Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Nortel to Divest Layer 4-7 Data Portfolio to Radware

Nortel reached an agreement to sell certain portions of its Application Delivery portfolio to Radware. Under the deal, Radware will acquire the Nortel Application Accelerators (NAA) 510 and 610; Nortel Application Switches (NAS) 3408E, 2424E, 2424 SSL E, 2216E, 2208E; and the Virtual Services Switch (VSS) 5000. Radware will assume ownership, product development and outstanding warrantees, the products and the products would still be available and promoted by Nortel in an OEM relationship with Radware.

Nortel has filed the asset purchase agreement with the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware along with a motion seeking the establishment of bidding procedures for an auction that allows other qualified bidders to submit higher or otherwise better offers, as required under Section 363 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

Soapstone Engages Morgan Stanley to Explore Options

Soapstone Networks has engaged Morgan Stanley to assist in exploring strategic alternatives for enhancing shareholder value, including but not limited to, continued execution of the company's business plan, the payment of a cash dividend to the company's shareholders, a repurchase by the company of shares of its capital stock, the sale or spin off of company assets, partnering or other collaboration agreements, a merger, sale or liquidation of, or acquisition by, the company or other strategic transaction. No timetable has been set for taking any strategic action.

"Like many companies in this macro-economic environment, we have heard from certain of our shareholders that, for their particular interests, a near-term cash return from the Company is desirable," said Bill Leighton, the Company's CEO. "With the help of our outside advisors, we will carefully consider this expressed interest in a cash return, within the process of evaluating a range of alternatives, understanding that our goal is, as always, to provide enhanced value to all of our shareholders."

AIRCOM and Aria Partner on Backhaul Optimization

AIRCOM International announced a partnership with Aria Networks, a provider of forecasting, planning and optimization solutions for fixed-line and mobile network carriers. Under this partnership AIRCOM will market, distribute and support Aria's iVNT software suite to its partners and mobile telecoms customers around the world.

The companies said backhaul transmission infrastructure transformation is an important part of most mobile operators' strategies, but the planning and optimization of these networks is complex, time-consuming and requires highly skilled staff. AIRCOM, with over 3.5 million man hours experience of network optimization and design will leverage Aria's iVNT suite to provide products and solutions that will enable its customers to reduce the complexity and time it takes to plan the backhaul network.

"In this current economic climate and with the ever-increasing demand from the user to provide high-speed data access, operators need to ensure that their backhaul network cost-effectively meets the demands of their customers. AIRCOM is increasingly seeing the need from our customers for the planning and optimization of the entire network infrastructure - from the handset to the core, but with a new focus on the transformation of the capital-intensive mobile backhaul infrastructure," said Ricky Watts, AIRCOM's director of solutions and innovation.

AIRCOM Partners with HP on Fixed-line Network Management

AIRCOM International, which provides network planning and optimization services, is partnering with consultancy, today announced a partnership deal with HP to deliver an integrated network management system to one of the largest fixed-line operators in Europe.

The deal will see AIRCOM supply its OPTIMA Performance Management Solution as part of Hewlett Packard's (HP) overall network management system, OpenView. This will add advanced reporting functionality to HP's existing suite of products, allowing users to generate specific KPI queries from a single platform and monitor the network from multiple offices, departments and geographies.

HP's OpenView is deployed by major corporations across many different industry sectors. HP has partnered with AIRCOM in a joint proposal to the Turkish operator as it seeks to upgrade its existing network and roll out next generation voice, video, data and other high speed DSL-based services to in excess of 40 million customers.

"The operator in question currently operates a multi-vendor system that comprises of more than 10 different vendors each delivering the network infrastructure solutions," said Mustafa Bartin, Country Manager Consulting & Integration at HP Turkey. "With such a large inventory of different vendor equipment, the need for a single management system that can extract key information from all the network elements became a critical factor in the purchase decision. This joint proposal has ensured that we are in the best possible position to deliver significant process efficiencies and network monitoring to the customer."

Vodafone and HTC unveil Android-powered HTC Magic

At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Vodafone and HTC unveiled an Android-powered smartphone from HTC.

The HTC Magic smartphone will be exclusive to Vodafone customers initially in UK, Spain, Germany and France (SFR) and non-exclusively in Italy. It has a 3.2" QVGA touch screen display and features a trackball and navigational buttons. It includes a variety of email options such as Google Mail, POP3 and IMAP as well as Google Talk for instant messaging.

Exalt Raises $15 Million for its Microwave Radios

Exalt Communications, a start-up based in Campbell, California, has raised $15 million in new funding for its high-performance licensed and license-exempt microwave radio systems for wireless backhaul applications. The company plans to use the money to accelerate international growth, expand marketing and sales to carriers, governments and enterprises, strengthen its presence in North America and continue expanding its robust product portfolio.

Exalt, which was founded in 2004 by former executives at Western Multiplexer, developed customized silicon capable of transporting native TDM and native IP over broadband wireless links. The silicon enables software configurable channel bandwidth and modulation, thereby eliminating the need for field replaceable plug-in modules and minimizing downtime. Exalt employs highly efficient modulation at up to 128 QAM to enable the maximum possible transmission capacities over the smallest available spectrum.

The software upgradeable capacity also enables operators to follow a "pay-as-you-grow" model as they expand and modernize their networks.

Exalt licensed and license-exempt microwave radios are available in bands covering 2 - 40 GHz. The product family now includes Gigabit Ethernet interfaces. The radios feature guaranteed throughput, software upgradeable capacity, low latency and native TDM and native Ethernet support. Exalt radio systems are available in all-indoor, all-outdoor, and split-mount models, enabling customers to choose the configuration that best meets the needs of any given site.

Exalt said that in the four years since its founding, it has developed and delivered an entirely new class of high-performance microwave radio systems to more than 500 customers including wireline carriers, mobile operators, government agencies and enterprises.

The new funding was led by InterWest Partners, joining existing investors Velocity Interactive Group and Trinity Ventures, who were full participants in the round.

EB Works with Intel and Ericsson on Mobile Internet Device Design

Elektrobit (EB) announced plans to bring a sleek, battery-efficient MID reference design to market in 2009. The design is based on Intel's second generation MID platform codenamed "Moorestown" scheduled to come to market by 2010. EB, which is licensing its MID reference design to equipment suppliers, said it is focused on higher value capabilities that could be integrated in a MID, such as enhanced navigation software that utilizes online data and services. It will also feature an optimized, next-generation touchscreen user interface, built on the latest 3D and future-forward haptics technologies incorporating sensation-based feedback and control at the user interaction-level.

"The Mobile Internet Device market segment continues to take hold with a broad range of devices now shipping in the marketplace," said Pankaj Kedia, Director of Global Ecosystem Programs in Intel Corporation's Ultra Mobility Group. "EB has been an early innovator in the MID segment with reference designs based on the Intel Atom processor and now based on our next generation "Moorestown" platform. The combination of high performance, software compatibility, and low power being delivered by the Intel roadmap, combined with EB's technical innovation and business model approach, will make it easier for our customers to bring new sleeker MIDs to market."

EB Introduces WiMAX Base Station Framework

Elektrobit (EB) has developed a customizable mobile WiMAX base station framework to help network equipment suppliers reduce costs and accelerate their entrance into the market. EB's framework ties together both digital signal processors and analog technology from Texas Instruments and compact, highly-flexible Remote Radio Heads from Radiocomp.

EB envisions its mobile WiMAX base station framework to be leveraged among a diverse customer base, with multiple user cases. Examples include:

Deployable Network Node: A fully featured, all-in-one Mobile WiMAX (IEEE 802.16e) network node, this solution is geared toward the need for rapid deployment of a mobile network in a site-less environment - including emergency locations and integration into vehicles (SUVs, police cars, and fire trucks). This solution enables quick capacity ramp-up, and also addresses coverage gaps. The integrated self-backhaul enables lower CAPEX, by eliminating the need for expensive backhaul in telecom networks, and enables remote deployment especially for public safety and defense needs.

Relay Base Station: The relay base station is a mobile WiMAX (IEEE 802.16e) network node, with 802.16j relay extension. Typical uses can be seen where there are coverage and capacity gaps, such as in urban canyons, metropolitan regions, sporting and event arenas, and other large indoor environments. This solution is fast to build and cost efficient to deploy; lowering overall network CAPEX. The system can also be used for quick capacity and coverage ramp-ups in special conditions, including public safety and defense environments.

Macro Base Station: The basic high-capacity base station providing high-capacity connectivity for broadband triple-play services covering long distances. The macro base station enables scalable, carrier-class solutions that support hundreds of users with reliable and differentiated services via a single base station.

Ethernet Alliance Launches Certification Program

The Ethernet Alliance is launching a Certification Program to assist end users and designers of IEEE 802 Ethernet equipment with purchasing decisions.

The program is designed to standardize test suites related to IEEE 802 Ethernet standards so as to clearly identify to which testing criteria a particular Ethernet solution has successfully been certified.

The certification program is separate from other internal or external interoperability activities conducted within the Ethernet Alliance. Companies who successfully pass the identified test criteria will be awarded an Ethernet Alliance Certification stamp with an assigned nomenclature to identify which test suite was completed.

Brocade Reports Q1 2009 Results, First Since Foundry Acquisition

Brocade reported revenues of $431.6 million, GAAP net loss of $26.0 million or $(0.07) per share diluted, and net income of $63.6 million or $0.15 per share diluted on a non-GAAP basis for its first quarter of FY09. The revenue of $431.6 million represents an 8% quarter on quarter growth and a 24% year on year growth.

At the end of the quarter, Brocade's total installed base of SAN ports was approximately 20.4 million. In addition, in Q1 09, Average Selling Price (ASP) declines were in the low single digits compared to Q4 08.

Commenting on Brocade's first quarter financial results, Michael Klayko, Brocade CEO, said:

"Brocade achieved another strong quarter in terms of revenues and better-than-expected operating margins. These results were fueled by a healthy mix of products and services, including IP networking solutions from our recently integrated Foundry business. In addition, with our combined product portfolio and roadmap, we believe Brocade is well-positioned to take advantage of opportunities in key, growing market segments within the networking industry."

Sprint Cites Financial Stability in Tough Times

Citing progress in its customer satisfaction program, gains in post paid subscriptions, and enthusiasm for its exclusive launch of the Palm Pre later this year, Sprint Nextel reported consolidated net operating revenues of $8.4 billion and a diluted loss per share of 57 cents. Full-year 2008 revenues were $35.6 billion. The company recorded a non-cash goodwill impairment charge of approximately $1 billion in the quarter, which finalizes the accounting for the goodwill related to the Sprint Nextel merger and other acquisitions.

During the quarter, the company repaid approximately $1 billion in principal of debt and received $213 million in proceeds at the closing of the Clearwire transaction. As of Dec. 31, 2008, the company had $3.7 billion of cash and cash equivalents and $1.4 billion of borrowing capacity available under its revolving bank credit facility, for a total liquidity of $5.1 billion.

"In tough economic times, we're generating substantial cash and reducing costs to ensure we remain financially sound. We already have the cash on hand to be able to meet our debt service requirements at least through the end of 2010," said Dan Hesse, Sprint Nextel CEO. "With this financial stability, we can build on the improvements we've made in customer care, strengthen our brand and maintain continued strong network performance in 2009.

"Independent evaluations report our significant improvement in customer care and network performance. Customers are responding to our messages of value, simplicity and productivity. Simply Everything provides a worry-free postpaid experience, and we are bringing the lessons learned from this success to our new family plans and to the prepaid market with the hassle-free national Boost Monthly Unlimited offer. We also have high expectations for the Palm Pre handset which will be launched later this year," Hesse said.

Some highlights for the quarter:

  • On Nov. 28, 2008, the company closed a transaction with Clearwire, Sprint contributed assets, including its 2.5 gigahertz spectrum and WiMAX-related assets, in exchange for an ownership interest in Clearwire.

  • Consolidated net operating revenues of $8.4 billion for the quarter were 4% lower than in the third quarter, primarily due to a lower contribution from Wireless.

  • Capital expenditures were $548 million in the quarter, as compared to $485 million in the third quarter. The increase reflects higher spending in both Wireless and Wireline segments. Included in the fourth quarter and full-year 2008 capital expenditures is $90 million and $560 million, respectively, in capital expenditures related to the deployment of WiMAX that will not recur in 2009 due to the closing of the Clearwire transaction.

  • Net Debt decreased by approximately $550 million from the end of the third quarter to $17.9 billion at the end of the fourth quarter, consisting of total debt of $21.6 billion, offset by cash and marketable securities of $3.7 billion.

  • The company served 49.3 million customers at the end of 2008, compared to 53.8 million at the end of 2007. The credit quality of the customer base improved every quarter in 2008, and prime customers represent almost 84% of the post-paid base, compared to 79% a year ago.

  • For the quarter, total wireless customers declined by a net 1.3 million, including losses of 1.1 million post-paid customers and 314,000 prepaid users, which was slightly offset by a 146,000 increase in the number of wholesale and affiliate subscribers.

  • At the end of the fourth quarter, the company served 36.7 million post-paid subscribers, 3.6 million prepaid subscribers and 9.0 million wholesale and affiliate subscribers.

  • Subscribers by network platform include 35.5 million on CDMA, 12.4 million on iDEN and 1.4 million Power Source users who utilize both networks.

  • Almost 10% of post-paid customers upgraded their handsets during the fourth quarter, resulting in increased contract renewals.

  • Wireless post-paid churn was 2.16% compared to 2.15% in the third quarter and 2.29% in the year-ago period. The sequential increase in churn is primarily driven by deactivations on business lines as a result of current economic conditions, and the year-over-year decrease is primarily due to the improvement in the credit quality of our customer base, partially offset by the slight increase in voluntary churn.

  • Wireless service revenues for the quarter of $6.6 billion declined 13% year-over-year and 4% sequentially. The year-over-year decline and the sequential decline were due primarily to fewer wireless subscribers. Wholesale, affiliate, and other revenues were down sequentially and as compared to the year-ago period primarily due to a decline in average monthly service revenue per wholesale subscriber.

  • Wireless post-paid ARPU in the quarter was stable sequentially at $56, as growth in data helped offset voice declines. Wireless post-paid ARPU declined by approximately 4% compared to the year-ago period, reflecting continued pressure on iDEN voice monthly access and overage revenues, partially offset by data revenue growth.

  • Data revenues contributed more than $14.50 to overall post-paid ARPU in the fourth quarter, led by growth in CDMA data ARPU. CDMA data ARPU increased about 9% from third quarter, to more than $17.75, now representing almost 31% of total CDMA ARPU. The increase was driven by strong take rates on bundled data services, such as those included with Simply Everything, as well as continued growth in data cards.

  • Prepaid ARPU in the quarter was approximately $30 compared to $28 in the year-ago period and $31 in the third quarter of 2008. The year-over-year increase reflects a growing contribution from CDMA Boost Unlimited subscribers. The sequential decline is due to lower ARPU from traditional prepaid users.

Hibernia Atlantic to Build Telehouse in Londonderry

Hibernia Atlantic announced plans to builds its Project Kelvin telehouse in Derry City. A cable landing station with a Point of Presence (PoP) will be located in Coleraine.

Project Kelvin is a joint €30 million initiative between DETI and DCENR and is partly funded through the EC INTERREG IVA programme. The new cable will link Armagh, Ballymena, Belfast, Coleraine, Londonderry, Omagh, Portadown and Strabane to Europe and North America. In addition, the cable will also provide links to Letterkenny, Castleblayney, Dundalk, Drogheda and Monaghan. This build marks another key milestone in Hibernia Atlantic's history, as the communications company is the first to deploy a cable from North America to this region.

Hibernia will also complete a cross-border build linking its existing communications network into the Northwest of Ireland, thereby reducing transAtlantic data latency and reducing the cost of international communications. With this link, network costs will compare very favourably with costs in Dublin and major UK cities while increasing competition in the international telecommunications market under the EU-funded ITERREG IV 2007- 2013 program.

Nokia to Integrate Skype into its Devices

Skype and Nokia announced a partnership to integrate Skype into Nokia devices, starting with the Nokia Nseries. The flagship Nokia N97 will be the first to incorporate the Skype experience in the 3rd quarter of 2009.

The Skype experience will be part of the address book of the Nokia N97, enabling presence - seeing when Skype contacts are online - as well as instant messaging. Nokia N97 owners around the world will also be able to use 3G and WLAN to easily make and receive free Skype-to-Skype voice calls, in addition to low-cost off net calls.

"With more than 400 million Skype users worldwide, the integration of Skype on Nokia Nseries mobile computers is a significant step in bringing converged Internet experiences from the desktop to the world's most advanced mobile computer," said Jose-Luis Martinez, Vice President, Nokia Nseries.

NSN Transfers Some R&D to Finland's Tieto

Tieto and Nokia Siemens Networks have agreed on a business transfer whereby 46 employees from Nokia Siemens Networks Operations and Business Software business unit in Finland have transferred to Tieto. Research and development activities as well as program management for business support systems are included in the business transfer.

"Nokia Siemens Networks and Tieto have worked closely together for a long time, and Tieto is an important business partner to us. This business transfer will enable more flexibility and the support of a specialized company now also in the development of operator business support systems," stated Juhani Hintikka, head of Operations and Business Software, Nokia Siemens Networks.

"Collaboration in this new area will bring synergies to us, and the expertise from Nokia Siemens Networks will expand our know-how and broaden our global R&D service offering for operator business support. The agreement also strengthens out position as the leading expert in outsourcing of telecommunications R&D services," says Timo J. Aaltonen, Vice President, R&D Finland, Tieto.

The Finnish Competition Authority has approved the business transfer, which came into effect on February 1, 2009.

T-Mobile Signs Accord with ZTE

ZTE has established a cooperation pact with T-Mobil. The agreement covers handsets and data card devices for mobile applications. T-Mobile and ZTE have declared a new strategic partnership spanning all the European markets of T-Mobile.

The signing of a General Framework Agreement (GFA) on handsets and data cards emphasizes the intention to strengthen the cooperation between T-Mobile and the Chinese telecoms equipment provider. The GFA represents a contract framework that spans the whole handling of a project and the possible adjustments of ZTE's mobile products for T-Mobile. Both partners agreed on the implementation of joint projects in the future. The GFA was signed on 18 November 2008 in Macao.

Vodafone Trials Ethernet Microwave Backhaul Solution

Vodafone is testing new microwave technology that is capable of quadrupling current backhaul capacity.
Vodafone confirmed that is has carried out a series of trials of Ethernet microwave technology. Under current estimates, the upgrade from typical microwave backhaul technology to Ethernet microwave backhaul technology is capable of raising peak capacity from around 32 Mbps to around 180 Mbps using the same frequency range.

The Ethernet-based point-to-point technology is also designed to support IP based traffic from the Radio Access Network by deploying an adaptive modulation technique that increases throughput, decreases latency while improving quality of service levels for customers.

As the performance boost is based on upgrading the cheaper electronics in the cabinet rather than the more expensive microwave dish itself, the move also offers cost efficiencies.

"As Radio Access Networks are upgraded to reflect growing demand for mobile broadband services, it is important to ensure that the backhaul is able to deliver on that potential," said Andy MacLeod, Global Network Director of Vodafone. "The trials show that Microwave Ethernet technology can play a role in maintaining high levels of mobile broadband performance for our customers through adopting a holistic approach to maintaining service levels."

The technology is expected to be commercially available from the end of 2009.

China Mobile and Vodafone Confirm LTE Plans

China Mobile and Vodafone joined Verizon Wireless in confirming plans for LTE at this week's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. As part of their ongoing three-way trials, the operators have successfully demonstrated in laboratory conditions the time division version of LTE (TD-LTE) showing that the technology is capable of operating effectively in both unpaired as well as paired spectrum.

The availability of a converged LTE FDD and TD-LTE system is set to enable an effective solution for both paired and unpaired spectrum. This also raises the prospect of providing greater interoperability between different global operators offering customers greater levels of convenience.

The TD-LTE portion of the trial, which involves seven vendors, will progress to full field trials in the second half of 2009. The locations for these field trials have been agreed in China, Europe and India.

The corresponding LTE FDD trials are progressing as planned and are now well into the final field trial stages where peak download speeds of up to 50 to 60 Mbps using 10 MHz bandwidth have been demonstrated. These field trials, which will also be introduced for the TD-LTE trials, create real-world loaded network conditions by using multiple base stations and terminal devices.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Alcatel-Lucent Collaborates with Germany's DIEHL on Smart Metering

Alcatel-Lucent has signed a collaboration agreement with DIEHL Energy Solutions, a division of DIEHL Metering. Alcatel-Lucent, which currently offers a smart metering solution, will work with DIEHL Energy Solutions to develop and market a comprehensive solution that will enable energy supply and combination utilities to provide timely, detailed consumption information to their customers thus enabling consumption-related price and more accurate billing. The goal of the cooperation agreement is the joint development and marketing of compatible products for automatic logging of energy consumption as well as the development of associated service portfolios. The companies will develop and market compatible product lines for automatic measurement data recording in the field of energy and consumption measurement.

Telecom Italia Moves Ahead with 28 Mbps HSPA by Ericsson

Telecom Italia will initiate deployment of Ericsson's HSPA technology in early 2009 supporting top downlink speeds of up to 28 Mbps and upload speed of 5.8 Mbps.

Tests in Telecom Italia's mobile network will start early 2009 and initial deployment is planned in the city of Milan in June 2009. National coverage will follow in the second half of 2009.

The deployment will include Multiple Input and Multiple Output (MIMO), a technology that uses two or more antenna branches to transmit data to a consumer. Actual customer download speeds can be less and will vary due to congestion, distance from the cell, local conditions, hardware, software and other factors.

Ericsson Deploys Solar Base Stations for Orange Guinea

Orange Guinea Conakry is deploying more than 100 base stations fully powered by solar energy.

Ericsson's hybrid diesel-battery energy solution replaces one of a site's diesel generators with a bank of specially designed batteries that can handle a large amount of charging and discharging. This self-contained power solution can be set to meet the batteries' optimal charging and discharging levels, extending the lifetime of the battery and the generator, and reducing energy-related costs by about 50 percent.

The Ericsson BTS 2111 radio base station is a main-remote solution without any active moving parts such as cooling fans. It reduces energy consumption up to 50 percent, allowing the site to be fully powered by solar energy, supported by a battery bank for 24/7 operation.

Alassane Diene, CEO of Orange-Guinea Conakry, says: "We are reducing our energy bill. These base stations are also easier to install and require less maintenance than the traditional site. They also offer greater reliability and therefore considerably improved quality of service."

Ericsson noted that it first deployed solar in 2000. Orange Group intends to have more than 1000 wholly solar-powered base stations in its African operations by the end of 2009.