Thursday, March 15, 2012

Bell Canada to Acquire Québec’s Astral

BCE (Bell) announced plans to acquire Montréal-based Astral Media Inc. (Astral), which operates specialty and pay television channels, radio stations, digital media properties and out-of-home advertising platforms in Québec and across the rest of Canada. The deal was at approximately CDN$3.38 billion, representing a premium of 39% based on Astral’s volume-weighted average closing share price on the TSX for the last five trading days.

Bell said the acquisition strengthens its competitive position in Canada's French-speaking market and directly supports its strategy of investment and innovation in broadband networks and content.

“Bringing together two respected and longstanding Montréal brands, Bell’s acquisition of Astral firmly
establishes our company as Québec’s media leader. Bell is gaining a well-seasoned national Astral
management team, dramatically expanding our French-language content, and more than levelling the
playing field with our largest broadcast media competitor in Québec. We greatly look forward to welcoming
Astral’s renowned leader Ian Greenberg to our Board of Directors,�? said George Cope, President and
CEO of BCE Inc. and Bell Canada.

Emerald Atlantis Signs TE SubCom for 100x100 Trans-Atlantic Cable

Emerald Networks has signed a system supply contract with TE SubCom for the construction of the Emerald Express Trans-Atlantic Cable System, which promises to deliver ultra-high capacity of 100 wavelengths operating at 100 Gbps along a low-latency route between New York and London.

Emerald Networks' submarine cable system span 6,700 km along the "Great Circle" route connecting North America to Europe via Iceland. The company has previous calculated that this northerly route will have a latency of less than 62 milliseconds round trip from New York to London, making it one of the fastest networks across the Atlantic.

Emerald Networks reports that a significant portion of the marine cable route survey has been completed and that the Emerald Express system could be ready for service in late 2013. The Emerald Express system will offer a high capacity connection to Iceland, with future expansion provided by a stubbed Branching Unit positioned off Ireland for direct connectivity into Portugal.

"The Emerald Express system’s combination of a 100x100Gbps per fiber pair design, unique route and optimized low latency will enable Emerald Networks to meet the tremendous demand for bandwidth driven by cloud services, while providing Iceland with the required connectivity to support data centers powered by long-term competitively
priced, 100% carbon free renewable energy,�? said Greg Varisco, President, Emerald Networks.
  • Dr. William C. Marra serves as Executive Chairman of Emerald Networks. Prior to retirement in late 2009, Dr. William C. Marra was the Vice President and General Manager of Tyco Telecommunications and was responsible for all facets of the business inclusive of Sales, Marine and Terrestrial Engineering and Operations, Manufacture, Research and Development. His pioneering work included many network architectural concepts used in undersea networks, such as the first transoceanic ring networks, the TPC-5 and TAT-12/13 Cable Networks.

NSN Appoints Chief Operating Officer

Nokia Siemens Networks has appointed Samih Elhage as its chief operating officer (COO), a new role at the company, reporting to Rajeev Suri (CEO).

Elhage was previously a senior advisor to leading private equity and global management consulting firms, focusing on investments and improving the operating performance of companies in the telecommunications sector. Prior to these advisory roles, until August 2010, Elhage held a number of leadership roles at Nortel, including president of Carrier Voice over IP and Applications Solutions and vice president of Corporate Business Operations.

Herbert Merz, who has been leading both Global Operations and Optical Networks for Nokia Siemens Networks, will focus on the optical business. Merz remains on the Executive Board and will continue to lead the Nokia Siemens Networks Germany supervisory board.

Sprint Calls Off Spectrum Hosting with LightSquared

Sprint cancelled a spectrum hosting agreement that was signed with LightSquared in June 2011, citing LightSquared's inability to resolve its regulatory issues. Sprint has returned $65 million in prepayments LightSquared made to cover costs that were not ultimately incurred by Sprint.

“Sprint has been and continues to be supportive of LightSquared’s business plans and appreciates the company’s efforts to find a resolution to the interference issues impacting its ability to offer service on the 1.6 GHz spectrum. However, due to these unresolved issues, and subject to the provisions of the agreement, Sprint has elected to exercise its right to terminate the agreement announced last summer. We remain open to considering future spectrum hosting agreements with LightSquared, should they resolve these interference issues, as well as other interested spectrum holders."
  • In June 2011, Sprint and LightSquared announced a 15-year agreement that includes spectrum hosting and network services, 4G wholesale, and 3G roaming. The deal would have given Sprint $9 billion in cash to build out its 4G network and provided LightSquared with a Tier-One partner for bringing its wholesale-only, nationwide LTE + L-Band broadband satellite service to market, should the FCC approve its GPS terrestrial interference mitigation proposals. Specifically, LightSquared agreed to pay Sprint to deploy and operate a nationwide LTE network that hosts L-Band spectrum licensed to or available to LightSquared. As a wholesale-only carrier with separate core network operations, LightSquared was planning to sell its 4G broadband capacity produced through this spectrum hosting relationship to Sprint, other wireless carriers, and retail partners.

China Mobile: the Chase for Value Added Services

China Mobile, the world's largest mobile operator, saw its revenue increase 8.8% in 2011 to RMB528.0 billion (US$83.6 billion) as it user base rose 11.2% to approach the 650 million mark. Profits rose 5.2% to RMB125.9 billion (US$19.9 billion), with profit margin reaching 23.8%. EBITDA rose 4.9% over last year to RMB251.0 billion, with EBITDA margin reaching 47.5%.

In a market described as "exuberant" for information and telecommunications service, China Mobile acknowledges that it must now face slower growth in user additions due to higher mobile penetration levels across China, intensified competition, industry convergence and a massive network upgrade to TD-LTE over the coming years. The company said its long-term strategy is to be a "Smart Pipe + Open Platform" extending across a full range of mobile life services.

Some notable operating metrics for China Mobile in 2011:

Added 65.55 million customers, bringing the total customer base close to 650 million by the end of 2011.

Total voice usage volume was 3,887.2 billion minutes, up 12.3% over last year.

Average minutes of usage per user per month (MOU) reached 525 minutes.

Average revenue per user per month (ARPU) was RMB71 (US$11.24).

Data services revenue increased 15.4% over last year, accounting for 26.4% of operating revenue.

Wireless data traffic surged 45.0% in revenue over last year and accounted for 8.4% of operating revenue.

Wireless Music service contributed RMB22.1 billion (US$3.50 billion) in revenue.

Mobile Reading, Mobile Video and Mobile Mailbox growing rapidly. Mobile Reading reached RMB627 million in revenue, up 7.8%; Mobile Video reached RMB571 million, up 136%; and Mobile Mailbox reached RMB1,539 million, up 60%.

The 3G customer base exceeded 51 million by year's end. 3G customer market share is over 40%.

3G network coverage reached county level and above cities, with nearly 220,000 3G base stations and good network quality.

Network quality continues to improve. In 2011, GSM call drop rate was reduced to 0.32%, successful connection rate
increased to 99.26%.

The GSM network now encompasses 700,000 base stations with network utilization between 70 to 75%.

The TD-SCDMA network has close to 220,000 base stations. Data traffic here was up 58.4%.

China Mobile has 2.2 million WLAN APs in operation.

CAPEX was RMB128.5 billion (US$20.34 billion), representing 24.3% of operating revenue.

For 2012, the CAPEX budget is projected at RMB131.9 billion (US$20.88 billion).

In 2012, Phase 2 of the TD-LTE rollout will reach 20,000 base stations in 9 cities. By the end of 2013, China Mobile aims to have 200,000 TD-LTE base stations enabled.

NXP Intros New Silicon Tuners for STBs

NXP Semiconductors introduced its latest high-performance single and dual silicon tuners for cable set-top-boxes (STBs) covering worldwide digital cable standards. The company is offering two new silicon tuners supporting zero-power loop-through, enabling STB manufacturers to comply with the latest EU Ecodesign Directive requirements, which set standby power consumption levels at less than half a watt for simple STBs starting in 2013.

NXP said its newest generation of cable silicon tuners is also the industry’s first to fully integrate 8-kV of ESD protection inside the chip, enhancing robustness and further reducing the number of components required. Together, the integrated zero-power loop-through and ESD protection help to save PCB space in the STB, simplifying layout at the critical RF antenna input section, enabling better RF performance, and bringing down the total of bill of materials (BoM) by approximately US 20 cents.

Anue Enhances its Carrier Ethernet Test System

Anue Systems introduced a new system designed to simplify and improve testing efficiency of mobile backhaul and Carrier Ethernet network equipment, including support for IEEE 1588 Precision Time Protocol (PTP) and Synchronous Ethernet. Some key features of the new Anue 3500 v1.1:
  • Time of day and frequency stability testing

  • Full real-time measurement and analysis with automatic pass / fail results

  • Test automation API

  • Higher Ethernet test port count.

AT&T and Union Reach Tentative Southwest Contract

AT&T announced the highlights of a tentative agreement with the Communications Workers of America in Mobility that was reached earlier this month. The contract covers approximately 8,800 employees in CWA District 6 (AT&T's Southwest region). Among provisions of the tentative agreement:

  • A $1,000 one-time lump sum cash payment to eligible employees upon ratification

  • General wage increases in each year of the contract – 2 percent the first year, 2.5 percent the second year, 2.25 percent the third year, and 2.5 percent the fourth year.

  • Pension plans for current employees remain unchanged.

  • New hires continue to be eligible for a cash-balance pension.

  • Continued 401(k) savings plan with generous 80 percent company match on up to 6 percent of employee's contribution.

  • Health care benefits are bargained separately and are not included in this agreement.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Extreme Supplies 40G for Cyber Security Initiative

Extreme Networks has supplied its high-performance 40 Gigabit network solution for the Scalable Network Monitoring Program sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Program Agency (DARPA) and hosted by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHUAPL) in Laurel, MD. Extreme Networks Summit X670 switch with 40GbE ports are able to transport traffic at up to 160 Gbps speeds, allowing the ability to vary testing sessions, without stopping, and alter variables such as malware and session size.

Extreme Networks noted that more than 700 education institutions are using its equipment in their campus networks, including UC Berkeley, Georgia State University, Imperial College London, University of Cambridge, Jeju National University Korea, the University of Miami, the University of Sao Paulo Brazil, Texas A&M University, and Villanova University.

BT Secures Telecom Contract with NATO

NATO’s Consultation, Command and Control Agency (NC3A), which is responsible for delivering technology in support of NATO’s global operations, has awarded a contract to BT covering more than 70 locations, spread across the NATO nations and the Balkans. The five-year agreement is valued at €47 million.

The contract provides for the migration of NATO’s existing backbone to BT Ethernet Connect. Ethernet Connect is an intelligent network designed for large organisations that require exclusive control over their IP architecture. NATO will also benefit from Ethernet Connect E-LINE services, which provides protected bandwidth for mission-critical applications between sites.

ZTE Carries 8x 200 Gbps Wavelengths

ZTE completed a field demonstration of a 8x 216.4 Gbps WDM transmission through a 50GHz optical spectrum grid.

The demonstration utilized patented ZTE high-frequency technology to accomplish a 200 Gbps polarization multiplexing QPSK signal transmission at 50GHz through 1,750km of standard single model fiber optic cable.

ZTE said its trial established a 25% increase in spectrum efficiency and an increase in transmission efficiency, proving that a 200G system is possible.

Qatar's Qtel Picks ZTE for Wireless Upgrade

Qatar-based Qtel has selected ZTE as key supplier for its network operations in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia. Under a frame agreement, ZTE will supply its latest network solutions, including WCDMA and LTE technology, for Qtel properties, namely, Asiacell, Wataniya Kuwait, Nawras, Tunisiana, Nedjma and Qtel. Financial terms were not disclosed.

ADTRAN Cuts Forecast Citing Delayed Carrier Spending

ADTRAN cuts its revenue and earnings estimates for the first quarter ending March 31, 2012 to a range from $130 million to $135 million. GAAP earnings per share for the quarter, assuming dilution, are expected to range from $0.17 to $0.20. The company had previously reported Q4 2011 revenue of $175,286,000 and said it expected that level to remain flat in the current quarter.

ADTRAN Chief Executive Officer Tom Stanton stated, "Two issues impacted us in the first quarter. The first was a slower than normal start to the seasonal buying pattern at some of our carrier customers. The second, which had a greater impact, was a delay in both the start and ramp of orders from a carrier customer due to new system implementations. Order rates for the month of March have substantially improved and we are encouraged that the prior slowdown that we experienced is behind us."

Video: What is in Your Backhaul Toolbox?

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The high cost and lengthy implementation cycle of deploying fiber to every cell site means that operators must consider various types of wireless backhaul options. Newer microwave platforms can now deliver full-duplex gigabit speeds. Operators are also considering 60 & 80 GHz platforms for small cell deployments. Presented by Paul Obsitnik, BridgeWave Communications.

Avaya to Acquire RADVISION for $230 Million

Avaya agreed to acquire RADVISION for US$11.85 per share, valuing the transaction at approximately $230 million.

RADVISION (Nasdaq:RVSN) is known for its IP videoconferencing and telepresence technologies over IP and wireless networks. Its expertise includes advanced media processing technology, protocol stacks, frameworks and testing tools for developers of voice, video, data and wireless IP communications devices and network equipment. Its product set includes standards-based applications, open infrastructure and endpoints for ad-hoc and scheduled videoconferencing with room-based systems, desktop, and mobile consumer devices.

Avaya said the deal will advance its suite of high-definition video collaboration products, with the ability to plug and play multiple mobile devices including Apple iPad and Google Android. Specifically, RADVISION's enterprise video infrastructure and high value endpoints will be integrated with Avaya's Avaya Aura Unified Communications (UC) platform. In addition, RADVISION's SCOPIA Video product line and expertise integrated with the open architecture of Avaya Aura will bridge existing H.323 communications networks and SIP-based environments, delivering scalability and a user experience designed to be intuitive and easy to operate.

"The opportunity for personal workspace is now. Customers demand a rich, collaborative user experience that is interoperable and easy to use. In addition, we believe this transaction will leverage a highly-skilled, incredibly talented and experienced workforce ready to deliver video to enterprise customers. With this acquisition we will seek to extend videoconferencing to any device, anytime, anywhere, making it as easy as a phone call, seizing the opportunity to deliver a fully-integrated solution and architecture that we believe sets us apart from the competition," stated Kevin Kennedy, president and CEO, Avaya.
  • RADVISION was founded in 1992 and is part of the RAD Group of companies, which were created by the Zisapel brothers.

  • In October 2011, Avaya acquired Sipera Systems, a privately-held supplier of Unified Communications (UC) enablement and security solutions, for an undisclosed sum. Sipera supplies set of fit-for-purpose, enterprise-class SBC capabilities for Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunking that offers customers and channel partners flexibility, security and value. Sipera provides application-layer security. Security features include a patent-pending remote worker solution that helps deploy VPN-less solutions and advanced toll fraud protection.

Cisco Expands Videoscape Strategy with NDS Acquisition

Cisco announced a major expansion of its Videoscape initiative by agreeing to acquire NDS Group in a deal valued at approximately $5 billion.

NDS, which is owned by News Corp.(49%) and Permira private equity (51%), provides video software and content security for media companies, cable & satellite TV operators and IPTV service providers. Key products include its MediaHighway Set-top Box middleware software, its "XTV" Digital Video Recorder software, its "Snowflake" electronic program guide (EPG), and its "VideoGuard CA" and "VideoGuard Connect" digital rights management system.

NDS customers include some of the largest cable, satellite and broadband pay-TV operators, including Astro, Bharti, BSkyB, Canal Plus, China Central Television ("CCTV"), Cox, DIRECTV, Kabel Deutschland, Sky Deutschland, Sky Italia, TataSky, UPC and Vodafone. The company notes that a significant portion of its business is recurring, with long-term contracts, typically with an average duration of approximately five years. NDS, which is based in the U.K., has approximately 5,000 employees with facilities in Israel, France, India and China.

Cisco said the acquisition complements and accelerates "Videoscape" , its platform that enables service providers and media companies to deliver next-gen entertainment experiences.

Videoscape spans the cloud, the network and end-user clients. Cisco's goal is to make access to content more visual, mobile and social for consumers, while protecting and enhancing the value of content for service providers and media companies. NDS boosts this effort by adding end-user viewing client and content security solutions, combined with its systems integration expertise.

"Our strategy has always been driven by customer need and on capturing market transitions. Our acquisition of NDS fits squarely into this strategy, enabling content and service providers to deliver new video solutions that leverage the cloud and drive new monetization opportunities and service differentiation," stated John Chambers, Chairman and CEO, Cisco.
  • In January 2011, Cisco's John Chambers outlined a new "Videoscape" portfolio of five major product families aimed at "transforming the TV experience." The goal is to work with Service Providers to allow any device over any network to access any content to which they are entitled. Cisco Videoscape would enable service providers to monetize activities outside their own network or traditional device footprints.

    A key facet of Videoscape is about delivering a consistent interface across multiple devices, while providing a universal guide and search capabilities across all content sources. This requires building capabilities into the service provider's video back-office using APIs extending across content management systems and virtualized storage. The capabilities would be social network-aware and open to advertising opportunities.

    Telstra was named as a lead customer.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

NTT DOCOMO Subscribers Top 60 Million

NTT DOCOMO's mobile subscriber base surpassed the 60 million mark on March 11. The figure includes customers who subscribe to DOCOMO’s LTE, 3G and 2G mobile services.

Milestones in the growth of DOCOMO

December 1979: Launch

February 1993: 1 million

February 1997: 10 million

August 1998: 20 million

April 2000: 30 million

January 2002: 40 million

November 2005: 50 million

March 2012: 60 million

Funambol Pitches White-label Personal Cloud Service

Funambol, a start-up based in Foster City, California, launched its white-label personal cloud solution for mobile providers.

Funambol's OneMediaHub enables mobile operators, device makers and other providers to offer a branded digital locker service for millions of users. Unlike simple file depository lockers, OneMediaHub automatically secures, syncs and shares content across multiple brands of devices, including PCs.

Funambol allows the carrier to offer this cloud service under their own label. The platform is based on open source, enabling it to be adapted to the carrier's needs. The company is already providing the personal cloud app to the Wholesale Applications Community (WAC).

"OneMediaHub is the only personal cloud that lets users realize the full connected device experience, as it automatically secures, syncs and shares data and content across multiple vendor devices," said Amit Chawla, Funambol CEO. "Mobile operators, device makers and other providers now have a superior personal cloud solution to better retain users and develop new revenue streams.�?http://www.funambol.comFunambol is headed by Amit Chawla (CEO), who previously led enterprise mobility specialist Agito Networks, which was acquired by ShoreTel. Prior to Agito, Amit was CEO of NexVerse Networks, where he spearheaded the merger with a division of ECI Telecom to form Veraz Networks.

Australia-Japan Cable to Implement 40 Gbps with Ciena

Ciena has been selected to upgrade the Australia-Japan undersea cable system, which runs approximately 12,700 kilometers between Sydney, Guam and Japan.

The Australia Japan Cable (AJC) will deploy Ciena's 6500 Packet-Optical Platform with 40G technology, enabling the system to add a total of 560 Gigabits per second (Gbps) of capacity. The deployment will also give AJC the ability to scale to 100G wavelengths as bandwidth demands evolve. The upgrade will also include Ciena’s OneControl Unified Management System.

Clearwire Lands 5-Year LTE Wholesale Deal with Cricket

Cricket Communications and Clearwire announced a five-year wholesale agreement for access to Clearwire's forthcoming LTE Advanced-ready network. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Cricket currently plans to deploy LTE across approximately two-thirds of its current network footprint over the next two to three years and to cover up to approximately 25 million POPs with LTE network technology in 2012.

Cricket will become the second operator to have signed up for Clearwire's LTE wholesale network.

"This long-term partnership with Cricket is a key step forward in the development of Clearwire's wholesale LTE business model," said Erik Prusch, President and CEO of Clearwire. "Not all LTE networks are created equally. We have always believed that our unmatched spectrum portfolio offers a compelling resource that can and will enable wireless operators to thrive in the 4G marketplace of the future. We are very pleased to provide Cricket with additional mobile broadband resources to supplement their own LTE build and we plan to continue to actively seek new opportunities to serve the needs of other 4G providers."
  • In December 2011, Sprint and Clearwire reached agreements valued at up to $1.6 billion over the next four years in payments for WiMAX services and wholesale LTE access.