Sunday, January 18, 2009

Bahrain's Batelco Seeks Stake in India's S-Tel

Bahrain-based Batelco will acquire a 49% equity stake in S-Tel, a GSM operator based in Chennai, India, for $225 million. S-Tel has licenses to operate in six circles in Bihar, Orissa, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, North East and Assam.

Mformation: Mobile Data Services Are Too Complex

Complexity is preventing uptake and usage of mobile applications and services, according to a survey of US and UK consumers commissioned by Mformation a supplier of mobile device management (MDM) solutions. The research was undertaken by independent research house Coleman Parkes, which asked 4,000 people in the UK and US about problems related to mobile usage. Some key findings of the survey:

  • 95% of consumers surveyed indicated that they would be more likely to try new mobile services if setup was easier.

  • Complex setup issues are preventing 45% of people from upgrading to new, more sophisticated mobile phones.

  • 61% of mobile users say phone setup is as frustrating as changing a bank account.

  • 65% of respondents agreed that mobile operators are losing out, as people will not buy a new phone because of the time it takes to set up.

  • 78% say they would change their handsets more regularly if the setup process was less painful.

  • 88% agreeing that they would use these services more if setup were less painful.

  • Basic services such as email (46%), Internet browsing (40%), instant messaging (30%) and picture messaging (29%) are among the top applications and services that people find don't always work when they first switch on their phone.

  • 61% have stopped using mobile applications because they cannot solve problems with them.

  • On average, people feel it should take no longer than 15 minutes to set up a new mobile phone and feel confident it is working. However, at the moment the average time is nearly an hour.

"Operators and device manufacturers need to remove barriers to service uptake and unlock the true power of advanced mobile technology. The message from consumers is that phone setup is simply too complex. Clearly, this needs to be addressed," said Matthew Bancroft, Vice President, Mformation. "‘Up and running straight out-of-the-box' means exactly that, and our research shows that improving this aspect of the mobile phone purchasing experience will help to improve profitability for many players in our industry."

Nuvont Continues on UTOPIA Fiber-Optic Network

Nuvont Communications will continue to offer broadband Internet and

VoIP services as an independent provider on The Utah Telecommunication Open Infrastructure Agency (UTOPIA) network. In 2008, Nuvont had considered a potential merger with Broadweave Networks, who acquired the iProvo municipal fiber-optic network in Provo, Utah.

"Nuvont's strategic decision to remain as an independent service provider on UTOPIA and other open networks provides further validation of the Open Service Provider Model," said Todd Marriott, CEO of UTOPIA.

ADC Announces New Leadership for Two Business Units

ADC announced the appointments of Richard B. (Dick) Parran, Jr. as president, Network Solutions Business Unit and Christopher Jurasek as president, ADC Professional Services Business Unit. Parran, a 25-year veteran of the telecommunications industry, joined ADC in November 1995 in a strategic marketing leadership role and has played an instrumental role in defining ADC's wireless business strategy. Jurasek was named chief information officer for ADC in May 2007 and has been responsible for increasing and improving the strategic alignment of ADC's information systems worldwide.

Teknovus Pursues 10 Gbps EPON

Teknovus presented a paper on "10G EPON -- The Next Step in FTTx Deployments" as part of FOE's (Fiber Optics Expo) Technical Conference on Next Generation PON. Teknovus is also demonstrating its 10G EPON solutions during the exhibition. The demonstration features triple-rate EPON MACs with support for 10Gbps, 2.5Gbps and 1.25Gbps downstream data rates as well as 1.25Gbps and 10Gbps upstream data rates, enabling carriers to reduce costs by supporting coexistence of 1.25G, 2.5G and 10G ONUs on a single fiber plant.

"Japan is the leader in fiber access with the earliest and largest number of EPON deployments, as well as the first to adopt 2.5G Turbo-EPONTM," according to Ryoji Takaichi, Teknovus Corporate VP and General Manager for Japan. "In addition, Japanese cellular and WiMAX service providers are deploying Teknovus' EPON chips for backhaul applications, providing substantial operating cost reductions and increased bandwidth for improved user experience. Japan is also a leader in the testing of 10G EPON, which will accelerate FTTx multi-dwelling unit deployments and converged enterprise services. We expect to see field-trials of our 10G EPON before year-end 2009."

Skype and IBM collaborate on LotusLive Integration

Skype is working to integrate its functionality with LotusLive, IBM's new cloud services. Specifically, Skye's voice and video calling will add rich, real-time communications capabilities to LotusLive, making it even easier for enterprises to collaborate in the cloud. Employees of companies using LotusLive will be able to use Skype to initiate voice and video calls, simply by clicking on their contacts' Skype names or phone numbers within LotusLive. Future possibilities include the ability to import Skype contact information into IBM cloud services to enhance online collaboration.

Intelsat Signs Global Maritime Deal with KT

Intelsat has signed KT a distribution partner for the Intelsat Network Broadband Global Maritime service. KT Corporation's maritime customers will benefit from Intelsat's service that offers an always-on broadband connection and automatic beam switching technology all for a flat monthly fee. These features differentiate Intelsat's platform from most narrow band-based services or Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) solutions currently offered in the maritime industry.

Intelsat's Network Broadband Global Maritime platform, part of Intelsat's GlobalConnex (GXS) portfolio of services, utilizes C-band capacity provided via three ocean-region satellites: IS-602 at 178ºE, IS-707 at 307ºE and IS-906 at 64ºE. Intelsat's robust terrestrial network, including hubs at Fuchsstadt, Germany, and Riverside, California, complete its seamless global network.

Qwest Announces Tax Treatment for 2008 Dividends

Qwest Communications announced the expected tax treatment for its 2008 dividends. During 2008, Qwest paid quarterly dividends on its common stock that amounted to $0.32 per share. For United States federal income tax-reporting purposes, the company will report the 2008 dividends as non-taxable distributions.

Qwest said non-taxable distributions are generally treated as a return of capital to the extent of a shareholder's basis in his or her shares. Accordingly, these non-taxable distributions reduce that tax basis. Once a shareholder's basis is reduced to zero, non-taxable distributions generally will be taxed as capital gains.

Qwest announced a common stock dividend of $0.08 that on Dec. 11, 2008, with a record date of Feb. 13, 2009 and a payable date of March 6, 2009. This will be reported for income tax purposes in 2009.

Pacific Crossing Supplies 160 Gbps Capacity to XO

XO Communications and Pacific Crossing, which operates an undersea cable system, reached a deal for connecting XO's nationwide network and Pacific Crossing's privately owned sub-sea fiber ring.

Specifically, XO has linked to Pacific Crossing's PC-1 network at the company's Grover Beach, Calif., landing station. The station carries data to and from Pacific Crossing landing stations in Shima and Ajigaura Japan, where customers may access major Asian networks and carriers. Landing station facilities have easy access to multiple backhaul providers and are in close proximity to Tokyo and Nagoya, linking the system to major metropolitan areas in Japan, as well as other sub-sea networks serving Asia.

The agreement covers an initial 160 Gbps of capacity (multiple 10 Gbps wavelengths, of which 120 Gbps has already been activated/ This makes the XO-Pacific Crossing transaction one of the largest trans-Pacific telecommunications deals in recent history.

Level 3 Selected by Blue Cross and Blue Shield

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association (BCBSA) has selected Level 3 to be a national provider for telecommunications services. Under the terms of the multi-year agreement, Level 3 will continue to extend its telecommunications services - including voice, video and data offerings - to all 39 Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies across the nation. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The 39 Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies collectively provide healthcare coverage for more than 102 million Americans.

Sprint Mobile Broadband Gets New Sierra USB Modem

Sprint is launching a new Sierra Wireless USB 598 modem

for access over its Mobile Broadband Network. The 598U by Sierra Wireless is optimized for the Sprint Mobile Broadband Network, and supports EV-DO Rev. A technology where available. The Sprint Mobile Broadband Network offers average download speeds between 600 kbps and 1.4 Mbps and upload speeds average 350 to 500 kbps.

TI Unveils Solar-kit for Wireless Sensor Networks

Texas Instruments unveiled a solar energy harvesting (SEH) development kit that converts ambient light into power for industrial, transportation, agricultural and commercial applications, including wireless sensor network systems. The credit card-sized eZ430-RF2500-SEH kit combines Cymbet's EnerChip thin-film battery technology with TI's MSP430 microcontrollers (MCU), CC2500 radio frequency (RF) transceivers and the eZ430-RF2500 development tool.

TI said the solution could be used to build self powered solar-based wireless sensor networks, eliminating system batteries, which cost time and money to periodically replace, especially in remote locations. Sampling is underway.

COLT Activates First 8Gbits/s Fibre Channel Service with ADVA

COLT has launched the first 8 Gbits/s Fibre Channel (FC) service over distance. The COLT services is using ADVA Optical Networking's ADVA FSP 3000 8Gbps FC card, which provides a point-to-point link that stretches beyond 135km.

Connecting two data centers with an 8Gbps FC link across this distance was dependent upon the ADVA FSP 3000's Raman amplification capabilities to eliminate the need for mid-span huts and the associated operations and maintenance costs.

Before installation, ADVA Optical Networking developed and extensively tested its 8Gbps FC solution in its Meiningen, Germany, laboratories, ensuring that it could operate over large distances and that it is compatible with 10-, 4-, 2- and 1Gbps FC interfaces and a range of industry switches, including Brocade's 8Gbps SAN switch.

COLT owns and operates a 13-country, 25,000km network that includes metropolitan area networks in 34 major European cities with direct fibre connections into 14,000 buildings and 18 COLT data centres.

Verizon Business Deploys Mesh Expansion to Singapore

Verizon Business has deployed a mesh advanced network configuration in Singapore, ensuring additional network paths for rerouting traffic in the event of a cable cut or other network disruption.

This Singapore expansion complements the Pacific mesh network deployment the company began in 2007. Specifically, Verizon Business deployed a seven-way mesh network across the Pacific Ocean using the newly activated Trans-Pacific Express cable network and other submarine cables. The Pacific mesh network now extends from Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea to Japan and the United States.

The Pacific mesh design provides seven paths of diverse capacity, offering automatic restoration and real-time management of voice and data traffic on the Pacific undersea cable routes of Verizon Business' global network.

Verizon Business noted that it has ownership in more than 18 submarine cables in the Asia-Pacific region including: Japan-U.S. and China-U.S., Southern Cross (U.S., New Zealand and Australia), SEA-ME-WE-4 and the Trans-Pacific Express network. Verizon Business is a founding partner and landing party in the Trans-Pacific Express Consortium which built the first next-generation undersea optical cable system directly linking the U.S. to mainland China, South Korea and Taiwan. The TPE system uses the latest optical technology to provide greater capacity and higher speeds to meet the dramatic increase in demand for IP.

Nortel Receives Approvals from U.S. Bankruptcy Court

The United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware granted approval to Nortel Networks for a number of motions requesting certain relief. Those first day motions included, among other things, (1) a motion for authorization to continue making payments relating to employees' wages, salaries, commissions and benefit programs in the ordinary course; (2) a motion for authorization to continue the U.S. Debtors' current cash management system and related relief; and (3) a motion to impose certain restrictions on trading in common shares of NNC and preferred shares of NNL.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sony Ericsson Predicts 5% Decline in Mobile Shipments in 09

The Global economic slowdown led to contracting consumer demand for new mobiles in Q4 2008. Sony Ericsson's sales for the quarter were EUR 2.914 billion, an increase of 4% sequentially due to a positive impact of currency fluctuations, and a decrease of 23% compared to Q4 2007. Units shipped in the quarter were 24.2 million, a sequential decrease of 6% and a year-on-year decrease of 21%. The decline in sales year-on-year was driven by lower volumes, due to the global economic slowdown that resulted in contracting consumer demand and decreased availability of credit. Gross margin became 15% due to negative impact from exchange rate fluctuations, restructuring charges and material write-offs.

The average selling price (ASP) for Sony Ericsson in Q4 2008 was EUR 121, an increase sequentially but a decrease year-on-year. The sequential increase of ASP was due to a positive impact of foreign exchange rate fluctuations and to the sale of a higher proportion of high-end models. Estimated market share for Q4 2008 is maintained at around 8%.

"In economic terms, 2008 has been a tumultuous year with world markets experiencing a serious downturn. The mobile phone market has been greatly affected by this and as expected, the fourth quarter continued to be very challenging for Sony Ericsson. Our business alignment is progressing as planned, with the full effect of annual savings of around Euro 300 million expected by the second half of 2009. We foresee a continued deterioration in the market place in 2009, particularly in the first half," said Dick Komiyama, President, Sony Ericsson.

The additional cost saving measures initiated by Sony Ericsson are aimed at reducing operating expenses by a further Euro 180 million annually, with the full effect expected at the end of 2009.

Sony Ericsson estimates the 2008 global handset market as being around 1,190 million units or around 6% growth from 2007, compared to the company's previous forecast of around 10%. Sony Ericsson forecasts that the global handset market will contract in 2009 by 5% and that the industry ASP will continue to decline.

Alcatel-Lucent's Taiwan WiMAX Center Cites Momentum

Alcatel-Lucent highlighted key milestones in 2008 by its Taiwan WiMAX Center, which was established in cooperation with Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs (MoEA). Some of the center's achievements include:

  • Interoperability testing: Collaborated with 8 Taiwan technology giants, including Asus, AWB/Accton, D-Link, Gemtek, MediaTek, QMI/Quanta, USI and Zyxel in interoperability testing of WiMAX terminal devices on 24 models, including indoor and outdoor CPE, PCMCIA/Express cards, USB dongles and WiMAX-enabled laptops.

  • Device certification: Enabled the ramp-up of Alcatel-Lucent's WiMAX Seal of Interoperability Acceptance for Commercial Services (SIACS), giving Alcatel-Lucent's operator customers the highest possible assurance of interoperability and quality. Award of SIACS to products provides WiMAX service operators with performance metrics for enhanced predictability. So far, devices from Zyxel, Quanta, Accton, and D-Link have been the Alcatel-Lucent SIACS.

  • Strengthening of cooperation between local manufacturers and global WiMAX service operators: In line with the Alcatel-Lucent Open Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) program, the center has actively facilitated contacts and cooperation between local CPE suppliers and WiMAX service providers worldwide, permitting the latter to offer their customers the widest variety and highest quality of devices. In the past year, the center has received WiMAX service operators, from Hong Kong, Cambodia, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Europe, and Australia to Taiwan and facilitated meetings with local CPE suppliers.

Under its new WiMAX strategy, Alcatel-Lucent said it is committed to continuing development of its WiMAX 802.16e (Rev-e) product line.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Nortel Files for Chapter 11

Marking a significant chapter in telecommunications history, 113-year old Nortel Networks filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the U.S. and under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act ("CCAA") in Canada. Nortel said the filing will enable it to deal with its cost and debt burden, to restructure its operations and to narrow its strategic focus in an effective and timely manner.

Nortel said normal day-to-day operations would continue without interruption. To ensure its supply chain, Nortel has made a special arrangement with Flextronics by which Nortel agreed to purchase US$120 million of existing inventory by July 1, 2009 and to make quarterly purchases of other inventory and to terms relating to payment and pricing..

"Nortel must be put on a sound financial footing once and for all," said Nortel President and CEO Mike Zafirovski. "These actions are imperative so that Nortel can build on its core strengths and become the highly focused and financially sound leader in the communications industry that its people, technology and customer relationships show it ought to be. I am confident that the actions we're announcing today will be the fastest, most effective means to translate our improved operational efficiency, double-digit productivity, focused R&D and technology leadership into long-term success. I want to reaffirm Nortel's dedication to delivering world-class solutions and services to customers." According to industry reports, Nortel currently has about $2.4 billion in cash, a burn rate of $100 million per month and a heavy debt load of $4.5 billion. 14-Jan-09
  • In November, citing a worsening of economic conditions, Nortel confirmed plans for further job cuts. Revenue in the third quarter of $2.32 billion decreased 14 percent year over year and down 1 percent on a year-to-date basis. The decline compared to the year ago quarter resulted from a challenging economic environment, competitive pressures and reduced spending by key carrier customers. Plans called for the reduction of approximately 1,300 positions, with about 25 percent of the net reduction taking place in 2008 and the remainder in 2009. This is expected to result in annual gross savings of approximately $190 million, with total charges to earnings and cash outlays of approximately $130 million. In addition to deeper cuts in spending, the company is considering possible sales of its real estate holdings.
  • Effective January 1, Nortel adopted a vertically integrated business unit structure. This includes one business unit focused on Enterprise customers and two business units focused on Service Providers: Carrier Networks (consisting of wireless and carrier value-added activities), led by Richard Lowe; and Metro Ethernet Networks, led by Philippe Morin. A dedicated global carrier sales organization will support both business units, led by Darryl Edwards.
  • There was no update at this time on Nortel's review of the potential divestiture of the MEN business.
  • In 2000, the company reached a peak annual revenue rate of $28 billion. At the point, it employed 93,000 and boasted a market capitalization of nearly $250 billion, accounting for one-third the value of the entire Toronto Stock Exchange. Following the bursting of the dot-com bubble, Nortel became embroiled in an accounting fraud that led to prosecution of its key executives.
  • Founded in 1895, Northern Electric and Manufacturing traces its roots back through Bell Canada to Alexander Graham Bell.

Telegent Debuts Single-chip DVB-T + Analog TV Receiver

Telegent Systems, a start-up based in Sunnyvale, California, introduced a single-chip CMOS hybrid TV receiver for enabling free-to-air TV on personal computers (PCs), laptops, netbooks and other portable devices.

Telegent's new TLG2300 chip supports digital (DVB-T) and analog (PAL/SECAM/NTSC) TV and FM radio, enabling it to be used in markets across the world. In countries transitioning to DVB-T, the TLG2300 combines the benefits of digital TV with the ubiquitous availability of analog, ensuring live TV reception regardless of digital deployment. Support for analog standards extends target markets to countries where there is no imminent digital conversion, which accounts for more than 85% of the world's population through 2012.

Telegent estimates that its TLG2300 reduces power demand by 75%, size by 50% and TV feature cost by 60% relative to existing solutions while delivering industry-leading video sensitivity and picture quality with margin to key NorDig specifications. The thermal profile will enable it to be embedded into laptops and netbooks.

The TLG2300 integrates the RF tuner, demodulator, decoder, audio/video processing, FM stereo radio, and USB 2.0 interface in less than 4.25 cm2 of board space enabling a single-sided, four-layer, half-mini PCIe form factor. Sampling is underway.

"With the technical innovation delivered by the TLG2300, live TV can now become a standard feature in PCs, laptops and other portable devices" said Weijie Yun, president and CEO of Telegent Systems. "TV is a particularly intuitive feature for media-centric devices such as netbooks and MIDs that allows manufacturers to differentiate their products and penetrate non-digital and emerging markets where analog support is required."
  • Telegent Systems was co-founded in 2004 by
    Weijie Yun (CEO) and Samuel Sheng (CTO). Prior to Telegent, Yun led marketing and product management at Berkana Wireless, which developed a single-chip RF CMOS receiver for GSM/GPRS cellular applications. He also served as the founding president & CEO of AIP Networks and was a founder and director of SiTek. Prior to co-founding Telegent Systems, Sam Sheng was at LSI Logic and was responsible for architecting and implementing a series of silicon RF tuners for video-band applications, targeted for cable modems, analog/digital video over cable, and voice over IP as well as highly integrated DVD front-end technologies. Before LSI Logic, Sam co-led the ADSL front-end (AFE) development effort at Datapath Systems.

SanDisk and LGE Develop Storage-Based Services for Mobile Operators

SanDisk and LG Electronics demonstrated a new means for mobile network operators (MNOs) to offer their customers multimedia-rich services using removable flash memory cards. The memory card serves as a network node that is remotely manageable by the operator using industry-standard TCP/IP and OMA Smart Card Web Server.

Using the system, network operators could distribute preloaded and downloaded content on removable memory cards. The accessibility to the premium content is made possible by enabling memory cards to authenticate user credentials via data on the SIM card.

SanDisk and LG Electronics have implemented the technology on the LG KC910 Renoir handset. The companies said their solution brings flexible storage-based services to network operators by allowing IP connectivity to the memory card in the handset.

"With this advanced technology, handset manufacturers and MNOs will be able to meet the increasingly sophisticated demands of consumers who want easy access to premium content on their mobile devices," said Amir Lehr, senior director, business development, SanDisk. "The new LG KC910 Renoir highlights SanDisk's storage-based service delivery technology that is designed to enhance an MNO's ability to facilitate content usage in a flexible manner and lets service providers customize their method of content distribution."