Heard on the Net
News about People and Companies Influencing The Broadband Home
Michael Adams was appointed VP, Video Architecture Technology at Terayon. Adams was previously with Time Warner Cable in a variety of executive and senior engineering roles. ( www.terayon.com )
Bruce Bahlmann has joined Fine Point Technologies as New Technologies Product Manager. Bruce was previously CEO of Bird-Eye Network Services. ( www.finepoint.com )
Ray Bennett rejoined Interactive Enterprise as VP of Channel Management. Bennett previously had founded a software company focused on the sports market. ( www.interactive-enterprise.com )
Mike Dagenais has been promoted to President and CEO of Optical Solutions. Previously he was with Convergent Networks. ( www.opticalsolutions.com )
Mark Johnson was named VP of Business Development at the broadband professional development firm, NCTI. ( www.ncti.com )
Mike LaJoie has been named CTO of Time Warner Cable. LaJoie was previously an EVP and headed TWC's advanced-technology group. ( www.timewarnercable.com )
Al Purdy was appointed VP, International Sales at optical access system provider Wave7 Optics. ( www.wave7optics.com )
Ron Sege has been named president and CEO at Wi-Fi network provider Tropos Networks. Sege was previously CEO of Ellacoya Networks. ( www.tropos.com )
Dave Williamson was appointed VP of sales at Bridgewater Systems. He was previously with Borland Software. ( www.bridgewatersystems.com )
Liberty Media Corp. has paid $1.39 billion in cash and stock to acquire the second-largest voting stake in News Corp. This gives Liberty a 9.15 percent voting stake in Rupert Murdoch's giant international media company. ( www.libertymedia.com ) ( www.newscorp.com )
Nielsen/NetRatings is buying a 58% share in audience-measurement firm RedSheriff for $12 million. ( www.nielsen-netratings.com ) ( www.redsheriff.com )
PCTel Inc. completed its $20 million acquisition of Maxrad Inc., a manufacturer of antennas for broadband wireless, in-building wireless and land mobile radio applications. ( www.pctel.com ) ( www.maxrad.com )
STMicroelectronics announced acquisition of the wireless-LAN developer Synad Technologies Ltd. ( www.stm.com )
Alereon Inc., an Ultra Wideband (UWB) semiconductor company producing chipsets for the personal area networking (PAN) market, today announced it has received $31.5 million in the first round of its Series A financing. ( www.alereon.com )
Athena Semiconductors Inc. has closed its Series B preferred stock financing round and will receive a total of $10 million. ( www.athenasemi.com )
Broadbus closed $25 million in Series B funding for its video-on-demand (VOD) server systems for the cable television industry. ( www.broadbus.com )
Fine Point Technologies, a provider of broadband and dial up provisioning solutions has received a round of growth funding from the Edison Venture capital fund. ( www.finepoint.com ) ( www.edisonventure.com )
N2 Broadband has raised $10 million in a "C" round of funding. N2 Broadband has raised $27 million to date. ( www.n2broadband.com )
Narad Networks has secured $17.5 million in a new round of financing. ( www.naradnetworks.com )
News Corp. received regulatory approval from both the US Federal Communications Commission and Justice Department for its $6.6 billion purchase of a controlling interest in Hughes Electronics from General Motors. News Corp. will become the second-largest provider of pay TV services in the US, following number one Comcast. ( www.newscorp.com )
Pedestal Networks raised $20 million in Series C funding, bringing the company's total financing to $34 million. ( www.pedestalnetworks.com )
Ucentric, a provider of multi-room digital video recording, has secured $4 million more in financing from Polaris Ventures Partners. ( www.ucentric.com )
US: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has adopted a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) and Order on the use and applications of cognitive “smart” radio systems -- see FCC 03-322. These technologies can enable more intensive and effective spectrum use at a time when the demand for radio spectrum continues to increase.
UK: The Government Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is opening the 5.8Ghz Band C spectrum on 2nd of February 2004 for the provision of broadband fixed wireless access services. 5.8GHz Band C - ranging from 5725 to 5850 MHz - will be open to existing telecom and ISPs as well as being available to the community, health and educational sectors. Regulator OFCOM hopes this bandwidth will increase broadband availability in rural areas of the UK.
--Industry Alliances and Forums
HomePlug Powerline Alliance, Inc. announced Comcast, DS2 and EarthLink are joining HomePlug as new board member companies supporting creation of specifications for home powerline networking products and services. ( www.homeplug.org )
The new Multimedia Over Coax Alliance (MoCA) is a comprised of service providers, tech firms and retailers that have joined forces to tap the unused bandwidth of in-home coax and to network a wide variety of devices, including televisions, set-tops, digital video recorders and MP3 players. MoCA's founders include Comcast Cable, EchoStar Communications, Entropic Communications, Matsushita Electric (Panasonic), Motorola, RadioShack Corp. and Toshiba. The group's goal is to create a set of specifications for MoCA and to develop a certification process for MoCA-based products. Members will work to integrate Entropic's two-chip set known as c.Link-270 into their products so that they can be used to turn in-home coaxial cable into a 270-Mbps home network. ( www.mocalliance.org ) ( www.comcast.com ) ( www.dishnetwork.com ) ( www.entropic-communications.com ) ( www.panasonic.com ) ( www.motorola.com ) ( www.radioshack.com ) ( www.toshiba.com )
The WiMAX Forum announced that it has more than doubled its membership from 28 to 67 members in five months. Operators such as AT&T, Covad and Hong Kong-based PCCW and infrastructure providers such as Siemens Mobile and China-based ZTE Corporation joined the Forum. Among the new members are a number of established BWA original equipment manufacturers including Axxcelera Broadband Wireless, Beamreach Networks, Intracom, KarlNet, NextNet Wireless, REMEC and Vyyo. ( www.WiMAXForum.org )
Other News In Brief
Editors Note: Because of the large volume of announcements this month, especially from CES, we decided to group much of this month's news by subject areas and trends to which they relate. Because so many of these items do represent trends, the news we've listed for each is only a sampling of the recent news.
Fiber deployments picking up momentum in the US
- SBC Communications has entered into a four-year primary supplier agreement with Alcatel for the SBC fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) initiative. SBC will now move forward with lab testing and field trials. ( www.sbc.com ) ( www.alcatel.com )
- Columbus Telephone Company (Kansas), a customer-owned and operated utility in the southeast corner of the state, announced construction of a new FTTP network reaching all of the company’s almost 3400 subscribers will begin this month; the optical system is being provided by Wave7 Optics. This is one of several local utility companies announcing plans to roll out a new optical broadband network for “triple play” services. ( www.columbus-kansas.com/coltelco ) ( www.wave7optics.com )
- The Utah Telecommunications Open Infrastructure Agency (Utopia), a consortium of 18 Utah cities exploring the possibility of linking every home and business in their communities with a fiber-optic line, said it signed AT&T as the first provider of voice, video and data services over its proposed $530 million network. Utopia hopes to begin construction on its network next year. ( www.utopianet.org )
IP telephony becoming standard for "the big guys"
- Time Warner Cable announced it will bring residential phone service through cable Internet modems to Southwest Ohio by the middle of this year. ( www.timewarnercable.com )
- Verizon announced it will replace many of its traditional class 5 switches with Nortel Inc. Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) softswitches, opening the door for a comprehensive suite of VoIP services, capable of simultaneous voice, data and video signal traffic. ( www.verizon.com )
- Cox Communications has rolled out telephony services commercially in Roanoke, Va., marking the MSO's first market to go commercial with an advanced IP-based voice platform. The "Cox Connection 60" plan includes unlimited local calls, voice mail and 60 minutes of long distance service for $34.90 per month; the $49.95 per month "Unlimited" VoIP tier offers unlimited long distance. ( www.cox.com )
- Fujitsu Europe announced the supply of an integrated VoIP platform for the BT Broadband Voice Service, which was launched 9 December 2003. ( www.fujitsu-europe.com ) ( www.bt.com/broadbandvoice )
...while the upstarts keep rolling it out
- Vonage announced a co-branded partnership with Associated Network Partners Incorporated (ANPI) to deploy broadband telephony service to ANPI’s cable television and long distance telephony member companies across 35 U.S. states. Vonage will offer ANPI’s participating ISP’s, who in turn serve several hundred thousand high-speed Internet subscribers, unlimited local and long distance calling throughout the United States and Canada for a flat rate. In separate news, Vonage announced it will use Texas Instruments software in its VoIP network and has commissioned TI to develop further IP-based technologies to support and expand its services. ( www.vonage.com ) ( www.ti.com )
More broadband for the Euro (or dollar or ...)
- Optus plans to reduce broadband prices and increase the data allowances of its high speed internet offering. ( www.optus.com.au )
- HanseNet based in Hamburg, Germany--owned by Telecom Italia--has launched a cut-priced broadband Internet service, which it claims is 50% less expensive than services from Deutsche Telekom. ( www.hansenet.com )
- Irish telephone company Eircom Ltd. announced it is cutting its monthly broadband fee from EUR54 to EUR40, starting in March. ( www.eircom.ie )
- Tiscali France has lowered its monthly ADSL prices. The 128 Kbps service has been changed to 512 Kbps for EUR20 per month, and the price for the 1024 Kbps offer was reduced from EUR40 to EUR30. ( www.tiscali.fr )
- All this indicates a continuing of the trend noted by Point Topic in October, 2003 when they noted that broadband DSL services have undergone an international wave of price cutting during 2003.
More broadband everywhere: US
- A Harris Interactive poll in late 2003 found that more than one-third (37 percent) of Internet users have broadband. Less than two years ago, only 22 percent of adults online had broadband.
- Recent Nielsen/NetRatings results indicate the number of U.S. broadband users has jumped 27 percent in the last six months to reach 38% of home broadband users. ( www.nielsen-netratings.com )
- The FCC found that for the year from June 30, 2002 through June 30, 2003 total broadband connections jumped by 45%.
- Knowledge Networks/SRI reported that broadband is now in 49% of online homes earning over $75k. It also showed that broadband households are 50% more likely to be active online shoppers. ( www.knowledgenetworks.com/info/press/releases/2004/010904_broadband.htm )
- Increasing numbers of hotel chains are using the draw of broadband as a free service. This seems to be most prevalent in mid-priced hotels; some high-end ones still charge for the service. Examples include Hilton Garden Inns; Marriott's Courtyard, Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites and SpringHill Suites; Comfort Suites; Wyndham; Drury Hotels; Wingate Inns.
- According to Pyramid Research, by the end of 2003 there was an estimated increase of almost 30 million broadband subscribers worldwide over 2002.
- Point Topic's analysis is that broadband reached 100m lines at the end of 2003.
Wi-Fi Broadband Access:
Wi-Fi abounds for people on the go, both in hotspots and now also on railroad trains:
- SNCF, France’s national railway, has been testing Wi-Fi access for passengers on its Paris-Bordeaux-Pau line using the Clic TGV service.
- In the UK PointShot Wireless and Broadreach Networks announced a strategic partnership to deliver high-quality Wi-Fi services to the UK rail industry. Interestingly, Broadreach's investors include BT and the Intel Communications Fund. Pointshot currently offers trial wireless Internet service on passenger trains in North America. ( www.pointshotwireless.com ) ( www.broadreachnet.com )
More multimedia services and content:
The virtuous circle of more broadband subscribers breeding more broadband content:
- Time Warner Cable announced significant enhancements to its Road Runner service including an increased emphasis on streaming media which will be supported by RealNetworks’ technology. Time Warner Cable has licensed the company’s Real 10™ Media Delivery Platform and Helix™ media delivery software and application software to support Road Runner. ( www.timewarnercable.com ) ( www.roadrunner.com ) ( www.realnetworks.com )
- Nielsen/NetRatings found that in the month of November 2003, 17 percent of all online ad clicks were for rich media ads, a 10 percent increase compared to the same month in 2002. ( www.nielsen-netratings.com )
- NTL introduced Broadband Plus, a premium broadband content bundle including music, videos on demand and gaming. ( www.ntl.com )
- MSN Video is rolling out more broadband oriented features and new TV-like ads for advertisers.
- Advertisers are doing betas with Unicast's new Video Commercial which gets frame speeds of 27 to 30 frames per second (FPS). The full-screen video is in Microsoft's Windows Media Player format. According to Internetnews.com advertisers include AT&T, Honda, McDonald's, Pepsi, Vonage, and Warner Brothers and will be viewable on sites including ABC News, Accuweather, CBS Sportsline, ESPN, FoxSports, Gamespot, MSN and Nick.com.
- Rogers Cable has joined others like SBC and BT in making a deal with Yahoo! to offer customized products and services,optimized for broadband, including digital photo tools and storage; and online music and game services.
- And one you might want to experience personally. More and more, the conference sessions or events you wanted to see and hear but missed are only a click away. Take a look at Paul Otellini's session at CES the way we did.
Music services keep coming
- HP and Apple announced a strategic alliance to deliver an HP-branded digital music player based on Apple’s iPod digital music player and Apple’s iTunes digital music jukebox and online music store. HP consumer PCs and notebooks will come pre-installed with Apple’s iTunes jukebox software and a desktop icon pointing consumers to the iTunes Music Store. ( www.hp.com ) ( www.apple.com )
- Wal-Mart unveiled an online store that sells songs for 88 cents -- less than the popular iTunes downloads from Apple Computer. Its music store opened with a catalog of about 200,000 songs from the major labels and independents; the online store was developed by Liquid Digital Media.
Since Digital Media Adapters are hot (see article below), semiconductor companies are creating new chips to power them:
- ANT Limited has announced it has integrated its PurePlay digital-media viewer on Philips Electronics's Nexperia Home semiconductor system for TV and set-top boxes. ANT PurePlay allows consumers to view their digital media, including digital photos, MP3 audio and MPEG movies, on TVs and handheld devices. ( www.antlimited.com ) ( www.semiconductors.philips.com )
- Broadcom announced its single-chip dual-channel HD video/audio/graphics and personal video recording (PVR) solution for digital TV sets, cable set-top boxes, satellite receivers and HD DVD players. ( www.broadcom.com )
- Sand Video, a fabless semiconductor manufacturer of video compression technology, demonstrated their silicon-based HD real-time decoder chip at CES. The SV-D011 chip will facilitate incorporating high definition AVC/H.264 compression technology in a range of consumer video devices, such as cable and satellite TV set-top-boxes, DVD players and recorders and personal video recorders (PVRs). ( www.sandvideo.com )
- Sentivision announced the availability of an H.264/MPEG4 Part 10 decoder technology platform for IP set-top boxes based on Texas Instruments' DM64x digital media processors. Sentivision, a provider of media technologies and products for the digital entertainment market, combined their digital video codec with TI's DSP technology to enable rapid development of consumer electronic products requiring video-on-demand service over DSL. ( sentivision.com/products/h264/h264-en.html ) ( www.ti.com )