Saturday, April 2, 2011

Vivendi to Acquire Vodafone's 44% Stake in SFR

Vodafone will sell its entire 44% shareholding in SFR to Vivendi for EUR 7.75 billion in cash (£6.8 billion). Vivendi already held 56% of SFR. Vodafone will also receive a final dividend from SFR of EUR 200m (£176m) on completion of the transaction. In addition, Vodafone and SFR will enter into a Partner Market agreement which will maintain their commercial co-operation.

Société Française du Radiotéléphone (SFR) is a leading mobile operator in France with about 21.3 million subscribers. Its 3G network covers 92% of the population in France. SFR also operates fixed and fibre-to-the-home network and systems and serves 4.9 million residential broadband customers. Its fiber network spans 57,000km. Annual turnover was EUR 12.6 billion in 2010.

Vodafone's shareholding in SFR contributed £573m to Vodafone's adjusted operating profit in the financial year to 31 March 2010, and £284m in the six months to 30 September 2010.

Vodafone said £4bn (EUR 4.5 billion) of the net proceeds will be returned to shareholders by way of a share buy-back with the remainder of the proceeds used to reduce the Group's net debt. The share buy-back will be carried out after the completion of the existing programme which is expected to be completed in June 2011.

Commenting on the transaction, Vittorio Colao, Chief Executive of Vodafone said:

"Our Board remains committed to realising maximum value from our non-controlled assets. The sale of our stake in SFR, at an attractive multiple, represents a significant further step in the execution of this strategy. In addition, we have secured a valuable partnership agreement in France which will allow us to continue to deliver compelling cross-border services to both consumer and enterprise customers across the major markets of western Europe."

  • In December 2010, Nokia Siemens Networks announce that it had been chosen by SFR to build extra capacity in its existing 3G network. NSN will supply its LTE-ready Flexi Multiradio Base Station to support enhanced High Speed Packet Access (HSPA+) services. The contract also covers a range of software, network planning and optimization services. The companies have already hosted a live demonstration of Dual-cell HSDPA (High Speed Downlink Packet Access) technology, which provides up to 42 Mbps download speeds, twice the current peak rate.

  • Also in December 2010, FR has established its first 100 Gbps backbone line between Paris and Bordeaux using equipment from Ciena and Cisco. SFR also confirmed its first 42 Mbps HSPA+ connections on the 3G mobile network at a trial site in Lyon. The company also noted that customers in Paris, Lyon and Marseille can already enjoy mobile broadband at up to 21 Mbps with 300 sites connected to its network in late 2010.

  • Also in December 2010, Bouygues Telecom and SFR agreed to share the costs of deploying FTTH infrastructure in dense municipalities. The companies will share the passive elements of the GPON network, but will compete at the services level. The accord is expected to cover some three million homes in 20 municipalities across France. SFR already has commercial FTTH services in several communities. Bouygues Telecom plans to launch its first FTTH in the second half of 2011.

  • SFR also has a FTTH sharing deal with Numericable.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Cablevision Extends Full Programming to iPad -- Just another Screen

Cablevision Systems, which serves the New York metro market, launched its "Optimum App" for iPad, which allows its cable television customers to access to hundreds of channels and video on demand (VOD) – on an iPad in the home. The application delivers the full cable television experience to the tablet device, and allows the iPad to function as a television. Like all additional outlets, it is free to existing Optimum cable television customers.

In addition to approximately 300 live channels and access to VOD, the Optimum App for iPad integrates enhanced guide information that makes it easier than ever before for customers to find the content they already receive as part of their cable television subscription. Programming is fully searchable, including by genre, and the application includes the ability to schedule DVR recordings and manage previously-recorded content.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Websense: LizaMoon Mass SQL-Injection Attack Continues

The number of web pages with malicious links is likely to have topped 1 million, according to Websense, which is tracking the "Lizamoon" SQL Injection attack. Lizamoon inserts a malicious hyperlink onto a website. The user is then directed to a rogue anti-virus site, where he/she is urged to install a fraudulent Windows Stability Center application.

Ericsson Accuses ZTE over Patent Infringement, ZTE Responds in Kind

Ericsson filed an intellectual property infringement lawsuit in Europe against ZTE regarding three patents for mobile and infrastructure technology. ZTE has responded by saying it will file its own patent infringement claims against Ericsson.

Lightower Completes Acquisition of Open Access Inc.

Lightower Fiber Networks, a leading metro fiber network and bandwidth service provider, completed its previously announced acquisition of Open Access Inc., a provider of diverse, cost-effective, customized end-to-end communications solutions, based in Farmingdale, NY.

With the acquisition of Open Access, Lightower expands its network and customer base throughout Long Island and the greater New York City region. This expansion adds backbone fiber to Lightower's already dense Long Island network and also adds access to over 230 commercial buildings and data centers throughout the region.

  • Lightower Fiber Networks is backed by M/C Venture Partners, Pamlico Capital, and Ridgemont Equity Partners. In 2007, M/C Venture Partners and Pamlico Capital together acquired Lightower.

  • In 2008, Lightower acquired DataNet Communications and KeySpan Communications.

  • In 2010, Lightower acquired Veroxity Technology Partners and Lexent Metro Connect.

  • Earlier in 2011, Lightower signed an exclusive network agreement with NSTAR Communications, which further enhanced the reach and density of Lightower’s all-fiber network in downtown Boston and in the surrounding greater Boston area.

Germany's E-plus Builds Off-grid Base Station with NSN

E-Plus, a leading mobile service provider in Germany, has deployed the first base station in Germany that is not connected to the nation's electricity grid.

The base station is powered by a combination of solar and wind power, which are supported by fuel cell and deep cycle batteries. The base station was built by Nokia Siemens Networks' end-to-end Energy Solutions business. The installation uses a solar tracking system, which follows the sun and turns the maximum surface of the solar panels toward it, to increase solar energy production for the site operation. Nokia Siemens Networks' Green Energy Controller manages the solar energy, a wind turbine, a fuel cell system and the deep cycle battery technology, which is mounted in SiteStar cabinets for extended life time. The vendor has also extended its network management platform, NetAct, for network monitoring and optimization to enable energy management of this site.

"With this innovative energy concept, we show how mobile phone transmission sites can become carbon neutral," said Rafal Markiewicz, chief technology officer of E-Plus Group. "This new transmission plant is part of our sustainability strategy. For us, building the first green base station site of this type is an important achievement and underlines our claim to operate the most efficient network in Germany."

"E-Plus' commitment to the environment is closely aligned with our own, and it's great to see that the operator will achieve energy efficiency and zero CO2 emission during this site's operation," added Stefan Ilchmann, responsible for E-Plus business at Nokia Siemens Networks.

Australia's NBN Co. Suspends Tender in Push for Cost Cutting

Australia's NBN Co abruptly and indefinitely suspended its network construction tender. After four rounds of pricing negotiations with construction companies, NBN Co. said it was unable to secure acceptable terms and prices.

NBN Co Head of Corporate Services, Kevin Brown said: "We have said all along that we are building an NBN, but not at any price. We have thoroughly benchmarked our project against similar engineering and civil works projects in Australia and overseas and we will not proceed on the basis of prices we are currently being offered.

"NBN Co is confident it can secure better value for money by going a different route. We have left the option open to continue negotiations at a later stage."

Data Breach at Epsilon Exposes U.S. Email Addresses

A data breach at Epsilon, which describes itself as the world's largest permission-based email marketer, has comprised the names and email addresses of millions of U.S. consumers. Epsilon began informing its clients of the breach on April 1. Major retailers who have begun informing their customers of the breach include Best Buy, Chase, Citibank, Kroger, TiVo, Walgreen's and others.

TelePacific Completes Acquisition of Covad Wireless

TelePacific Communications, the largest California-based CLEC serving the SMB market, completed its previously announced acquisition of NextWeb, Inc., dba Covad Wireless, a broadband fixed wireless carrier operating in California, Nevada and the Chicago, Illinois area.

Through its acquisition of NextWeb, TelePacific now controls a WiMAX-featured wireless broadband network, a licensed microwave backhaul network, and a high bandwidth wireless network operating in licensed LMDS spectrum. The new network assets complement TelePacific's existing footprint and allows the company to broaden its product offerings in markets where it is already competitive. Further, the purchase supports TelePacific's strategy of investing in advanced broadband transport technologies.

TelePacific will also gain the benefit of approximately 3,500 profitable broadband fixed wireless business customers in California, Nevada and suburban Chicago.

TelePacific continues to be privately-held and financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

AppliedMicro Enhances its Multi-core PacketPro Processors

AppliedMicro announced the availability of "Diamondback" APM86392 and APM86391, the newest members of its PacketPro™ family of multi-core embedded processing devices. The new processors feature an asymmetric multiprocessing (AMP) capability that enables two or more independent subsystems to operate concurrently with effective isolation on a single chip.

AppliedMicro said this feature improves application performance and provides an easier migration to multicore designs with greater flexibility for a wide range of embedded applications in networking, storage, printing, imaging, and multimedia access systems.

Traditional multi-core processors force software engineers to dedicate one of the cores as a master to control the operations of the other slave cores. By harnessing innovative features of the PacketPro family enabled by AppliedMicro's Scalable Lightweight Intelligent Management processor (SLIMpro) subsystem, developers can implement AMP on APM8639x processors without dedicating one of the cores as a master. This enables completely separate and isolated partitions on a single chip, each with independent operating systems, applications, software, processing bandwidth, I/O and cache. Each subsystem is decoupled from other subsystems during software updates, crashes, rebooting, peak performance demands or other events that can interrupt continuous operations.

"In instances of a system fail requiring complete reboot, the PacketPro allows the decoupling of cores without interruption or impact of other subsystems running on the same embedded SoC device," said Jim Johnston, Senior Director of Marketing at AppliedMicro. "Before this, both subsystems would have to be taken down to reboot one operating system due to dependencies from shared cache memory and other resources. AppliedMicro's approach provides each processor with separate and virtualized access to processor resources that one subsystem can continue operation even if any of the other ones becomes inoperative."

Xilinx Acquires Omiino

Xilinx has acquired privately-held Omiino, a developer of OTN transponders and muxponders, framers and mappers. Financial terms were not disclosed. The company is based in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

John Chambers: Where Cisco is Taking the Network

Cisco is a $40 billion company that for the last decade has seen a virtual explosion in market opportunity but that must now regain the discipline it had in earlier days and re-focus, writes John Chambers in a message to Cisco employees that was posted on the company blog.

Chambers argues that the company's fundamental strategy is right -- extend the network platform to enable collaboration, data center / cloud transformation and video architectures on a global scale. However, he acknowledges that the company has "disappointed our investors and we have confused our employees" and must now earn back the credibility that was lost by the lack of focus.

Chambers does not lay out any concrete steps in the making. He promises bold steps and tough decision ahead to clean out the portfolio "with surgical precision."

Voice over LTE (VoLTE) Update



Orckit-Corrigent Lands 3 More Customers for Packet Transport

Orckit Communications announced that three new service providers selected its PTN solution in March 2011 for migration from their legacy SONET/SDH networks to future-proof packet based networks. The initial purchases placed by all three service providers are for immediate deployments. Two providers are based in the Caribbean and Latin America and the third is in Eastern Europe. Customer names and financial terms were not disclosed.

Orckit's PTN solution is designed to scale up the delivery of residential, business and mobile backhauling services in next-generation telecom networks. Incorporating its CM-4000 product family, Orckit's PTN solution encompasses a series of PTN switches based on MPLS and MPLS-TP technologies that offer a flexible mix of Ethernet and TDM services that facilitate the migration toward a packet based network.

Etisalat Declines Bid for Syrian Mobile License

Etisalat announced that it will not seek a mobile license in Syria, despite having earlier qualified to participate in the bidding process. Etisalat said terms and conditions of the bid would not enable it to achieve its objectives regarding the technology and value it wishes to bring to the market nor for its investors and shareholders.

Ahmed bin Ali, the official spokesperson of Etisalat said "We worked hard on this opportunity especially due to the close relations with us and our sister country Syria, but we hoped that the terms and conditions for the license would have been more attractive."

ATIS Task Force Issues Network Convergence Recommendations

ATIS released a set of major recommendations addressing the transition of telecommunications network facilities and technology platforms in a multi-carrier environment. Specifically, the ATIS Consolidation & Convergence Task Force Assessment & Recommendations, March 2011, focuses on the following key steps in this migration: (1) fiber replacing copper; (2) reduction in the number of network centers; and (3) changes in legacy geographic- and service-based policies.

The Task Force was convened by AT&T and Verizon with participants from Alcatel-Lucent, Corning, Ericsson, Intel, Juniper and Qwest.

The CC-TF Assessment & Recommendations document covers: Planning for Consolidation & Convergence; Resiliency, Survivability and Disaster Recovery in a Consolidated & Converged Environment; Interoperability; Environmental Impacts; Applications Services and more.

"Industry's migration of legacy systems to IP-based networks affords it a tremendous opportunity to consolidate facilities, converge networks, and extend or expand IP-enabled innovative services," said Susan Miller, ATIS President and CEO. "Through the CC-TF's efforts to share lessons learned and compile best practices, ATIS is able to offer guidance and assist these efforts by providing the ICT community with recommendations to move these initiatives forward."

XO Posts Q4 Revenue of $390.3 million, up 4%

XO Holdings reported total revenue for the fourth quarter of 2010 was $390.3 million, an increase of $14.5 million, or 4%, compared to the year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA was $59.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2010 compared to $43.3 million in the year-ago period. Net loss for the fourth quarter 2010 was $6.5 million compared to $13.3 million net income for the year-ago period. The company said its Q4 net loss was primarily due to a $20.0 million impairment charge related to its LMDS licenses.

Total revenue for 2010 was $1.5 billion, an increase of $8.0 million, or less than 1%, compared to 2009. Adjusted EBITDA (a non-GAAP financial measure) increased 25% to $191.1 million for 2010 compared to $152.6 million for 2009. Net loss for 2010 was $11.8 million compared to $21.8 million net income in 2009.

Vodafone Acquires 33% Essar for $5 Billion

Vodafone Group has acquired the 33% stake in Vodafone Essar that was held by Essar. This will result in a total cash payment of US$5 billion to Essar. Final settlement is anticipated to be no later than November 2011. Vodafone Group's noted that its published net debt figure already includes this US$5 billion. Vodafone's stake in Vodafone Essar is now expected to exceed 75%.

NTT DOCOMO Boosts Investment in India's Tata Teleservices

NTT DOCOMO will make an additional investment in Tata Teleservices Limited (TTSL) as part of its strategy to expand its business presence and revenue sources in India's rapidly growing mobile market.

DOCOMO plans to newly invest approximately 8 billion Indian rupees, or about 14.6 billion yen (1 rupee = 1.83 yen as of Feb. 28, 2011) based on its current 26% stake in TTSL. Payment of one portion of the funds has been made so far, and the rest of the investment is scheduled to be completed in May.

TTSL is expected to use the capital to expand the coverage as well as strengthen the quality of the 3G network it launched in November 2010, responding to increasing market competition for new customers.

Ofcom Proposes new Wholesale Prices for Openreach

Ofcom proposed reduced fees that Openreach, BT's wholesale access division, can charge communications providers for access to some of its main wholesale telecoms services in areas where it retains significant market power. Specifically:

For a fully unbundled line to a property - where a communications provider takes over the line to provide broadband and telephone services.

The regulated wholesale price today is £89.10 per year. Under Ofcom's proposals this will decrease in real terms by between RPI-1.2% and RPI-4.2% every year.

For a shared unbundled line to a property – where a communications provider uses a proportion of the line only for the provision of broadband.

The regulated wholesale price today is £15.04 per year. Under Ofcom's proposals this will decrease in real terms by between RPI-11.6% and RPI-14.6% every year.

For wholesale line rental – used by communications providers to offer telephone services to consumers using lines rented from Openreach.

The regulated price today is £103.68 per year. Under Ofcom's proposals this will decrease in real terms by between RPI-3.1% and RPI-6.1% every year.