Thursday, August 27, 2009

Evolution Digital Gains CableLabs Qualification for CableCARD

Evolution Digital LLC, a supplier of digital solutions for bandwidth reclamation and set-top boxes, and Conax, a provider of content security solutions, have partnered to develop a Multi-stream CableCARD specific to the North American cable market. The product, which has recently been awarded qualification by CableLabs, is designed to meet OpenCable CableCARD Interface 2.0 Specifications.

China Unicom and Apple Announce Deal on iPhone

China Unicom reached a deal to offer Apple's iPhone. The deal reportedly does not involve revenue sharing.

China Unicom Posts Revenue Decline in 1H2009

Citing the general economic malaise, mobile voice substitution of traditional fixed lines, and competitive pressure, China Unicom reported first half 2009 operating revenue of RMB76.32 billion. Service revenue amounted to RMB74.51 billion, representing a decline of 4.3% over the same period of last year and a decline of 3.3% over the same period of last year when compared on the same basis. Service revenue of the GSM business reached RMB34.19 billion, representing an increase of 5.7% over the same period of last year.

Service revenue of the fixed-line business reached RMB 40.19 billion, representing a decline of 11.3% over the same period of last year and a decline of 9.7% over the same period of last year when compared on the same basis. Of the revenue from the fixed-line business, revenue from the fixed-line broadband service was RMB11.73 billion, representing an increase of 10.3% over the same period of last year.

Due to the impact of corporate restructuring and intensified industry competition, the company recorded profit of RMB6.62 billion, representing a decline of 42.1% when compared with profit from the continuing operations over the same period of last year and a decline of 33.2% when compared on the same basis. Basic earnings per share was RMB0.28.

In the first half of the year, China Unicom added 7.012 million GSM subscribers, taking the total subscriber number to 140.377 million. ARPU was RMB41.7, representing a decline of 4.3% over the same period of last year and remained stable compared with the second half of last year. The company's mobile value-added services accounted for 26.8% of the total revenue from mobile services, representing an increase of 2.5 percentage points over the same period of last year. Revenue from GPRS reached RMB1.32 billion.

In the first half of the year, the net addition of fixed-line broadband subscribers was 4.832 million, taking the total subscriber number to 34.913 million. ARPU was RMB60.2, representing a decline of 13.5%; a total of 1.118 million local telephone subscribers were lost, taking the total subscriber number to 108.452 million. The revenue proportion of the fixed-line non-voice business to the total fixed-line service revenue (excluding upfront connection fees) reached 47.2%.

China Unicom also noted that since obtaining its 3G (WCDMA) operating license on 7 January, it has moved forward aggressively on developing its 3G network construction and preparing for service launch. On May 17th, China Unicom initiated 3G pre-commercial friendly trials in 56 cities including various 3G services, such as mobile internet, mobile search, mobile music, mobile TV, video telephony, mobile newspaper and wireless internet access cards.

China Unicom has also established a new full-service brand -- "WO" -- which was launched on April 28th.

Australia passes 50% for Digital TV Transition

More than half (53%) of Australian households have converted to free-to-air digital TV broadcasts -- up from 47% in the previous quarter, according to the latest Digital Tracker Survey released by Australia's Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy. The Rudd Government has made a commitment to complete digital switchover by December 31, 2013

DOCOMO's Credit Payment Service Tops 10 million Subscribers

The number of subscribers to NTT DOCOMO's DCMX credit payment service has topped the 10 million mark.

Launched in April 2006, DCMX reached 1 million subscribers in November 2006, 5 million in February 2008 and 10 million, just three years and four months since the original launch.

DCMX is a service brand for DOCOMO-issued credit cards, which allows subscribers to make purchases using their mobile phones as credit cards via "iD", DOCOMO's branded mobile payment platform for handsets equipped with contactless IC cards (Osaifu-Keitai). For security, DOCOMO's Osaifu-Keitai phones can be locked remotely over the wireless network if misplaced or stolen.
DOCOMO noted that currently, over 30 million DOCOMO customers use Osaifu-Keitai-compatible handsets and about 60% of all DOCOMO customers are using Osaifu-Keitai services. As of July 31, 2009, there were approximately 420,000 iD readers/writers nationwide. iD is now used in various settings in daily life, such as shopping at convenience stores and electronics retailers, eating at fast food restaurants and taking taxis.

Infinera Supplies Optical Transport for Washington Utility

Washington state's Grant County Public Utility District (PUD) has selected Infinera to supply an optical backbone supporting its triple-play broadband services.

Grant County PUD currently supplies fiber optic service is currently available to nearly 15,000 homes, businesses and farms in the county.  The utility began building its wholesale fiber-to-the-home network in 2000.  Currently, Grant PUD claims a 40% "take rate" for homes passed who have chosen to subscribe to one or more triple play services.

Comcast Prevails in Legal Battle over MSO Size

Comcast prevailed in a legal case against the FCC. The decision handed down by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that vacates an FCC rule limiting the sized of cable operators. The court ruled that the FCC must consider competition from satellite providers when calculating the market share held by a cable operator. The decision could clear the way for further consolidation of cable operators.

France Telecom to Acquire Digital Advertising Network

The Orange France Telecom Group has acquired 100% of UNANIMIS, the UK's largest exclusive digital advertising network.

The combination of UNANIMIS's premium advertising network and Orange's mobile and web assets, provides a reach of over 71.5% of the UK's online population and over 66% of the online population across UK, France, Spain and Poland.

UNANIMIS has exclusive online advertising relationships with key website brands such as the AA, Ticketmaster, ASOS, Gumtree and giving it the most extensive, exclusive-access, digital advertising portfolio in the UK.

France Telecom estimates that the Western European online advertising market was worth an estimated 12 billion euros in 2008 and the UK represented Europe's largest market (31%). Orange and UNANIMIS will also have strong positions in new growth areas such as mobile advertising.

"As 2008 marked the revolution in the mobile Internet space, so 2009 will see the major advances in digital and mobile advertising. The Orange mobile portal, Orange World, and our fixed portal attracts over 12 million monthly users and with the advances in handset technology coupled with new prices plans, this is set to rise even further. More companies are increasingly turning to the mobile Internet to enhance the way they advertise. A key part of our strategy at Orange UK is to grow and evolve our business in order to offer advertisers richer opportunities to engage with people," said Gerry McQuade, Chief Development Officer, Orange UK.

Alcatel-Lucent Shanghai Bell Sells Video Surveillance Business to Vimicro

Alcatel-Lucent Shanghai Bell has agreed to sell its Video Surveillance System (ViSS) to Vimicro Electronics Corporation for an undisclosed sum. Vimicro Tianjin will acquire the complete ViSS business including all property, plant and equipment, inventories, business contracts, intellectual property and service and development capabilities in China. Moreover, Vimicro and ASB will continue to cooperate in the future.

ViSS is a leading security and surveillance solution addressing the needs of telecom operators and local governments in China. As part of ASB, ViSS has been well established as the business platform for unified surveillance, storage and management solutions utilizing a broadband network infrastructure to connect independent monitoring sites across a broad geographical area. Applications include the monitoring needs of city roadways, airports, shopping centers, banks, schools, and other large facilities.

The acquisition is expected to be closed in September of 2009.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

NTIA Receives 2,200 Applications for Broadband Stimulus Funding

The U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) received almost 2,200 applications requesting nearly $28 billion in funding for proposed broadband projects in all 50 U.S. states, U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.

This is the first round of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding aimed at expanding broadband access and adoption to help bridge the technological divide and create jobs building Internet infrastructure, with $4 billion available through loans, grants, and loan/grant combinations.

The Recovery Act provided a total of $7.2 billion to NTIA and RUS to expand access to and adoption of broadband services. Of that funding, NTIA will utilize $4.7 billion to deploy broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas in the United States, expand public computer center capacity, and encourage sustainable adoption of broadband service. RUS will invest $2.5 billion to facilitate broadband deployment in primarily rural communities. Approximately $2.4 billion from RUS and up to $1.6 billion from NTIA is available in this first grant round.

"Applicants requested nearly seven times the amount of funding available, which demonstrates the substantial interest in expanding broadband across the Nation," said Lawrence E. Strickling, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and Administrator of NTIA. "We will move quickly but carefully to fund the best projects to bring broadband and jobs to more Americans." 

A preliminary analysis of applicant-reported data shows that NTIA and RUS received requests for grants and loans totaling nearly $28 billion. When including about $10.5 billion in matching funds committed by the applicants, there are over $38 billion in proposed broadband projects.

Nokia Appoints Alberto Torres to Head New Soluions Business

Nokia has appointed Alberto Torres, currently head of Devices Category Management has been appointed to head its new Solutions Unit. Torres will also become a member of the Group Executive Board as of October 1, 2009.

Alberto Torres joined Nokia in 2004. Prior to his current position as Head of Devices Category Management, he held a number of senior positions in for example corporate strategy and Vertu devices.

The Solutions unit will drive Nokia's solutions offering and align it with the company's devices and services portfolio; manage the end-to-end creation and delivery of solutions across the company together with the other Nokia units, and bring together all design and user experience activities to drive excellence in consumer experience.

Occam Supplies GigE and GPON FTTP for Farmers Telephone Cooperative

South Carolina's Farmers Telephone Cooperative (FTC), who previously selected and deployed Occam Networks' BLC 6000 products to build out its advanced broadband network, is now using the latest GigE and GPON FTTP options to deliver IPTV to its deepest rural and highest density service areas.

Since FTC's deployment and installation of Occam's BLC 6000 System, FTC has successfully served over 3,500 video subscribers with MPEG4-based Triple Play services including IPTV, while upgrading the company's 450 remote cabinets using Occam retrofit kits. FTC is now adding fiber fed rural subscribers utilizing the Occam GPON technology integrated in its BLC 6000 System to access IPTV. This GPON deployment utilizes the same Ethernet based MSAP used in FTC's initial MPEG4 deployment, eliminating the need for a new system while providing greater scalability and more simplicity.

The Occam BLC 6000 System is a full-featured MSAP that offers a variety of access technology options including GPON, Ethernet FTTP, DSL, POTS, T1 and Ethernet. Serving a 3,000 square mile coverage area, FTC has taken advantage of multiple technology options (DSL, bonded DSL, GigE FTTP, GPON FTTP) available in the single, converged Occam BLC 6000 MSAP to deliver IPTV to its subscribers.

"We serve an area that is enjoying significant growth. However, this presents challenges as our broadband service area is very diverse and presents complexities with reaching remote rural areas, while also servicing areas that are highly populated," said Richard Haddock, Chief Engineer for FTC. "As challenging as it is to deliver IPTV to a diverse geographic serving area, the Occam BLC 6000 MSAP overcame our deployment obstacles with a robust solution to handle all of our broadband needs."

Nortel and LG Complete First Handover Between CDMA and LTE

Nortel and LG Electronics completed the first 3GPP standards compliant active handover of a data transmission between a LTE network and a CDMA network. The demonstration showed that online activities like video downloads, web surfing, and VoIP calls can be maintained when a mobile data user moves between LTE and CDMA coverage zones.

The test by Nortel and LG Electronics successfully demonstrates standards-compliant CDMA-LTE interworking. This enables idle mode handover between CDMA and LTE, and active mode handover from LTE to CDMA leveraging device assisted, network controlled functionality. The demonstration was conducted over 700MHz spectrum using Nortel CDMA Evolved High-Rate Packet Data (eHRPD) 1xEV-DO and Nortel Long Term Evolution (LTE) solution with LG Electronics' dual-mode CDMA-LTE M13 terminal. The M13 terminal is a test device created with commercial grade components that will form the basis for a consumer device which is expected to be available in 2010.

The handover between LTE to CDMA networks was completed in a Live-Air Drive Test at Nortel's Research and Development centre in Ottawa, Canada.

Nortel's CDMA business and LTE Access assets are the subject of an asset sale agreement with Ericsson.http//

J.D. Power Ranks U.S. Mobile Operators for Call Quality

J.D. Power and Associates' 2009 Wireless Call Quality Performance Study ranked Verizon Wireless as the best for the "Highest Call Quality Performance Among Wireless Cell Phone Users" in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast and Southwest regions. In a tie, Verizon Wireless, Alltel and T-Mobile rank highest in the West region. T-Mobile performs particularly well in reducing the number of problems with echoes and distortion, while Alltel performs particularly well in limiting the number of problems associated with late or failed messages. In the North Central region, U.S. Cellular ranks highest for an eighth consecutive reporting period. Compared with the regional average, U.S. Cellular has fewer customer-reported problems with initial connections, static or interference, and late or failed voice message notification.

J.D. Power and Associates' semiannual study measures wireless call quality, based on seven problem areas that impact overall carrier performance: dropped calls; static/interference; failed call connection on the first try; voice distortion; echoes; no immediate voicemail notification; and no immediate text message notification. Call quality issues are measured as problems per 100 (PP100) calls, where a lower score reflects fewer problems and higher quality. Call quality performance is examined in six regions: Northeast; Mid-Atlantic; Southeast; North Central; Southwest; and West.

J.D. Power noted that wireless carriers have reduced the number of connectivity issues, such as dropped calls, to 4 PP100 from 5 PP100 six months ago. Failed initial connections have declined to 3 PP100 from 4 PP100 during the same period. Wireless customers also report fewer audio problems, such as calls with static, which has decreased from 3 PP100 to just 2 PP100.

The 2009 Wireless Call Quality Performance Study-Volume 2 is based on responses from 25,512 wireless customers.

Taiwan's Chunghwa Telecom Sees Revenue Drop in 1H09, FTTx Replacing ADSL

During the first six months of 2009, Chunghwa Telecom's consolidated revenue decreased by 3.7% to NT$97.2 billion,

of which 27.3% was from fixed-line services, 36.3%was from mobile services, 25.4% was from Internet and data services, and the remainder was mainly from handset sales from Chunghwa's subsidiary SENAO on a consolidated basis. Chunghwa Telecom blamed the deteriorating economic environment and market competition for the revenue decline, which resulted in the reduced traffic for fixed line and mobile businesses.

Some highlights:
  • Internet and data revenue decreased by 0.2% to NT$24.7 billion, mainly due to the tariff reduction for HiNet and ADSL services.

  • As of the end of first half of 2009, Chunghwa provides FTTx to about 1,342 thousand of subscribers, compared to 782 thousand as of the end of first half of 2008.

  • Mobile revenue decreased by 2.9% to NT$35.2 billion; mobile VAS revenue increased by 18.5% to NT$4.1 billion

  • International long distance revenue decreased by 10.7% year-over- year to NT$6.3 billion, as a result of the overall economic downturn, VOIP substitution and market competition.

  • For the second quarter of 2009, total revenue was NT$48.1 billion, a 3.8% decrease from the same period last year. Of this, 27.9% was from fixed-line services, 36.8% was from mobile services and 25.5% was from Internet and data services, with the remainder primarily attributed to the consolidation of NT$2.6 billion in revenue from SENAO.

  • The total capex for the first half of 2009 amounted to NT$10.3 billion, a 9.0% decrease compared to that of the same period in 2008. Of this CapEx figure, 73.2% was for wireline equipment (including fixed-line and Internet and data), 21.3% was for wireless equipment and the remainder was for other expenditures.

  • Total HiNet Internet subscribers decreased to 4.07 million as of June 30, 2009.

  • ADSL subscribers decreased by 156 thousand to 2.96 million quarter-over-quarter. This decline was offset by strong growth in FTTx subscriptions, with 148 thousand net additions to around 1.34 million over the course of the second quarter of 2009, compared to 782 thousand FTTx subscribers as of June 30, 2008.

  • By the end of June 2009, the number of ADSL and FTTx subscriptions with a service speed of greater than 8 Mbps reached 1.78 million, representing 41.4% of total broadband subscribers, which was 32.1% as the end of June 2008

  • Overall, the company had 4.3 million broadband subscribers (including ADSL and FTTx subscribers) at the end of June 2009, a 0.1% decrease in the number of total broadband subscriptions compared to the same period of last year.

  • As of June 30, 2009, Chunghwa had 9.04 million mobile subscribers, slightly up quarter-over-quarter by 0.7% compared to 8.98million as of March 31, 2009.

  • Chunghwa's total mobile subscriber market share (including 2G, 3G and PHS) was 34.5%, while its revenue share was 33.1%.

  • Chunghwa had 251 thousand net additions to its 3G subscriber base during the second quarter of 2009, recording a 6.5% rise quarter-over-quarter in the total number of 3G subscribers to 4.1 million as of June 30, 2009.

  • Mobile VAS revenue for the first half of 2009 was NT$4.07 billion, a 18.5% year-over-year increase, with SMS revenue up 13.4% and mobile Internet revenue up 47.6% for the same period.

Verizon Tests Online Platform for Streaming FiOS TV to Laptops

Verizon has joined the "TV Everywhere" initiative and has launched a trial to bring television programming online to its FiOS TV subscribers.

Verizon's trial includes content from Time Warner's Turner networks, TNT and TBS, and will soon include content from other providers. Trial participants will be able to watch the programs on their personal computers or laptops -- at home or away -- using any broadband connection. Using their Verizon Online user names and passwords, participating FiOS TV customers will be able to access the online programming at the networks' Web sites.

"As the appetite for instant, easy access to high-quality entertainment continues to explode, only Verizon is able to deliver to customers what they want, wherever they go," said Shawn Strickland, vice president of FiOS product management for Verizon. "Whether it's at home through FiOS TV, FiOS Internet or Verizon High Speed Internet or on the go with Verizon Wi-Fi or V CAST Video from Verizon Wireless -- Verizon is well ahead of the industry in listening to customers and giving them the access and control they're clamoring for."

Time Warner Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bewkes said, "When we first announced the TV Everywhere initiative, we hoped others in the industry would soon sign on to provide consumers with more on-demand television content over all platforms including broadband. We are pleased to partner with Verizon to deliver TNT and TBS programming on-demand and online at no additional cost to customers and to do so in a progressive manner that builds the business for the future."

Time Warner Cable Launches “TV Everywhere�? over Broadband

Time Warner Cable is working with numerous networks and network groups to provide its customers greater online access to high-quality programming.

In upcoming trials of TV Everywhere, Time Warner Cable customers who subscribe to a video package containing the networks will have online access, at no additional charge, to a wide variety of content from participating programmers. They include TBS, TNT, HBO, CBS, Syfy, BBC America, AMC, WE tv, IFC, Sundance Channel, Discovery Communications and Smithsonian Channel.
The company described "TV Everywhere" as a big step toward fulfilling its vision for making content available on any screen, any time and any place its customers want to view it.

Time Warner Cable Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Glenn Britt said, "TV Everywhere is an all-around win for those of us who love television. It will give our customers more control over content and allow them greater access to programs they are already paying for, while enhancing the distributors' and networks' robust business model that encourages the creation of great content."

Time Warner Cable and the participating networks will launch the TV Everywhere trials in select markets over the next few months. The trials initially will reach approximately 5,000 Time Warner Cable customers. The company is working to include other networks and expects to expand TV Everywhere to more customers rapidly.

Marvell launches 802.1 AVB for Multimedia Content Over Ethernet

Marvell introduced a suite of products for networking multichannel audio/video (A/V) over standardized Ethernet using the IEEE 802.1 A/V Bridging (AVB) standards.

This product portfolio includes Marvell's Link Street Gigabit Ethernet Switches, Gigabit Ethernet Network Interface Controller (NIC), and Kirkwood SoC featuring its Sheeva CPU technology. The Marvell AVB product suite is designed to allow seamless delivery of time-sensitive multimedia traffic for both consumer and professional A/V applications on an Ethernet network.

"We are thrilled to be the first to provide an end-to-end AVB solution and be part of the newly formed AVnu Alliance," said Ali Khan, Director of Marketing with the Communications and Computing Business Unit at Marvell. "We also congratulate AVnu for bringing industry wide collaboration together to support the years of standards development in the IEEE AVB committee. Marvell sees this as the next phase in the Ethernet evolution."

Marvell Posts Q2 Revenue of $640.6 Million, up 23%

Marvell Technology Group reported Q2 revenue of $640.6 million, a 23 percent sequential increase from $521.4 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2010, ended May 2, 2009 and a 24 percent decrease from $842.6 million in the second quarter of fiscal 2009, ended August 2, 2008. GAAP net income was $58.5 million, or $0.09 per share (diluted), for the second quarter of fiscal 2010, as compared to a GAAP net loss of $111.5 million, or $0.18 per share (diluted), for the first quarter of fiscal 2010.

"We are pleased with the results reported for the second quarter of fiscal 2010," said Dr. Sehat Sutardja, Marvell Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "Our sequential revenue growth reflects both an improving economy and the acceptance by customers of our new and existing products. Additionally, the financial discipline we have adopted continued to deliver positive benefits during the second quarter, allowing us to achieve our long-term profitability and cash flow targets well ahead of schedule."

FCC Seeks Comments on New Consumer Protections

The FCC is seeking public and industry comment on how best to ensure that consumers have the information they need to make informed decisions in the communications marketplace.

While the FCC's approach to information disclosure issues has traditionally focused on the formatting of consumer bills, the FCC is now considering what information should be available to consumers at each stage of the purchasing process: (1) choosing a provider, (2) choosing a service plan, (3) managing use of the service plan, and (4) deciding whether and when to switch an existing provider or plan for all communications services, including wireline voice and wireless services, as well as broadband and subscription video (cable and satellite).

This FCC also seeks particular comment on cost-effective best practices in information disclosure from within the communications sector -- as well as familiar examples for other areas, such as nutrition labeling on food products, fuel efficiency for automobiles, energy efficiency for household appliances, and rates and fees for credit cards.