Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Microsoft Mediaroom 2.0 Extends IPTV to PCs and Phones

As part of Microsoft's digital entertainment strategy, Microsoft announced Microsoft Mediaroom 2.0, the next version of its IPTV solution for service providers.

Microsoft said that while its original version of Mediaroom enabled services to be viewed on TV set-top boxes and on Xbox 360 game consoles, Mediaroom 2.0 alleviates the need for operators to deploy redundant systems, allowing them to expand the reach of their television service to include Windows 7-based PCs via Windows Media Center, Web browsers on both Macs and Windows-based PCs and, in the future, compatible smartphones.

Specifically, Mediaroom 2.0 gives service providers the ability to offer their subscribers features such as:

  • The ability to stream live and on-demand content to the TV but also devices such as PCs and phones

  • The same on-demand experience on the PC with Windows Media Center in Windows 7.

The Mediaroom software supports whole-home digital video recording, on-demand capabilities, access to both operator-hosted content and Internet TV, and interactive applications. Mediaroom 2.0 also adds support for Microsoft Silverlight and Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS) Smooth Streaming for the access and delivery of on-demand content. In addition, support for Microsoft PlayReady preserves the service providers' ability to secure their content libraries and monetize consumer experiences.

Mediaroom 2.0 also adds new on-demand storefront that further enhances the monetization potential for Mediaroom service operators.

At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Microsoft also noted some key Xbox and Xbox LIVE stats:

  • There are now over 39 million Xbox 360 consoles around the world, and more than 500 million games have been sold.

  • Between Christmas and New Years Day, Xbox LIVE experienced its busiest week ever, adding a new member every second and a record of more than 2.2 million concurrent members online.

  • Nearly 10 million people have logged into Xbox LIVE's nongaming applications -- Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, Last.fm, Sky, Canal and Zune -- using their Xbox as a way to stay connected to friends and family.

  • Xbox LIVE membership is now an active community of over 20 million people.

Panasonic Offers 64GB and 48GB SDXC Memory Cards

Panasonic introduced its first 64 GB and 48 GB SDXC Memory Cards with Class 10 speed specification. Featuring new advanced Super Intelligent Controller helps to improve the reliability of the card and extend its lifetime. The new 64 GB and 48 GB SDXC Memory Cards will be globally introduced in February 2010 with suggested retail prices of $599.95 and $449.95, respectively.

SDXC is the next generation SD Memory Card, a new standard for storing data more than 32 GB and up to 2 terabytes.

The Panasonic 64 GB SDXC Memory Card features a massive 64 GB of capacity, making it ideal for recording AVCHD High Definition video, high-resolution, or even RAW still photos. When used with Panasonic's newly-released camcorders, such as the Panasonic HDC-TM55, the 64 GB SDXC Memory Card can record up to 8 hours and 30 minutes of video, while recording in the highest video quality in HA mode. Or when recording in 1920 x 1080i in HE mode, the SDXC Memory Card can hold approximately 27 hours and 30 minutes of video.

The 48 GB SDXC Memory Card will have nearly the same capacity as a dual-layer Blu-ray Disc, and can hold 6 hours and 20 minutes of HD video content recorded in HA mode and 20 hours and 20 minutes when recorded in HE mode.

Ikanos and Aricent Collaborate on Next-Gen Access Devices

Ikanos Communications and Aricent introduced a production-ready platform for advanced next-generation broadband access products that combines Aricent's Converged Access Solution (CAS) software with Ikanos' Fusiv Vx180 communications processor. The solution enables service providers and network equipment manufacturers to rapidly deliver next-generation access devices that support the evolving multimedia, telephony and storage requirements of the digital home.

In addition to wireline broadband access technologies, Aricent's feature rich software for WiMAX and Long Term Evolution (LTE) integrates seamlessly with Ikanos' Fusiv communication processors enabling a unified platform for advanced wireless broadband access devices including mobile broadband routers (MBR) and femtocell base stations.

Ikanos' Fusiv Vx180 is a low-power, single-chip communications processor that incorporates a MIPS-based CPU core capable of 500 MHz processing speeds, digital signal processor (DSP)-based VoIP capabilities and security. The Fusiv Vx180 offers advanced processing power, wire speed performance and quality of service (QoS). Additionally, the Vx180-based production-ready platform easily integrates with home networking technologies, such as MoCA, Home PNA, HomePlug and 802.11a/b/g/n. The integration of Fusiv Vx180 and Aricent's CAS software enables service providers to deploy new offerings, including IPTV, more cost effectively.

Aricent CAS is a comprehensive control plane software solution designed for equipment manufacturers to simplify product development and shorten time to market for innovative new residential and small business multi-service gateways. CAS integrates all of the key software components needed for building multi-service, broadband enabled gateways. The Ikanos/Aricent gateway software stack enables the creation of multiple products based on a single software platform, alleviating the need to develop software in house or integrate various software products from multiple vendors.

LG Electronics Employs AMIMON for Wireless HDTV

LG Electronics is using AMIMON's wireless 1080p silicon for its new wireless HDTV products being introduced at this week's CES. LG's wireless HDTV product line are powered by AMIMON's second generation chipset, AMN2120/2220, enabling robust, high-quality wireless 1080p 60Hz in the 5GHz unlicensed band, both in the room and in between rooms through walls.

AMIMON and LG are among the promoters of the Wireless Home Digital Interface (WHDI) industry consortium.

AMIMON is headquartered in Herzlia, Israel, with offices in Santa Clara, California, USA; Tokyo, Japan; and Seoul, Korea.

Wireless Home Digital Interface (WHDI) Shows Momentum at CES

WHDI, the consortium of leading CE manufacturers managing and licensing Wireless Home Digital Interface (WHDI) technology, announced several new WHDI Contributors: Haier, Maxim, Mitsubishi Electric and Toshiba. Additionally, the following companies have joined as WHDI Adopters: AmTRAN, Domo Technologies, Elmo, Gemtek, Gospell Smarthome Electronics, Hosiden, Murata, QMI, Seamon Science International, TDK, and Zinwell. These companies are in addition to the original WHDI Promoters: Amimon, Hitachi, LG Electronics, Motorola, Samsung, Sharp and Sony.

The WHDI standard delivers the wireless, multi-room distribution of high-quality HD video (full 1080p/60Hz HD with Deep Color at a distance of 100 feet and through walls), enabling consumers to build a wireless HD network connecting HD sources (STBs, Blu-ray players, PCs, mobile devices, game players, etc.) to TVs around the home. The WHDI standard ensures that by purchasing products with the WHDI logo consumers can easily connect devices from different manufacturers into one network to access all of their a/v content and games.

WHDI and 802.11n use very similar technology in the 5Ghz frequency range, making it possible to build a single chip integrated WHDI/802.11n (WiFi) solution. WHDI employs spectrum management capabilities to avoid mutual interferences with other transmissions in the 5GHz unlicensed band. WHDI makes use of a number technologies to avoid collisions with other devices and to maximize the available wireless bandwidth, including: Automatic Frequency Selection (AFS), whereby WHDI will automatically switch to an unused channel in the case of interference. WHDI also supports DFS, for more available channels, and Transmit Power Control -- allowing re-use of channel frequency.

Arbor Appoints Jeff Lindholm as SVP of Global Field Operation

Arbor Networks has appointed Jeff Lindholm as senior vice president of global field operations, effective immediately. In this role, Lindholm will be responsible for driving all worldwide sales-related activities -- through direct and indirect channels -- as well as all customer service and support programs. Lindholm is filling the position left open following Colin Doherty's promotion to chief executive officer of Arbor Networks in October 2009.

Prior to joining Arbor, Lindholm served as SVP of Sales and Marketing at BigBand Networks, and before that held a number of senior management roles at Juniper Networks, including Chief Marketing Officer and VP of Worldwide Sales. Earlier in his career, he held senior sales management positions at Redstone Communications, New Oak Communications, StarBurst Communications and Bay Networks.

NBC Builds Cisco Medianet for HD Coverage of Vancouver Winter Games

NBC will leverage Cisco-provided IP video network infrastructure to deliver all-HD coverage of the upcoming 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games. The network will enable real-time editing by NBC personnel in Vancouver, New York and Las Vegas, and will allow for the transfer of gigabyte-sized files of content between locations and then delivered to three screens: TV, PC and smartphone. NBC will also be testing the Cisco Media Data Center and Cisco's Unified Computing System to support vital production and video-archiving functions. Financial terms were not disclosed.

HomePlug "Green PHY" Targets Smart Grid Applications

The HomePlug Powerline Alliance expects finalization of the HomePlug "Green PHY" (HomePlug GP) specification in the first quarter of 2010. HomePlug GP is a low power, cost-optimized powerline networking specification targeting Smart Grid applications such as HVAC, smart meters, home appliances and plug-in electric hybrid vehicles. HomePlug GP has been developed with direct input from major utility companies like Consumers Energy, Duke Energy, Pacific Gas & Electric, and Southern California Edison.

The HomePlug Powerline Alliance estimates that HomePlug GP power consumption is estimated to be 75 percent less than an AV chip with similar cost savings projected. Certified chips and products are expected to ship in early 2011. Products based on HomePlug GP will be fully interoperable with both HomePlug AV products. The forthcoming HomePlug AV2 specification, designed for next generation broadband speed applications, maintains this family interoperability.

HomePlug GP is developed as a profile of the IEEE 1901 powerline communications standard and will be included in HomePlug's Compliance and Interoperability Certification Logo program.

LG Electronics Demos LTE Devices

At this week's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, LG Electronics MobileComm will be showcasing its LTE USB Modem downloading at rates up to 100 Mbps and uploading at up to 50 Mbps.

LG will also be unveiling to the public the "handover" technology which enables seamless network conversion between LTE and CDMA networks. Using the even slimmer version of the previous 4G LTE device, an LG proprietary device designed for the Handover last August, LG demonstrated seamless and endless data transmissions between LTE and CDMA antennas which allows for video file downloads, web surfing and internet calling.

Also LG and Verizon Wireless are collaborating to demonstrate the advanced capabilities and applications made possible by LTE networks. During CES 2010, the Verizon Wireless Innovation Center is demonstrating several applications using LG Mobile Phones. is a key participant.

LG provided the LTE connectivity modules and devices to support the following:

  • Home monitoring solutions, including a home gateway provides home security monitoring with a security camera, as well as energy management and home appliance monitoring from a web portal and a smartphone.

  • An indoor/outdoor IP security camera providing a home surveillance video stream that can be monitored via a web portal or a smartphone.

  • A video conferencing product transmitting a camera-captured IP video through a 4G connection to other devices supporting a multi-user video conference.

Baidu Forms New Venture for Licensed Online Video in China

Baidu, the leading Chinese language Internet search provider, will establish a new independent company to provide licensed online video to Chinese Internet users. The new company will use pursue an advertising supported model for delivering copyrighted premium video content, including movies, TV series, sporting events, animation, etc.

Mr. Yu Gong, formerly president and chief operating officer of China Mobile's 12580 business, has been appointed chief executive officer of the new company.

Netgear Combines 802.11n Wireless, ADSL2+ and 3G/4G/WiMAX

NETGEAR announced two full-featured routers for connecting to 3G/4G/WiMAX cellular networks.

The 3G/4G Mobile Broadband Wireless-N Router (MBRN3000) combines 802.11n wireless with connectivity to a cellular network via an external 3G/4G/WiMAX(TM) modem.

The second router is the Wireless-N 300 Router with DSL Modem - Mobile Broadband Edition (DGN2200M), which combines 802.11n wireless and support for 3G/4G/WiMAX cellular connectivity. It also includes a built-in ADSL2+ modem as well, making it the industry's first Wireless-N router to enable a DSL connection along with a 3G/4G/WiMAX failover option. The dual Wide Area Network (WAN) option offers a failover 3G/4G/WiMAX Internet connection in case of DSL outage.

Both new NETGEAR mobile broadband routers can be used as a primary Internet connection in situations where no connection to a DSL, cable, fiber, or satellite network exists. By plugging an external 3G/4G/WiMAX modem into the new NETGEAR routers, customers can quickly set up a fixed or mobile Wi-Fi hotspot.

AT&T Pursues Emerging Devices

AT&T confirmed plans to launch five new devices from Dell, HTC and Motorola based on the Android platform.

At its 4th annual AT&T Developer Summit in Las Vegas, company executives vowed to offer all major smartphone OS app stores, thereby giving customers a broad choice of applications and devices. AT&T also announced an agreement with Qualcomm to standardize apps development for mid-range Quick Messaging Devices using BREW Mobile Platform. With this agreement, AT&T intends to make BREW Mobile Platform its primary operating system platform for Quick Messaging Devices, one of the company's fastest growing categories of devices. These will be value-priced devices with texting capabilities. Samsung will be its first device maker to launch a Quick Messaging Device featuring BREW Mobile Platform. HTC, LG and Pantech also are building devices featuring BREW Mobile Platform for planned availability in late 2010 or early 2011.

AT&T also announced a trial program with WaveMarket to make network location information accessible through Veriplace, WaveMarket's cloud location aggregation platform currently in use by more than 1,000 developers. Veriplace allows SMS, Web, WAP and IVR developers to develop location-aware apps and services across device categories and participating carriers. The trial program will launch in the coming weeks.

In addition, AT&T has launched an emerging devices web site to help manufacturers establish a working relationship with the carrier and to navigate easily their device, network and go-to-market needs.

The site offers resources to investigate business models, network options, product specifications, and potential customer care and distribution needs to ensure a seamless, accelerated product launch using the AT&T network. This includes a seven step process to launch a device, from creating a market plan to market launch. In between, visitors can determine specifications for the product, engage the emerging device team, match a pre-certified module to their specific device using the Module Matching Tool, and gain access to the developer tools within the AT&T Control Center, powered by Jasper Wireless, using the AT&T M2M Developer Kit.

AT&T noted that since it began certifying non-stock devices in 2005, to date it has certified more than 370 wireless hardware units for its network.

NAVTEQ Integrates Data And Imagery

NAVTEQ is adopting a new "True" mapping collection system that integrates and geo-references a combination of LIDAR, panoramic and high resolution cameras, GPS and IMU (inertial measurement units) positioning data to create better digital maps. The technology moves digital maps from 2D to 3D representation.

NAVTEQ is beginning the roll out of this new technology in its US fleet of field collection vehicles, further enhancing the company's ability to deliver a growing range of high quality digital map data.

NAVTEQ said its LIDAR collection uses a proprietary architecture that can capture over 1.5 million 3D data points every second, which is a significant advancement over other LIDAR systems. The rotating lasers can collect over a longer range, up to approximately 120 meters, and at higher speeds, allowing NAVTEQ to collect highway signs while driving posted speed limits while also still being able to capture the detail on a small mile marker. While other LIDAR systems use single line scans which collect to an angle of 90 degrees, NAVTEQ's 64 rotating lasers collect 360 degree LIDAR images. Other features of this system include the ability to automatically generate attributes such as bridge height and lane width down to the centimeter, and to look behind objects to better generate accurate dimensions in the execution of 3D representations versus those seen when using sources such as aerial imagery.

NAVTEQ True is also using both multi-view and panoramic cameras. The simultaneous addition of multi-view cameras captures the additional detail, such as what is printed on a menu outside a restaurant, which can be collected on the same drive by.

North Carolina's Conterra Ultra Broadband Raises $25 Million from Goldman Sachs

North Carolina-based Conterra Ultra Broadband Holdings completed a $25 million senior preferred stock offering led by The Goldman Sachs Group. Conterra is an alternative access transport carrier that, through its subsidiaries, provides managed, fiber-class broadband solutions to approximately 1,000 commercial sites in 17 states.

Other investors were The Circumference Group, LLC, an Arkansas based advisory and investment firm comprised of former Alltel Wireless corporate executives, and Conterra's Chairman and CEO, Stephen Leeolou. Proceeds from the offering will be used to fund new network deployments that will enable Conterra to provide high-speed broadband transport services to its growing base of wireless carrier, education, healthcare and government customers primarily in rural, underserved regions of the United States.

"The addition of this substantial equity capital strengthens our balance sheet and will allow us to continue to aggressively rollout our hybrid, fiber/microwave, video, data and voice transport networks in virtually any location on a nationwide scale," noted Mr. Leeolou. "In addition to their investment, we believe that Goldman Sachs' and Circumference Group's insights and corporate development experience in the telecom industry will also add value to our company," added Mr. Leeolou.

Monday, January 4, 2010

NETGEAR Implements Quantenna's Full-11n Chipset for 4x4 MIMO Wi-Fi

NETGEAR has implemented Quantenna Communications' Full-11n Chipset for use in wireless high-definition (HD) audio/video products. NETGEAR and Quantenna are collaborating on consumer wireless home-entertainment networking products that incorporate all industry-standard 802.11n features that are necessary for delivering ultra-reliable Wi-Fi bandwidth. Full-11n technology for wireless full HD networking includes 4x4 Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO), dynamic digital beamforming and wireless channel monitoring and optimizing, all of which are integral features of Quantenna technology. The technology will be on display at this week's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

Lantiq to Acquire Metalink's WLAN Business

Newly-formed Lantiq has agreed to acquire Metalink's wireless local area network (WLAN) business up to $16.9 million in cash. Financial terms include earn-out payments of up to an aggregate $8.0 million, contingent upon the acquired business's achievement of specified performance targets through March 2012.

Metalink's WLANPLUS is a high-throughput, 802.11n-draft-compliant wireless LAN technology optimized for the networked home entertainment environment. Featuring advanced MIMO technology and full support of QoS, and operating in both 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, WLANPLUS enables multi-room networking of multiple high-definition video streams.

"We are pleased that the strategic process we initiated last year has, despite our difficult financial situation and during an extremely challenging general market conditions, produced a transaction that is in the best interests of Metalink and its shareholders, as well as its employees and customers," commented Tzvika Shukhman, Metalink's Chief Executive Officer.
  • In November 2009, Lantiq began operations as independent company. The new entity was created through the sale of Infineon Technologies Wireline business unit to US-based investor Golden Gate Capital.

Google Prices Nexus One at $529 or $179 with T-Mobile Contract

Google introduced its Nexus One mobile phone using hardware from HTC Corporation along with Android software.

The device will be sold over the web in the U.S. without service for $529 or starting at $179 with a two-year contract from T-Mobile USA. In the near future, Verizon Wireless in the US and Vodafone in Europe plan to offer services to customers in their respective geographies.

Some of the featured capabilities include:

  • Thinness: 11.5mm; Weight: 130g

  • Processor/Speed: Qualcomm Snapdragon 3G QSD8250 chipset, delivering speeds up to 1GHz

  • Camera: 5 megapixel auto focus with flash and geo tagging

  • Noise Suppression: Dynamic noise suppression from Audience, Inc.

  • Battery: Removable 1400 mAh

  • Trackball: Tri-color notification LED, alerts when new emails, chats, text messages arrive

  • Google Maps Navigation: offering turn-by-turn driving directions with voice output.

  • Email: multiple Gmail accounts; universal inbox and Exchange support.

  • Phone book: aggregate contacts from multiple sources, including Facebook

  • Android Market: access to more than 18,000 applications
  • Enter text without typing.

  • Use a voice-enabled keyboard for all text fields: speak a text message, instant message, tweet, Facebook
  • update, or complete an email.
  • Record Hi-Res MPEG4 video, and then upload to YouTube with one click.

  • Get transcribed voicemail with Google Voice integration, without changing your number.

AT&T Completes Expedited 7.2Mbps HSPA Upgrade Nationwide

AT&T completed an expedited software upgrade of its 3G cell sites nationwide to support High-Speed Packet Access (HSPA) 7.2 technology. AT&T is upgrading these cell sites with enhanced backhaul connections over the course of 2010 and 2011, primarily with fiber connections. The combination of HSPA 7.2 technology and enhanced backhaul will support theoretical peak maximum speeds of 7.2 Mbps, though as with any mobile broadband network, actual speeds will be lower than the theoretical maximum and will vary due to a number of factors.

In addition to the HSPA 7.2 software, initial deployment of backhaul is already underway in the six U.S. cities announced in 2009 as initial HSPA 7.2 markets -- Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, and Miami, with capabilities being turned up on a site-by-site basis beginning last month. Further backhaul deployment will continue in these markets and begin in additional markets across the nation.

AT&T anticipates that the majority of its mobile data traffic will be carried over the expanded fiber-based, HSPA 7.2-capable backhaul by the end of this year, with deployment continuing to expand in 2011. AT&T currently offers a total of 10 HSPA 7.2-compatible devices today, including the iPhone 3G S. Additional HSPA 7.2-compatible devices will be introduced in 2010. The backhaul upgrades are also a key step in the evolution to LTE. AT&T plans to launch an LTE trial this year, with first commercial deployments in 2011.

"As we light up new backhaul connections across the country, we're able to deliver a meaningful 3G speed boost for millions of customers who are already using HSPA 7.2-compatible devices. At the same time, we're also looking to the future with these backhaul enhancements, which will support our move to next-generation LTE technology starting in 2011," said John Stankey, president and CEO, AT&T Operations, who announced the network updates at the Citigroup 20th Annual Global Entertainment, Media & Telecommunications Conference.

Stankey noted that these wireless initiatives have already yielded a number gains. With the 7.2 release, the peak data throughputs improve by 50%. Metrics for dropped calls and blocked calls have also improved significantly.

Stankey also cited progress with Uverse, including a number of upcoming software enhancements that will enable multi-camera viewing in sporting events, local ad-insertion and on-screen caller ID.

AT&T also plans to expand its efforts in open application development. This includes a new collaboration with Microsoft to develop the APIs needed to enable applications across wireless/wireline networks, devices and operating systems.


Apple Acquire Quattro Wireless for Mobile Advertising

Apple has acquired Quattro Wireless, a start-up offering mobile advertising solutions, for an undisclosed sum.
Quattro's Q Elevation dynamic targeting platform helps advertisers to reach a desired audience. The technology encompasses ad serving, tracking and analytics for a global network of sites and applications. The company is based in Waltham, MA.
  • Quattro Wireless was founded by Andy Miller (current CEO) and Eswar Priyadarshan (CTO), both of whom previously were at m-Qube, a mobile content aggregator that was acquired by VeriSign for $250 million in April of 2006.

Skype Moves to 720p Video Calling and Skype-Enabled HDTVs

Skype released a new version for Windows that can deliver up to 720p HD-quality video calling at 1280 x 720 resolution, at up to 30 frames per second. To make an HD video call, users will need a high-speed broadband connection, a new HD webcam, a PC with a 1.8 GHz dual-core processor and Skype 4.2 Beta for Windows. HD webcams are just starting to arrive on the market. New "Skype Certified" HD webcams from faceVsion and In Store Solutions will handle the video encoding and processing onboard, removing the need for a high-performance computer to encode the HD video.

In addition, Skype announced plans to integrate its service into Internet-enabled HDTVs. This support will enabled HDTVs to deliver free Skype-to-Skype voice and video calls, calls to landline or mobile phones at Skype's off-net rates, the option to receive inbound calls via a user's online Skype number, Skype voicemail, if it is set up, voice conference calls with up to 24 other parties, and support for up to 720p HD video calls, depending on the availability of high-speed broadband and a HD webcam.

Skype confirmed partnerships with LG and Panasonic to offer Skype--enabled HDTVs. Skype software will be embedded into Panasonic's line of 2010 VIERA CAST-enabled HDTVs and LG's 26 new LCD and plasma HDTVs with NetCast Entertainment Access. Both lines are expected to be available in mid-2010. Both LG and Panasonic will offer specially-designed HD webcams that are optimized for Skype video calls as separate accessories that can be plugged into the televisions. These webcams support 720p HD and include special microphones and optics that can pick up sound and video from a couch-distance.