Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Verizon's Seidenberg: Rapid Mobile Growth, OTT Threatens Cable TV

The mobile industry has entered a period of rapid innovation with step-function growth in services and revenues, said Ivan Seidenberg, Verizon's Chairman and CEO, speaking at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia XIX Conference.
Seidenberg expects the smartphone penetration rate in the U.S. to rise to 70% by 2015. Meanwhile, the overall mobile penetration rate with pass 100% as more people carry 2 or more connected-devices wherever they go. Seidenberg expects these trends to impact all segments of the consumer and business markets. He believes Verizon is well-positioned for this period of bullish growth.

Regarding the iPhone, Seidenberg said he would welcome it, but that the Droid is proving to be a great alternative and that the company is not suffering from an "iPhone deficit". He expects the upcoming 4G launch will be a great platform for manufactures to launch a new range tablets and phones.

As for 4G pricing tiers, Seidenberg agrees with AT&T's move to tiered data plans, but that Verizon's LTE network provides it with the ability to offer unique plans. Key advantages that he sees are Verizon's 700 MHz spectrum and a rapid rollout that will give national coverage over the next 24 months.

Seidenberg also predicted rapid change in the multichannel video market. He expects the cable operators are facing a downward trend as "cord cutters", especially the younger demographics, give up pricey monthly cable bills in favor of over-the-top content. He does expect a steady, paid TV client base in many segments especially for high-end 3D TV. However, he believes but that the OTT trend will impact the cable business much like how traditional voice service were hit mobile and VoIP substitution. He thinks Verizon is better positioned than its cable peers because the FiOS network is built to handle high data rates for carrying IP traffic and because the company's newer FiOS TV subscriber base has lower exposure in the market. He would like to see both the FiOS and 4G networks take advantage of these new content models.

FCC Bolsters E-rate Program

Following recommendations of the National Broadband Plan, the FCC upgraded and modernized the E-rate program, which funds Internet access in public schools and libraries across the country.

Although 97% of American schools and nearly all public libraries now have basic Internet access, the basic level of broadband connectivity is now too slow to keep up with traffic demands.

The FCC said its E-rate Order makes it easier for schools and libraries to get the highest speeds for the lowest prices by increasing their options for broadband providers and streamlining the application process.

Key elements of the new E-rate include:

Super-Fast Fiber: Participants may use E-rate funds to connect in the most cost-effective way possible, including via unused fiber optic lines already in place across the country and through existing state, regional and local networks.

School Spots: The FCC is opening the door to "School Spots" -- where schools have the option to provide Internet access to the local community after students go home. For instance, schools with 1 Gbps fiber access could help neighborhoods that otherwise lack such access. The FCC sees the School Spots as a major step toward the National Broadband Plan's goal of connecting an anchor institution in every community.

Learning On-the-Go: The FCC is launching a pilot program that supports off-campus wireless Internet connectivity for mobile learning devices. Education doesn't stop at the schoolyard gate or the library door. Digital textbooks and other innovative wireless devices allow students to learn in a real-world context, inside the classroom and beyond. Because of their low cost and accessibility, these mobile devices can also help advance digital equality, particularly for children from economically disadvantaged communities.

21st Century E-rate Program: The Order will begin indexing the cap on E-rate funding to inflation in a fiscally responsible manner, so that the program can more fully meet the needs of students and communities. Since 1997 when the E-rate program started, inflation has raised costs 30 percent but the program has remained capped, significantly decreasing its effective purchasing power. E-rate can also now be used for connections to the dormitories of schools that serve students facing unique challenges, such as Tribal schools or schools for children with physical, cognitive, or behavioral disabilities.

In addition, the FCC will codifying E-rate competitive bidding requirements and clarifying ethics obligations so as to stop waste, fraud, and abuse. It also promises to streamline the E-rate application process for educators and librarians.

FCC Opens "White Spaces" Spectrum

The FCC issued an order that opens up vacant airwaves between TV channels for new unlicensed applications such as "super Wi-Fi." Specifically, a Second Memorandum Opinion and Order (Second MO&O) resolves numerous legal and technical issues regarding unlicensed spectrum usage. Notably, the Order eliminates the requirement that TV bands devices that incorporate geo-location and database access must also include sensing technology to detect the signals of TV stations and low-power auxiliary service stations (wireless microphones). It also requires wireless microphone users who seek to register in the TV bands databases to certify that they will use all available channels from 7 through 51 prior to requesting registration. Requests to register in the database will be public, thus allowing interested parties to weigh in on any given request.

The FCC order also includes steps to ensure that incumbent services are protected from interference from the use of white spaces in various ways. This includes reserving two vacant UHF channels for wireless microphones and other low power auxiliary service devices in all areas of the country.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said "We know from experience that unlicensed spectrum can trigger unexpected but hugely beneficial innovation. For example, years ago, there was a band of low-quality spectrum that was lying fallow. Nobody could figure out what to do with this so-called "junk band," so the FCC decided to free it up as unlicensed spectrum.

The result was a wave of new technologies -- baby monitors, cordless phones, and eventually a real game changer: Wi-Fi. Today, Wi-Fi is a multi-billion industry and an essential part of the mobile ecosystem. As compared to the airwaves we released for unlicensed use in 1985, this "white spaces" spectrum is far more robust -- traveling longer distances and through walls, making the potential for this unlicensed spectrum much greater.

"We share the FCC's enthusiasm about the potential use of TV white spaces for Wi-Fi," said Wi-Fi Alliance CEO Edgar Figueroa. "The new FCC rules will foster innovation that benefits end users, while continuing to promote co-existence among all users of the spectrum."

The Wi-Fi Alliance recently initiated an industry effort to create a certification program for Wi-Fi devices operating in the TV white spaces. This program will draw on the emerging IEEE 802.11af standard.

Nokia and AT&T Launch $10M App Development Contest

Nokia and AT&T are kicking off an app developer contest
with US$10 million in cash and prizes. The 2010 Calling All Innovators, North America contest is open to developers from around the world to create apps for North American consumers. All submitted apps will be made available exclusively for download via the Ovi Store by Nokia.

Verizon Business Partners with TDC for Nordic Coverage

Verizon Business and TDC announced a partnership agreement under which the companies will provide joint service and support to multinational companies based or operating in the Nordic market. The preferred partnership calls for TDC to deliver in-country network and information and communications technology services and for Verizon to provide global communication services.

Verizon FiOS TV Expands International Programming

Verizon FiOS TV has added STAR India PLUS, India's No. 1 Hindi channel, to its extensive channel lineup, which now includes nearly 40 other international channels covering more than 20 languages. The new channel began launching on FiOS TV this week and will be in all markets by Sept. 27.

FiOS TV's programming currently includes more than 520 all-digital channels with up to 140 HD channels and 18,000 monthly video-on-demand titles.

BICS's Pan-European Network Trials NSN's 40G CP-QPSK

BICS, which is a joint venture of Belgacom, Swisscom and MTN, has successfully conducted trials of 40 Gbps optical transmission over its existing fiber network between Zurich and Frankfurt using Nokia Siemens Networks' new 40G transponders.

The deployment features the Nokia Siemens Networks SURPASS hiT 7300 and hiT 7500 DWDM platforms, along with its new coherent detection 40G transponder, which uses CP-QPSK modulation technology.

Marvell's ARMADA 3-core Processor Targets Mobile Devices

Marvell introduced a 1.5 GHz tri-core application processor designed for delivering dual stream 1080p 3D video for Smartphones and tablets. The ARMADA 628 features three ARM-compliant CPU cores (including one optimized for ultra low-power), along with six additional processing engines to support 3D graphics, 1080p video encode/decode, ultra high fidelity audio, advanced cryptography, and digital photo data processing -- for a total of nine dedicated core functions.

The company said its ARMADA 628 could be used in mobile devices capable of playing more than 10 hours of full 1080p HD video or 140 hours of music on a single charge while still providing 3 GHz of raw computational horsepower. The ARMADA 628 is also designed to be the first mobile CPU to provide high-speed USB 3.0 connectivity, which offers 10x faster performance than USB 2.0.

Sampling is underway.

ALU to Resell Blue Coat's Content Delivery Products

Alcatel-Lucent will sell Blue Coat products, including Blue Coat ProxySG and CacheFlow appliances, to Alcatel-Lucent customers worldwide -- including tier-one telcos, managed service providers, regional ISPs and mobile operators.

Blue Coat's CacheFlow appliance reduces the strain of bandwidth-consuming dynamic Web 2.0 and video content by transparently caching such over-the-top content, providing bandwidth savings for carriers and a better experience for users. The CacheFlow appliance also helps service providers manage traffic spikes due to unusually high demand for content on breaking news or special events.

Alcatel-Lucent said it will leverage the CacheFlow appliance as a complement to its own Velocix Content Delivery Network solution. The Velocix Digital Media Delivery Platform manages the distribution of digital content and is based on open Internet based video standards.

"With this relationship we see significant opportunity to help service providers capitalize on growing consumer demand for access to high-speed video over the Internet by leveraging their existing infrastructure investments," said Paul Larbey, vice president of Alcatel-Lucent's Velocix Content Delivery Network solutions. "The Blue Coat platform is proven in some of the largest service provider and enterprise environments in the world, and it complements our existing products and services, giving service providers another tool to improve and simplify video delivery."
  • Alcatel-Lucent acquired Velocix, a supplier of content delivery network solutions, in 2009. The Velocix Digital Media Delivery Platform consists of a series of appliances that service providers can deploy to support their own dedicated advanced digital media delivery capability, as an alternative to relying on shared content delivering networks, helping improve quality and reduce cost. The appliances are designed and optimized for content publishing, storage, delivery, routing and utility (management and analytics).

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Verizon Wireless Reaffirms Open Networks

Verizon Wireless reaffirmed its commitment to help developers deliver applications to market by continuing to open its network to them with APIs and other tools and services. At the company's Developers Community Conference in Las Vegas, Verizon Wireless also outlined the progress of V CAST Apps, its mobile storefront, and said that it is expanding V CAST Apps to additional platforms, beginning with Android devices.

Verizon Wireless said it has more than 5,000 developers in its community.

Verizon Wireless has published an LTE Application Developer's Guide with guidelines to the open access environment. v

The V CAST Apps storefront launched earlier this year on the RIM platform, and submissions are now being accepted for Android-based applications in V CAST Apps. V CAST Apps offers developers speedy time-to-market and carrier-billing, so any charges for the applications appear on the customer's monthly wireless bill.

France Telecom Buys 40% of Morocco's Médi Télécom

France Telecom confirmed its intention to acquire an initial stake of 40% in Médi Télécom, Morocco's second largest telecoms operator with licenses for fixed, mobile and 3G. The deal is valued at 640 million euros.

Médi Télécom claims over 10 million mobile subscribers and a market share of 37%. It has published sales of over 5.3 billion dirham (465 million euros) in 2009 with an EBITDA margin of 40% and an operational cash-flow of around 1.4 billion dirham (131 million euros).

Stéphane Richard, France Telecom's CEO, said "The acquisition of this stake in Médi Télécom is the first concrete step in our new policy of expansion outside Europe, and contributes to our stated aim of doubling our revenues in Africa and the Middle-East over the next five years. I am delighted to contribute to this strategic partnership, which can only strengthen Médi Télécom's profile as a dynamic and solid company."
  • In July 2010, France Telecom-Orange announced a five year strategic plan to transform its corporate culture and conquer new markets and new business opportunities in the coming digital economy of billions of interconnected devices. The plans were disclosed by Stephane Richard, underscored opportunities in Africa and the Middle East.

Metaswitch Reports Accelerating Trends

Metaswitch Networks' overall revenue grew 33 percent from £62.0 million to £82.4 million (or 18 percent growth in U.S. dollar terms, from $113.7 million to $134.5 million) for the financial year ending 31-August-2010, with pro-forma EBITDA margins sustained at 20 percent.

The company cited significant customer growth in both the North American market and several key international markets, as well as by the successful acquisition and integration of AppTrigger, leading to the addition of the Metaswitch Service Broker product line.

"Metaswitch has enjoyed another year of significant growth in all areas while increasing the depth and breadth of our customer relationships and continuing our commitment to engineering excellence," said Kevin DeNuccio, Metaswitch CEO. "Over the next 12 to 18 months, we'll continue our focus on expanding our footprint into new international markets and bringing innovative new products to market as the trusted architects of next-generation voice networks."

Some other news items from the Metaswitch Forum 2010 being hosted in Orlando, Florida this week:

Telecom Argentina has selected Metaswitch's MetaSphere platform to deliver a fully-featured SIP Trunking and Hosted PBX service to enterprise customers. Telecom Argentina currently serves over 20 million lines in Buenos Aires and the northern part of the country.

Metaswitch Networks and CounterPath Corp. have entered into a joint development and marketing alliance to offer enhanced unified communications capabilities that extend voice, video and messaging services to desktop PCs and mobile devices. CounterPath's product suite includes SIP-based softphones, server applications and Fixed Mobile Convergence (FMC) solutions. More than 250 service providers have already deployed Metaswitch's VoIP application server, MetaSphere, together with CounterPath softphones.

Cincinnati Bell has deployed Metaswitch Media Gateways and MetaSphere Call Feature Servers to both streamline and optimize the company's three-state network. By deploying Metaswitch, the company has been able to reduce the cost of tandem switching, optimize traffic routing and improve the overall cost-efficiency of their network infrastructure.

CenturyLink and Qwest Receive Merger Approvals

CenturyLink and Qwest Communications have received approval of their pending merger from nine states, as well as antitrust clearance from the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission. The companies still require approval from 12 additional states, as well as the Federal Communications Commission, and expect the deal to close during the first half of 2011. Their shareholders have already approved the merger.
  • In July 2009, CenturyTel merged with EMBARQ, the former wireline division of Sprint.. EMBARQ, which was formerly Sprint's Local Telecommunications Division (spun out as an independent company in 2006). At the time this deal was announced, the transaction reflected an enterprise value of approximately $11.6 billion for Embarq, including the assumption of $5.8 billion of EMBARQ's debt. And at the time, Embarq had 5.8 million local phone lines and 1.4 million DSL customers.

JetBlue Picks ViaSat for Inflight Broadband

JetBlue Airways has selected ViaSat's Ka-band satellite technology for inflight broadband JetBlue's fleet of more than 160 aircraft. Under the arrangement, ViaSat will provide Ka-band antenna components and SurfBeam2 modems for installation on the airline's EMBRAER E190 and Airbus A320 aircraft types along with two-way transmission bandwidth services using the WildBlue-1 and high-capacity ViaSat-1 satellites.
JetBlue subsidiary, LiveTV LLC, will manage the integration of the ViaSat broadband and related components onboard the aircraft as well as providing the Wi-Fi enabled services into the overall cabin experience. Because the product will be the first of its kind for commercial aviation, the system must be tested, and certificated by the Federal Aviation Administration, prior to installation fleet-wide. The companies said they expect the first installations to occur by mid-2012.

RADCOM Offers LTE Analyzer

RADCOM announced the release of its eDiamond LTE Smart Analyzer. The platform provides an end-to-end view of network performance and correlates information detected in the different networks into one display, as well as drilling down to root cause analysis.

"We believe RADCOM's recent successes in monitoring data and smartphones have equipped us for success in LTE too." said Eyal Harari- RADCOM's VP Products and Marketing. "Our expansion to the area of LTE, as well as the positioning of this product for manufacturers, not only operators, is a natural vertical expansion for RADCOM."

Russia's MegaFon Demos LTE with NSN

MegaFon, Russia's largest network operator, together with Nokia Siemens Networks, showcased a next generation mobile broadband (4G) data call at the IX International Investment Forum Sochi 2010. The call demonstrated peak rates of up to 100 Mbps. It was conducted using Nokia Siemens Networks' Flexi Multiradio Base Station, along with Evolved Packet Core (EPC) network elements Flexi NS (Networks Server) and Flexi NG (Network Gateway) with unique 4D scaling. Nokia Siemens Networks also provided the necessary network planning, installation and integration for the solution showcase.

Cisco Releases Small Business Products

Cisco made a number of product announcements aimed at the small business market.
Highlights include:

Cisco 300 Series Managed Switches -- a new generation of low-cost, energy-efficient managed switches that save up to 74 percent on power; offer enhanced quality of service and security features, globalization support for languages, a lifetime warranty and advanced replacement options.

Three new IP phones and a new desktop administration tool -- with these new additions, Cisco is now offering HD voice (wide-band audio) across the Cisco Small Business IP Phone portfolio. The IP phones are designed for the Cisco Unified Communications 500 Series and hosted IP telephony systems. One model is a Bluetooth-enabled, wireless IP phone with Mobile Link, a feature that pairs with a mobile phone to allow the smooth transfer of calls back and forth, plus the import of contacts wirelessly.

Cisco Advanced Video Monitoring System (AVMS) software -- which offers high-quality monitoring and control with advanced analytics for video surveillance deployments of up to 64 cameras. By adding licenses, the business can detect motion, receive alerts if items appear, disappear or move, and integrate video cameras and point-of-sale equipment.

The Cisco VC 220 Dome IP Video Camera -- which provides high image quality in bright and low lighting conditions.

The Cisco VC 240 Bullet IP Video Camera -- which also provides outstanding image quality as well as weatherproof housing, making it ideal for outdoor environment.

ADVA Optical Adds Security Suite to FSP 3000 Platform

ADVA Optical Networking has enhanced its flagship FSP 3000 platform with a security suite that adds low-latency encryption, in-service fiber plant monitoring and security-hardened management capabilities.

The encryption capabilities address the threat posed by the development of more sophisticated fiber-tapping and intrusion technologies. The integrated FSP 3000 encryption solution offers physical layer encryption, which operates at wire speed and keeps latency at its lowest levels. ADVA Optical Networking's implementation utilizes Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption technology and uses the Diffie-Hellman algorithm for automatic key exchange, both of which provide the highest levels of security.

The FSP 3000 platform also gains integrated optical line monitoring capabilities, which provide real-time analysis of the power readings from the optical link. These capabilities help detect fiber breaks or bends and identify security issues such as illegal fiber taps that jeopardize the integrity of mission-critical data.

ADVA is also introducing a security-hardened software architecture to protect the network operator against malicious intrusion attempts that target the command-and-control function of the network element.

"Information increasingly defines the core of every business; to compromise data is to lose the trust of your customers," stated Christoph Glingener, ADVA Optical Networking's chief technology officer. "The new security features of our FSP 3000 platform provide private enterprises a solution to secure the transport of data between data centers, optimizing security and lowering costs. The solution also delivers key functionality that enables managed service providers to deliver premium service portfolios."
  • ADVA's FSP 3000 is a multi-service metro and regional transport platform supporting optical access, backhaul and wavelength services. It is also used for private enterprise networks over dark fiber. As a WDM system, it offers up to 80 protected wavelength carried over various topologies. ADVA said its enhanced FSP 3000 empowers an operator to choose any transport protocol at any rate and transport it over a fully tunable long-haul DWDM channel. Specifically, the FSP 3000 can deliver speeds that range from 1, 2, 4, 8 to 10 Gbps, while addressing all storage interfaces currently in use in today's data centers, including Fibre Channel, InfiniBand and Ethernet, among others.

Monday, September 20, 2010

PMC-Sierra Trims Q3 Forecast

PMC-Sierra trimmed its financial forecast for its third quarter ending September 26, 2010. The company now expects net revenues to be in the range of $161 million to $163 million, compared to the previous revenue range of $169 million to $177 million that was announced during the July 22, 2010 earnings conference. PMC-Sierra expects its gross margins in the third quarter of 2010 to be at the lower end of the outlook range provided of 67.5% to 68.5%. Operating expenses in the third quarter of 2010 are expected to be in the range of $64 million to $65 million, down from the prior outlook range of $66 million to $67 million.

Fujitsu Develops Distortion-Compensation DSP for 100 Gbps

Researchers at Fujitsu have developed a digital signal processing algorithm that compensates for waveform distortion in 100 Gbps signals sent over hundreds of kilometers. The researchers believe their DSP could lead to 100 Gbps links at lower cost than today's 10 Gbps within five years.

Some of this research was conducted as part of the "Universal Link Project R&D" sponsored by Japan's National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT). Fujitsu said that scaling conventional, non-linear dispersion compensation techniques would require massive circuits with more than 100 million logic gates. Its new signal-processing algorithm however, requires approximately one-quarter of circuit stages previously thought necessary. The technology has already been tested using a 112 Gbps signal over 1,200 km, and the signal quality using the new five-stage circuit was found to be comparable to that resulting from a conventional 20-stage circuit.