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News summary for 5/18/07

Fri, 05/18/2007 - 9:23am

Joining e-ad party, Microsoft buys aQuantive
By Brian Santo, CED

In a move equal parts strategic and defensive, Microsoft will acquire, for about $6 billion in cash, aQuantive, a company that specializes in online and interactive advertising.

The move follows the $3.1 billion purchase of another large online/interactive ad firm, DoubleClick, by Google, which is developing into something of an archrival to Microsoft.

Similarly, Time Warner’s AOL unit recently bought a controlling interest in German online ad company Adtech and also purchased Third Screen Media, an ad agency that targets mobile handsets. Meanwhile, WPP, a large advertising and media company, decided to buy digital marketing company 24/7 Real Media for $649 million.

AT&T didn’t buy anybody, but still managed to insert itself in the new-media ad frenzy by announcing it expects that in three years it will be making a combined $1 billion a year from advertising on its mobile phones and on its U-verse triple play service.

Microsoft has long touted the value of online advertising, but the rash of acquisitions compelled the company to try to bring some of that capability in-house. Microsoft’s spin will be that it will be able to provide the development tools for online and interactive advertising.

To wit, according to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer: “The advertising industry is evolving and growing at an incredible pace, moving increasingly toward online and IP-served platforms, which dramatically increases the importance of software for this industry.”

aQuantive is the parent of Avenue A | Razorfish, an ad agency that specializes in interactivity; Atlas, a digital marketing company; and DRIVEpm, a reseller of online ad space.

Cisco receives final OK for WebEx acquisition
By Traci Patterson, CED

Cisco Systems Inc. has received the remaining foreign regulatory approvals required to complete the tender offer for all outstanding shares of WebEx Communications Inc.

The offer is scheduled to expire at the end of the day on May 21.

On March 27, Cisco, through its wholly-owned subsidiary Wonder Acquisition Corp., commenced a tender offer for all outstanding shares of WebEx, at a price of $57 per share (net to the seller in cash without interest, less brokerage fees and less any required withholding taxes).

On March 15, the companies announced that they had signed a definitive merger agreement for Cisco to acquire WebEx, a company that specializes in Web-based communications, including video conferences and webinars.

Nortel, Toshiba join forces on WiMAX base stations
By Brian Santo, CED

Nortel and Toshiba have thrown in together to develop mobile WiMAX base stations for the Japanese and global markets. The base stations will be based on Nortel's OFDM and MIMO technologies that support high-speed wireless broadband communications, and a radio module based on Toshiba's amplifier technology.

Building on these respective strengths, Nortel and Toshiba will develop a range of small, power-efficient and cost-effective WiMAX base stations.

Neither company provided specifics about future plans, but Toshiba hinted the collaboration could be for the long term, and go beyond the WiMAX market.

“The initial focus will be on the joint development of WiMAX products, with Toshiba engineers contributing experience and expertise in radio technologies to Nortel's WiMAX solution," said Shunichi Kimura, corporate vice president, and president and CEO of Toshiba's Social Infrastructure Systems Company.

CommuniGate, Cylogistics ally on billing/applications platform
By Brian Santo, CED

CommuniGate Systems has partnered with billing software provider Cylogistics to create what the two are calling a turnkey solution that unifies VoIP, e-mail, messaging, and other Internet applications, along with integrated billing support.

"As legacy billing systems do not support the latest VoIP and Rich Media Internet Communications applications, billing has been a significant challenge for many looking to deploy VoIP services," said Jon R. Doyle, vice president of business development for CommuniGate Systems.

CommuniGate Pro Internet Communications Suite provides e-mail, collaboration, voice/video, and mobile Internet Communications. The platform's all-active Dynamic Clustering with SIP Farm allows carriers to support millions of subscriber accounts, while providing 99.999 percent uptime.

Broadband Briefs for 5/18/07

* Motorola renames connected home solutions unit
Motorola Inc. has changed the name of its Connected Home Solutions division, which serves the cable industry, to Motorola’s Home and Networks Mobility business. Motorola said yesterday that it will acquire Modulus Video, and Modulus will be integrated into the newly-named unit.

* Chinese mobile TV co. releases new demodulator
China-based mobile TV company Maxscend Technologies Inc. unveiled what it says is the industry's smallest DAB/T-DMB demodulator with the lowest power consumption: the MXD0120.

The MXD0120 has a worst-case power consumption of 18mW during full channel capacity reception. Designed with the MXD0120, a mobile TV-enabled system can achieve a minimum physical dimension and an extended battery life, the company said.

* Verizon takes on ad team for cross-platform harmony
Verizon is pulling together a team of 10 advertising agencies in order to maintain unity across all of its business platforms—Verizon Communications, Verizon Business and Verizon Wireless.

The agencies include McCann Erickson, Zenith, Universal McCann, Global Hue, Ad Asia, Moxie, RGA, Landor Associates, MRM and Momentum.

* AT&T widens Kentucky mobile offering
AT&T Inc. has extended its wireless service in Kentucky with two new cell sites in Monticello and Lebanon.

AT&T has added 12 new cell sites in the Kentucky/Tennessee market since January, and it added more than 48 cell sites in Kentucky last year. The integration of AT&T’s cell sites with the former Cingular ones establishes AT&T's Allover Network, which covers more than 273 million people nationwide.

* TVG begins patent suit for online interactive feature infringement
Horseracing network TVG has initiated patent litigation proceedings against Magna Entertainment Corp.HRTV and XpressBet Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

TVG asserts that the companies infringed on two of its patents, which cover features of interactive wagering systems—audio or video racing feeds, and wagering on multiple tracks. The Gemstar-TV Guide subsidiary is seeking monetary damages, as well as injunctive relief to prevent the infringement of U.S. Patent No. 6,089,981 and U.S. Patent No. 6,554,709, each entitled “Interactive Wagering Systems and Processes.”

* UTStarcom asks Nasdaq for filing extension
UTStarcom missed its deadline to file revised financials required to remain listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange, and has filed for an extension. The company remains listed while Nasdaq reviews the request. UTStarcom has been trying to sort out its finances after having become embroiled in the same backdated-options problem that about 200 other companies also engaged in.

* Adelstein to keynote at The Independent Show
The Independent Show announced that the 2007 event, themed “Golden Opportunities,” will be held on July 29 through August 1 in Monterey, Calif. FCC Commissioner Jonathan S. Adelstein will deliver the keynote Washington address during a luncheon session on July 31.

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