Thursday, May 28, 2009

FCC Releases Report on Broadband Strategy for Rural America

The FCC released a report entitled "Bringing Broadband to Rural America" that identifies common problems affecting rural broadband, including technological challenges, lack of data, and high network costs. Acting Federal Communications Commission Chairman Michael J. Copps described the report as a starting point for the development of policies to deliver broadband to rural areas and restore economic growth and opportunity for Americans residing and working in those areas.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) established several broadband initiatives with $7.2 billion in funding. This includes $4.7 billion in funding for the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) in consultation with the FCC. The purposes of BTOP is to provide access to broadband in unserved areas, improve broadband access for both underserved areas and public safety agencies, and provide broadband education, training and support.

The Recovery Act also provided an additional $2.5 billion in funding for the Broadband Investment Program administered by the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) of the USDA. This program is designed to support the expansion of broadband service in rural areas through financing and grants to projects that provide access to high speed service and facilitate economic development in locations without sufficient access to such service.

Alcatel-Lucent Sets Goal of 50% Carbon Emission Cut by 2020

Alcatel-Lucent released its 2008 Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) report and set a goal of its carbon emissions in half by 2020. Among its targets, the company also aims to improve the functional energy efficiency of key products by at least 20% by 2010 compared with 2008. The 62-page report highlights actions taken in five areas:

  • Reducing the impact of Alcatel-Lucent products on the environment and enabling the deployment of eco-sustainable networks for its service providers and enterprise customers

  • Minimizing the company's carbon footprint and improving its overall environmental, health and safety performance for more efficient and eco-sustainable operations

  • Fostering a corporate culture that opens up opportunities for employees

  • Working with suppliers to create a socially responsible supply chain

  • Becoming involved in the communities where Alcatel-Lucent employees and customers live and work

Spain's Iberbanda Selects Alvarion to Expand WiMAX Network

Iberbanda, Spain's leading WiMAX carrier partially owned by Telefonica, has selected Alvarion to expand the current WiMAX network at 3.5GHz in Catalonia. The expansion results from a tender won by Iberbanda to supply WiMAX services to the Government of Catalonia.

White House Focuses on CyberSecurity

President Barack Obama announced plans to personally select and appoint a White House Cybersecurity Coordinator to drive new policies to better protect the nation's information infrastructure. Shortly after taking office, Obama directed the National Security Council and Homeland Security Council to conduct a top-to-bottom review of the federal government's efforts in cybersecurity. The 60-day review outlines a range of actions that the federal government should pursue. Key elements of the plan to secure America's information and communications networks include:

  • Cybersecurity will be designated as one of the Obama administration's key management priorities.

  • To ensure a coordinated approach across government, appoint a new Cybersecurity Coordinator, who will work closely with the White House Chief Technology Officer, Aneesh Chopra, and the Chief Information Officer, Vivek Kundra.

  • The White House cybersecurity coordinator will work with all the key players -- including state and local governments and the private sector -- to ensure an organized and unified response to future cyber incidents.

  • Strengthen the public/private partnerships. The Obama administration will not dictate security standards for private companies. The policy will not include monitoring private sector networks or Internet traffic.

  • Continue to invest in the cutting-edge research and development necessary for the innovation and discovery

  • Begin a national campaign to promote cybersecurity awareness and digital literacy.

"From now on, our digital infrastructure -- the networks and computers we depend on every day -- will be treated as they should be: as a strategic national asset. Protecting this infrastructure will be a national security priority. We will ensure that these networks are secure, trustworthy and resilient. We will deter, prevent, detect, and defend against attacks and recover quickly from any disruptions or damage.

"To give these efforts the high-level focus and attention they deserve -- and as part of the new, single National Security Staff announced this week -- I'm creating a new office here at the White House that will be led by the Cybersecurity Coordinator. Because of the critical importance of this work, I will personally select this official. I'll depend on this official in all matters relating to cybersecurity, and this official will have my full support and regular access to me as we confront these challenges," stated President Barack Obama.

I.T.U. Approves Two Specs for Fixed-Mobile Convergence

ITU has given first stage approval (consent) to two new standards on fixed-mobile convergence (FMC). Operators offering FMC will be able to provide both services with a single phone, switching between networks on an ad hoc basis.

Experts say that the standards are an important step in the ongoing study and development of next generation network (NGN) mobility support and FMC service and network capabilities.

Recommendation ITU-T Y.2018 describes a mobility management and control framework and architecture for NGN. The architecture supports IP-based mobility for user devices in the NGN transport stratum. Y.2018 defines a new component called MMCF (Mobility Management and Control Functions) which includes support for handling mobile location management and handover decision and control as well as the interaction with other existing NGN functional components such as NACF (Network and Attachment Control Functions), RACF (Resource and Admission Control Functions), service control functions and transport functions.

Recommendation ITU-T Y.2808 describes principles, service and network capabilities, and architectures for IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) based FMC. The Recommendation describes a network architecture that uses IMS to provide the same set of services to user terminals regardless of the use of fixed or mobile access network technologies, and ensures service continuity when the point of attachment of the terminal changes between different access network technologies.

NVIDIA And Supermicro Demo GPU-Based Rack Server with 12X Performance

NVIDIA and Supermicro introduced a new class of server that combines massively parallel NVIDIA Tesla GPUs with multi-core CPUs in a single 1U rack-mount server. The companies said their configuration delivers 12 times the performance of a traditional quad-core CPU-based 1U server. In addition, the GPU can be tied directly into the remote monitoring capabilities of the server for significantly improved system level management.

EXFO Launches Portable 100 Gbps Ethernet Tester

EXFO Electro-Optical Engineering introduced a portable 100 Gbps and 40 Gbps Ethernet tester in a single module. Housed in the company's recently introduced next-generation FTB-500 platform, the FTB-85100G Packet Blazer is a rugged, portable 100 Gbps Ethernet testing solution offering powerful layer 1/2/3 traffic generation and analysis features to stress and validate network elements and network services against demanding corner cases.
The FTB-85100G supports multiple transceiver interfaces (CFP, CXP and QSFP), ensuring maximum flexibility to cover all possible equipment and network designs for high-speed transport alternatives. Users can also generate and analyze 100 Gbps and 40 Gbps line rate Ethernet and IP packets, as well as perform comprehensive EtherBERT tests, all via an intuitive graphical user interface (GUI). With its complete range of test features, the FTB-85100G can execute multilayer testing to rapidly validate physical-layer characteristics and accurately benchmark Ethernet/IP performance of equipment and high-speed packet transport networks.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Cisco Releases a Bevy of New Catalyst Switch Features

Cisco announced a large set of new features for its Catalyst Switch and Integrated Services Router (ISR) portfolios. The new capabilities are especially aimed at increasing energy and IT efficiencies, while extending collaboration capabilities of the mobile workforce. Highlights of the announcement include:

Cisco Integrated Services Router

  • Cisco 880 VDSL2 and 890 Series Integrated Services Routers: New small business routers offer faster broadband options (VDSL2) and enhanced performance with integrated security and wireless connectivity.

  • Cisco 1861W Integrated Services Router: Aimed at small businesses, this voice router offers 802.11g wireless support to tighten the synergy between wired and wireless networks and increase throughput across both segments for greater mobility.

  • Cisco 3G Wireless Wide Area Network (WWAN) for the ISR: Now supporting HSPA, Cisco 3G WWAN offers increased bandwidth and improved performance and management for network outage or disaster recovery for primary and backup applications.

  • Singlewire Software offers Cisco Application Extension Platform solution: Singlewire Software is the most recent application developer partner to deliver a solution on the Cisco Application Extension Platformfor the ISR. Singlewire's InformaCast solution simultaneously sends an audio stream and/or text message to multiple IP phones, Atlas IP Speakers, the Desktop Notification System, and overhead paging systems.

  • Cisco Unified Communications enhancements for mobility and collaboration: Cisco Unified SIP Proxy to reduce unified communications deployment costs; new voice signatures on the IP Security Network Module to make voice more secure; new mobility and video features on Cisco Unified Communications Manager Express; and new time card management capabilities on Cisco Unity Express to make branch employees just as productive and collaborative as those at headquarters.

  • Support for Cisco EnergyWise on the ISR for greater energy savings: Cisco's price-reduced EtherSwitch modules now support the Cisco EnergyWise capability to help improve energy utilization in the local-area network.

Cisco Catalyst Switch Improvements

  • Cisco Catalyst 4500 Series Supervisor 6L-E and Line Card: The Supervisor 6L-E provides customers with a high-performance, price-optimized, entry-level supervisor enabling rich-media collaboration, and increased energy and operational efficiency in the wiring closet. The Cisco Catalyst 4500 is the first modular switch in the industry to be power-over-Ethernet plus (PoEP) ready, and supports up to 30 watts. Its new 48-port 10/100/1000 line card enables 30-watt PoE support for next-generation high-power devices like videophones, dual-band wireless access points, building service devices and video surveillance cameras.

  • Smart Call Home and EnergyWise for the Catalyst 4500 Series: Cisco has extended its location services Smart Call Home and EnergyWise to its Catalyst 4500 Series. Smart Call Home lowers operational costs and reduces downtime by allowing devices to detect many problems and notify Cisco support teams for resolution before network managers notice them.

  • Cisco Catalyst 6500 Series innovations: Updates to the Catalyst 6500 Series increase flexibility and functionality in campus backbone deployments. Cisco Catalyst 6500 virtual switching system (VSS) and service module integration allow customers to deploy firewall, network analysis module (NAM), and wireless service modules in their VSS campus core, providing the highest scalability and reliability for backbone services. New NAM capabilities enhance application performance by providing critical visibility into voice applications, traffic analysis, and segmented Multiprotocol Label Switching networks.

Ericsson Acquires Bizitek, a Turkish Integrator

Ericsson has acquired Bizitek, a leading Turkish systems integrator of business support systems. Financial terms were not disclosed. Ericsson said the deal adds strategic competence to its services portfolio in the area of business support systems for charging, provisioning, billing and customer relations management. Under the agreement, all of 116 employees will be transferred to Ericsson.

NSN: One Billion Users Connected by Mobile Softswitches

Nokia Siemens Networks' mobile softswitching (MSS) systems deployed by carriers worldwide are now serving over 1 billion subscribers. NSN's solution is used for 40% of mobile softswitching worldwide and for over a quarter of all connections in GSM networks. The milestone was reached in April, when the cumulative active subscriber capacity for MSS systems deployed by Nokia Siemens Networks surpassed 1 billion.

NSN said this figure is based on actual operational subscriber capacity according to customer traffic usage and represents the number of active subscribers that can be connected via the Nokia Siemens Networks MSS. The total MSS capacity -- including buffer capacity for daily mobility operations -- delivered by Nokia Siemens Networks is over 1.5 billion.

"These milestones are impressive indicators of how ubiquitous mobile connectivity has become," says Jürgen Walter, head of Converged Core, Nokia Siemens Networks. "Knowing that one billion people all around the world are daily connecting through our mobile softswitch solution illustrates the trust that our customers place in us to positively support their core business."

Deployed in over 230 operators' networks, Nokia Siemens Networks' mobile softswitching technology uses a "split architecture" that includes the Mobile Switching Center (MSC) Server and the Multimedia Gateway to reduce operating expenditures by as much as 70% in transmission, site, and operation and management costs. It also brings increased savings in power consumption.

Google Previews "Wave" Internet Protocol for Rich Collaboration

At a developer's conference in San Francisco, Google previewed a new online communications paradigm aimed at better integrating email, instant messaging, whiteboarding, wikis, blogging, Twitter and social networking. The forthcoming "Google Wave", which is now opened to developers, aims to provide a new form of Internet communication/collaboration built around the user's Inbox. Google will offer a Wave application to its own users while promoting the technology as a new Internet protocol. The project is led by Lars Rasmussen and his brother Jens Rasmussen, who previously developed location technology that became part of Google Maps.

Under the Google Wave paradigm, users participate in writing/editing/sharing "waves" of conversations that can be viewed in real-time or rewinded. The waves are actually a new form of hosted, multi-user XML documents that are stored on Wave Servers. A wave is identified by a globally unique wave id, which is a pair of a domain name and an id string. A new Federation Protocol is used for enabling the collaboration.

Google Wave is an HTML 5 application built on Google Web Toolkit. It includes a rich text editor and other functions like desktop drag-and-drop Users, for example, can simply drag a set of photos right into a wave. The Google Wave protocol is the underlying format for storing and the means of sharing waves, and includes the "live" concurrency control, which allows edits to be reflected instantly across users and services. The protocol is designed for open federation, such that anyone's Wave services can interoperate with each other and with the Google Wave service. More specifically, the Google Wave Federation Protocol is an open extension to XMPP core [RFC3920] protocol that enables near real-time communication between two wave servers.

As with Android and its Chrome browser, Google plans to make the Wave code open source. Google envisions that it will be one of many wave providers on the Internet. For ISPs, waves would become a supplementary service, like SMTP, FTP or IM.

Whitepapers on the Google Wave Architecture are online.

Level 3 Focuses on Middle-Mile Networks to Expand Rural Broadband

Level 3 Communications is building out "middle-mile" networks across North America to enable local and regional telecommunications providers to expand rural broadband access under the federal Broadband Technology Opportunities Program.

Level 3 said its fiber network travels through many of the un-served and underserved communities targeted for improved broadband access. In these areas, Level 3 offers extended "on-net" services - services that tap into the Level 3 network at sites outside major metropolitan markets and thereby establish more direct network access to the worldwide Internet.

Extended on-net services enable both wireline and wireless providers to access the Level 3 network. These capabilities serve as a bridge or "middle-mile" network between larger high-speed Internet backbones, such as Level 3's, and local "last-mile" broadband providers, such as cable operators, rural telephone companies and wireless providers.

"Level 3 is focused on middle-mile network connections that leverage the expansive reach of our network across the country, particularly in rural areas," said Sureel Choksi, chief marketing officer for Level 3. "Solving the middle-mile problem is equally important as addressing last-mile issues to pave the way for ubiquitous rural broadband availability."

Nokia Research Center Opens Lab in Berkeley

Nokia has opened a new research laboratory in close proximity to the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) campus. The new lab is under the direction of Dr. John Shen who also heads Nokia Research Center, Palo Alto, California.

Nokia Research Center (NRC), now with six labs in eleven locations worldwide, collaborates with universities and other institutes to conduct leading-edge research. Working closely with UC Berkeley's research units, NRC Berkeley will explore innovations in many areas including parallel computing. Parallel computing research areas include accelerating the mobile web browser and runtime environments; increasing mobile device performance while lowering power consumption in both active and idle modes; and achieving seamless ubiquitous wireless connectivity and cross-domain interoperability.

HDMI Version 1.4 Adds Ethernet, Audio Return Channel, 3D Capabilities

New capabilities are being built into the High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) specification, including networking capabilities with Ethernet connectivity and an Audio Return Channel to enable upstream audio connections via the HDMI cable. Specifically, these enhancements will include:

HDMI Ethernet Channel -- the HDMI 1.4 specification will add a data channel to the HDMI cable and will enable high-speed bi-directional communication. Connected devices that include this feature will be able to send and receive data via 100 Mb/sec Ethernet, making them instantly ready for any IP-based application. The HDMI Ethernet Channel will allow an Internet-enabled HDMI device to share its Internet connection with other HDMI devices without the need for a separate Ethernet cable. The new feature will also provide the connection platform to allow HDMI-enabled devices to share content between devices.

Audio Return Channel -- the new specification will add an Audio Return Channel that will reduce the number of cables required to deliver audio upstream for processing and playback. In cases where HDTVs are directly receiving audio and video content, this new Audio Return Channel allows the HDTV to send the audio stream to the A/V receiver over the HDMI cable, eliminating the need for an extra cable.

3D Over HDMI The 1.4 version of the specification will define common 3D formats and resolutions for HDMI-enabled devices. The specification will standardize the input/output portion of the home 3D system and will specify up to dual-stream 1080p resolution.

4K x 2K Resolution Support: the new specification will enable HDMI devices to support high-definition (HD) resolutions four times beyond the resolution of 1080p. Support for 4K x 2K will allow the HDMI interface to transmit content at the same resolution as many digital theaters. Formats supported include 3840x2160 24Hz/25Hz/30Hz and 4096x2160 24Hz.

Expanded Support For Color Spaces -- HDMI technology now supports color spaces designed specifically for digital still cameras. By supporting sYCC601, Adobe RGB and AdobeYCC601, HDMI-enabled display devices will be capable of reproducing more accurate life-like colors when connected to a digital still camera.

Micro HDMI Connector -- the Micro HDMI Connector is a significantly smaller 19-pin connector that supports up to 1080p resolutions for portable devices. This new connector is approximately 50% smaller than the size of the existing HDMI Mini Connector.

Automotive Connection System -- the Automotive Connection System is a cabling specification designed to be used as the basis for in-vehicle HD content distribution. The HDMI 1.4 specification will provide a solution designed to meet the rigors and environmental issues commonly found in automobiles, such as heat, vibration and noise. Using the Automotive Connection System, automobile manufactures will now have a viable solution for distributing HD content within the car.

"The HDMI specification continues to add functionality as the consumer electronics and PC industries build products that enhance the consumer's HD experience," said Steve Venuti, president of HDMI Licensing, LLC. "The 1.4 specification will support some of the most exciting and powerful near-term innovations such as Ethernet connectivity and 3D formats. Additionally we are going to broaden our solution by providing a smaller connector for portable devices and a connection system specified for automobiles, as we see both more and different devices adopting the HDMI technology."

Immersion Demos Two New Haptic Feedback Techniques for Small Screens

Immersion Corporation, which specializes in haptic (touch feedback) technology, unveiled two new concepts for next-generation digital user interfaces based on patented multi-modal haptic and gestural technology.

The first technique, called TouchSense, transforms touchscreen keyboards into ones that feel like physical keyboards.
The second technique, called Immersive Messaging, enables people to share emotions, thoughts, ideas and short pieces of information in real time through physical senses rather than simple text, using a shared physical space on their mobile device.

"Touch technology is the future of user experience for digital devices. By combining our proven haptics with advanced gestural technology, we are significantly advancing usability for all kinds of consumer electronics products, especially mobile phones and other portables," said Clent Richardson, chief executive officer of Immersion.

Brocade Selects Two North American Distributors

Brocade has selected two strategic North American distribution partners to help expand its existing data center distribution network to enterprise IP networking products via channel reseller partners. Brocade selected Avnet Technology Solutions and Tech Data Corporation for their ability to efficiently deliver networking solutions to channel reseller partners, as well as their extensive knowledge, skills, and expertise in the networking industry.

Brocade will continue to sell storage networking products through Arrow, Bell Micro, and InfoX as well as Avnet and Tech Data.

Dell'Oro: Virtualization Bolsters 10 GigE Network Adapter Market

The 10GB Ethernet Network Adapter market rebounded in the first quarter of the year from the prior quarter's decline and is set for a year of robust growth, according to a newly published report by Dell'Oro Group. In terms of vendor market share, Intel regained the lead in adapter card revenue and port shipments, while Broadcom held on to the top position for silicon controller shipments.

"Users continue to virtualize servers because of compelling return on investment and equipment cost savings," said Seamus Crehan, Vice President at Dell'Oro Group. "Once users move to a virtualized environment, 10GB Ethernet server connectivity becomes a very attractive option," Crehan added.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bouygues Telecom to Deploy Alcatel-Lucent's IMS in Pilot

Bouygues Telecom has selected Alcatel-Lucent to deploy an IMS pilot network that enables the operator to test new multimedia communications services that are based on the GSM Association's "Rich Communication Suite" specifications. The tests will take place during the second half of 2009, with Bouygues Telecom offering to its mobile subscribers an anywhere, anytime communications experience over any device. Specifically, Alcatel-Lucent will supply the IMS core network and applications consisting of: RCS application servers, IMS session control, HSS (Home Subscriber Server) servers, border gateway, and service/network management functionalities.

Nortel Seeks Buyer for Stake in LG-Nortel

Nortel, which earlier this year entered into bankruptcy proceedings, is now seeking a buyer for its majority stake (50% + 1 share) in LG-Nortel, the company's Korean joint venture with LG Electronics. Nortel has made this decision to secure a sound future for the LG-Nortel business, its valued customers and employees.

The company notes that LG-Nortel is a profitable, standalone business with a strong balance sheet, and has not filed for creditor protection. The joint venture has enjoyed solid revenues and profits since its establishment in November 2005, with several significant customer wins in Korea and abroad. The business achieved a Management Operating Margin of $341 million, or 27%, in 2008, and Management Operating Margin for the first quarter of 2009 of 26%.
  • In November 2005, LG Electronics and Nortel officially launched their joint venture, LG-Nortel offers communications and networking solutions in the wireline, optical, wireless and enterprise markets in South Korea and the rest of the world.

Broadband Connections in Colombia Increase 51% in 2008

There was a 51 percent growth in the number of fixed broadband connections in Colombia during 2008, according to the seventh edition of the Cisco Broadband Barometer.

The growth can be attributed to service providers' investment in infrastructure and an increase in computer penetration, which as of December 2008 reached 11.01 computers per 100 inhabitants compared with an 8.8 percent penetration in 2007.

Mobile broadband grew 3.5 times in the last six months of 2008, reaching 246,700 subscriptions.

Fixed broadband connections reached 1,812,892, an increase of 20.7 percent during that period. Fixed broadband penetration per 100 inhabitants in Colombia is now 4 percent, compared with 3.4 percent penetration in June 2008. Colombia's growth is consistent with that of other countries such as Brazil, which just reached 6 percent broadband penetration.

The Cisco Broadband Barometer is conducted by IDC and published every six months.