BBH Report Home Page
May 23, 2002 Provided by System Dynamics Inc.

Heard on the Net

News about People and Companies Influencing The Broadband Home


People News

Greg Ballard has been named EVP of marketing and product management in the restructuring of SONICblue's management team. He was previously CEO of 3dfx. Also, Nikhil Balram will be VP of product marketing for ReplayTV and connected home products. Balram was previously with Sage Incorporated. ( www.SONICblue.com )

Peter C. Boylan III was named President and Chief Executive Officer of Liberty Media's new unit, Liberty Broadband Interactive Television, Inc. (LBIT), which will focus on developing and investing in the interactive television sector. LBIT will own and manage Liberty's investment in OpenTV. Boylan was previously President and COO of TV Guide, Inc. Four Gemstar executives resigned to join Boylan at LBIT. They are Mark Allen, Toby DeWeese, William Thomas and Craig Wagge. ( www.libertymedia.com )

Jeff DeLazaro has been named Vice President, Sales, Western Region for Cedar Point Communications. Jeff was previously with ZOLO Technologies. ( www.cedarpointcom.com )

Joy Howell, founder of Cambridge Strategic Partners, a Washington-based public policy communications and telecommunications consulting firm, has agreed to merge her operation with The Weiser Group and will manage their new Washington office. ( www.weisergroup.com )

Jeffery Huppertz has joined OpenTV as VP of North American cable. Huppertz was previously at ClearBand LLC. ( www.opentv.com )

Steve Larsen has joined St. Paul Venture Capital as a venture partner for the Software and Services team. He is currently serving as the acting VP of business development for Visage Mobile, an early-stage company in St. Paul's portfolio. Larsen was a founding executive at Net Perceptions. ( www.stpaulvc.com )

Jeff Shell has joined Gemstar-TV Guide International, Inc. as co-President and Chief Operating Officer. Jeff was formerly President and CEO of Fox Cable Networks Group. ( www.gemstartvguide.com )

Phil Summons joined BroadJump as their director of sales for EMEA. He will be based in their new European office in Uxbridge, Middlesex, England. Phil was previously with Openwave Systems Inc. ( www.broadjump.com )


Company News

--Acquisitions

Andrew acquired England's Quasar Microwave Technology. The addition will complete Andrew's radio-frequency path offering in terrestrial antenna subsystems. ( www.andrew.com )

Bertelsmann agreed to acquire the assets of Napster Inc. for $8 million. Konrad Hilbers, and the founder, Shawn Fanning, who had left Napster, both announced their return. ( www.bertelsmann.com ) ( www.napster.com )

enScaler Inc., a provider of platforms and applications for streaming and rich media, has acquired Lariat Software Inc. ( www.enscaler.com ) ( www.lariat.com )

Finisar is purchasing the passive optical component product line from New Focus for $12.8 million. ( www.finisar.com ) ( www.newfocus.com )

Paradyne Networks acqued the assets of Jetstream for $3 million. Jetstream has more than 50 percent of the VoDSL equipment sales. ( www.paradyne.com )

PowerNetGlobal Communications purchased Aleron for $3.6 million. The subsidiary will be called Aleron Broadband Services. ( www.powernetglobal.com )

Juniper Networks, Inc. agreed to acquire Unisphere Networks, Inc., a Siemens company, in a deal worth approximately $740 million. Siemens and Juniper Networks have also agreed to enter a global partnership in the field of IP infrastructure and related systems. ( www.juniper.net ) ( www.unispherenetworks.com )

Liberty Media Corporation and MIH Limited announced the signing of a stock purchase agreement by which Liberty Media will acquire MIH's controlling ownership interest in OpenTV Corp. After accounting for Liberty Media's existing shareholdings in OpenTV, its total economic interest is approximately 46% and its total voting interest is approximately 89%. Liberty Media also signed a letter of agreeement for possible acquisition of all outstanding shares of common stock of interactive TV company ACTV Inc.. ( www.libertymedia.com ) ( www.mih.com ) ( www.opentv.com ) ( www.actv.com )

USA Broadband Inc. and Las Americas Broadband Inc. have agreed to combine their operations to strengthen their service offering in California and Mexico. Las Americas shareholders will exchange their common stock for USA Broadband common stock on a 8:1 ratio. When the merger is complete, Las Americas stockholders are expected to own roughly 29 percent of the combined company.

--Funding

Is There Money To Be Had?

Is the broadband funding glass half empty or half-full? It depends on whom you ask. We recently had email from Kelly Porter of Zap Ventures, which invests in early stage broadband companies. Kelly wrote that despite the prevailing wisdom that “venture capital is in hibernation and telecom is a graveyard” ZAP believes otherwise and is “actively looking for great companies and entrepreneurs to in invest in.” If you know or are involved with very early stage companies in broadband – particularly in voice-over-IP, Wi-Fi / 802.11, and internet access/the last mile - you can find out more at ( www.zapvc.com/Entrepreneurs.htm ) .

For a different angle on what's happening with funding, the Wall Street Journal recently wrote that investments in closely held communications and media concerns have continued to drop. "In the first quarter about $939 million was invested in such companies, the lowest amount in at least three years. Exits, through selling out to larger companies or via initial public offerings, have been scarce. As a result, venture capitalists specializing in communications have hunkered down, tightly clutching cash needed to survive the recession while also slashing the start-up mouths they have to feed. " Of course the situation isn't helped by all the negative PR from the woes of big public companies, such as Adelphia and Worldcom.

That said, here are some companies that did get new funding recently:

Axcelerant Inc. obtained $9 million in funding. The company manages broadband VPNs that connect remote office and home office users to the enterprise network, using high speed broadband. ( www.axcelerant.com )

BigBand Networks completed a $27 million financing round. Digital cable operators use BigBand's Broadband Multimedia Service Router (BMR) to manage bandwidth and other network media resources. ( www.bigbandnet.com )

P-Cube announced that it has completed its series C funding round, gaining $35 million from new and existing investors. The company's IP service control platforms enable service assurance, delivery and control. ( www.p-cube.com )

Rappore Technologies has obtained $3 million Series C funding for its software which enables communication using disparate "wirefree" technologies, across different operating systems. ( www.rappore.com )

Redback Networks is teaming with Nokia, which has taken a 10% stake in the company. Their sales forces and channels will cooperate in targeting leading carriers and service providers. The companies also agreed to cooperate on customer service and technology development. ( www.redback.com ) ( www.nokia.com )

RedWire Broadband closed $1.8 million of additional financing. The company is an in-building broadband service provider and will use the funds for the completion of their Southern California network. ( www.redwire.net )

SerCoNet, a provider of home networking solutions for the residential and SoHo markets, has closed an additional round of $7 million in financing. To date, the company has raised a total of $13 million. ( www.serconet.co.il )

Xytrans received $8 million in series B financing, increasing its venture funding to $12.5 million. ( www.xytrans.com )

--Other News

Adelphia, the sixth-largest US cable operator, has been in turmoil since acknowledging questionable transactions between the family and the company. Although founder John Rigas and his son Timothy have resigned from their corporate roles, the family is resisting giving up its five of nine seats on the Board. The company has asked banks for more time to line up credit to make debt payments and avoid bankruptcy. ( www.adelphia.com )

BroadbandPlus is the new name for the convention formerly known as The Western Show. This year's show will include the 10th anniversary of CableNET and will be held December 3-6 in Anaheim, CA. ( www.broadbandplus.org )

Broadband Services, Inc. announced the availability of MapVantage, an intelligent mapping, network asset management and data storage solution for the communications industry. Their solution provides an open standards access hub for physical network data. ( www.broadbandsvc.com )

Broadcom announced their new single-chip combined cable TV set-top box/cable modem solution. Their BCM7110 system-on-a-chip provides a dedicated digital cable TV channel as well as DOCSIS 1.1 cable modem enabling interactive TV functions and broadband Internet access through the same device. It also incorporates PVR functionality, a high performance MIPS processor, an advanced graphics engine and home networking. ( www.broadcom.com )

BroadJump continued their successful position in 1Q 2002, including having been responsible for activating 69 percent of all new high-speed Internet connections. ( www.broadjump.com )

CableLabs has extended the OpenCable Application Platform (OCAP) software, or middleware, specification with the release of OCAP 2.0. OCAP is a middleware specification that enables application portability across a wide range of home devices and cable networks. OCAP 1.0, issued in January, defines a Java based Execution Engine (EE), and OCAP 2.0 extends that platform with the addition of web-based technologies like XHTML, XML, and ECMAScript. ( www.opencable.com )

Consolidated Telcom selected Vyyo to provide broadband Internet services to customers in three rural US areas of North Dakota. The deployment is comprised of three MMDS super cells covering a total area of 10,750 sq. miles. ( www.ctctel.com ) ( www.vyyo.com )

The DSL Forum announced their newly approved Technical Report (TR)- 048 "ADSL Interoperability Test Plan," a key milestone toward achieving widespread retail ADSL availability. The spec defines technical criteria for interoperability and will be the basis for a DSL Forum Independent Testing Laboratory (ITL) program. The testing suites will aid DSL vendors in verifying that their products are interoperable. The ITU plans to make TR-048 part of the requirements in the updated ITU ADSL2 Recommendations. ( www.dslforum.org )

Electronic Arts announced a deal to provide its games for the Sony Corporation's new online gaming effort. Sony, Microsoft and the Nintendo Company are all unveiling their strategies to capture those who want to participate in multi-player multi-location games via the Internet at Electronics Entertainment Expo (known as E3). Microsoft announced that it will begin consumer tests of Xbox Live this summer with a one-year subscription and a headset, for $49. Xbox owners with high-speed Internet connections will be able to compete and talk with (or cheer and jeer at) one another online. The technology includes the ability for gamers to change their voices on the fly to conceal the identities of the players. Meanwhile the competition has heated up on the price front with Sony cutting the U.S. price of the PS2 to $199 followed shortly by an equal price cut by Microsoft on the Xbox. Then Nintendo cut the price of the GameCube to $149. ( www.ea.com ) ( www.sony.com ) ( www.xbox.com ) ( www.nintendo.com ) ( www.e3expo.com )

Europe Online Investments S.A. and Plenexis GmbH have formed a strategic alliance to offer consumers high-speed Internet and digital, broadband multimedia services via satellite. Plenexis, a former subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom, and Europe Online, which owns a broad satellite network, will offer a 768 kbit/s service. A standard, digital Astra receiver equipment plus a DVB-compliant PCI card are required to receive the new service. ( www.europeonline.com )

Hughes Network Systems Europe launched DIRECWAY, Hughes Network Systems' two-way satellite broadband service, in conjunction with the grand opening of its new European operations center in Griesheim, Germany. ( www.hnseu.com )

InnoMedia announced the launch of MTA 3308 IP Phone, the latest addition to their Multimedia Terminal Adapter line. The product, which looks and feels like a regular telephone, supports the SIP protocol, and is targeted at broadband service providers who are looking to deliver new revenue-generating telephony services to their customers. ( www.innomedia.com )

LSI Logic Corp. and iVAST have signed an agreement to use iVAST's MPEG-4 Platform and LSI Logic's network media processor technology to enable MPEG-4 encoding, publishing and decoding solutions. Targeted devices include video peripherals, video-on-demand enabled set-top boxes, and Internet-ready DVD players, digital televisions and digital video recorders. ( www.lsilogic.com ) ( www.ivast.com )

Microsoft Corp's interactive television division demonstrated their new interactive program guide that targets Motorola Broadband DCT-1000/2000 series digital set-tops at NCTA. Instead of going after future speculative revenues, Microsoft is now paying attention to the here-and-now opportunites of software for thin-client boxes. ( www.microsoft.com )

Motorola Broadband Communications Sector and Digeo Inc., unveiled the Motorola Broadband Media Center (BMC) -- a family of advanced, digital, whole-home media centers. Charter Communications, the fourth-largest U.S. cable operator, will begin deploying the new Motorola BMCs. The Motorola BMC gateways are all-in-one broadband home entertainment platforms and set-tops that support multi-room capabilities. ( www.gi.com ) ( www.digeo.com ) ( www.charter.com )

Netergy Microelectronics VoIP processors were chosen by Telco Systems' and World Wide Packets' CPE platforms for Washington State's Grant County High-Speed Zipp Network. Netergy is a subsidiary of 8x8, and is a Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (VoIP), Voice-over-Digital-Subscriber-Line (VoDSL), semiconductor and software company. ( www.netergymicro.com ) ( www.gcpud.org )

Netflix, operator of the online DVD rental service, sold 5.5 million shares of stock in its IPO at an initial offering price of $15 a share, to gross $82.5 million. Although the service operates by physical DVD delivery today, it is easy to see how it could operate in the future by non-real-time electronic delivery to a customer's digital video recorder. ( www.netflix.com )

OPENTV announced that they have exceeded 25 million set-top middleware deployments. 1Q2002 was their sixth consecutive quarterly report with more than two million deployments. ( www.opentv.com )

RealNetworks and Sony announced an alliance to collaborate on products for consumer electronics devices. Sony is buying 1% of RealNetworks, with financial terms undisclosed. Sony said it will adopt RealNetworks' media technologies in a variety of connected consumer electronics devices. ( www.realnetworks.com ) ( www.sony.com )

Scientific-Atlanta has added PVR capability to their Explorer 8000, using Keen Personal Media's TV4me digital video recorder (DVR) storage management subsystem software and Metabyte Networks' MbTV 2.1 PVR software. S-A has also licensed Metabyte's personalization software engine to enable other personal TV services like targeted advertisements, t-commerce, and personalized VOD. ( www.sciatl.com ) ( www.keenpm.com ) ( www.mbtv.com )

SES Americom announced plans to enter the direct-to-home business by launching two "bent-pipe" satellites over North America. They plan a service launch as early as 2004 using Ku-/ Ka-band satellite capacity. Two satellites (and ultimately two in-orbit spares) would provide the service as a platform for content providers to broadcast DBS-type programming packages and two-way interactive content to subscribers nationwide, including Alaska and Hawaii. ( www.ses-americom.com )

SkyStream Networks has launched the Mediaplex 20 Video Services Router, targeted to telcos and carriers wanting to offer an IP video services solution to enable delivery of television, pay-per-view, and movies on demand to their (voice/data) customers. ( www.skystream.com )

SONICblue announced that it will apply a service-based pricing model to new ReplayTV products, beginning with its ReplayTV 4500 series, to have lower costs at the retail level. Additional details on their service-based pricing model will be made available when the new ReplayTV 4500 series is officially unveiled this summer. ( www.sonicblue.com )

Telefonica, the Spanish telecommunications group, plans to launch integrated ADSL packages with telephony, Internet and television services in 2003. The operator will be in direct competition with cable and satellite groups. Telefonica is expecting to close this year with a million broadband clients. The company has invested 9m euros in Alicante in its Imagenio multimedia pilot project which provides internet access, interactive digital TV and video and audio on the same telephone line, using ADSL technology. The pilot project, running in 200 homes, will be extended to a thousand subscribers in the city before the summer. ( www.telefonica.es )

Texas Instruments introduced the first in a family of plain old telephone service (POTS) solutions for voice over broadband, enabling manufacturers and service providers to deploy enhanced voice capabilities on existing broadband platforms. TI´s new family of programmable voice codecs directly interfaces with a dual ringing Subscriber Line Interface Circuit (SLIC) from Intersil, forming a complete voice solution that can be used in network interface devices, SME gateways, or CPE devices such as home routers and gateways, DSL and cable modems, and multimedia terminal adapters. ( www.ti.com/rd/potsvoice ) ( www.intersil.com )

WSNet announced DigitalFlex, a programming delivery and back-office support system that will enable small system cable operators to expand their lineup despite having limited bandwidth and operational capabilities. It allows operators to purchase programming directly through their existing agreements and customize channel lineups accordingly. ( www.wsnet.tv )