Wednesday, March 21, 2012

China Unicom Outpaces its Peers in 2011

Led by rapid adoption of 3G and continued strong growth in fixed-line broadband, China Unicom reported 2011 annual revenue of RMB209.15 billion (US$33.17 billion), an increase of 22.2% compared with last year. Service revenue was RMB185.87 billion, an increase of 13.4% compared with last year. EBITDA was RMB63.40 billion, an increase of 6.7% compared with last year. Net profit was RMB4.21 billion, an increase of 20.0% compared with last year. Basic earnings per share was RMB0.179 (including deferred fixed-line upfront connection fee).

Some highlights from the annual report:

China Unicom' service revenues grew faster than its peers in 2011 and the company steadily gained market share.

The mobile business accounted for 55.6% of the total service revenue.

Service revenue from the non-voice business accounted for 48.7% of the total service revenue.

The mobile subscriber base reached 199.660 million, an increase of 19.3% compared with last year.

Service revenue from the mobile business was RMB103.31 billion, an increase of 25.3% compared with last year.

Mobile ARPU was RMB47.3, an increase of 8.2% compared with last year.

ARPU of 3G subscribers maintained a relatively high level of RMB110.0.

Mobile data usage increased by 293.4% compared with last year.

The mobile non-voice business increased rapidly and accounted for 37.2% of the total revenue from the mobile business.

3G subscribers increased by 25.959 million to 40.019 million in 2011, representing 20.0% of the total mobile subscribers.

The total number of fixed-line broadband subscribers for the year increased by 17.8% compared with last year to 55.651 million.

Service revenue from fixed-line broadband business increased by 18.1% compared with last year, which for the first time exceeded service revenue from the fixed-line voice business and accounted for 43.2% of the service revenue from fixed-line business.

Symantec Acquires Nukona for BYOD Management

Symantec agreed to acquire Nukona, a privately-held provider of mobile application management (MAM), for an undisclosed sum.

Nukona, which is based in Solana Beach, California, offers an enterprise-grade mobile management solution with a consumer-like app store for employees. The platform provides management, control and security capabilities to support data loss prevention and compliance on both personal and corporate devices.

Symantec said the acquisition extends its enterprise mobility portfolio to include a cross-platform mobile application protection solution to help IT organizations protect and isolate corporate data and applications across both corporate owned and personally owned devices.

Ericsson Boosts Stake in LG-Ericsson to 75%

Ericsson has boosted its stake in LG-Ericsson from 50% to 75%.

LG-Ericsson is a joint venture between LG Electronics and Ericsson in which Ericsson acquired Nortel's part of the company in July 2010. The company provides customized solutions for operators and enterprises with a portfolio of mobile and fixed network infrastructure, telecom services, software, broadband, voice and data network solutions for enterprises.

SOFTBANK MOBILE Deploys Ericsson for 900MHz Evolved HSPA

Japan's SOFTBANK MOBILE has selected Ericsson to deploy an Evolved HSPA radio access network for recently allocated spectrum in the 900MHz band. The deployment will use Ericsson's latest RBS 6000 multi-standard radio base stations in Japan's biggest cities: Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya. Under the contract, Ericsson will also be responsible for a range of professional services such as network design, consulting systems integration and network deployment. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Tata Global Network Completes Eurasia Cable

A new Tata Global Network – Eurasia (TGN-EA) cable has been commercially activated.

The 9,280 km TGN-EA system, which links Europe and India, via Egypt and the Mediterranean, offer RTD latency of around 92 msec. Customer speeds are available from 2 Mbps to 10 Gbps. The round-the-world ring also offers city-to-city connections in contrast to more traditional networks which only link cable landing stations.

The completion of the final TGN-EA link follows significant investment from Tata Communications in its global network in recent years.

“This a landmark moment for Tata Communications as we officially launch the world’s first wholly-owned global submarine cable network as a complete and robust ring around the world,�? stated Vinod Kumar, Managing Director and CEO, Tata Communications.

NEC to Acquire Convergys' BSS for $449 Million

NEC agreed to acquire Convergys' Information Management (IM) business, which supplies Business Support Systems (BSS) to service providers, for US$449 million. The deal covers all of IM's business, including Smart Suite Products, across different verticals including communications, utilities and logistics.

The acquisition will build on NEC's NetCracker division, a supplier of Operations Support Systems (OSS), which NEC acquired in 2008. Following the acquisition, NetCracker will be responsible for all business operations of the combined entity. With this acquisition, NetCracker will add key BSS software and services to its Telecom Operations and Management Solutions (TOMS) suite. The combination of IM's BSS products and NetCracker's TOMS solutions will create a compelling end-to-end portfolio that will bring experience and innovation to service providers and other industry verticals — whether they access BSS/OSS (Operational Support Systems) solutions through the cloud, as a managed service, or as an in-premise system.

Convergys’ BSS business claims 150 service provider customers (AT&T, vivo, BT, Telkomsel etc) and annual sales of approximately $329 million. NetCracker has a customer base of 70 major service providers.

"Convergys' IM business has distinguished itself with a record of successful BSS implementations and exceptional professional services for leading international communications carriers," said Dr. Nobuhiro Endo, President of NEC. "The acquisition of the IM business will enable NEC to bring even greater value and benefits to the service provider industry."

Verizon: Hacktivists and Cyber-Criminals Run Amok

In 2011, the world experienced remarkable civil and cultural uprisings (Arab Spring, Occupy movement, etc) as well as rising hacktivism in the online world.

Verizon's newly released "2012 Data Breach Investigations report traces the sharp rise in hactivism as a major threat to governments and businesses, as well as increasingly sophisticated attacks by mainline cybercriminals who continue to refine their methods in penetrating specific economic targets.

The report, which used input from a variety of sources, including the United States Secret Service and other law enforcement authorities around the world, examined 855 data breach incidents. The number of compromised records across these incidents reached 174 million -- the second-highest data loss total since Verizon started keeping track in 2004.

Hactivist groups are believed to be responsible for 58% of this data theft in 2011.

"With the participation of our law enforcement partners around the globe, the '2012 Data Breach Investigations Report' offers what we believe is the most comprehensive look ever into the state of cybersecurity," said Wade Baker, Verizon's director of risk intelligence. "Our goal is to increase the awareness of global cybercrime in an effort to improve the security industry's ability to fight it while helping government agencies and private sector organizations develop their own tailored security plans."

Professional cybercriminals remain focused on industrial espionage and while the number of reported breaches were less frequent, Verizon sees serious implications for the security of corporate data. Attackers continue to thwart or circumvent authentication by combining stolen or guessed credentials with backdoors (to retain access).

Some guidance from Verizon:

Recommendations for Enterprises

Eliminate unnecessary data. Unless there is a compelling reason to store or transmit data, destroy it. Monitor all important data that must be kept.

Establish essential security controls. To effectively defend against a majority of data breaches, organizations must ensure fundamental and common sense security countermeasures are in place and that they are functioning correctly. Monitor security controls regularly.

Place importance on event logs. Monitor and mine event logs for suspicious activity - breaches are usually identified by analyzing event logs.

Prioritize security strategy. Enterprises should evaluate their threat landscape and use the findings to create a unique, prioritized security strategy.

Recommendations for Small Organizations

Use a firewall. Install and maintain a firewall on Internet-facing services to protect data. Hackers cannot steal what they cannot reach.

Change default credentials. Point-of-sale (POS) and other systems come with pre-set credentials. Change the credentials to prevent unauthorized access.

Monitor third parties. Third parties often manage firewalls and POS systems. Organizations should monitor these vendors to ensure they have implemented the above security recommendations, where applicable.

The 77-page report is available for downloading.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Telstra Offers Mobile Wi-Fi 4G Hotspot

Telstra introduced a battery-powered Mobile Wi-Fi that runs on its LTE network (now available to business customers). Up to five Wi-Fi devices can be connected simultaneously to the device. Telstra collaborated with Sierra Wireless to develop the device.

Telstra Mobile Wi-Fi 4G in 4G coverage areas (capital city CBDs, associated airports and more than 80 regional and metropolitan locations) promises typical download speeds ranging from 2Mbps to 40Mbps and typical upload speeds from 1Mbps to 10Mbps. When outside 4G coverage areas the Mobile Wi-Fi 4G uses HSPA+ Dual Channel technology.

Blue Jeans Debuts its "MCU-Killer in the Cloud"

Blue Jeans Network, a start-up based in Mountain View, California, announced new pricing plans aimed at eliminating traditional on-premise bridging hardware (commonly known as multipoint control units, or MCUs). Blue Jeans' new offering allows customers to license a variable number of concurrent connections (known as “virtual ports�?) from its cloud.

Blue Jeans offers video conferencing interoperability with room-based systems, desktops, and mobile devices, including Cisco, Polycom, Skype, Microsoft, Lifesize, Google, and others. Blue Jeans can also include audio-only participants on the phone.

“Our goal was to make video conferencing a practical alternative for businesses of any size. To do that, we knew we had to make it just as easy, open, and affordable as traditional audio-only bridging systems,�? said Krish Ramakrishnan, CEO of Blue Jeans Network. “By combining improved functionality over legacy MCU systems with the economics, ease and security of the cloud, our customers can now use video to improve their business collaboration. Better yet, money that previously would have been spent on MCUs can be reallocated to update or acquire more video conferencing endpoints.�?

Dell to Resell Mellanox Interconnect Solution

Dell will resell the newest generation of Mellanox Technologies' interconnect solutions as part of the new Dell PowerEdge M620 blade server. Specifically, customers can order new Dell M620 blade servers equipped with Mellanox FDR 56Gb/s InfiniBand switch blades and ConnectX-3 PCIe 3.0 FDR 56Gb/s InfiniBand and 10/40GbE mezzanine adapters.

Broadband Surpasses 600 Million Lines Worldwide

The number of active broadband wireline subscribers reach 597 million as of the end of 2011 and is projected to have passed the 600 million threshold this quarter, according to figures from Point Topic released by the Broadband Forum. While new installations have slowed in developed markets with high-penetration rates, developing markets, especially Brazil, Russia, India and China are seeing strong demand. Overall, broadband growth is estimated at 65,493,596 lines, bringing the global total to 597,322,636, a quarterly increase of 2.6% - and an annual growth rate of 12.3%.

DSL continues to hold the biggest share of the broadband market -- 60.8% of the overall market share, compared to 19.4% for cable modems. Hybrid fiber/DSL deployment is continues to grow as the preferred architecture for many carriers.

"This is an exciting return to higher growth figures and points to a strengthening in the broadband market," commented Robin Mersh, CEO of the Broadband Forum. "With a number of active new markets coming online and standards based deployments becoming common - we are seeing broadband move into the daily lives of more and more people the world over. A great example of this is the exceptional growth in some key Eastern European markets, such as Russia, Poland and the Ukraine."

The Broadband Forum noted that IPTV penetration continues to rise -- Q4 2011 was the best quarter yet with net additions of 3.68 million. This brings the IPTV installed base to 58.2 million subscribers worldwide. Though Europe still holds the top regional spot - China is the fastest growing country and now has over 12 million subscribers, outstripping France for the first time.

A number of activities are underway at the Broadband Forum, including:

  • an expansion of the Broadband Forum Certification Program to include G-PON certification for ONUs, an interoperability test suite, as well as XG-PON test requirements

  • MMBI certification option for Ethernet Service emulation over MPLS

  • TR-069 CWMP Device Conformance Program

  • End-to-End Multi-service Network Architecture work will progress

  • Network interworking and convergence work in collaboration with 3GPP

  • Work on MPLS in Carrier Ethernet Networks, as well as new MPLS in Mobile Backhaul Initiative (MMBI) developments, including energy efficient mobile backhaul

  • DSL testing, including VDSL2, bonding, vectoring, requirements and DQM measures

  • New access node management models and interface specifications

  • New access work is beginning around business services; cloud, data center interconnection and machine-to-machine (M2M) requirements as well.

Oclaro to Transfer Optical Assembly from Shenzhen to Malaysia

Oclaro announced a deal with Venture Corporation Limited to transfer Oclaro's Shenzhen, China, final assembly and test operations to Venture's Malaysia facility in a phased and gradual transfer of products over the next three years. The transfer will occur over a three-year period.

"Today's announcement is a significant milestone in Oclaro's strategy to adopt an outsourced back-end manufacturing model, focus on our core competencies and position the company to scale," said Alain Couder, chairman and CEO of Oclaro.

FCC to Examine 700 MHz Interoperability

The FCC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to promote interoperability and encourage the efficient use of spectrum in the commercial Lower 700 MHz band.

The FCC will examine the interference concerns should the Lower 700 MHz band utilize a single band class for devices
operating across the Lower 700 MHz A, B, and C Blocks.

"We have heard from providers in one of the bands – the A band – that the lack of interoperability
is making it difficult to obtain mobile broadband devices. That difficulty, they have said, is slowing
mobile broadband roll-outs and buildouts, and making it harder for those providers to compete. And so
this issue affects central FCC goals. To help facilitate solutions to the interoperability challenges, we have over the past months increased the agency’s engagement with 3GPP -- the principal mobile broadband standards setting body. To continue this work and to help drive toward a solution, today we initiate a proceeding on
interoperability," stated FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.

Zayo to Acquire Arialink

Zayo announced its latest acquisition target Arialink, Mid-Michigan’s largest fiber optic service provider. The acquisition adds 930 new route miles to Zayo’s national footprint, including 400 miles of dense metro networks in Lansing and Ann Arbor. Arialink’s network will be interconnected with Zayo’s existing network, enabling end-to-end-Bandwidth Infrastructure services between Zayo’s existing 45,000 mile national network and Arialink’s extensive network in Michigan. Zayo is paying $18 million in cash for Arialink.

Broadcom Acquires Broadlight for $195 Million

Broadcom confirmed its intention to acquire BroadLight, a leading supplier of network and PON processors, for approximately $195 million, net of cash assumed.

The acquisition of BroadLight further extends Broadcom's presence in the access network.

"Combining BroadLight's PON solutions with the strength of Broadcom's broadband access portfolio will enable us to offer a complete, end-to-end solution for customers — from OLT at the central office to CPE at the home. BroadLight's strong engineering team and broad IP will complement and extend our ability to deliver next-generation access technologies to customers, said Dan Marotta, Executive Vice President and General Manager of Broadcom's Broadband Communications Group.
  • In October 2011, BroadLight announced commercial availability of standard compliant ITU-T G.987 XGPON OLT and ONT silicon. XGPON supports 10Gbps downstream and 2.5Gbps upstream rates. Broadlight is the first in the market with a commercial standard compliant (ITU-T G.987) XGPON OLT and ONT solution.

FCC Forms Incentive Auction Task Force

The FCC has formed an Incentive Auction Task Force, with the goal of using market forces to bring under utilized broadcast frequencies into commercial networks.

Incentive auctions were among the key features promoted in the National Broadband Plan outlined last year.

“Incentive auctions are a big idea. The concept, of course, which we developed in our National Broadband Plan, is to deploy market forces and a market-based mechanism to repurpose spectrum for flexible use, including mobile broadband. But there’s no doubt that the task ahead will be complex and challenging," stated FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.
  • In February 2012, the U.S. Congress passed the "Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012", which also granted voluntary incentive auction authority to the FCC.

TELUS Deploys DigitalRoute for Billing Mediation

TELUS has deployed DigitalRoute's MediationZone product to replace its existing mediation platforms in order to reduce costs for processing usage data across the company's multiple business support systems (BSS). MediationZone, which is now in live operation at TELUS, provides an integration layer between the mobile core network and the BSS. The deployment is one of the first steps in a comprehensive replacement program.

FCC Proposes 40 MHz of Additional Spectrum for Mobile Broadband

The FCC is proposing to open 40 megahertz of additional spectrum currently assigned to the Mobile Satellite Service
(MSS) in the 2 GHz band for new uses in terrestrial mobile broadband.

The FCC said its proposed rules would enable flexible use of this spectrum, encourage innovation and investment in mobile broadband, and provide a stable regulatory environment in which broadband deployment can develop in the 2 GHz band.

Public comment is sought on potential ways to free up additional spectrum for mobile broadband.

Broadcom Intros 40nm Multi-Constellation GNSS Solution

Broadcom introduced a new location architecture for smartphones that promises 10x acquisition performance improvement and faster and more accurate position computation than existing smartphone GPS solutions.

Broadcom's location architecture features a new 40nm CMOS Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) chip that significantly reduces time-to-first-fix (TTFF) for outdoor positioning and also uses data from inertial sensors, Wi-Fi access points (including those based on recently announced 5G WiFi) and future technologies such as Bluetooth beacons to enable indoor positioning. In addition, the platform offers integration with NFC, which opens the door for smarter, more secure mobile payments where location data provides additional security.

The Broadcom BCM4752 GNSS chip simultaneously collects data from four satellite constellations (GPS, GLONASS, QZSS and SBAS) and uses the best received signals to calculate location. It uses 50 percent less power than previous generations and 44% less board space.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Qualcomm Atheros Intros 802.11n for Low-Energy M2M Sensors

Qualcomm Atheros introduced a new 802.11n single-stream Wi-Fi system-in-package with integrated networking stack and aimed at machine-to-machine (M2M) communications in the smart home, building and appliances channels.

The AR4100P is an enhanced version of the FCC-certified AR4100 that includes an integrated IPv4/IPv6 TCP/IP stack. It is the latest product within the Qualcomm Atheros Internet of Everything portfolio. The new device is featured in Qualcomm Atheros' SP137 development kit, which is a reference design for low-power IP sensors. The development kit integrates Energy Micro's EFM32 Gecko low-energy Cortex-M3 microcontroller running the Micrium uC/OS-III operating system. With a well of additional onboard sensors, the energy friendly Wi-Fi kit supports deep sleep modes of only 2uA, enabling operation off just AA batteries.