Saturday, February 21, 2009

Bloomberg: New Round of Cuts Expected at Vodafone

Vodafone is planning a new round of cost cutting, including further layoffs in its UK operation, according to a report from the Bloomberg news service. Previously, the company had announced plans to reduce costs by 1 billion pounds by March 2011. An announcement is expected this week.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

SingTel Offers Managed Healthcare Management and Remote Monitoring Islandwide

Singapore General Hospital (SGH), Singapore Telecommunications Limited (SingTel), and HSAGlobal have piloted a new electronic health record and management system that makes patient data available to care providers.

The solution, which is fully managed and hosted by SingTel, allows healthcare providers, such as doctors and nurses, to track patients' progress from the time of admission through step-down facilities in the community.

CCMS is a solution developed by HSAGlobal (HSA) for integrated care management across multiple healthcare organizations to facilitate continuity and consistency of care, streamlining of clinical care processes, and case management in the healthcare continuum. This solution incorporates clinical management tools and business process applications founded on Wagner's Chronic Care model which is a proven clinical framework for managing care of chronic illness at both individual and population level.

The solution is offered through hosted Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model for a monthly subscription fee. The SaaS model eliminates the need for heavy upfront capital investments and high on-going maintenance costs, making it a very attractive proposition for both large and small healthcare providers.

Vodafone Confirms 3G Signal Boosters

Vodafone is trialing a new product designed to improve 3G mobile signals in areas of homes and offices which may have lower levels of network coverage. Trials are currently underway in a number of Vodafone markets to assess the potential of the new product. The product is based on technology which consists of a powered booster box connected to a small antenna that amplifies existing 3G signals from the wide area network to offer enhanced reception over a range of up to 9 meters. The antenna is positioned where the mobile 3G network signal is strongest, either inside or outside the home or office and the booster is located inside where an improved signal is required.

During initial trials in Vodafone Egypt, users reported improvements in network performance including enhanced voice call reception and improved 3G data speeds within parts of the building which had previously only been able to offer low coverage levels.

Vodafone said the signal booster product differs from a femtocell in that it strengthens the signal from the existing network rather than creating a new dedicated coverage zone. Vodafone is looking at both technologies to see how they can each meet the individual needs of customers.

In December, Vodafone Spain announced a pilot of femtocell technology with Vodafone Access Gateway. These access gateways connect 3G devices to the core network via broadband DSL and the pilot scheme was rolled out to a limited number of enterprise customers to assess its effectiveness in delivering wireless high-speed data and voice services.

Telecom NZ Readies 3G 850 MHz Upgrade with Alcatel-Lucent

Telecom NZ is on track for the launch of its nationwide 3G WCDMA 850MHz (W850) mobile network by June. Alcatel-Lucent serves as technology partner for the project. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Riverbed Closes Acquisition of Mazu

Riverbed Technology completed its acquisition of Mazu Networks. Riverbed also announced that it has appointed Mazu CEO Paul Brady to run the Riverbed Application Intelligence Business Unit.

Riverbed said the acquisition of Mazu extends its suite of WAN optimization products to include global application performance reporting and analytics. The Mazu products, which have been renamed Cascade, analyze network traffic to provide valuable information about the interactions of and dependencies between users, applications and systems. As a result, Riverbed will now be able to deliver to its enterprise and service provider customers faster, smarter and more efficient IT infrastructure performance solutions.
  • Mazu Networks' software provides a holistic, real-time view of application usage and performance. This perspective is critical to understanding the application environment and taking the right steps to validate and ensure delivery of business-critical applications across the wide area network (WAN). Mazu is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

NTT Com Field Tests Advanced Internet Routing Registry (IRR)

NTT Communications is collaborating with the Japan Network Information Center (JPNIC) in the field test of a new Internet Routing Registry (IRR), a routing database that is being designed for enhanced reliability and to prevent Internet routing from being hijacked. The test will end on February 27. The experimental IRR is being tested in an actual Internet environment to quantitatively measure how fast its server recovers from failure. Performance also will be evaluated qualitatively based on interviews of the test participants, which include operators of the existing JPIRR based in Tokyo, Osaka and Fukuoka, and Internet service providers (ISPs) that currently use the JPIRR.

NTT Com said the trial IRR is expected to help resolve problems associated with the ongoing increase in routing information between networks and the rising threat of this information being misused. There already have been cases of malicious use resulting in websites becoming inaccessible.

IRRs, which enable ISPs to register their routing policies and share them with other ISPs, already incorporate measures for the early detection and prevention of routing hijacks. Nevertheless, IRR server operation can be interrupted due to redundancy or load-sharing limitations.

NTT Com developed its experimental IRR under a four-year, publicly sponsored project of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIAC). The project finishes this March.

Following the field test, the results will be reported to the MIAC, and NTT Com and JPNIC will continue refining technology for the verification and storage of IRR data, aiming eventually to install an extra-reliable and secure IRR on the JPNIC's premises.

Huawei to Release its First Android Smartphone in Q3

Huawei Technologies plans commercial release of its first Android-powered smart phone in the third quarter of 2009. Huawei partnered with an established design consultancy to develop a user-friendly interface. The interface is able to evolve with operators' differentiation requirements.

"Huawei is delighted to showcase its much anticipated first Android-powered smart phone. As a terminal solutions provider with all-round capabilities, Huawei has an acute insight into the drivers of the communications industry and in-depth understanding of operators," said Mr. James Chen, Director of Huawei Terminal Marketing Department., "A pioneer in mobile broadband devices, we look forward to expanding a compelling mobile communications experience for end-users whilst providing customized services to our operator partners via the Android smart phone."

Huawei Shows its Unified LTE Solution at Mobile World Congress

Huawei Technologies demonstrated the world' s first unified frequency-division duplex and time-division duplex (FDD/TDD) long-term evolution (LTE) solution last week at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

In January 2009, Huawei was awarded the world' s first LTE commercial contract by TeliaSonera, the largest telecommunication operator in Scandinavia and the Baltic countries. Huawei was also selected by Telus and Bell to deploy North America' s first LTE-oriented HSPA network in Canada in 2008. As of today, Huawei' s LTE research has made more than 2,100 contributions to LTE and system architecture evolution, and the company owns ten percent of all LTE patents.

At the event, Huawei also showcased its enhanced SingleRAN solution, which now includes three elements -- Uni-equipment, Uni-site and Uni-operation -- that allow operators to deploy and evolve their networks with greater ease.

Telstra's 21 Mbps HSPA+ Service Launches this Week

Telstra is launching its "Turbo 21" mobile broadband service this week. Peak network speeds will increase to 42Mbps later this year.

At launch, the 21Mbps rated modems will be available to some business customers, with a consumer offering available in April. Customers with these devices will see typical download speeds ranging up to 8Mbps.

Speaking at the GSMA Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, said for the first time a mobile network would bring a true real-time broadband experience to customers, providing significant benefits in health care, education and business productivity, in addition to an enhanced consumer entertainment experience.

"In just over two years, we have taken our world leading network from peak network speeds of 3.6Mbps to 21Mbps and today we are launching the world's first commercial 21Mbps peak-rated modem - more than three times faster than devices currently in market," said Telstra CEO Sol Trujillo.

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.