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News summary for 10/08/07

Mon, 10/08/2007 - 9:20am
CED staff

NEC launches converged multimedia, SIP voice platform
By Traci Patterson

NEC Corp. has released a new converged multimedia and SIP voice platform - the service convergence integrated (SCI) platform - that enables VoIP and multimedia services and offers a small start for operators transitioning to an IMS-based next-generation network (NGN).

The platform utilizes a blade-server architecture and bundles an SIP server, an operation and maintenance server, and service enablers. It allows operators to develop and provide VoIP services, as well as multimedia and value-added services such as IP messaging.

The SCI platform can be expanded from a small start to a large number of users with the addition of blade servers, and it supports the migration from the initial stages of NGN to IMS-based NGN capability with the installation of new nodes.

NEC will demonstrate the platform at the Broadband World Forum, being held this week in Berlin.

IPTV subscriber numbers on the rise
By Traci Patterson

The number of people using IPTV services increased 179 percent in the 12 months ended June 30, according to statistics prepared for the DSL Forum by Point Topic.

More than eight million people are now connected to IPTV services. Europe added more than three million subscribers in the 12-month period, making it the strongest market in terms of growth (231 percent) and total subscribers (nearly five million). 

On the broadband access side, DSL continued to dominate with nearly 66 percent of the market share - more than 200 million of the world’s 313 million broadband subscribers. About 22 percent of subscribers were cable subs, and just a little more than 10 percent were FTTx subs.

"Top markets like France (2.6 million customers) and Hong Kong (938,000 customers) show that IPTV can be deployed rapidly, to large numbers of subscribers, if the market conditions are right," said John Bosnell, Point Topic’s senior analyst. "On the demand side, competitive and clear bundle pricing and content deals will help to attract customers to IPTV services, while on the supply side, making IPTV easier to install and develop will help to deliver IPTV services to a wider subscriber base."

Concurrent, C-Cor cross-license patents
By Brian Santo

Concurrent Computer, often cited by analysts as a takeover target, and C-Cor, which is actually in the process of being taken over (by Arris), have agreed to a provision-laden patent cross-licensing deal that clarifies the complicated ownership of a pair of patents originally assigned to Oracle.

The agreement allows any acquirer of Concurrent or its video streaming business – and a subsequent acquirer – to be covered under the patent portfolio previously licensed to Concurrent by Alcatel, so long as the acquirer has not been identified as an Alcatel license target. All that according to C-Cor.

“We are pleased to have this agreement completed,” stated Gary Trimm, president and CEO of Concurrent.

“This news should reassure the investment community and our customers that any Concurrent products sold by us or an acquiring company will be free from any and all patent claims based on the licensed patents.”

In a companion maneuver, C-Cor said it paid Thirdspace Living (in the process of becoming defunct, its assets sold to Alcatel – which is how Alcatel enters the picture) $3.2 million, in exchange for Thirdspace dropping claims to any proceeds C-Cor would receive should it prevail in its patent suit against SeaChange International. Thirdspace, which not coincidentally is in hock to Concurrent, used the money it got from C-Cor to pay off its debt to Concurrent. Concurrent then paid C-Cor $1.7 million in patent licensing fees.

The portfolio licensed to Concurrent by C-Cor includes two U.S. patents and all divisionals, continuations and foreign counterparts of those patents. Oracle developed the original portfolio, then subsequently sold it to nCube (subsequently purchased by C-Cor) and also to Thirdspace. Concurrent obtained a license to the portfolio as part of its 2002 investment in Thirdspace. The license was reissued by Alcatel when it purchased the assets of Thirdspace in May 2003. 

The two patents are Number 5,805,804 and Number 5,623,595. Patent 5,805,804 is the subject of the dispute between SeaChange and C-Cor, the latter said.

Sprint, Vonage end patent dispute
By Traci Patterson

Sprint Nextel and Vonage have settled their ongoing patent dispute and entered into a licensing arrangement under Sprint's voice-over-packet (VOP) patent portfolio.

On Sept. 25, a jury in the U.S. District Court in Kansas City found that Vonage had infringed six Sprint patents. The settlement agreement resolves all claims related to this dispute.

In addition, Sprint will license Vonage its VOP portfolio, which comprises more than 100 patents covering different methods, components and systems that connect telephone calls between a regular telephone network and a packet-switched network such as the Internet, Sprint said.

BroadSoft, Taqua team to supply IP, VoIP systems
By Brian Santo

Taqua and VoIP software provider BroadSoft are partnering to help telcos in the U.S. and Canada replace their Class 5 switches with a combination of the former’s switch technology and the latter’s VoIP software. The same system can be used by MSOs to initiate VoIP services.

Carriers of any size can now save deployment and operational costs while delivering world-class services by combining the T7000 end-office switching system solution with BroadSoft's advanced Hosted PBX/IP Centrex, Mobile PBX and Residential Broadband applications, the two say.

The combined products can be deployed using the Taqua 7000 interfaces, such as GR303, TR08, CAS, PRI or POTS lines, under control of BroadWorks through Session Initiated Protocol (SIP), as determined by the operator on a per port basis. The products can also be deployed with the T7000 acting as an Intelligent Network Gateway for BroadWorks.

TM Forum creates Cable Interest Group
By Mike Robuck

The TM Forum will announce today that it has created the Cable Interest Group (CIG), which will be comprised of MSOs from Europe and the U.S. The CIG will address issues such as support for data management, service delivery, revenue assurance, and the management of services such as advertising, multimedia applications, interactive services, and the introduction of personalized content.

Kelly Anderson is leading the CIG and TM Forum's cable initiative. Prior to the TM Forum, Anderson was with IPDR.org, which is now part of the TM Forum.

"With several major cable MSOs as members of TM Forum already, including Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications, we have been able to prove our value in the cable industry,” said TM Forum's President Martin Creaner, in a statement. “Establishing the Cable Interest Group, appointing Kelly (Anderson) to drive our overall cable initiatives and creating a strong cable industry focus at our upcoming Management World Americas event in Dallas, serves to re-emphasize our commitment to growing our relevance to the cable market."

The TM Forum will focus on operations and management issues for cable operators at its Management World Americas event that is slated for November 4-8 in Dallas.

Don't tax the Web
Copyright Los Angeles Times

Taxes and other government-imposed charges can boost your phone and cable TV bills by 20% or more. To guard the Net against that kind of pile-on, Congress in 1998 adopted the Internet Tax Freedom Act, which temporarily barred state and local governments from taxing online access services or imposing discriminatory levies on Web-based businesses. The ban was renewed in 2004 but is due to expire Nov. 1.

Before it does, Congress should make it permanent.

The Internet is transforming how people communicate, work, learn and play, especially as broadband proliferates. Although roughly half of U.S. Internet users have broadband at home, millions do not have any kind of Internet service there, and millions of others have only dial-up accounts. These folks are largely poor, elderly or rural, and the federal government needs to ensure their access to affordable broadband services.

Barring states and cities from taxing Internet access won't close the connectivity gap, but it will help keep down the price of broadband service. That's an important step in the process of enabling more consumers to afford it. The prohibition also spares many cable-modem and DSL users, who pay taxes on the TV and phone services they receive through the same wires, from being double-taxed. Nor should Web-based companies have to pay taxes that their brick-and-mortar rivals do not. Mail-order businesses are immune to taxes outside the states where they're based, so e-commerce companies should be too.

Lobbyists for state and local governments have warned Congress that Internet-access companies will bundle phone, TV and other services with broadband to avoid taxes on the whole package. It's a good point, and lawmakers should be careful that the protection for purely Web-based businesses doesn't become a loophole for Internet-access companies to exploit. These lobbyists also have argued against a permanent extension of the tax moratorium, saying the Net is changing too rapidly to predict the long-term effect of the ban.

That's not a persuasive argument, because Congress can pass another law ending the ban if needed. The greater risk is the one Congress faces now. Several states are poised to institute new taxes on Internet access the moment the current moratorium lapses. That's reason enough for Washington to enact a permanent ban.

Broadband Briefs for 10/08/07

* Jones MediaAmerica will rep VoodooVox
By Brian Santo

VoodooVox has arranged to have Jones MediaAmerica sell its In-Call Media products to U.S. radio and television broadcasters. In-Call Media inserts ad-supported audio content directly into the call stream of high-call volume companies.

VoodooVox said its In-Call Network is being used by IDT, Univision, Virgin Mobile, Nokia, Microsoft and Showtime, among others.

The agreement with MediaAmerica is expected to generate $2.3 million in ad sales for VoodooVox over the first year, and more than $10 million over the course of the entire contract. 

Ruckus Wireless wins three deployments for MediaFlex
By Traci Patterson

Ruckus Wireless’ Wi-Fi systems have been selected by Portugal TelecomTruphone - a next-gen mobile network operator - and Telefonica del Sur (TelSur), a Chilean provider of Internet-based multimedia and communications services.

Portugal’s largest telecom provider has chosen the MediaFlex “Smart Wi-Fi” system as its wireless standard for IPTV distribution to the more than three million households it serves. TelSur has also selected the MediaFlex system to support Latin America’s first commercial IPTV service. And Truphone has deployed the Ruckus ZoneFlex “Smart Wi-Fi” system to support voice over Wi-Fi requirements in London.

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