPRS Gateway Service Node (GGSN) and data charging functionalities, is fully integrated with the existing Nokia Siemens Networks charge@once prepaid solution to enable flexible charging of data services. The systems integration services ensure seamless consumer experience, while managing an increasingly complex combination of new processes and systems. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The deployment enables Tunisiana to combine all in one box a GGSN and an Intelligent Charging Node. The deployed Flexi ISN 3.1 system is able, through deep packet inspection, to distinguish the type of traffic such as HTTP browsing, WAP browsing, MMS, streaming, content download thus enabling different charging models based on the type of data service used.

Tunisiana's network has 1449 base stations.

Force10 Networks Appoints New CEO

Force10 Networks named James Hanley has been named chief executive officer, succeeding Marc Randall, who announced his retirement from the company. Hanley formerly served as senior vice president of worldwide sales at Force10.

Before joining Force10, Hanley was senior vice president of worldwide field operations at NeoScale Systems. Prior to NeoScale, he served as senior vice president of worldwide partner sales at CA. Earlier, Hanley held executive roles in sales, field operations and channel development at EMC, including senior leadership positions in the company's London and Hong Kong offices.

One Minute Video: What is EFM?

One Minute Video presented by Hossam Salib -- What is EFM?

Jargon Buster

Sunday, November 2, 2008

SiTime Debuts Programmable Spread Spectrum Clock Oscillators

SiTime, a start-up based in Sunnyvale, California, introduced a new family of programmable spread spectrum clock oscillators based on MEMS resonator technology. The new devices offer the smallest footprint in the industry and the lowest cycle to cycle jitter. The devices are especially aimed at applications where system designers need to reduce electro-magnetic interference (EMI) in order to pass environmental testing standards. As a drop-in replacements for standard oscillators, the new MEMS-based devices can significantly lower EMI without the system designer needing to redesign the system board, adopt a metal enclosure for the product or implement other costly noise shielding changes to the design. SiTime said its new programmable spread spectrum clock oscillators are typically delivering an EMI reduction of 6-12 dB. The company also expects its MEMS technology to offer 10 times better robustness and reliability than existing, quartz-based solutions.

The SiT9001 is available in a standard footprint four-pad 2.5 x 2.0 mm package, the smallest in the industry for spread spectrum oscillators. The device also is available in larger, standard-footprint surface-mount packages that can replace existing oscillators without an expensive board redesign. The solution delivers a programmable frequency range of 1 MHz to 200 MHz and programmable operating voltages of 1.8V, 2.5V or 3.3V. Cycle to cycle jitter is rated at less than 30 ps.

The SiT9002 is optimized for high-performance networking and computing applications and offers low voltage differential signaling (LVDS), low voltage positive emitter coupled logic (LVPECL) and current mode logic (CML) outputs. The device is available in six pad, 5.0 x 3.2 mm and 7.0 x 5.0 mm packages, which are compatible with industry-standard footprints. The SiT9002 is programmable, with a frequency range from 10 MHz to 220 MHz and programmable operating voltages of 1.8V, 2.5V or 3.3V. It offers frequency tolerance of 25 PPM or 50 PPM when spread spectrum is turned off. And, like the SiT9001, the device delivers cycle to cycle jitter of less than 30 ps.
  • SiTime is headed by Rajesh Vashist (CEO), who previously served as CEO and chairman of the board at Ikanos Communications. SiTime's executive team also includes Aaron Partridge (who previously coordinated the MEMS resonator research at Robert Bosch Research and Technology Center in Palo Alto), Markus Lutz (also previously with Bosch), Fari Assaderaghi (previously with Rambus and HP), Narayanan Bharath (previously with Ikanos), and Piyush Sevalia (previously with Ikanos).

AudioCodes Announces High Definition VoIP Strategy

AudioCodes outlined a strategy to embed high definition VoIP capabilities across its product portfolio throughout 2009.
The company's "VoIPerfectHD" technology delivers higher voice clarity, better intelligibility and richer sound, as well as significantly improving a user's experience by doubling the audible voice spectrum.

AudioCodes VoIPerfectHD implementation of HD VoIP relies primarily on AudioCodes leadership in DSP, voice coding and voice processing technologies, and their application to VoIP communications and conferencing. AudioCodes VoIPerfectHD implementation as a unified infrastructure for all AudioCodes' products allows the offering of HD VoIP capabilities and benefits across all of its products ranging from Multi-Service Business Gateways (MSBG), Media Servers, Media Gateways and DSP chips to IP Phones. Applications include both enterprise and service provider networks.

AudioCodes' current and planned HD VoIP Enabled products consist of the IPmedia 3000 Media Server, Mediant 3000 Media Gateway, Mediant 1000 MSBG and the Mediant family of Microsoft certified basic Hybrid Gateways. AudioCodes' Media Servers and Gateways now enable transcoding between different wideband coders while retaining wideband quality. This will allow interworking and connectivity between different wideband networks such as mobile and broadband. AudioCodes plans to introduce HD VoIP on more products in 2009.

AudioCodes noted that over the past 10 years VoIP has succeeded in providing lower cost and greater flexibility on converged voice and data networks, but in general failed to deliver 'better-than-PSTN' quality mainly due to its 3.4 kHz bandwidth limitation connected with the use of legacy narrowband speech codecs in VoIP networks. With the advent and growing spread of IP broadband networks, wideband speech codecs which encode 7.1 kHz of the voice spectrum can now be effectively deployed to double the bandwidth and improve everyday voice communication quality to a level similar to that of conference room quality and/or FM radio. AudioCodes has been working over the past few years and increasingly in 2008 to implement a group of standards-based wideband speech codecs including G.722, AMR-WB, Microsoft RTAudio and others for use in wireline, wireless, cable, enterprise and internet applications with the goal of leading the transition towards increased use of HD VoIP in evolving voice communication networks.

"With our launch of VoIPerfectHD, AudioCodes is creating a whole new market opportunity for the company's voice communication business and introducing a key competitive differentiator in our markets. It's about bringing a new real sense of quality to VoIP communication, enabling improvements to business productivity and clear interpersonal communication between people and across wireline, wireless and cable IP networks," stated Shabtai Adlersberg, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer at AudioCodes. "AudioCodes' rich expertise in voice coding and transcoding enables us to offer enhanced connectivity between HD VoIP islands in disparate networks in broadband, IMS, Mobile and Cable, and offers greater flexibility in future interconnecting HD VoIP devices."

Motorola Demos Over-the-Air LTE Session in 700MHz Spectrum

Motorola has completed the first over-the-air Long-Term Evolution (LTE) data sessions in the 700MHz spectrum using its LTE Radio Access Test Network and LTE eNode-B platform with a prototype LTE device. The milestone was achieved in Motorola labs and at an outdoor location in central Illinois. The sessions included mobile video streaming and various high data rate applications. The demonstrations also included execution of applications priority which guarantees throughput using quality of service (QoS) aspects of the LTE standards.

Motorola noted that lower frequency bands provide better coverage and in-building penetration, which is a requirement for many mobile operators. In North America, the 700MHz spectrum auctioned earlier this year is part of the worldwide "digital dividend" - spectrum in the 470-862MHz bands that has been freed by the switch from analog to digital TV. The In Europe digital dividend spectrum encompasses the current TV broadcast 790-862MHz bands. It is expected to be auctioned between 2009-2012, coinciding with mobile operators' plans to deploy LTE.

"This field test shows the progress we've made in preparing to deliver a commercial LTE solution for testing and early limited deployments in 2009," said Darren McQueen, vice president, Wireless Broadband Access Technologies, Motorola Home & Networks Mobility. "We are testing our 700MHz and 2.6GHz products, which are expected for first commercial release next year, in real-world environments to ensure our products will meet the needs of mobile carriers who want to be first to market with LTE."
  • The FCC's 700 MHz auction held earlier this year raised a record $19.592 billion.

FCC Puts Off Vote on Intercarrier Compensation and Universal Service Reform

The FCC will not vote on Intercarrier Compensation and Universal Service reform at its scheduled meeting this week. The items had been on the agenda, but four out of the five commissioners said they were not prepared to vote on the issues at this time.

In a statement, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said: "The issues of Intercarrier Compensation and Universal Service reform have been in front of the Commission for years. Last summer I publicly indicated my intention to put forward concrete and comprehensive proposals to reform the inefficient and outmoded Intercarrier compensation and Universal Service programs. Those proposals have been with my colleagues for several weeks now. I am disappointed that we will miss the opportunity for comprehensive reform. Instead my colleagues have requested that we once again seek public comment on several proposals. As a result such a notice would make little progress and ask for comment again on the most basic and broad questions about reforming the two programs. For example, the Commission would again ask should broadband be supported by the Universal Service Fund and should we move to one uniform rate for all traffic or should that rate vary by the type of company?

I would like to be encouraged by my colleagues' commitment that they will truly be ready to complete this much needed reform on December 18. The nature of the questions they would like to include makes me doubt they will have found their answers with an additional seven weeks. I believe the far more likely outcome is that, in December, the other Commissioners will merely want another Further Notice and another round of comment on the most difficult questions. I do not believe they will be prepared to address the most challenging issues and that the Commission will be negotiating over what further questions to ask in December."

In response, the four other FCC Commissioners issued the following joint statement:

""Three weeks ago, Chairman Martin first shared with the Commission his proposals to fundamentally reform the intercarrier compensation and universal service systems. Four Commissioners provided the Chairman bi-partisan, constructive and substantive suggestions, and stated that notice and comment should be sought on the proposals, with an understanding
that we would all be prepared to vote on December 18. We also have asked the Chairman to narrowly address the ISP-bound traffic remand and the Joint Board's Recommendation. We therefore are disappointed that the Chairman has withdrawn the fundamental reform item from tomorrow's agenda.

"We approached this proceeding with the common goal of modernizing our universal service and intercarrier compensation policies, and commend the desire to tackle some of the most important issues facing this Commission. It is equally important to ensure that any reform proposal receive the full benefit of public notice and comment - especially in light of the difficult economic circumstances currently facing our nation.

"We remain committed to fulfilling our obligation to tackle these difficult issues, and have set forth a reasonable path for completing comprehensive reform. We remain hopeful that the consensus process we have pursued regarding this issue will ultimately lead to a thoughtful, well-reasoned item that will inure to the benefit all Americans."

Italy's ARIA Selects Alcatel-Lucent for Nationwide WiMAX Rev-e

ARIIA S.p.a., which holds licenses for WiMAX 3.5GHz radio frequencies across all regions of Italy, has selected Alcatel-Lucent as prime supplier for building and maintaining a nationwide WiMAX 802.16e-2005 (Rev-e) network. This first nationwide commercial WiMAX network in Italy will be one of the largest WiMAX networks in Europe. The first 130 sites will be deployed by Alcatel-Lucent in Puglia and Veneto Regions. Financial terms were not disclosed.

In the framework of the contract, Alcatel-Lucent will act as network integrator with a wide range of services such as network planning and engineering, site & technology implementation to provide a turnkey WiMAX Rev-e solution, including base stations, wireless access controllers, backhaul transport microwave equipment as well as an operations and maintenance center (OMC).

Marvell Expects Revenues Below Prior Forecasts

Marvell Technology Group reported preliminary revenue would be below prior projections for the third quarter of fiscal year 2009, ended November 1, 2008. Net revenue for the third quarter of fiscal 2009 is now expected to decline approximately 6-to-7 percent from net revenue of $843 million reported for the second quarter of fiscal 2009. The revised revenue outlook is 3-to-4 percent above the $758 million reported for the third quarter of fiscal 2008. Prior outlook for the third quarter of fiscal 2009 was for revenue to be in a range of $860 million to $880 million, or up 2% to 3% from the second fiscal quarter of 2009.

"The slowing of the world-wide economy has significantly impacted our business. Visibility into the future demand for our products has also deteriorated," said Dr. Sehat Sutardja, Marvell Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer.

Ceragon and Tata Sign Long-Term Supply Agreement for Microwave Backhaul Equipment

Tata Teleservices, a leading global communications provider and one of India's leading mobile operators, has awarded a long-term equipment supply agreement to Ceragon Networks. The deal covers Ceragon's FibeAir solutions, including the FibeAir IP-10 system. Ceragon will additionally provide Tata with installation services. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Tata Teleservices has over 29 million customers in more than 6,600 towns across India and has a pan-India presence spread across 19 of the nation's 22 cellular service circles.

Force10 Adds VirtualView Optimization Tools

Force10 Networks introduced a set of "VirtualView" traffic management and provisioning software tools that work with its modular operating system, FTOS. VirtualView provides real-time network traffic analysis and management designed to facilitate troubleshooting and benchmarking performance in virtualized environments supported by Force10 switch/routers.

Force10 said its VirtualView delivers core-to-edge network visibility through data sampling, and subsequent analysis by a wide range of third-party tools and automated monitoring mechanisms designed to establish both baseline and ongoing application performance statistics.

Extreme Networks Posts Revenue of $89.5 million

Extreme Networks reported revenue for its first fiscal quarter ended September 28, 2008 of $89.5 million, compared to $89.0 million in the year-ago quarter. Net income on a GAAP basis was $1.6 million or $0.01 per diluted share, which is based on 111.5 million weighted average shares outstanding. That compares to year-ago net income of $3.6 million or $0.03 per diluted share.

For the first fiscal quarter of 2009, revenues in North America (U.S., Canada, and Central America) were $35.7 million, revenues in EMEA (Europe, Middle East, Africa, and South America) were $41.6 million, and revenues in APAC (Asia Pacific and Japan) were $12.2 million. That compares to the year-ago revenues of $41.6 million in North America, $30.9 million in EMEA, and $16.5 million in APAC.

"With the recent introduction of innovative new products, our customers are able to deploy high performing networks at compelling prices," said Mark Canepa, president and CEO of Extreme Networks. "We see an opportunity to capitalize in this economic downturn as Enterprises and Metro Carriers worldwide are increasing their focus upon price/performance as a primary decision criteria for new deployments."

AT&T Launches Mobile Banking on iPhone with Firethorn

AT&T and Firethorn Holdings, a Qualcomm company, announced the availability of a mobile banking application for iPhone. Mobile Banking on AT&T lets users securely and efficiently manage their finances, including checking balances and transaction history, transferring funds, receiving offers, viewing and paying bills, and tracking rewards points. The service is now available for all Firethorn financial institution partners, including America First Credit Union, Arvest Bank, BancorpSouth, Carolina First, FirstBank, Mercantile Bank, SunTrust, Synovus, USAA and Wachovia. The company said iPhone customers will have access to any new financial institution added in the future.

Verizon's 7.1 Mbps/768 Kbps DSL now Available to 6.6 Million Homes

Verizon has expanded the availability of its fastest DSL service, which delivers download speeds of up to 7.1 Mbps, to 6.6 million households nationwide. The service is priced at $32.99 for the first six months as part of an annual plan with the following six months priced at $42.99. The up-to-7.1 Mbps service will continue to be expanded and reach as many as 9 million households by the end of the year.

In addition, Verizon has upgraded its entry-level High Speed Internet service to 1 Mbps downstream and 384 kbps upstream, up from 768 Kbps/128 Kbps. Effective immediately, consumers can order the new entry-level service for $9.99 per month for the first six months with a one-year contract. Under the contract, monthly pricing for the remainder of the annual plan will range between $19.99 and $25.99 depending on the market.