Each month, we collect miscellaneous happenings, studies, trends or observations you might have missed. This month's briefs focus on recent WiMAX news; new IPTV statistics from the DSL Forum; Microsoft's new Media Center Extenders and Internet TV Beta; and an outlook on the upcoming holiday shopping season for consumer electronics.
WiMAX news was plentiful over the past month, with many announcements synchronized with the recent WiMAX World trade show.
Clearwire, which previously used a separate WiMAX modem, has begun selling PC cards for its WiMAX service in Seattle. ( www.clearwire.com )
Intel and Poland-based MCI Management SA have taken minority stakes in Nexcom Bulgaria, an alternative Bulgarian telecommunications operator in the process of rolling out a nationwide wireless broadband network using WiMAX Forum certified hardware. ( www.intel.com ) ( www.mci.pl/indexen.php ) ( www.nexcom.bg/en_index.html )
Italy has launched an auction for three WiMAX licenses, for available frequencies within the 3.4-3.6Ghz spectrum. Each license will cover one or more Italian regions. The licenses will last for 15 years, can be renewed and cannot by sold on to a third party without government authorization.
The Financial Times reports that a joint venture called Wireless Broadband Planning, formed by KDDI, Intel, JR East, Kyocera, Daiwa and the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, will bid on a license to build and operate a WiMAX network in Japan. Two licenses are expected to be awarded later this year.
Motorola announced a WiMAX chipset modem for handheld devices. The chipset is designed to deliver high-speed functionality through thin devices and is therefore optimized for both small size and low power consumption. ( www.motorola.com )
Wavesat and IBM have announced a joint development agreement for an 802.16e WiMAX chipset targeting consumer electronic devices. The chipset targets low power consumption and maximizing power efficiency for different modes of operation. Wavesat's UMobile 802.16e chipset will be manufactured by IBM. ( www.wavesat.com ) ( www.ibm.com )
Sprint announced the resignation of CEO Gary Forsee. Sprint has been a WiMAX champion, and some analysts speculated that a new CEO might back off from Sprint's aggressive investments in building out the WiMAX infrastructure for its upcoming Xohm service. ( www.sprint.com ) ( www.xohm.com )
New IPTV Statistics
At the Broadband World Forum Europe in Berlin, the DSL Forum announced new broadband and IPTV statistics. Prepared by Point Topic, the statistics indicate that the number of people using IPTV services increased by 179 percent in the 12 months to 30 June 2007, with more than 8 million people now connected to IPTV services. Europe added more than 3 million subscribers in the 12 months to 30 June 2007, making it the strongest market both in terms of growth (231 percent in 12 months) and total subscriber numbers (almost 5 million by 30 June). ( www.dslforum.org )( www.point-topic.com )
Microsoft Media Extenders
Microsoft and partners Linksys, D-Link, HP and Niveus Media announced details about new Extenders for Microsoft® Windows Media® Center. The devices are expected to be available this holiday season. They will "allow easy access to premium cable, high-definition TV, popular video formats including DivX, music, paid movies, photos and more from any TV in the house, with a wired or wireless network connection."
Microsoft also announced that the Extender technology will be incorporated in HP’s current line of MediaSmart high-definition televisions [see the FTTH conference article below].
Microsoft also launched a beta test of Windows Media Center Internet TV, which will offer over 100 hours of entertainment from MSN® Video, including full-length shows, music concerts and movie trailers. The content is supported by an advertising platform provided by YuMe.
Holiday Outlook for Consumer Electronics
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) forecasts $22.1 billion will be spent on consumer electronics gift items this holiday season. Its recently released 14th Annual CE Holiday Purchase Patterns study indicates that consumer electronics sales dollars will increase by 7 percent during the fourth quarter and that big screen television is in the top five wish list items for all adult survey respondents. The forecast is free to CEA member companies. ( www.ce.org )