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The February 17, 2004 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

Kimberly Chun and Barry Demant have been named VPs in Sales at ICTV. Chun was previously at Samsung and Demant was at DST Innovis. ( www.ictv.com )

Elizabeth Cuccinello has been hired as VP of Business Development and Legal Affairs at Fine Point Technologies. ( www.finepoint.com )

Dan Desmet has been promoted to the role of General Manager for the Americas for Tandberg Television. ( www.tandbergtv.com )

Stewart Fox has been appointed VP of sales for AirMagnet. He was previously with Onset Technology. ( www.airmagnet.com )

Ken Haase has joined Netopia as VP of technical services. He was previously director of Wi-Fi product marketing for Proxim Wireless Networks. ( www.netopia.com )

Ed Perry has been named president and CEO of Advent Networks. ( www.adventnetworks.com )

Donald Stalter was appointed CEO of Vivato. Previously, Stalter was with Terawave Communications. ( www.vivato.net )

William Stoehs has joined Broadband Services, Inc. (BSI) as VP, National Accounts, Southeast. Stoehs was previously with Comcast Network Solutions. ( www.broadbandsvc.com )


Company News

--Acquisitions

RealNetworks is buying downloadable computer game maker GameHouse for $35.6 million in cash and stock. ( www.realnetworks.com ) ( www.gamehouse.com )

TiVo has acquired Strangeberry, a technology company "specializing in using home network and broadband technologies to create new entertainment experiences on television." The terms were not disclosed. ( www. tivo.com ) ( www.strangeberry.com )

Zhone Technologies is acquiring Gluon Networks for $7 million. ( www.zhone.com ) ( www.gluonnetworks.com )

--Funding

Airgo Networks, which specializes in wireless networking chips, raised an additional $25 million in funding. The investment will be used to start volume production of Wi-Fi chips, including a multiple input multiple output (MIMO) based device with 108 Mbps single-channel throughput. ( www.airgonetworks.com )

Liberty Media International is investing up to $82 million as it acquires a stake in Japanese cable company Mediatti Communications Inc. Liberty Media will initially acquire a 23 percent stake in Mediatti, with the option to increase ownership. Mediatti owns and operates broadband networks available to 600,000 households, mainly in the Tokyo area; it is controlled by Olympus Capital Holdings Asia, a private equity fund manager, and Tomen Corp. ( www.libertymedia.com ) ( www.mediatti.com )

Personal Broadband Australia (PBBA) has secured second round funding of AU$12m (US$9.4m) to enable continued rollout of its iBurst(tm) network (using Arraycomm's technology) and full commercial launch. Personal Broadband Australia was formerly called CKW Wireless. ( www.pbba.com.au ) ( www.arraycomm.com )

Pronto Networks, a provider of OSS systems for Wi-Fi networks, raised $11.3 million in a "B" series of financing led by BV Capital. ( www.prontonetworks.com )

TiVo has raised $74 million in a share offering to institutional investors. ( www.tivo.com )

Vonage, a provider of broadband phone service, announced the closing of a $40.0 million series C financing round led by 3i and co-led by Meritech Capital Partners, bringing total investment in the company over the past three months to $75 million. ( www.vonage.com )

Widevine Technologies, a provider of content security solutions to the video over IP market, announced the closing of $13 million in venture funding. ( www.widevine.com )


Other News

2Wire announced that it has sold its millionth residential gateway since the product was launched in August 2000. ( www.2wire.com )

Akimbo, a newly-launched company, has announced their Akimbo Service which delivers video content over a broadband connection to a user's TV. The service is downloaded and stored on the Akimbo Player for on-demand viewing. The Akimbo Player is expected to start at $199 and the monthly subscription to the Akimbo Service will be $9.99. CinemaNow is partnering with Akimbo to make its content library available. ( www.akimbo.com ) ( www.cinemanow.com )

America Online has launched a promotion that lets its members download films through Movielink for 99 cents a title. The company is looking for ways to encourage subscribers to sign up for its $14.95 per month service, which is incremental to their current broadband bill. Movielink has previously partnered with other broadband providers including BellSouth, Time Warner Cable and SBC. ( www.aol.com ) ( www.movielink.com )

Comcast had a busy month including not only the huge news of their surprise bid to buy Walt Disney, but also including a hotspot deal with T-Mobile USA to bring Wi-Fi service to its broadband customers. They also announced a deal with Gemstar-TV Guide International to form a joint IPG development group that will use the existing TV Guide Interactive IPG as a "foundation" for future guides. Comcast will own 51 percent of the development group, for which they will pay $250 million. Comcast retains the freedom to develop IPGs with Gemstar or with guides from third parties. ( www.comcast.com ) ( www.disney.com ) ( www.tmobile.com ) ( www.gemstartvguide.com )

Deutsche Telekom is increasing its DSL transmission speeds. The available rates will be one megabit per second (Mbps) as the starting offer, 2 Mbps as a standard product, and 3 Mbps as a premium service. Marketing and price structure details have not yet been announced. The current standard offering has a download speed of 768 kbps. Similar moves can be seen in other locations: In the US, SBC has a new plan that offers download speeds up to 3 Mbps for $44.99 per month. Its lowest tier offers download speeds between 384 kbps and 1.5 Mbps, and costs $29.95 per month. ( www.telekom.de ) ( www.sbc.com )

IBM and Eagle Broadband signed a joint marketing agreement to design, build and operate state-of-the-art, fiber-based broadband networks which would deliver bundled voice, video, data and security digital services, video content and multimedia set-top box technology to communities across the U.S. ( www.ibm.com ) ( www.eaglebroadband.com )

Mediabolic announced that Fujitsu Limitedís 2004 spring PC product line is being shipped with Mediabolicís middleware platform and media applications in the Japan market. The software provides consumers the ability to access music, photos and video from multiple PCs via a graphical user interface and remote control. ( www.mediabolic.com ) ( www.fujitsu.com )

Movielink has introduced a new capability that enables customers to download selected movies and view them repeatedly at reduced rental rates for additional days. Customers who use the "MultiPlay" feature can "re-rent" titles for additional 24-hour viewing periods for up to 30 days after the initial download, and do so at a reduced price. Movie download companies are experimenting with what the compelling feature set will be for consumers. Cinema Now last month announced a "download to own" video option which allows users to purchase and download a permanent copy of a digital file for unlimited playback on that device. ( www.movielink.com ) ( www.cinemanow.com )

Nextel announced that it will trial a wireless broadband service in the Raleigh-Durham, N.C. market using Flarion's technology. The trial will begin this month and will offer high-speed, IP-based broadband access with the full mobility of wireless service. Nextel's announcement made clear that Flarion is one of a number of "interesting" technologies and that this is a market trial to better understand how the service performs. ( www.nextel.com ) ( www.flarion.com )

Nielsen Media Research has made an agreement with TiVo to launch a new service that tracks and markets information on digital video recorder usage. The plans call for Nielsen to issue reports on individual programs based on an 'opt-in' panel of between 5,000 and 10,000 households recruited from TiVo's subscriber base. ( www.nielsenmedia.com ) ( www.tivo.com )

Rogers Communications is following the now-established track of cable operators who are raising cable modem speeds and starting to roll out IP telephony services. Rogers recently announced plans to offer a cable modem service tier that offers up to 5 Mbps downstream. They also announced that they plan to offer IP telephony services to about 1.8 million homes by mid-2005, and extend it to the majority of its service areas in 2006. The plan is conditional upon supportive regulatory conditions. ( www.rogers.com )

Sprint has joined SBC and Qwest in making marketing agreements with satellite companies so as to be able to offer video services as part of a complete bundle. Sprint will offer EchoStarís Dish Network direct-broadcast satellite service to its local-telephone customers in 18 states. ( www.sprint.com ) ( www.dishnetwork.com )

Streamcast Networks announced Morpheus 4, the new version of its peer-to-peer file sharing program, It provides direct connectivity to users of other existing peer-to-peer clients, including Kazaa, iMESH, eDonkey, Overnet, Grokster, Gnutella, LimeWire, G2 and others. It also includes a free voice chat (VOIP) function. ( www.streamcastnetworks.com )

Telia has launched its Telia Broadband Telephony service. In addition to telephony, it features a chat function, video calls and email. Subscribers to the service can make phone calls free to each other, while calls outside the service will cost the same as an ordinary phone call. The application was developed in cooperation with TeliaSonera Finland and the Swedish software company Hotsip AB. ( www.telia.se ) ( www.hotsip.se )

Time Warner Cable announced creation of a new division, Time Warner Cable Voice Services, that will handle the company's VoIP residential telephone service deployments. Carl Rosetti, executive vice president of new business development, will add the title of president of TWC Voice Services. Each of the companyís operating divisions will hire a general manager to oversee phone deployments. The company expects their Digital Phone service to be available in most, if not all, of its 31 divisions by year-end. ( www.timewarnercable.com )

--Regulatory News

U.S.-- FCC

VoIP-- In a 3-2 vote, the FCC ruled that Pulver.com's Free World Dialup VOIP service is an information service, not a telecommunications service and that the computer-to-computer calling service isn't subject to traditional telephone regulation rules. Similar logic applies to services from Skype. However, the decision does not address whether traditional phone regulations might apply to VoIP services that interconnect with the traditional telephone system. The latter category includes services like that from Vonage. In a separate vote the FCC launched its general rulemaking on VoIP services with a public comment period. ( www.pulver.com ) ( www.skype.com ) ( www.vonage.com )

BPL -- The FCC agreed unanimously to go forward with a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) on the subject of Broadband over Power Line (BPL), despite a large number of comments form the amateur radio community. The FCC did not propose any changes in Part 15 rules governing unlicensed devices, but said it would require BPL providers to apply "adaptive" interference mitigation techniques to their systems. The commission views BPL as a potential competitor to DSL and cable modem service and a hope to bring broadband to rural America.