Thursday, August 20, 2009

Devicescape: Wi-Fi Expectations Continue to Rise

An overwhelming number of Wi-Fi users (96%) now expect device manufacturers to build Wi-Fi into more devices - such as cell phones, digital cameras and portable gaming devices, according to Devicescape's second quarterly Wi-Fi Report. The survey, conducted by Decipher, Inc. and sponsored by Devicescape, Intel and Meraki, queried more than 8,000 Wi-Fi users, representing a cross-section of Devicescape's overall membership.

Key findings from the Devicescape Wi-Fi Report showed:  

  • Ninety-three percent of respondents stated they will make a buying decision based on built-in Wi-Fi.

  • Users (84 percent) want hassle-free access to Wi-Fi, meaning no PIN or password.

  • Intelligence is expected: Eighty-five percent of people want their device to automatically switch between Wi-Fi and 3G networks based on what is best for the application.

  • Free Wi-Fi is a "must have" for 53 percent of respondents.

  • Ninety-eight percent of respondents log onto Wi-Fi daily; 57 percent of those log on more than five times a day.

  • Ninety percent of respondents make hotel and travel decisions based on the availability of Wi-Fi and 96 percent expect it to be free.

  • A surprising number of respondents are willing to participate in a community element of Wi-Fi sharing.

WildBlue Surpasses 400,000 Rural BB Customers, Adds 3rd Satellite

WildBlue Communications now has over 400,000 customers of its satellite broadband service. WildBlue initially launched its service four years ago.

WildBlue said it continues to aggressively add capacity to its network to serve additional rural customers throughout the U.S. The company recently activated services on a third satellite in early August, and has applied for federal stimulus money to help fund a next generation satellite with the ability to serve an additional 1.5 million customers in the rural U.S.

The third satellite is EchoStar's AMC-15. It will serve customers in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia and Arkansas. The additional capacity allows WildBlue to offer better availability of its broadband service to new customers in many areas of the continental U.S. where customer demand has been the highest.
  • In March, WildBlue announced an agreement to lease Ka band capacity on the AMC-15 satellite from Colorado-based EchoStar Satellite Services, a division of EchoStar Corporation.

FCC Adds Wireless Inquiries to Thursday Meeting's Agenda

The FCC's Open Meeting scheduled for this Thursday, August 27, 2009 will include discussion of three new inquiries into the wireless industry.

First, the FCC will consider a Notice of Inquiry to seek to understand better the factors that encourage innovation and investment in wireless and to identify concrete steps the Commission can take to support and encourage further innovation and investment in this area.

Second, the FCC will consider a Notice of Inquiry soliciting information for the next annual report to Congress on the status of competition in the mobile wireless market, including commercial mobile services.

Third, the Commission will consider a Notice of Inquiry that seeks comment on whether there are opportunities to protect and empower American consumers by ensuring sufficient access to relevant information about communications

Australia's TransACT Tests 1 Gbps FTTP with Alcatel-Lucent

TransACT, which provides TV, phone and broadband services in Canberra, Australia, has tested Alcatel-Lucent's GPON architecture to deliver up to 1 Gbps to residential users. A first for Australia, TransACT is now committed to provisioning Alcatel-Lucent's ONTs in all of its future fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) deployments.

TransACT Chief Executive Officer Ivan Slavich said: "TransACT has been deploying an open fibre-to-the-home network for two years now and we are committed to keeping our eye to the future, investing in the best technology available to ensure higher speeds and richer services moving forward. We recently announced that we are turning on 100Mbps services for our FTTP network customers in parts of the ACT. Whereas ONTs used to be the blocking factor, this latest trial with Alcatel-Lucent affirms our capability to boost these speeds even further as our customers' appetite for higher bandwidth services increases."

Alcatel-Lucent noted that it is currently involved in over 95 FTTP projects worldwide, over 80 of which are with GPON.

CEA Calls for Spectrum Reform and Unified Agency Control

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is calling for reform of U.S. federal spectrum usage and that the responsibility of spectrum allocation be placed under the control of one agency. The CEA's position on these issues were revealed in comments submitted to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's (NTIA) Notice of Inquiry regarding its implementation of the Commercial Spectrum Enhancement Act (CSEA).

"Spectrum is the lifeblood for wireless broadband technologies and services. More than any other country, Americans rely on their mobile devices and laptops for broadband connectivity at work, at home and on the go. In the marketplace, CEA member companies offer products and services that depend heavily on the availability of spectrum. As CEA has emphasized before, the future of our nation's leadership in innovation and technology depends in large part on broadband, and an increasingly larger share of broadband access is taking place over wireless platforms."

CEA supports pending legislation (H.R. 3125 and S. 649) that would require an inventory and assessment of the nation's radio spectrum.

Qualcomm's BREW Selected by Cox

Cox Communications plans to use Qualcomm's BREW technology to enable aspects of its mobile data experience. Following the launch of Cox's wireless service, its wireless subscribers with BREW-enabled handsets will be able to download a wide variety of applications from categories such as games, tools, lifestyle, location, messaging and ringtones. Qualcomm will host the BREW service for Cox, enabling them to provide their customers with a dynamic mobile application shopping experience.

"In today's competitive telecommunications market, providing subscribers with premium data services that are relevant to them helps build brand recognition and customer loyalty," said Arvin Chander, vice president for Qualcomm Internet Services. "Deploying their BREW-based service gives Cox the opportunity to generate additional revenue within wireless services."

Harris Stratex Networks Gains RUS Listing for Wireless Products

Harris Stratex Networks received U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Rural Development product acceptance for two additional wireless transmission products. Specifically, Harris Stratex secured RUS listing for products within the Eclipse and TRuepoint 5000 platforms. These products are ideal for use in telecommunications systems operated by RUS loan program borrowers.

RUS acceptance is recommended for broadband stimulus funding provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) and required for operators requesting federal funds from the USDA Rural Broadband Access Loan program for the purpose of purchasing and deploying broadband systems in rural communities -- programs designed to stimulate rural economies and enhance overall quality of life through programs such as distance learning and telemedicine.

Verizon Wireless Updates Specs for 4G LTE 700 MHz Devices

Verizon Wireless released updated specifications for wireless devices

-- traditional and innovative -- that will run on the nationwide Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G network it is building on the Upper 700 MHz C-Block spectrum. The network access requirements contain key updates, clarifications and additions to guide developers into the next phase of bringing their LTE devices to the Verizon Wireless network.

Developers can access the specs online.

Verizon Wireless expects to commercially launch its LTE 4G network in up to 30 markets in 2010, covering 100 million people. In subsequent years, an equally aggressive growth plan will result in full nationwide coverage in 2013. The company's LTE network will ultimately connect a full range of electronics devices and machines.

Verizon Wireless Completes Key Phases of Alltel Integration

Verizon Wireless, which acquired Alltel in January, has completed key milestones in seamlessly converting former Alltel customers to its service in Florida. These efforts include welcoming these customers onto the nation's largest and most reliable wireless voice and data network, rebranding and remodeling 21 retail stores in Florida, and managing a multi-million dollar conversion of network operations across the state.

More than 700 former Alltel cell sites and several large switching facilities across Florida are being upgraded and reconfigured to work as part of the larger and more advanced Verizon Wireless EV-DO Rev A network. The massive, multi-million dollar Alltel-to-Verizon Wireless network conversion is expected to be completed throughout the state by 2011.

AT&T, Apple Comment on Google Voice App for iPhone

AT&T and Apple each responded to an inquiry from the FCC regarding the Google Voice app and Apple's App Store approval process AT&T stated unequivocally that it had "no role in any decision by Apple to not accept the Google Voice application for inclusion in the Apple App Store. AT&T was not asked about the matter by Apple at any time, nor did we offer any view one way or the other." Furthermore, AT&T stated that its policy is "not block consumers from accessing any lawful website on the Internet. Consumers can download or launch a multitude of compatible applications directly from the Internet, including Google Voice, through any web-enabled wireless device."

For its part, Apple stated that it continues to study the Google Voice application and that it has not rejected it. "The application has not been approved because, as submitted for review, it appears to alter the iPhone's distinctive user experience by replacing the iPhone's core mobile telephone functionality and Apple user interface with its own user interface for telephone calls, text messaging and voicemail. Apple spent a lot of time and effort developing this distinct and innovative way to seamlessly deliver core functionality of the iPhone." Apple also noted that Google is free to provide Google Voice on the iPhone as a web application through Apple's Safari browser.

Apple reiterated that it alone makes the final decisions to approve or not approve iPhone applications. However, there is a provision in Apple's agreement with AT&T that obligates Apple not to include functionality in any Apple phone that enables a customer to use AT&T's cellular network service to originate or terminate a VoIP session without obtaining AT&T's permission.

BT Reaches 500,000 Wi-Fi Hotspots

BT is now providing public wireless broadband at over 500,000 Wi-Fi hotspots across the UK and Ireland. The sites include hotspots provided by the BT FON Wi-Fi Community, BT Openzone, 12 ‘wireless' city centres, plus BT Openzone hotspots via the BT Business Hub. Well known brands offering access include Hilton, Thistle and Ramada Jarvis hotels, Caffe Nero and Starbucks coffee stores, Welcome Break and Roadchef Costa service stations, BA, Flybe and Skyteam airport lounges.

BT noted that 4.8 million of its consumer and business broadband -- plus BT Mobile Broadband - users have inclusive network minutes in their contracts to surf the net, work or make cheaper VoIP calls via the hotspots. A further 50,000 hotspots are available in the UK and overseas through international roaming partners.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

KDDI Selects Motorola for Nationwide LTE Network

Motorola won a key contract to develop and implement KDDI's Long Term Evolution (LTE) network, including RAN/base stations, in Japan. As initially announced on Motorola's second quarter earnings call, Motorola's Home & Networks Mobility business will provide the optimal LTE solution to enable KDDI to offer high-speed mobile broadband services, such as video and social networking, to its customers across Japan. Financial terms were not disclosed.

KDDI will deploy its LTE network in both 1.5GHz and 800MHz bands to maximize the effective use of these frequencies. The company intends to offer commercial LTE services by December 2012 following a series of trials scheduled to begin in mid 2010.

Motorola's end-to-end LTE solution includes the WBR 500 series eNodeB LTE base stations that offer flexible deployment options, evolved packet core elements, compelling end-user devices, backhaul beyond voice network, network management solutions, video solutions that monetize LTE investment, and a complete portfolio of professional services.

Motorola has been a supplier to KDDI for 20 years, introducing for its CDMA network.

Qualcomm + Verizon Wireless JV to be Called nPhase

nPhase is the name for the new joint venture between Verizon Wireless and Qualcomm. nPhase, which formally has begun operations, draws it name from the original Chicago-based machine-to-machine (M2M) pioneer launched in 2003. The new nPhase will be led by original founder and CEO Steve Pazol, who will serve as the company president.

The company's Board of Directors includes:
  • Steve Pazol, president, nPhase

  • Len Lauer, chief operating officer, Qualcomm

  • Jack Plating, chief operating officer, Verizon Wireless

  • Andrew Gilbert, executive vice president and president, QIS and Europe, Qualcomm

  • Anthony Lewis, vice president, Open Development, Verizon Wireless

Fortinet Acquires Assets of Woven Systems

Fortinet, which specializes in unified threat management (UTM) solutions, acquired certain assets and intellectual property of Woven Systems, a start-up that was developing high-performance Ethernet fabric switching solutions. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Woven developed a family of Ethernet switching products, including a 10 GbE switch, based on a custom-designed switching ASIC with unique traffic management capabilities.

Fortinet said it plans to use Woven's high-speed switching and sophisticated traffic management technology to further enhance the performance of its FortiGate-5000 Series chassis-based security solutions. Increased switching power in the chassis-based product means communications within and between security blades will happen at greater speeds and result in overall superior scalability and performance for Fortinet's high-end customers, including large enterprises, carriers and service providers.

Fortinet intends to continue selling certain Woven products and to provide support to new and existing customers who purchase FortiCare 24x7 support contracts.

"Woven's ASIC-driven approach to high performance is highly complementary to Fortinet's own strategy for maximizing performance through customized processors," said Ken Xie, CEO and co-founder, Fortinet. "This acquisition will harness the performance power of our respective technologies to offer tremendous benefits to customers who require the fastest and, often, the most mission-critical network security environments."
  • In September 2007, Woven Systems announced $20 million in venture funding for its 10 Gigabit Ethernet (10 GE) fabric solutions. The funding was led by MDV-Mohr Davidow Ventures and included existing investors, Goldman Sachs and Palomar Ventures. That round of funding raised the total investment in the company to $35 million.

Ubidyne Secures $14.4 Million for Antenna Embedded Radio Technology

Ubidyne, a start-up with offices in Ulm, Germany and Scottsdale, Arizona, closed $14.4 million in new funding for its antenna embedded digital radio technology.

Ubidyne's micro-radio technology is integrated within wireless antennas, eliminating the need for coaxial feeder cables, remote electrical tilt and additional amplifiers on antenna towers and masts. The Ubidyne technology significantly reduces energy consumption while improving radio performance, deployment flexibility, coverage and capacity of mobile communications networks globally. The Ubidyne integrated active antenna systems are compatible with CPRI and OBSAI optical interfaces and support current and next-generation standards including GSM, UMTS, HSPA+, and LTE. Its products are manufactured in close cooperation with Andrew and Kathrein and will be available from Nokia Siemens Networks as part of their Flexistation product family.

The new funding came from Gimv. Existing investors include Baytech, Doughty Hanson and TVM Capital.

Occam Supplies FTTH to Northeast Missouri Rural Telephone

Northeast Missouri Rural Telephone has chosen Occam Networks' BLC 6000 multiservice access platform and ON 2300 series optical network terminals to upgrade the second largest of its 14 exchanges from copper to fiber.

As part of its FTTH deployment strategy, Northeast Missouri will initially upgrade their Memphis service area from aerial copper to buried fiber. Additional service areas will be upgraded in the future.

Northeast Missouri offers subscribers local and long distance telephone and high speed Internet services. It is a founding member of the Missouri Network Alliance, a fiber transport network that extends throughout much of the state. Northeast Missouri receives its IPTV signal through the Alliance and has been offering IPTV to a growing number of subscribers for approximately 10 months.

Vonage Offers Unlimited Global Calling to 60 Countries for $24.99/Month

Vonage began offering unlimited calling from the U.S. to more than 60 countries, including India, Mexico and China, for a flat monthly rate of $24.99. In addition, the company has launched a new Vonage Visual Voicemail service that extends its presence onto other devices by providing unlimited "readable voicemail" delivered via email or SMS text message. Vonage is the only U.S. home phone service provider to offer voice-to-text conversion at no additional charge. Both services will become basic features of the core Vonage offering.

FLO TV and Rentrak Offer Audience Measurement for Multicast Mobile TV

FLO TV, a subsidiary of Qualcomm, and Rentrak introduced a viewership and advertising impression reporting system based on Rentrak's TV Essentials media measurement technology. Through their collaboration, FLO TV and Rentrak will deliver reporting that will serve as the currency for advertising sales on FLO TV and provide deeper insights into FLO TV audience viewing patterns while not divulging any individual subscriber's personal information.

FLO TV will provide ongoing reports to content providers and advertisers to assist them in their programming and media buying decisions for this emerging platform.

FLO TV and Rentrak are currently in the integration phase and are planning to share impression data with their programming partners later this year.

The FLO TV service is available through the top two U.S. wireless carriers, including AT&T as AT&T Mobile TV.