Saturday, August 20, 2011

Skype Acquires GroupMe for Mobile Group Messaging

Skype has acquired GroupMe, a provider of mobile group messaging services, for an undisclosed sum.

GroupMe offers a sticky group messaging experience that works across mobile devices and platforms. The company offers free apps for iPhone, Android, BlackBerry and WP7. It allows you to start groups with people already in your contact list. With the group, you can then ask questions, share location on a map, or start conference calls.

Skype said the acquisition advances its vision to provide a global multi-modal and multi-platform communications experience that enables users to connect, share locations and photos and make plans with their closest ties. The group messaging will be tied to Qik , which Skype acquired earlier this year.

  • GroupMe, which is based in New York City, was founded a year ago by Jared Hecht and Steve Martocci. The company traces its origin to a project conceived at the TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon. Investors in GroupMe include Khosla Ventures, First Round Capital, Betaworks, SV Angel, Lerer Ventures, General Catalyst Partners, and Founder Collective, as well as other angel investors.

  • In July 2011, Facebook and Skype announced deep integration providing "the easiest one-click way to get connected via video with friends and colleagues." The companies said their partnership will make video calling widely pervasive and easily accessible for billions of people. Group video chat is not initially supported, although Facebook is also announcing a text-based group chat.

  • In May 2011, Microsoft announced plans to acquire Skype for $8.5 billion in cash -- its biggest acquisition to date. The deal is still pending.

  • In January 2011, Skype acquired Qik, a provider of mobile video software and services, for an undisclosed sum. Qik's app enables mobile phone users to share live or recorded video clips. The Qik service is available on over 200 mobile phones across the Android, iPhone, Symbian, Blackberry and Windows Mobile platforms, and comes pre-loaded on a wide variety of mobile handsets through partnerships with leading handset manufacturers and carriers. Qik was founded in 2006 and has 60 employees in Redwood City, California and Moscow, Russia.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Verizon Workers Back on Job, Negotiations Continue

The Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers reached an agreement in principle with Verizon ending the nearly two week strike. Workers will be back on the job on Tuesday, August 23.

The agreement does not cover any of the substantive issues, but does set a framework on how bargaining will proceed and how it will be restructured.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Comcast Expands $10 Internet Essential Program to California

Comcast California has expanded its low-cost Internet access program to the Fresno area. Families with children who are eligible to receive a free lunch under the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) can receive:

  • Residential Internet service for $9.95 a month + applicable taxes;

  • No price increases, no activation fees, or equipment rental fees;

  • A voucher to purchase a low-cost computer for $149.99 + tax; and

  • Access to free digital literacy training in print, online, and in-person.

  • In approving the Comcast-NBCU mega-merger, the FCC and the Department of Justice imposed a number of conditions and commitments which generally will remain in effect for seven years. One of these conditions was a requirement to make available to approximately 2.5 million low income households: (i) high-speed Internet access service for less than $10 per month; (ii) personal computers, netbooks, or other computer equipment at a purchase price below $150; and (iii) an array of digital literacy education opportunities.

Russia's MTS Deploys Cisco CRS-3 with NAT in Siberia

Russia's Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) has deployed the Cisco CRS-3 Carrier Routing System to provide its rapidly growing audience of subscribers with high-quality Internet access despite the growing shortage of IPv4 addresses. The equipment was delivered by Sitronics IT, a Cisco Gold Certified Partner in Russia.

Cisco noted that MTS is using its Carrier-Grade Network Address Translation (NAT) solution to connect new users by offering one address to several subscribers. The capability to extend the system to 80 million address translations will enable MTS to centralize Internet access for several regional mobile and fixed networks. In the initial phase, Cisco NAT has been installed in Siberia. In future this technology will be implemented in all other regional subsidiaries across the country.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

LTE in Latin America-- First Sites Likely to be Colombia and Puerto Rico

Ericsson expects the first commercial deployments of LTE in Latin America to occur this year, starting in Puerto Rico and Colombia. The first live LTE trial that Ericsson held in the region was with Entel PCS in Chile in January 2010. Since then, Ericsson has also demonstrated LTE with Telecom Personal in Argentina, in June 2010, and most recently with Orange Dominicana in the Dominican Republic in April 2011.

Brocade Reports Flat Performance -- Cites Headwinds for IT

Brocade reported quarterly revenue of $503 million, representing flat revenue performance year-over-year and resulting in breakeven diluted earnings per share (EPS) on a GAAP basis and $0.09 on a non-GAAP basis. The results are consistent with the anticipated ranges it provided on August 5, 2011.

Revenue for Brocade's Storage business, including product and services was $334.3 million in the third quarter, down 6% year-over-year. The lower revenue for Storage reflects a reduction in the third quarter of approximately one-half week of Fibre Channel inventory held at the OEMs, representing approximately $24 million. In addition, the Company experienced weaker-than-expected Storage end-user demand, which was down approximately 1% from the previous quarter.

Revenue for Brocade's Ethernet business was $168.5 million in the third quarter, an increase of 13% year-over-year. The year-over-year growth in Ethernet was driven primarily by Service Provider and Enterprise customers, with revenues from those customers up 28% from the prior year. The Federal Ethernet business was down 33% year-over-year, but up 32% sequentially, as Federal spending improved in the third quarter.

"Headwinds in the IT market, federal spending, and overall global economy made for a challenging quarter for the company," said Michael Klayko, CEO of Brocade. "While we are doing well in areas such as our Ethernet business including the adoption and deployment of Ethernet fabric solutions, we recognize that there are opportunities to optimize and improve our business. We have already taken, and will continue to take, important steps to generate growth, improve our profitability and make ourselves more efficient. Our goal is to ensure that our resources and priorities are well-aligned with our go-forward strategies for long-term success in the networking industry."

HP to Exit WebOS and PC Businesses, Double Down on Enterprise Services

HP announced a strategic plan to enter into higher value, higher margin growth categories by sharpening its focus on cloud, solutions and software for enterprises and government customers. Key aspects of the plan include:

  • Explore strategic alternatives for the company's Personal Systems Group, including a spin-off or sale of the division. PSG is the leading manufacturer of personal computers in the world and had annual revenues of approximately $41 billion in fiscal year 2010. For its most recent quarter, Personal Systems Group (PSG) revenue declined 3% year over year with a 5.9% operating margin. PSG remains the PC market leader in terms of units, revenue and profit share. For comparison, margins for HP's Enterprise Servers, Storage and Networking group are 13% and margins for HP's Software group are 19.4%

  • Discontinue operations for webOS devices, specifically the TouchPad and webOS phones. The TouchPad entered the market only about a month ago, but sales have not met internal milestones and financial targets. HP is exploring the possible sale webOS software or intellectual property.

  • Acquire Autonomy Corporation plc for £25.50 ($42.11) per share in cash, representing a one day premium of approximately 64 percent and a premium of approximately 58 percent to Autonomy's prior one month average closing price.

  • Autonomy's Intelligent Data Operating Layer (IDOL) platform allows computers to harness the richness of information, forming a conceptual and contextual understanding of any piece of electronic data, including unstructured information, such as text, email, web pages, voice and video.

    "HP is taking bold, transformative steps to position the company as a leader in the evolving information economy. Today's announced plan will allow HP to drive creation of long-term shareholder value through a focus on fewer fronts, thereby improving its ability to execute, invest in innovation and drive a higher-margin business mix," stated Léo Apotheker, HP president and chief executive officer.

Russia's Express AM4 Satellite Lost After Launch

The Russian Satellite Communications Company lost contact with the $265-million Express AM-4 satellite shortly after launch aboard a Proton-M rocket from Kazakhstan.

The Express AM4, based on Astrium's Eurostar E3000 satellite design, is the largest of the Express satellites so far. IT is equipped with a total of 63 active transponders in L-, C-, Ku- and Ka-bands and 10 antennas, both fixed and steerable. Its mission is to deliver digital TV, Internet and telecom services for eastern Russia.

ZTE Establishes Resource Hub in India

ZTE announced the opening of a global experts resource hub in India. The facility will serve as a key technical resource provider for ZTE's operations and subsidiaries in other countries as the company continues to scale up its global growth. To date, 200 ZTE India employees have been deployed to company projects in Africa, Europe, Hungary, Turkey and the UAE. The company aims to have 2000 employees at the center in two years.

Marvell Technology Posts 12% Sequential Rise in Revenue

Marvell Technology reported revenue of $898 million for its second quarter of fiscal 2012, ended July 30, 2011 -- a 12 percent sequential increase from $802 million in the first quarter of fiscal 2012, ended April 30, 2011, and up slightly from $896 million in the second quarter of fiscal 2011, ended July 31, 2010. GAAP net income was $192 million, or $0.31 per share (diluted), for the second quarter of fiscal 2012, compared with GAAP net income of $147 million, or $0.22 per share (diluted) in the first quarter of fiscal 2012, and $220 million, or $0.33 per share (diluted), for the second quarter of fiscal 2011.

"We continue to execute well on all of our new product initiatives including in our Mobile and Wireless end market which grew 18% sequentially," said Dr. Sehat Sutardja, Marvell's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "Our second quarter results were at the high-end of our earlier projected range and we experienced solid revenue growth in all our served end markets leading to increased profitability. Looking forward, we continue to focus our investments on initiatives designed to increase revenue and profit through both new products and share gains."

GAAP gross margin for the second quarter of fiscal 2012 was 57.9 percent, compared to 58.3 percent for the first quarter of fiscal 2012 and 59.1 percent for the second quarter of fiscal 2011.

Anritsu Adds OTU4 Mapping to 40/100G Ethernet Analyzer

Anritsu has added an OTU4 mapping option for its MD1260A 40/100G Ethernet Analyzer. This enables the instrument to conduct analysis for 40GE, 100GE, OTU3 and OTU4, providing manufacturers of telecommunications and transport equipment, as well as network operators with a single-instrument solution that can assure the quality of high-speed networks.

The new option allows the MD1260A to support GMP (Generic Mapping Procedure) mapping with Ethernet client signals at OTU4 rates for Gigabit Ethernet, 10GE and 100GE client signal types to evaluate if GMP mapping is being conducted properly. It also supports all error and alarm testing at OTU, ODU, GMP, GFP-T and client layers, as well as has a client-signal adjustable clock offset at OTN frame payload.

The new OTU4 mapping option has a U.S. price of $6,242. The base MD1260A analyzer is $124,844.

China Mobile Tops 616 Million Users, 3G Rollout Underway

China Mobile, the world's largest operator, continued its rapid expansion in the first half of 2011 growing its customer base to over 616 million against the backdrop of China's steady and fast economic growth. However, the operator is facing slower growth ahead due to higher penetration rates across the country as well as intensified market competition.

Operating revenue for the six months ended 30 June 2011 reached RMB 250.1 billion, up 8.8% over the same period last year. The Group's profit margin reached 24.5%, and profit attributable to shareholders increased 6.3% over the same period last year to RMB61.3 billion. EBITDA rose 6.5% over the same period last year to RMB124.2 billion, with EBITDA margin reaching 49.6%. Basic earnings per share grew 6.3% over the same period last year to RMB3.05.

Revenue from the value-added business contributed 32.2% of operating revenue, reaching RMB 80.4 billion and up 18.5% over the same period last year. The Wireless Data business achieved revenue of RMB 19.3 billion, an increase of 42.8% over the same period last year.

Some notes from the semi-annual investor's presentation:

  • Total customer base reached 616,787,000 up 11.3% over 554,042,000 at 30-June-2010.

  • Voice usage was up 13.3% over last year. Minutes of Use (MOU) per user has reached 528 minutes.

  • Wireless Data business revenue up 42.8%.

  • Over 35 million 3G customers.

  • China Mobile now has 800,000 base stations in operation, including 199,000 3G base stations in operation

  • Total Voice Revenue reached RMB 169 billion, up 4.8% from a year ago.

  • Market share in 3G customers reached 43.5%.

Alcatel-Lucent Joins Broadband Project for Eastern Poland.

Alcatel-Lucent has signed an agreement with TP Group and HAWE SA to spur the rollout of broadband infrastructure in eastern Poland.

Poland has been granted almost € 1.5 billion for the development of broadband infrastructure in 2007-2013, including 300 million for the program "Broadband Network for Eastern Poland".

Under the agreement, Alcatel-Lucent, TP and HAWE will work with local governments to develop a model of EU funds absorption and implementation of ICT broadband projects, covering the phases of network design, construction and operation, addressing the needs of Eastern Poland "voivodships" (regional governments) and other selected regions in Poland.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Brazil Opens Pay TV Market to Telcos

The Brazilian legislature approved a new law that opens the pay TV market to telecom service providers. The new law sets unified rules for the service, establishes quotas for programming with local content and independent channels, and removes restrictions on the activities of companies with foreign capital in the sector. Approval by the president is expected.

PAETEC Wins Fiber Contract with U.S. Army Aberdeen Proving Ground

PAETEC was awarded a three-year contract by the Defense Information System Agency (DISA) to provide the U.S. Army Aberdeen Proving Ground with PAETEC's highly dependable fiber infrastructure. PAETEC said this contract provides the Aberdeen Proving Ground with increased fiber network capacity, diverse fiber access points, and DWDM over the company's transport network as part of the DISA backbone network expansion.

JDSU Posts Quarterly Revenue of $471.8 Million

JDSU reported net revenue for the fourth quarter of its fiscal 2011 was $471.8 million and net income was $9.3 million, or $0.04 per share. This compares to net revenue of $454.0 million and net income of $38.6 million, or $0.16 per share for the prior quarter, and net revenue of $390.9 million and net income of $1.5 million, or $0.01 per share for the fourth fiscal quarter of 2010.

For fiscal 2011, net revenue of $1,804.5 million increased 32.3% from $1,363.9 million for fiscal 2010. The net income for fiscal 2011 of $71.6 million, or $0.31 per share, compares to a net loss of $(61.8) million, or $(0.28) per share, for fiscal 2010.

"JDSU delivered solid fiscal fourth quarter and full year financial results. Revenue for the year grew over 32% and operating profits more than doubled," said Tom Waechter, JDSU's President and Chief Executive Officer. "Currently we are seeing macro-economic challenges and inventory corrections which we believe will be short-term in nature as the end market drivers remain strong."

Canada's EastLink Selects Ericsson as Sole Vendor

Ericsson was awarded a four-year agreement to serve as the sole vendor for EastLink's core and radio access networks, using HSPA+ and next generation technologies. Ericsson will deploy its multi-standard radio base station; RBS 6000, circuit switched and packet networks including Evolved Packet Core and Operation Support Systems (OSS), as well as, providing professional services. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Verizon to Cut Benefits to Striking Workers on Aug 31

With the labor strike entering its eleventh day, Verizon reported has informed striking workers that their benefits will be cut off at the end of the month. Both sides have accused the other of not negotiating in good faith to end the dispute.

See also