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News summary for 8/15/07

Wed, 08/15/2007 - 9:10am

DirecTV to play with BPL in Dallas/Ft. Worth
By Brian Santo

DirecTV has signed a wholesale distribution agreement with Current Group that will allow DirecTV to resell data and VoIP services using the latter company’s broadband over power line (BPL) network.

DirecTV will start offering bundles of video with Current’s BPL broadband and VoIP starting at the end of this year or in early 2008. The first market will be Dallas/Ft. Worth, where Current Group is in the process of helping TXU Electric Delivery prepare its powerline network to offer data services. TXU is one of Current Group’s investors.

Current Group calculates that DirecTV eventually – “over the next several years” – will have access to about 1.8 million customers in Texas.

Neither Current nor DirecTV offered estimates of the broadband speeds that will be available. Current says only that it offers speeds up to 75 times faster than dial-up.

BPL has an extremely limited footprint. Current, partnered with Duke Energy (formerly known as Cinergy), has one of the largest commercial deployments of BPL in Cincinnati, Ohio. Current also says it has ongoing trials with Southern California Edison (SCE), Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), Potomac Electric Power Company (Pepco) near its Maryland headquarters, and Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) in Honolulu, among others. None of these installations are currently involved in the DirecTV deal.

Amedia posts loss in wake of new Moto arrangement
By Traci Patterson

Media gateway provider Amedia Networks Inc. reported a net loss of $2.6 million in its second quarter, down from a net loss of $4.5 million in the year-ago quarter. Sales for the first half of 2007 were $234,000, up from $25,279 in the first half of 2006.

Amedia took a hit during the quarter when Motorola canceled its strategic partnership with the company, replacing it with a new transition agreement and a license agreement.

As a result Amedia transferred all engineering, manufacturing and support duties for the IP home gateways to Motorola. Motorola agreed to pay Amedia $5 for each unit manufactured, and in June, Motorola paid $200,000 in advance for the first 40,000 units developed.

“During our second quarter, as part of our redefined corporate strategy, we received a $200,000 advance on a production fee payable on gateway units produced under the new license agreement with Motorola,” said Frank Galuppo, Amedia’s president, CEO and director. “We continue to focus on leveraging these accomplishments as we execute on our strategy going forward.”

Amedia originally entered into a strategic alliance agreement with Motorola Wireline Networks, a subsidiary of Motorola, in April 2006, to jointly develop a family of three IP home gateways with Motorola’s Multi-Service Access platform. Under the agreement, Motorola paid Amedia $1.9 million for engineering costs.

Wide Open West, DirecTV top J.D. Power poll
By Mike Robuck

Wide Open West was tops in one region for customer satisfaction, while DirecTV was rated highest in three regions, according to a J.D. Power and Associates study.

In the North Central region, WOW ranked highest for a second consecutive year with an index score of 729 points, the highest satisfaction score in the study and 21 points higher than the provider’s 2006 score. WOW performs particularly well in the North Central region in all six factors driving overall satisfaction, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2007 Residential Cable/Satellite Satisfaction Study that was released today.

The study measured customer satisfaction with cable and satellite TV providers in four regions: North Central, East, West and South. Within each segment, six factors were measured to determine overall customer satisfaction: performance and reliability; customer service; cost of service; image; billing; and offerings and promotions. Customer satisfaction with cable/satellite provider performance is reported as an index score based on a 1,000-point scale.

DirecTV took top honors in the East, West, and South regions. Although the satellite provider ranked highest in the 2003 and 2004 studies, 2007 marked the first year that DirecTV led in the West and South regions, and the second consecutive year it ranked highest in the East since the study was changed to a regional study.

“The cable/satellite market has shifted to a service model based on the voice, video and data triple play,” said Frank Perazzini, director of telecommunications at J.D. Power and Associates, in a prepared statement. “As providers focus on putting this new model into practice, service reliability - which includes reception clarity and minimizing the number of outages - is critical in maintaining a satisfied customer base.”

The study found that as service options become more complex and multiple products are bundled into one bill with greater frequency, the importance of performance and reliability has increased considerably among cable/satellite customers - from 19 percent in 2006 to 24 percent in 2007. In addition, service reliability is the most frequently cited reason to switch carriers, with more than 80 percent of customers reporting they would switch for this reason.

The study also cited the power of cable’s triple play bundle with consumers. Currently, 24 percent of cable subscribers were bundling voice, video and data services with their provider on a single bill. Future intention to bundle is also strong among cable customers, with 34 percent indicating they “definitely/probably” would combine all their services - an increase from 33 percent in 2006. Satellite providers that offer voice, video and data bundles though strategic alliances with telephone companies also experience increased demand from customers, as 41 percent of satellite subscribers indicate they “definitely/probably” would combine all their services, compared with 39 percent in 2006.
 
“We’ve reached a point where the economics of bundling can’t be ignored, and customers are evaluating features and prices and making informed decisions based on their needs and usage patterns,” said Perazzini. “While satellite providers in particular face challenges with offering bundled service options - as they are typically not equipped with the same level of technology as cable providers - their strength lies in the reliability of their service. This is most evident in the regional performance of DirecTV.”
 
The study also found that 60 percent of satellite and 52 percent of cable customers visit their providers’ Web portal, up from 53 percent and 41 percent, respectively, in 2006.

Nearly one-half of customers use the Internet to pay their bill, with 47 percent for satellite customers and 48 percent for cable customers.

Mobile video telephony, messaging to top $17 billion by 2012
By Mike Robuck

According to a new study from ABI Research, the market value for mobile video telephony services including video mail, video calling, and video sharing services, will grow from $1 billion in 2007 to more than $17 billion by 2012, a CAGR of 74 percent.

 “The Web 2.0 phenomena and sites that allow posting of mobile video will increase demand for mobile video services,” said principal analyst Dan Shey, in a prepared statement.

“However, global demand inhibitors include income levels, messaging and video viewing alternatives, and handset capabilities. And then there is the uncertainty factor for operators of video services on network utilization which will affect their promotion and pricing strategies.”

Shipments of DSL ports, CMTSs rise in Q2
By Traci Patterson

In the second quarter, shipments of global DSL ports crossed the 25-million mark, an increase of 16 percent year-on-year and 10 percent sequentially, and CMTS shipments rose 10 percent year-on-year and 3 percent sequentially, according to Ovum RHK.

“The DSL market grew strongly in 2Q07 on the back of a spurt in Asia-Pacific (shipments crossed the 10-million mark for the first time), particularly in the Chinese market,” said Kamalini Ganguly, an analyst of broadband network strategies at Ovum. “In addition, there was continued demand from operators deploying IPTV and next-generation networks in North America and EMEA. Alcatel-Lucent and Huawei remained number one and two in the DSL market, with both vendors recording their highest-ever shipments.”

Alcatel-Lucent shipped 9.6 million DSL ports in the quarter, a 36 percent market share on a rolling four-quarter basis, followed by Huawei with 19 percent, ZTE with 10 percent, Ericsson with 8 percent, Nokia Siemens Networks with 7 percent, and Fujitsu and UTStarcom with 4 percent each.

In the CMTS market, Cisco remained the dominant vendor with a 50 percent market share on a rolling four-quarter basis, followed by Arris with 30 percent, Motorola with 15 percent and BigBand with 3 percent.

Broadband Briefs for 8/15/07

* Digitel signs on as Navini VAR
By CED staff

Navini Networks has entered a partnership with Digitel in which the latter will resell and distribute the former’s 802.16e Mobile WiMAX systems. Target customers will be rural/independent telcos. Digitel will be able to provide turnkey RF network design and installation, tower site selection, and IP network engineering, including end-to-end network design, planning and deployment.

* Hopi Telecom chooses Occam for network overhaul
By Traci Patterson

Hopi Telecommunications Inc. (HTI) has chosen Occam Networks Inc.’s Broadband Loop Carrier (BLC) equipment to overhaul its network from legacy equipment to POTS/DSL/T1 solutions. HTI - which provides telecom services to about 2,000 Hopi Tribe subscribers in Arizona - will deploy Occam’s BLC 6150-01 and BLC 6151-01 Lifeline POTS blades, BLC 6246 and BLC 6252-02 ADSL2Plus with Lifeline POTS blades, and the BLC Emergency Standalone (ESA) blade.

* Alvarion garners FCC certification for 5.4, 5.3 GHz bands
By Mike Robuck

Alvarion Ltd. said that regulators in the United States and Canada have granted new certifications to its BreezeACCESS VL multipoint wireless broadband solutions operating in the 5.4 GHz and 5.3 GHz license-exempt frequency bands.

The new certifications represent the company's compliance with the new Dynamic Frequency Selection requirements intended for preventing disruptions to military radars and enabling license-exempt fixed wireless broadband operators to increase their 5 GHz spectrum capacity significantly. BreezeACCESS VL is OFDM-based, allowing for non- line-of-sight operation to reach more customers in each cell. It covers all the unlicensed bands in the 5 GHz band and provides advanced quality of service functionality.

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