Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Digital Divide Narrows in Europe

The gap between EU countries in terms of broadband penetration is narrowing, from 28.4 percentage points in July 2007 to 27.7 this July.

New figures published by the European Commission today show that, in spite of reduced growth perspectives for the economy at large, broadband growth has continued in the last year throughout the EU, with an increase of 19.23% between July 2008 and July 2007. On 1 July 2008 there were over 107 million fixed broadband lines in the EU, of which 17 million lines have been added since July 2007. The rate of growth was highest in Malta (6.7 lines per 100 inhabitants), Germany (5.1 per 100 inhabitants) and Cyprus (4.9 per 100 inhabitants) and lowest in Finland (1.9 per 100 inhabitants) and Portugal (1.0 per 100 inhabitants).

Globally, Denmark and the Netherlands continue to be world leaders in broadband, with penetration over 35%. Nine EU countries (Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Belgium, France, and Germany) are above the United States which stands at 25% according to OECD June 2008 statistics.

The gap between the strongest (Denmark 37.2%) and weakest broadband performers (Bulgaria 9.5%) remains significant but is decreasing for the first time (penetration in Denmark was 34.1% in July 2007 while in Bulgaria it was 5.7%). The gap can mainly be explained by lack of competition and regulatory weaknesses. For example, while the market share for incumbent fixed broadband operators is beginning to stabilize at around 45%, in some countries (Austria, Bulgaria, France, Ireland, Lithuania, Romania and Spain) it has increased since July 2007. These main obstacles to broadband growth remain to be addressed through the reform of the EU's telecoms rules, which is currently under discussion by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers.

The Commission also published the first figures showing fixed broadband speeds, which is an important indicator in a knowledge-based society. 74.8% of reported lines in the EU are in the range of 2 Mbps and above: 62% between 2 and 10 Mbps, 12.8% above 10 Mbps. Greater data transmission speeds generally provide customers with more and better choice at a lower price per megabit. Extremely fast connections (up to 100 Mbps or beyond) such as fibre only cover 1.4% of European internet subscribers.

DSL with nearly 86 million lines. However, DSL growth continues to decrease rapidly, slowed by 10.9% compared to July 2007, to the benefit of other fixed broadband technologies like cable, FTTH and wireless local loops.

The report is available online.

Vietnam Datacommunications Deploys 802.16e Trial with Motorola

Vietnam Datacommunications Company (VDC), a member company of the Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT) and the largest Internet service provider (ISP) in Vietnam, has partnered with Motorola to commence a technical and commercial WiMAX trial in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Under the agreement, Motorola will install WiMAX Diversity Access Points and more than 100 customer premises equipment (CPE) in the nation's two largest cities.

Motorola noted that it now has 24 contracts for commercial WiMAX networks in 19 countries around the world.

ITU Advocates Infrastructure Sharing to Counter Investment Drought

In response to the global financial crisis which may make it more difficult for investors to obtain financing for continuing network development, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) is advocating infrastructure sharing as a means to continue to rapid rollout of network resources to underserved populations.

In its newly published annual report, Trends in Telecommunication Reform 2008: Six Degrees of Sharing, the ITU examines the sharing of civil engineering costs in deploying networks, promoting open access to network support infrastructure (poles, ducts, conduits), essential facilities (submarine cable landing stations and international gateways) as well as access to radio-frequency spectrum and end-user devices.

The "Six Degrees of Sharing" theme was first discussed in Thailand during ITU's 2008 Global Symposium for Regulators last March. Developing countries embraced sharing to make more affordable the expansion of ICT networks to rural and under-served areas. Since then, the global economic turmoil has increased the interest in infrastructure sharing in developed markets as well.

What had been foreseen as ideal strategies to extend broadband network access in developing markets may now be viewed as a prescription for the entire world. If the sources of capital for network investment suffer a temporary drought, the ITU believes policy-makers could take steps to make their markets more amenable to the shrinking pool of investment.

  • Lower investment barriers that inhibit capital flows from one country to another

  • Reduce regulatory barriers (high license fees or market-entry bans) that represent hostile environments for capital investment and market growth

  • Share essential facilities, such as cable landing stations, local switching centres or fibre backbone networks

  • Adopt rules to provide for infrastructure sharing, particularly "passive" sharing of towers, ducts, rights-of-way and other support facilities

  • Overhaul and streamline cross-agency processes to create a ‘one-stop shop' for various network-related authorizations, such as land management, port access, environmental and safety permits

  • Add innovative spectrum management mechanisms that promote increased sharing and efficient use of spectrum

  • Amend regulatory frameworks to eliminate discriminatory rules that favour one company or industry over another in a converged services market.

  • Ensure that government policies and rules maximize the ability of incumbents and market entrants to choose between different opportunities for business plans and long-term strategies, including resale, wholesale, and niche markets.

Nokia Develops Smart Home Platform with Mobile Support

Nokia is developing a Home Control Center platform that aims to integrate mobile devices, home networks, home security and household energy management systems. The platform will be based on a customized home gateway with integrated antennas for WLAN, GSM/GPRS, and Z-Wave. The gateway will also feature Ethernet ports, USB ports, a firewall, SD card reader and other connectivity options. Nokia will provide home control logic for simple automatic responses to
events such as motion sensor triggering, luminance levels, moisture or temperature limits. Consumers will be able to monitor and control their electricity usage, switch devices on and off, and monitor different objects. The platform will be open for allowing third parties to integrate their own smart home solutions and services.

Nokia also announced a partnership with RWE, one of Europe's biggest energy companies. The companies are working on a joint solution for managing energy consumption and CO2 footage at home. The first result of this partnership will focus on home heating management. The product consists of a central control unit together with remote-controlled thermostats for the actual radiator. The user interface will be the PC and the mobile phone. In addition, a separate display will be available. RWE is also planning special offers combining these devices with new energy supply contracts. In a second step, Nokia and RWE are planning additional services in connection with smart meters beyond 2009. These services will provide consumers with real-time information about their energy consumption and allow them to control their energy bill remotely.

Nokia is also working with other partners, including Danfoss, Delta Dore, Ensto, and Meishar Immediate Community (MIC) and Zensys. Target areas for these partnerships include security, energy efficiency, wellness, construction, real estate, and smart home solutions.

STMicroelectronics Cuts Q4 Outlook

Citing further deterioration on the worldwide financial markets, economic recession in one or more of the world's major economies and the effect on demand for semiconductors, STMicroelectronics cut its financial guidance. The company now expects fourth quarter revenues to be between approximately $2.2 billion and $2.35 billion, as compared to $2.7 billion reported in the prior quarter, or a sequential change in the range of about -12.8% to -18.4%. The revised revenue outlook is the consequence of a recent slowdown in the billings, recent and substantial changes in customers' demand and order push-outs for the month of December. ST said the weaknesses affects most geographies and market segments, and, in particular, in wireless, automotive, and computer peripherals.

ST also noted that it will reduce its manufacturing activity and reduce sourcing from third-party suppliers, compared to planned activities when entering the quarter. Primarily as a result of higher-than-anticipated unused capacity charges in the quarter, the gross margin expected for the fourth quarter 2008 is now about 38% plus or minus one percentage point.

Additionally, the company continues to aggressively implement cost-control initiatives and is progressing in its accelerated effort to capture the cost synergies from the recent creation of ST-NXP Wireless.

L.A. Times: Cyber-attack on Defense Department

President Bush was briefed by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs on a cyber-attack on Defense Department computers, including those on a classified network, according to The Los Angeles Times. The cyber-attack reportedly occurred within networks of the U.S. Central Command, which oversees operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and may have originated with hackers from Russia.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Telstra Submits its NBN Proposal but Sees Regulatory Uncertainty

Telstra formally submitted its proposal to build an open access National Broadband Network (NBN) capable of delivering high-speed access to up to 90 per cent of Australians. Key elements of the proposal include:

  • Telstra would invest up to $5 billion of its own capital.

  • The Government would provide $4.7 billion in the form of a concessional loan.

  • Up to 90 percent of the population would be covered.

  • The network will be capable of providing downlink speeds between 25 Mbps and 50 Mbps in 65 percent to 75 percent of the footprint, with downlink speeds of between 12 Mbps and 20 Mbps in the remainder of the footprint.

  • The network would be designed to be upgradeable.

  • A wide range of services including IP telephony, high-speed internet, IPTV, video-conferencing and telemedicine would be supported.

  • A $29.95 per month entry level 1Mbps retail broadband pricing plan (four times faster than the existing plan at the same price) for customers with a Telstra fixed line telephone service would be available.

The NBN, which is essentially an upgrade of Telstra's fixed network, is described as one of the largest infrastructure projects ever undertaken in Australia. It will be the world's largest fiber to the node networks in geographic terms, requiring some 4000 staff throughout the life of the project. Telstra said it is ready to begin the rollout as soon as possible across multiple locations in metropolitan and regional Australia. The company claims its rollout could be completed far quicker than any alternative.

Telstra also noted that the financial climate has changed dramatically since the RFP was issued in April, fundamentally altering assumptions on which earlier business cases were built. On this note, Telstra expressed concern over the lack of clarity around possible further separation of network elements. Telstra stated that such a separation would be extremely damaging for Telstra's shareholders, customers and the Australian telecommunications industry. Simply put, Telstra claims that with separation, the NBN simply cannot and will not be built, "There is no business case. The economics don't work. A separated network would be impossible to build or to maintain." Due to these uncertainties, Telstra has decided not to put forward a more fully detailed bid at this time.In early September, Stephen Conroy, Australia's Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, set 26-November-2008 as the closing date for the submission of National Broadband Network proposals.

The Government issued its Request for Proposals for the National Broadband Network on 11-April-2008. The closing time has been amended to account for time taken by the Government to necessarily work with carriers to ensure that proponents have access to information about existing networks and time to consider it. The intention is that this will help them prepare robust, competitive proposals.

Key provisions of this RFP issued in April include the ability to:

  • deliver minimum download speeds of 12 Mbps to 98% of Australian homes and businesses;

  • have the network rolled out and made operational progressively over five years using fibre-to-the-node or fibre-to-the-premises technology;

  • support high quality voice, data and video services including symmetric applications such as high-definition video-conferencing;

  • earn the Commonwealth a return on its investment;

  • facilitate competition in the telecommunications sector through open access arrangements that allow all service providers access to the network on equivalent terms; and

  • enable uniform and affordable retail prices to consumers, no matter where they live.

Viettel Telecom Selects NSN for Mobile Expansion

Viettel Telecom, one of Vietnam's leading mobile service providers, has selected Nokia Siemens Networks' Flexi Base Station for part of its network expansion across Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Viettel entered the market in 2004 and is now the fourth GSM provider in Vietnam.

Nokia Siemens Networks' relationship with Viettel Telecom started in 2007, when Viettel deployed the company's mobile softswitching solution. This is Nokia Siemens Networks' first GSM Base Station deal with Viettel. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Interoute Deploys 60 Gbps Capacity in 48 Hours with Infinera

Interoute, which operates a pan-European fiber network, worked around the clock to replace a 1,200 km section on one of its largest customer's network that was experiencing rapid degradation. It took just 48 hours from "order to delivery" for Interoute to provide 60 Gbps of connectivity. Interoute's service provider customer had acquired another telecom operator which already owned a large international optical network. After the acquisition, the unprecedented daily volume of data and IP traffic now utilizing the route necessitated an immediate and substantial upgrade.

Interoute operates an Infinera optical network across that same route. The companies said new Infinera modules required for the additional 60 Gbps capacity arrived at the sites in a matter of hours, and the Infinera system took just minutes to bring up the capacity, test it to confirm it was running error-free, and begin carrying customer traffic. Most of the time required to complete the job was consumed in providing the additional connectivity from the customer's network to Interoute's Infinera network.

"Managing to activate 60 Gbps of bandwidth in less than 48 hours has made us extremely proud and emphasized again the first-rate quality of our network, and especially our Infinera optical network, as well as the total dedication of our people," said Interoute CEO Gareth Williams.http://www.interoute.com

BSNL Selects Dilithium for Mobile Video Services

BSNL, India's largest telecommunications company, has selected Dilithium for the deployment of new mobile video & streaming services over 2G and 3G networks beginning in 2009. Dilithium has partnered with HCL Infosystems Ltd. to provide end to end delivery solutions for BSNL's live mobile video services. The solution includes the Dilithium DTG 3021 multimedia gateways and the DCA video streaming solution, enabling 2-way video calling and other advanced video services. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Axis Introduces 3 New Network Cameras

Axis Communications introduced a series of small and smart network cameras designed for securing locations such as small businesses, boutiques, restaurants, hotels and residences.

All three models provide superior video quality at 30 frames per second in VGA resolution. Two of the models add the option of connecting over an IEEE 802.11g wireless interface with the built-in antenna. One of these additionally features a passive infrared (PIR) sensor for detecting movement, even in the dark, and a white LED light for illuminating the scene automatically at an event or when requested by the user. Other features include two-way audio support with an integrated microphone and speaker, allowing remote listening in on an area as well as communication with individuals directly or using uploaded or recorded audio clips.

All cameras in the AXIS M10 Series provide multiple, individually configurable, high-resolution video streams in H.264, Motion JPEG as well as MPEG-4 Part 2 at full frame rate. Using progressive scan technology, the cameras provide VGA images of moving objects without motion blur.

Sezmi Raises $33 Million for its TV 2.0 Service and STB

Sezmi, a start-up based in Belmont, California, secured $33 million in new venture funding for its personal TV system.

Sezmi is developing an alternative to the legacy TV experience with a line-up of content from traditional broadcast networks, cable and specialty networks, Internet video, pay-per-view movies, etc. The company says its goal is not only to enhance the on-demand experience, but to stand out from traditional television offerings with a highly personalized, intuitive user experience at an affordable cost. Sezmi is now in trials and will be commercially available to U.S. consumers through broadband providers and national retailers in 2009.

The new funding includes new investments from Advanced Equities, Inc. and others, and follow-on investments from previous investors: Morgenthaler Ventures, Omni Capital Group, TD Fund, and Legend Ventures.

"The demand from consumers for an affordable and personalized television experience continues to increase," said Phil Wiser, Sezmi's co-founder and president. "In fact, we hear from consumers every day that they are looking for an alternative to meet these needs and that they are eagerly awaiting Sezmi. It is very gratifying that our vision is validated not just by consumers, but also by the investment community."
  • In May 2008, Sezmi unveiled a new TV service that combines terrestrial digital broadcast television with existing broadband services to deliver video content to a customized set-top box. The system utilizes available capacity in existing digital television broadcast networks and creates a private, secure broadcast transmission for content. The Sezmi interface aims to provide a seamless integration of live, stored, on-demand and Internet video from different sources.

    Sezmi has also developed a smart antenna indoor reception system that makes both its private broadcast and existing terrestrial TV broadcasts accessible. The company said its network-attached reception system can be placed in any location in the home.

    Sezmi is seeking partnerships with broadcasters, broadband providers and content companies. It plans to commence technical trials in preparation for commercial launch across several major U.S. markets later this year.

  • In April 2008, Sezmi (formerly known as Building B) announced plans to co-locate its network operations center (NOC) within Harris Corporation's world-class NOC facility in Melbourne, Fla. in order to leverage Harris' expertise in digital asset management, content aggregation and its nationwide distribution network.

  • Sezmi is headed by Dr. Buno Pati (co-founder and CEO), who previously founded Numerical Technologies (acquired by Synopsys). Before co-founding Numerical, Dr. Pati served as assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Harvard University and a post-doctoral research associate at Stanford University.

Qwest Trims Broadband Prices -- DSL Starting at $14.99 a Month

Qwest Communications is trimming its broadband prices.

For new customers, Qwest Connect Silver High-Speed Internet service with connection speeds up to 1.5 Mbps is now being offered for $14.99 a month for a year (regularly priced at $39.99 a month) and Qwest Connect Platinum High-Speed Internet service with connection speeds up to 7 Mbps is priced at $24.99 a month for a year (regularly priced at $49.99 a month) to new customers.

Existing Qwest High-Speed Internet customers can upgrade their high-speed Internet service to Qwest Connect Platinum, Titanium or Quantum High-Speed Internet service with a 2-year commitment will receive 2 months of free service.

In addition, Verizon Wireless service can be added a Qwest Bundle. Customers who bundle all of their services -- including Qwest High-Speed Internet, DIRECTV service, Verizon Wireless, a Qwest home phone package and unlimited nationwide long distance -- can save more than $25 a month, or more than $300 each year with Qwest.

Blue Coat Achieves Record Net Revenue

Blue Coat Systems reported total net revenue for its second quarter of fiscal 2009 (ended October 31, 2008) of $119.0 million, an increase of 62% compared to net revenue of $73.4 million in the same quarter last year, and an increase of 16% compared to net revenue of $102.5 million in the immediately preceding quarter. Excluding net revenue associated with the acquisition of Packeteer on June 6, 2008, net revenue for the second quarter of fiscal 2009 was $93.9 million, an increase of 28% compared to net revenue of $73.4 million in the same quarter last year, and an increase of 9% compared to net revenue of $86.4 million in the immediately preceding quarter.

On a GAAP basis, the company reported a net loss of $0.3 million, or ($0.01) per share, in the second quarter of fiscal 2009, compared to net income of $7.0 million, or $0.17 per diluted share, in the second quarter of fiscal 2008, and a net loss of $5.8 million, or ($0.15) per share, in the first quarter of fiscal 2009.

"Despite a difficult economic environment, Blue Coat continued to execute its strategy during the second quarter, enabling us to once again report record net revenue," said Brian NeSmith, president and chief executive officer, Blue Coat Systems. "We have largely completed the integration of Packeteer, Inc., which we acquired in June, and recognized $25 million in net revenue from the acquired business in the second quarter. In addition, we achieved integration between our ProxySG appliances and the PacketShaper appliances we acquired from Packeteer."

For the third fiscal quarter ending January 31, 2009, in consideration of the current economic environment the company is currently planning net revenue in the range of $106.0 to $112.0 million.

Telenor Pakistan selects NSN for Real Time Traffic Monitoring

Telenor Pakistan, which serves 18 million mobile users, has deployed Nokia Siemens Networks' NetAct Traffica real time customer traffic monitoring and analysis software. Telenor Pakistan has acquired the GPRS module of the solution for further enhancing the data service experience for its customers. The customer traffic monitoring and analysis software provides a detailed, real-time view to user activity and service usage throughout the network enabling the service provider to react to problems immediately. It can also give valuable insight into users' behavior.

Nokia Siemens Networks said its service assurance software will provide diagnostic services like information on service usage by data subscribers, time and area of service usage, problem identification and troubleshooting. This information will then be utilized to determine areas of improvement to ensure flawless services to the customers.

Vietnam Mobile Telecom Selects Alcatel-Lucent

Vietnam Mobile Telecom Services Company has awarded a US$48 million contract to Alcatel-Lucent to expand and enhance the wireless communications services available through its Mobifone mobile network.

The contract calls for Alcatel-Lucent to deploy more than 1,400 multi-standard base stations GSM/EDGE latest technology to improve voice and data services over the Mobifone network and to extend coverage and capacity throughout northern Vietnam. This upgrade will enable Mobifone to offer an enriched mobile phone services portfolio that will include content services, air-provisioning and other advanced services by the end of 2009.

Alcatel-Lucent will provide full turn-key services for the implementation of this major network upgrade for Mobifone, scheduled for completion by the end of the first quarter of 2009. The services include project management, installation and deployment as well as radio network engineering services.http://www.alcatel-lucent.com

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Alcatel-Lucent Enhances its Corporate Communications Portfolio

Alcatel-Lucent announced a suite of enhancements for its portfolio of products for large enterprises, including new capabilities to scale to support 100,000 users and the ability to better integrate with key corporate applications.

Alcatel-Lucent's Corporate Communications offer includes voice, data, unified communications and contact center solutions whose enhancements enable large business customers to employ data virtualization, increased scalability and strategic centralization in the network to better address the challenges of globalization.

Key enhancements include:

  • Release 9.0 of the new Alcatel-Lucent OmniPCXprovides a secure, scalable, centralized architecture capable of serving 100,000 users. The system's Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) controller and expanded standards-based SIP trunking allows easier integration with new applications and SIP device management.

  • A new OmniSwitch 9000E platform is being introduced to serve locations requiring high capacity, scalability and virtualization with multi-virtual routing and forwarding, which delivers cost reductions through hardware consolidation and lower power consumption.

  • Release 5.1 of the Alcatel-Lucent OmniTouch Unified Communication Solution and OmniTouch 8600 My Instant Communicator now offer multimedia, multi-session collaboration, mobile device integration, and support for third-party applications such as Microsoft Office Communicator and IBM Sametime and Lotus Notes.

  • The Alcatel-Lucent OmniTouch Contact Center Premium and Standard Release 9.0 and the latest CC Teamer application help enterprises provide superior customer service.

  • Alcatel-Lucent solutions also encourage more effective knowledge sharing internally and with customers, partners and suppliers through open APIs and third-party integration, enabling improved productivity and cost reduction.

Alcatel-Lucent noted that it has added more than 5,000 new enterprise customers since the initial launch of its Corporate Communications Solutions offering nearly two years ago.

Orange Busines Partners with Microsoft on Unified Communications

Orange Business Services will make available as standard managed services the latest versions of the unified communication and collaboration offerings from Microsoft, including Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, Microsoft Office Communications Server 2007 and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, and supporting these services with ITIL standards-based service management.

Business Together with Microsoft is an innovative solution that integrates collaborative offers into a single user interface in order to improve team efficiency. Since its May 2007 launch, Business Together with Microsoft has been deployed to 150,000 seats.

Orange Business Services said it differentiates its offer by providing ITIL standards-based service management that achieves secure and reliable performance for an improved end-user experience and a 24/7 service desk to provide global support.

BelAir Debuts 802.11n Access Point for Service Providers

BelAir Networks introduced its BelAir20 Access Point (AP), a compact dual-radio, dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi indoor AP designed to deliver centrally managed and hosted public or private Wi-Fi services in a variety of high density environments . Key features include:

  • Complements the company's portfolio of outdoor Wi-Fi nodes

  • Leverages the same BelAirOS operating system and BelView network management

  • Integrates with the service provider's back office to facilitate service provisioning and bundling, ease deployment and operation, and reduce network commissioning and upgrade costs

  • Provides wireless backhaul between APs.

The company said its hosted software based control lowers network CapEx by 30%.

Orange Adds Mobile TV to its Unik 3G UMA Service

Orange is preparing to launch high definition mobile TV for Unik, its 3G+ UMA platform. Customers in France will gain access to more than sixty high definition mobile TV channels (including twenty with unlimited access).

The video content will be deliver with though the 3G network and/or Wi-Fi network at home and in Orange Wi-Fi hotspots.

The service will be available on Orange's Unik using a new and exclusive handset from LG, the LG Secret KF757. The LG device will be the first UMA handset to include Orange TV Player, Orange's new mobile TV software that enables users to easily flick from one channel to another and to consult a guide to programmes showing on each channel.

With the Unik service, the network intelligently chooses the best connection available -- Orange Livebox, WiFi or 3G+ -- offering optimal TV quality more cost-effectively when in a WiFi environment.

Secret KF757 via the Orange TV Player software or the Orange World portal, and is already available on the Sony Ericsson G705u via the Orange World portal. Orange's existing Unik service currently has over 1 million customers in France. The offer is also available through Unifon in Poland, Unique in the UK and Unico in Spain.