Narad Networks changes name, platform
By Traci Patterson, CED
Narad Networks, a provider of FTTx solutions for HFC cable systems, has migrated to a switched Ethernet platform and has changed its name to PhyFlex Networks.
The new name (phy=physical ware, flex=flexible) emphasizes the ability of PhyFlex’s new platform – which distributes switched Ethernet over fiber, Ethernet, and coaxial cable – to focus on an operator’s need to increase network bandwidth with a network that can quickly adapt, evolve and expand to meet increasing end user demand.
“We felt we achieved a level of transition that warranted a change in the market,” PhyFlex CEO Michael Collette said of the name change. “We felt any short-term confusion would be small in comparison to the benefit of casting a new light on our new direction.”
Narad focused on the development of advanced modems that took advantage of unused spectrum on the cable plant.
While Narad fixated on the implementation of the modem, PhyFlex will move over to the switch side.
The FTTxSWITCH product is the first of the PhyFlex FTTx family of products, and the first outdoor switch to be certified by the Metro Ethernet Forum as a carrier Ethernet access network platform with both MEF 9 and MEF 14 certification via both fiber and coax. No other products in the family have been announced as of yet, but one will be unveiled at SCTE Cable-Tec Expo in Orlando, June 19-22, and the other at year’s end, Collette said.
The FTTxSWITCH has successfully completed lab trials and is scheduled for field trials with three top 10 U.S. operators, including Cablevision Systems Corp. and Mediacom Communications Corp. The product is in the field test phase at Cogeco Cable and in the deployment planning phase at Hargray Communications.
Internationally, Westford, Mass.-based PhyFlex will start three trials in Q2, including two in Mexico under the management of Intercable, a Mexican distributor, and one in Korea with World Multi-Net Co., a subsidiary of Kangnam Cable.
The FTTxSWITCH supports fiber-to-the-node (FTTN), fiber-to-the-curb (FTTC) and fiber-to-the-premise (FTTP) configurations, and operators can mix and match fiber, coax and Ethernet cabling in a single switch, as needed.
The product supports Gigabit Ethernet over each of six fiber/Ethernet ports, and 100 Mbps Ethernet over each of four coaxial cable ports.
Collette said PhyFlex’s main focus is expanding for the commercial market, but the company has early start points in the residential market, where the focus is entirely on high-speed residential broadband.
Cablevision’s Optimum Online Ultra is deployed using PhyFlex’s service in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut markets. Collette said the company’s domestic residential market outside of Cablevision is in “study mode.”
PhyFlex recently completed a round of $10 million in financing, and the company is hiring aggressively.
Collette expects the company to grow by 50 percent this year. As of now, the company has about 40 employees, but he expects to have about 60 by the end of the year, with engineering being the segment with the most growth.
Comcast to buy Cablevision subsidiaries
By Traci Patterson, CED
Comcast Corp. will purchase, from Cablevision Systems Corp.’s programming subsidiary, Rainbow Media Holdings LLC, Cablevision’s 60 percent interest in Fox Sports Network (FSN) Bay Area and its 50 percent interest in FSN New England for $570 million in cash.
Upon completion of the FSN transactions, Comcast will own 100 percent of FSN New England and 60 percent of FSN Bay Area, with the remaining 40 percent still owned by an affiliate of News Corp., Comcast said. Comcast will operate both networks, and completion of the two transactions is subject to certain closing conditions.
Rainbow Media’s portfolio includes AMC, The Independent Film Channel (IFC) and WE tv, as well as the Rainbow Sports Network. All three transactions add to Comcast’s growing regional sports programming operations.
Comcast’s recent expansion spree includes its acquisition of Patriot Media & Communications, Fandango, and the Indiana and Illinois cable systems of Insight Communications Company Inc. The company will also launch Fancast.com this summer.
Verizon prospers; FiOS picks up steam
By Brian Santo, CED
Paced by growth in nearly all facets of its business, including broadband data, pay TV, business services, and wireless phone, Verizon reported higher revenue in its 2007 first quarter. The improvement in income was tempered by several one-time charges that led to lower profits.
Verizon added 416,000 net new broadband connections. Of the quarterly adds, 177,000 were FiOS subscribers.
Verizon how has a smidge under 7.4 million broadband subscribers total, of which 864,000 are FiOS. The total of all broadband subscribers is up 30 percent from the end of Q1 2006.
FiOS TV, constrained somewhat by Verizon’s obligation to apply for video franchise rights, is growing more slowly than FiOS broadband. The company added 141,000 FiOS TV subscribers in Q1, for a total of 348,000.
Nonetheless, Verizon reported the average number of daily installs is now up to 2,200 a week; the Q4 daily average was 1,450. Verizon also has a total of 618,000 customers subscribing to TV from partner DirecTV Business services, largely IP-based data services, grew enough to offset losses in business telephony. Data revenues across all market segments increased 12.2 percent, to $4.2 billion, compared with the first quarter 2006, Verizon reported.
Verizon Wireless reported nearly 1.6 million retail net customer additions, for a total of 58.5 million retail customers. That number goes up to 60.7 million when the company adds in wholesale customers too.
Verizon continues to lose wireline connections – another 3 million in Q1. Revenue in mainline telephony was down.
Capex spending was $2.4 billion on wireline, a consistent figure as Verizon steadily rolls out FiOS. Spending on wireless was up to $1.7 billion, an increase largely attributable to Verizon upgrading its network to EV-DO Rev A.
Verizon revenue was up 6.5 percent year over year to $22.5 billion, while net income was down 7 percent to $1.5 billion. The biggest hit to the company’s bottom line was from losses associated with Venezuela nationalizing its telecom industry.
Ixia launches two Ethernet test platforms
By Traci Patterson, CED
Ixia has launched two new test platforms for Ethernet-based services.
The company’s Optixia XM2, a portable test platform for Ethernet-based network equipment, supports Ixia’s load modules to enable data, signaling, voice, video and application testing for all layers while maintaining backward compatibility with previous Optixia systems and software.
The 20-pound, 4.5-inch-high chassis supports up to 32 Gigabit Ethernet ports, six 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports, and four Packet over SONET (POS) ports or four Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) ports.
The XM2, a 2-slot, less-than-3-U-high chassis, can easily fit on a desktop or go portable, compared with the XM12, a 12-slot, 10-U-high chassis.
“Customers are always looking to increase rack space in their labs,” said Nelson Murga, a line manager with Ixia. “This test platform provides Layer 2-7 testing in a compact area with enhanced performance.” He said the company expects about a 20 percent performance increase.
Ixia has also unveiled its XMV16 LAN Services Module, which combines the ability to test router and switch performance (layer 2-3) and triple play subscriber experience (layer 4-7).
Leveraging Ixia’s IP test applications – IxLoad and IxNetwork – the module offers Layer 2-7 network and application testing in a single Optixia XM test system. Components tested include routers, switches, broadband and wireless access devices, Web servers, video servers, secure gateways and firewalls.
Service providers and system vendors can transmit billions of flows while tracking up to one million of them simultaneously with the ability to perform wirespeed data capture, and to measure network and application performance metrics, the company said.
The XMV16 module provides auto-negotiable 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet over copper, as well as Gigabit Ethernet over fiber, and it can generate more than 240,000 HTTP connections per second (nearly 3 million per chassis) with an app layer throughput of 16 gigabits per second for a single load module (192 gigabits per second, per chassis).
“Customers who have had a glimpse of the XMV16 have definitely showed an interest, and pre-orders have already been made,” Murga said.
utility.net, Consumers Energy deploying BPL in Michigan
By Traci Patterson, CED
utility.net, a Los Angeles-based broadband over power line (BPL) network provider, will begin the next phase of deploying BPL commercially to central Michigan in cooperation with Consumers Energy, which provides electric and natural gas service to 6.5 million residents of Michigan.
utility.net will move forward from the proof of concept developed last year by Consumers Energy and Shpigler Group and initially deploy its BPL network to 10,000 homes in and around the city of Grand Ledge, just west of Lansing.
This phase is expected to be operational by the end of the year, at which time Consumers Energy will grant utility.net additional service areas in blocks of 100,000 customers. Within several years, utitlity.net expects to reach one million Michigan residents.
Three high-speed Internet speeds will be offered – 768 Kbps, 1.5 Mbps and 3 Mbps, all symmetrical.
utility.net will assume full responsibility for the network and business model, and the company will partner with one or more Internet Service Providers (ISPs) who will manage the relationship with the end customer.
Sigma Systems launches commercial voice OSS package
By Brian Santo, CED
Sigma Systems has launched its Commercial Voice Service Package, an OSS service management solution that integrates the abilities to define, provision, and maintain hosted commercial voice services on both TDM and IP networks, making it applicable to any cable, telco or broadband IP service provider looking to offer small-to-medium business voice services.
The Sigma Commercial Voice Service Package currently supports:
* Rapid service creation via pre-built definitions of commonly deployed hosted commercial voice services, including support for hunt-groups, multi-port MTAs & ATAs, and virtual telephone number support
* Support for more than 50 call features, including those for hosted Centrex
* Service availability checks based on network topology, geography, load balancing or rate calendar
* Pre-built workflow management processes for telephony order fulfillment and service activation
* Open API interfaces for order capture from other customer care and billing systems * Optional automated e-bonding integration for inter-connect service management (e.g. E911, LNP, CNAM and more)
* Detailed views of service topology, using pre-built definitions and relationship models for provisioning and network maintenance support activities
* Telephony settings such as rate centers, line class, line restrictions, and call blocking options
* 911 & 611 routing, CPE time zones and more. Key call management server vendors supported: Nortel, Siemens, Cisco, Broadsoft and Cedar Point.
Sigma Systems said it is now developing additional features and capabilities for the system.
Sigma said its system is in use by three “major service providers in North America,” which the company did not identify.
Conexant intros design for HD PVR STBs
By Brian Santo, CED
Conexant Systems announced the availability of two complete, OpenCable-compliant cable set-top box (STB) reference designs for high-definition (HD) personal video recording (PVR) applications.
The reference designs are based on the company’s recently announced CX2445X DOCSIS 2.0+ and EuroDOCSIS 2.0+ cable modem integrated circuits, and can be configured with either Conexant’s CX24500 single-channel or CX2427X dual-channel HD MPEG-2/H.264/VC-1 video decoder.
The highly integrated solutions also include core software and drivers that enable developers to quickly develop middleware and applications for next-generation cable STBs.
In addition, an embedded processor enables advanced hardware security features, and supports major industry security standards including downloadable conditional access system (DCAS) and multi-stream CableCARD. The reference designs also support major operating systems such as Linux.
Broadband Briefs for 4/30/07
* Brix Networks, InnoMedia offer SIP testing solution
Brix Networks, a provider of converged service assurance solutions, is collaborating with InnoMedia Inc., a supplier of Internet and broadband access IP telephony solutions, to provide endpoint monitoring capabilities that will enable cable VoIP service providers to offer their subs quality of experience (QoE) while delivering service visibility to the home.
This automated Brix-InnoMedia SIP media loopback testing solution continually verifies the performance and quality of deployed InnoMedia equipment and can quickly identify issues that may be occurring between a cable operator’s infrastructure and its subs, the companies said.
* Cedar Point names first-ever CTO
Cedar Point Communications has named Mark Tubinis as the company’s first-ever chief technology officer. Tubinis, whose 30-year career includes a co-founder role with WaterCove Networks (acquired by Alcatel [https://www.alcatel.com] in 2004), most recently served as a VP in the Mobile Solutions Division of Alcatel.
He will be responsible for improving the Safari C³ Multimedia Switching System, with a particular emphasis on increasing scalability, operational simplicity, and the development of new residential and business apps, the company said.
* DirecTV, Weapon7, MediaCom launch interactive ad campaign
DirecTV, Weapon7, a London-based digital iTV agency, and MediaCom Communications Corp. are developing and launching a global interactive advertising campaign for Royal Dutch Shell plc, which is already running in the U.S.
The new campaign is running concurrently in both the U.S. and the U.K., and it focuses on Shell’s creative energy solutions, DirecTV said.
* Spirent shakes up executive suite
Spirent Communications has restructured its executive leadership. Robert Piconi, hired in January as president of Spirent’s Performance Analysis-Broadband division, will serve as COO for Spirent’s Communications Group. Piconi will continue to lead the Performance Analysis-Broadband division and also will coordinate operations across the Group, manage Spirent’s manufacturing and supply chain operations, and oversee its IT functions.
William Burns, president of Spirent’s Service Assurance division, will serve as executive vice president of the Communications Group and will assume additional responsibility for sales and corporate marketing.
Piconi and Burns will be members of an executive committee that also includes Charles Simmons, president of Spirent’s Wireless & Positioning division, and Eric Hutchinson, CFO.