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The November 16, 2003 Issue Provided by System Dynamics Inc.
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Heard on the Net

News about People and Companies Influencing The Broadband Home


People News

Killko Caballero has joined RADVISION as its senior VP of enterprise strategy. Mr. Caballero was previously the CEO and president of First Virtual Communications, after it acquired CUseeMe. ( www.radvision.com )

Rick Cluthe has joined ICTV as Managing Director, Europe. He was previously with DST Innovis. ( www.ictv.com )

Frank Gine has been appointed VP of Sales and Marketing at Enhanced Telecommunications, Inc. (ETI). He was previously at Convergys Corporation. ( www.etisoftware.com )

Richard Hornstein was named CFO of OpenTV. Hornstein was previously with Golden Gate Capital. ( www.opentv.com )

Martin Wahl has joined Gotuit Media as director of engineering. Wahl was previously with Broadbus Technologies. ( www.gotuit.com )

Clint Wheelock has been appointed of Director of Wireless Research at In-Stat/MDR. Mr. Wheelock was previously with Qwest Wireless. ( www.instat.com )


Company News

--Acquisitions

Airspan Networks is acquiring Nortel Networks' Fixed Wireless Access business for approximately $12.9 million. ( www.airspan.com ) ( www.nortelnetworks.com )

Broadband Central (no relation) which provides high-speed outdoor wireless infrastructure to service providers on a franchise basis, has been acquired by three entities; the new owners include FRC Component Products Inc. and Accelerated Communications Corp. FRC additionally formed Broadband Central USA as part of the ownership structure. ( www.broadbandcentral.us )

CNET Networks is buying online music distributor MP3.com from Vivendi Universal for an undisclosed sum. CNET plans to relaunch the site next year as a place for information about music. ( www.cnet.com ) ( www.mp3.com ) ( www.vivendiuniversal.com )

Cisco Systems is acquiring Latitude Communications for approximately $80 million cash. ( www.cisco.com ) ( www.latitude.com )

Conexant Systems and GlobespanVirata are merging, in a transaction valued at approximately $969 million. Current Conexant shareholders will own about 62.75 percent of the combined company, which will retain the Conexant name. ( www.conexant.com ) ( www.virata.com )

A Newbridge Capital-AIG consortium has paid $500 Million to purchase new shares of Hanaro Telecom, making it the major shareholder in the Korean broadband service provider. ( www.newbridgecapital.com )( www.aig.com )( www.hanaro.com/eng )

Yahoo! Europe has acquired dotmusic.com from BT Group. Financial terms of the deal, which also included the purchase of GamesDomain.co.uk, were not disclosed. ( www.yahoo.com ) ( www.dotmusic.com ) ( www.bt.com )

--Funding

8x8 has raised $5.2 million through stock private placement. ( www.8x8.com )

Entone Technologies has secured $16 Million in a Series B financing round. ( www.entone.com )

Entropic Communications has raised $29 million in Series B financing. ( www.entropic-communications.com )

IP Unity has received an investment of undisclosed size from Siemens Venture Capital ( www.ip-unity.com ) ( www.siemensventurecapital.com )

Myrio has secured $9M in additional funding. ( www.myrio.com )

USA Broadband closed a $4 million round of financing from an undisclosed private investor.

--Other News

Appairent Technologies and Pulse~LINK have agreed to jointly develop a Media Access Control layer (MAC) for Ultra Wideband Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) communications. [See the article in this issue.] ( www.appairent.com ) ( www.pulselink.net )

Broadstream Communications and SkyStream Networks announced an agreement to offer an outsourced, multichannel video service targeted to the telephone company market. It allows independent telcos to quickly roll out video services by outsourcing the head-end infrastructure and content provisioning. Skystream's video delivery platform encodes digital video in ASP and H.264 MPEG-4 formats in the same unit. The service will be available in the 1Q2004. ( www.broadstream.tv ) ( www.skystream.com )

Comcast has entered the win-back and price competition fray in the U.S, by offering DSL customers in some of its franchise areas cable broadband service for 12 months at $19.95 a month. The price subsequently reverts back to the normal levels. ( www.comcast.com )

Freeview digital terrestrial service in the U.K. celebrated its first complete year of operation, announcing 2 million UK homes now have the service. Freeview is marketed by DTV Services Ltd, a company run by its shareholders: the BBC, Crown Castle International and BSkyB. Although prices on integrated digital TV sets are dropping, many consumers have chosen to purchase the less expensive digital adapters for 80-100. ( www.freeview.co.uk )

Matav Cable Systems Media Ltd. is partnering with other Israeli cable MSOs and their subsidiaries in order to receive a license from the Israeli Ministry of Communications to supply fixed cable telephony services in Israel. ( www.matav.co.il )

Minerva Networks, Kasenna and Amino Communications announced their NetVision platform for delivering IP television over telephone networks. ( www.minervanetworks.com ) ( www.kasenna.com ) ( www.aminocom.com )

Pinnacle Systems has introduced its ShowCenter, one of the new class of products sometimes called digital media adapters, for cataloging and showing the media assets from the homes' networked computers on TV and audio systems. ( www.pinnaclesys.com )

ProSyst Software AG announced at the OSGi World Congress that their mBedded Server Smart Home Edition has been selected by Motorola Broadband Communications as the operating platform for an upcoming line of Motorola advanced residential gateway products. ( www.prosyst.com ) ( www.motorola.com/broadband )

RealNetworks announced it had more than a quarter million subscribers to its digital music services at the end of the 3Q03; it also announced that Comcast has agreed to distribute and market its Rhapsody music service and run national TV ads promoting the service. Separately, RealNetworks is working with Intel to help home stereos and other non-PC devices access the Rhapsody service over home networks; Rockford's Omnifi is the first device supporting this. ( www.realnetworks.com ) ( www.comcast.com ) ( www.intel.com ) ( www.omnifimedia.com )

Thomson announced their new video delivery platform called Cobra at the TelcoTV conference. It supports MPEG-2, MPEG-4 Part 2, Windows Media 9 Series, and MPEG-4 Part 10 (JVT) compression technologies. Thomson collaborated with Intel, Microsoft TV and Alcatel to create the platform. ( www.thomson.net/EN/home ) ( www.intel.com ) ( www.microsoft.com/tv ) ( www.alcatel.com )

Ucentric Systems released Whole Home Media 1.0, a software application designed to be integrated into set-top boxes and consumer electronic devices. It will allow consumers to easily access and play their digital music collection in any room in their home through a user-friendly interface that can be accessed from any screen, including a TV, PC and PDA. ( www.ucentric.com )

ViXS Systems has launched a new chipset which provides QoS for multiple video streams. The XCode II chipset is aimed at DVD-Rs with on-board hard drives and standalone devices such as PCs, digital video recorders and LCD displays. The chip's wireless capabilities can add portability to LCD sets. ( www.vixs.com )

Volo Communications launched a new wholesale IP telephony service targeted to ISPs, telecom carriers, CLECs and DSL and cable modem service providers. The offering is based on a softswitch from Volo's parent company, Caerus Inc. ( www.volocommunications.com )

The Wireless Technology Forum (WTF) has been founded by BellSouth, Cingular, Cisco Systems, Intel, Motorola, Nokia, Proxim and Sellera. Its goal is to increase communications of various stakeholders in the wireless marketplace. Its first meeting was sponsored by Motorola on November 13. ( www.wirelesstechnologyforum.com ) ( www.bellsouth.com ) ( www.cingular.com ) ( www.cisco.com ) ( www.intel.com ) ( www.motorola.com ) ( www.nokia.com ) ( www.proxim.com ) ( www.sellera.com )


Briefly Noted

Countries:

Korea -- Given the leading position that Korea has achieved in broadband penetration, it's worth noting when their government commits to a related project with similar goals. The Korea Times reported that Korea's Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) said they are beginning infrastructure construction for home networking services in major cities, after securing the budget for construction last year. The article quoted ministry official Choi Woo-hyuk as saying "The MIC plans to launch pilot home networking services in 10 million households in 2007. It is scheduled to select two consortia, including broadcasting firms, construction firms and home appliance makers to build the infrastructure and manufacture related devices in November. South Korea intends to garner 15 percent of the home networking market by 2012." ( times.hankooki.com ) ( www.mic.go.kr/eng/index.jsp )

Subsequently the Korea Times announced that KT Corp. has signed agreements with 16 companies and local governments to form a consortium to launch pilot digital home networking services. The consortium members include Samsung, KTF, KT Hitel, Hyundai Engineering & Construction, Woori Bank, Hana Bank, Daelim Industrial, and broadcasting firms including KBS, EBS and Skylife. Seoul National University Hospital and Kwangju and Taegu city governments also participated in the consortium. KT said that the consortium will apply for government approval to begin test services and that other firms may soon join its consortium. ( www.kt.co.kr/new_kt/eng/index.jsp )

U.S. -- The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued an order that by July 1, 2005, every product sold in the U.S. which can receive either DTV broadcasts or DTV streams must be able to recognize an ATSC DTV "broadcast flag". This is intended to protect high-value content from unauthorized copying and re-distribution. Consumer advocates and others are concerned that the regulation could force consumers to buy new equipment and lead to regulation of how computers are built. ( www.fcc.gov )

Reporting on record third quarter US broadband growth, Leichtman Research Group Inc. (LRG) results showed that:

  • "Major US cable and DSL providers added a combined total of over two million high-speed Internet subscribers in the third quarter of 2003."
  • "At the end of the third quarter of 2003, the leading cable and DSL providers in the US accounted for nearly 22.7 million high-speed Internet subscribers."
  • "Top cable operators maintain a 64% share of the overall US market versus DSL, accounting for nearly 14.5 million high-speed Internet subscribers." ( www.leichtmanresearch.com )

Personal Video Recorders are at the "tipping point":

TiVo in our bedroom --> Click for larger pictureIn our (admittedly New York-centered) view, PVRs are at that magical point after which there is an increasing rush to adopt the technology (and integrate it into various devices). Why do we think this is true?

  • First we used the most reliable source of what's "IN" that we know -- a cartoon in The New Yorker Magazine. In it, a wife, about to call her husband for dinner, asks him "Are you watching that in real time?"
  • Another indicator is the fact (reported in CED Broadband Direct) that when Time Warner Cable quietly began offering digital video recorders to its New York City subscribers there were long lines to pick up the first boxes. Time Warner is charging subscribers $8.95 per month for S-A Explorer 8000 boxes, compared to $4.95 per month for digital boxes without DVR.
  • Next came near-parallel announcements that TiVo passed the 1 million-subscription milestone for its DVR service ahead of earlier guidance (including TiVo-equipped DIRECTV set-tops), and that EchoStar passed the 1 million mark for its DVR set-tops in September.
  • Finally, an increasing number of consumer electronics companies are including PVR capabilities in products such as DVD players and DVD recorders. Pioneer's DVR-810H, for example, is a DVD player and recorder with built-in TiVo technology that allows users to record TV programs and save them on DVDs. ( www.newyorker.com ) ( www.cedmagazine.com/cedailydirect ) ( www.timewarnercable.com ) ( www.sciatl.com ) ( www.tivo.com ) ( www.dishnetwork.com ) ( www.pioneerelectronics.com )

"Planet Broadband" by Rouzbeh Yassini:

Just in time for the upcoming holiday season, there's a new book for that friend or family member who looks strangely at you and says "tell me again what this broadband stuff is all about". Cable modem pioneer Rouzbeh Yassini of YAS Broadband Ventures, along with Leslie Ellis, Roger Brown and Stewart Schley, provide a clear, understandable description of what broadband is, how it's delivered, what it does for people today and may do tomorrow. Most critically, they explain why it matters. ( www.yas.com )