Telecom Timeout

A blog

October 5, 2009  7:30 PM

Ripped from the (Twitter) headlines: Ciena eyes Nortel optical/Carrier Ethernet biz

Posted by: Jessica Scarpati
Alcatel-Lucent, Carrier Ethernet, Ciena, Nortel, optical networking

Ciena Corporation, a Maryland-based telecom equipment vendor, is chatting up bankrupt Nortel for its Optical Networking and Carrier Ethernet businesses, Nortel officials tweeted this afternoon.

Nortel Networks Corporation today confirmed that it is in advanced discussions with Ciena for the planned sale of substantially all assets within its Optical Networking and Carrier Ethernet businesses globally. The outcome of these discussions is uncertain and subject to negotiation of definitive agreements. Any agreements would be subject to a competitive bidding process to be approved by the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware and the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

The announcement comes as Nortel’s latest sale — to Avaya for its unified communications (UC) business — has hade barely any time to cool off…

Finally, Nortel has some advanced discussions going on for these units. Read IDC carrier infrastructure
Eve Griliches’ column
on why takers for Nortel’s assets have been few and far between. Maybe Alcatel-Lucent’s recent talk of converging network layers has made Nortel’s optical and Carrier Ethernet divisions a more appealing proposition for Ciena.

September 30, 2009  11:14 PM

Former BT CTO joins Huawei: Telecom equipment competitors take note

Posted by: KateGerwig

High-level executive moves are sometimes interesting a couple of seconds. But every once in a while, there’s a REALLY? moment. So it was with the announcement that former BT CTO Matt Bross has become the global CTO of Huawei, the Chinese telecom equipment vendor. At BT, Bross led the provider’s 21CN next-generation network program and had selected Huawei as a vendor partner.

Eyebrows were raised a few months ago when Bross left BT suddenly and wasn’t replaced – which led to speculation about the rising importance of the CIO over the CTO inside telecom operators now relying much more on software than network hardware.

Industry reverberations about the move don’t come from the fact that Bross has a job, but that he joined Huawei, the Chinese telecom equipment vendor driving hard price bargains and gaining market share from vendors like Cisco and Alcatel-Lucent. Four years ago, people had trouble pronouncing Huawei’s name. In August, Huawei won the T-Mobile LTE contract.

Word is that Bross will guide Huawei’s R&D efforts in terms of telecom network architecture. He will also help the vendor deliver products and solutions to North American customers, where Huawei currently has no major foothold. With his background, Bross could help Huawei become even more of a household name.

September 25, 2009  12:46 PM

Dell buys its way into professional services – at what price expertise?

Posted by: KateGerwig
Dell, IBM, IT services, professional services, Telecom

Professional services expertise continues to grow in importance for telecom service providers and vendors trying to increase their revenue streams and looking at “Everything as a Service” to get there. Don’t have time to grow it organically? Just buy it. Take Dell’s agreement to buy Perot Systems for $3.9 billion.

Current Analysis analyst Amy Larsen DeCarlo is bullish on professional services but is a bit down on the deal because profits from the steep purchase price could be a long time coming – like possibly never. Still, Dell will gain the IT services capabilities on everyone’s wish list, including applications, technology, infrastructure, business processes and consulting.

With Perot in its pocket, Dell can compete with HP and IBM for lucrative IT services business by grabbing one of the last big integrators. Do we need to mention that the economic is still weak and the global credit crunch raises the question of whether Dell should keep its cash on hand or try to keep up with the Joneses of IT services.

Speculation aside, it’s a done deal now that the boards of both companies have signed on the line. It’s too late to wonder whether Dell would be better served looking for alternatives. The deal won’t close until late 2009 or early 2010, and we’ll keep watching to see if the cost vaults Dell into the game against the established players.

September 14, 2009  6:59 PM

Broadband is for the birds…

Posted by: Jessica Scarpati
data transmission, DSL, Telecom

…or at least it is in South Africa.

Aggravated by data transimission delays on the ADSL service from the country’s biggest telecom carrier, an irritated IT staffer decided to pit ADSL speeds against an 11-month-old carrier pigeon named “Winston” , the BBC reported.

Staffers from Unlimited IT of Durban, South Africa, strapped a 4GB memory stick to Winston’s leg and set him loose as they began a file transfer to the same location with the same data on the stick.

Guess who won?

The phrase “early bird” doesn’t even begin to describe it. Winston flew the data 60 miles to its destination in two hours. By the time Winston got to his destination, Telkom had only sent 4% of the data.

It was a clean race, too. Like an elite athlete should expect, Winston obeyed regulations that his “birdseed must not have any performance-enhancing seeds.”

Needless to say, the race ruffled a few feathers at the partially government-owned carrier, which shrugged off any possible blame for the slow broadband services at Unlimited IT.

“Several recommendations have, in the past, been made to the customer but none of these have, to date, been accepted,” Telkom’s Troy Hector told South Africa’s Sapa news agency in an e-mail, the BBC reported.

September 10, 2009  3:47 PM

New AT&T vendor strategy launches massive procurement process change

Posted by: KateGerwig
AT&T procurement zones, equipment vendors, solution providers

AT&T is changing the traditional procurement process for network equipment and software solutions with its new Domain Supplier program, and as a result, some chosen vendors will be responsible for a lot more than their own products.

We’ve called this concept “procurement zones,” but no matter what the name, AT&T’s new procurement strategy will revolutionize how the company sources technology for its networks. AT&T’s goal is to make sure it has the best end-to-end technologies in place.

According to the company, each domain will have two suppliers that have been pre-qualified by AT&T. Those selected suppliers could work with AT&T on solutions for a set multi-year period, which puts other vendors at risk of losing business, unless they find their way into the domain vendor’s solution ecosystem as a partner.

pThe blog mill says traditional telecom networking and operations organizations haven’t been thrilled with the change because they want to choose the best technology for the job, not restrict the number of suppliers they can use. But AT&T CTO John Donovan (not a career Bell employee) is backing the idea.

AT&T hasn’t said how many domains it will have, although initial estimates were 14. The company has also said that some of the chosen have been notified, but that was the end of that discussion.

With a domain system, domain winners will have more skin in the game than just selling and delivering products. AT&T has it in mind for suppliers to be responsible for integration, testing and support for end-to-end solutions.

Some winner’s announcements have started rolling in. Ericsson said it has been chosen as one of AT&T’s two supplier vendors for wireline access, which includes technologies such as IP/DSLAM and FTTx. We’re waiting to see if some of the usual suspects come next: Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, Microsoft, Ciena or Huawei.

In terms of the wireline access domain, Ericsson has already announced that Adtran will be its partner for remote DSLAM products. And so the supply chain reorganizes.

September 9, 2009  8:24 PM

TV Caller ID in the age of personal choice

Posted by: KateGerwig
cable, Telecom, telephony, triple-play services

I was minding my own business watching television last week when suddenly the name of a friend of mine appeared on my TV screen in capital letters. She is not an actress. Then the phone rang and it was her. I was suddenly the victim of a digital age, triple-play convenience feature: TV Caller ID.

At no charge, my cable provider added the feature to my service package without my knowledge or consent. Other cable providers have been rolling TV Caller ID out in a variety of markets for a year or two. Comcast’s variety, for example, blasts the caller’s name across all possible screens (TV, computer and telephone). That’s a bit too Big Brotherish for me. Continued »

September 1, 2009  5:03 PM

Next-gen voice: The unkillable app

Posted by: KateGerwig
Next Generation Networks, QoS, Quality of Service, Telecom, voice

If you believed everything in print, you’d think no one is talking on the phone anymore. Not true. Take my friend from the South who believes he’s rude unless the salutations and polite inquiries as to everyone’s health go on for 20 minutes before he gets to the point of the call.

Voice has been the killer app for something like 100 years, and while data and video are dominate the world buzz, voice is not dead. As Mark Twain — a man who decided not to invest in the telephone because he thought it was a fad — would have said, the reports of voice’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. But with the decline of the circuit-switched network and the rise of IP and Carrier Ethernet, carriers need to find new ways to keep voice revenue flowing.

Telecom expert Tom Nolle looks at next-generation voice services opportunities for carriers that own their own networks and can make Quality of Service (QoS) capabilities work for them. But don’t look to Mark Twain for advice; he blew it the first time around. Sadly, he was just never destined to be successful.

August 26, 2009  7:23 PM

Sony joins wireless e-reader market; yee-hah for operators

Posted by: KateGerwig
ebooks, Sprint, wireless data

Sony announced the Digital Edition, its wireless electronic reader that will compete directly with Amazon’s Kindle and hit the market in December. I’m thrilled to see Sony go wireless, even though technologically I’m a Kindle enthusiast and give silent thanks to Jeff Bezos every time I download a book in a matter of seconds and don’t have to pay for it.

Whatever the differences between the Sony and Amazon products – touch screen, no touch screen — the arrival of more digital reading devices is good news for wireless operators. As my e-colleague Michael Morisy pointed out, Sprint’s revenue for providing Amazon with Kindle wireless data and related support services is low on the traditional telecom ARPU scale, but high overall because Sprint’s costs per subscriber are minimal. A service provider doing business with Sony would no doubt get a similar deal.

Sony also announced a deal with the New York Public Library that will allow digital subscribers to download 29,000 loaner ebooks (read them in 21 days or they self-destruct). To me that means more digitized content to an activity-specific device, and more wireless data for operators to transport, and more for me to download. Now I have to get back to my digital version of Julia Child’s memoir.

August 25, 2009  5:59 PM

More 100 GigE edge router positioning, but why?

Posted by: KateGerwig
Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, edge router, Gig-E, Huawei, Juniper, network edge, service engineering

The news is this: Cisco is doubling the density of its Aggregation Services Router 9000 edge router series, which puts density well above the 100 Gig mark. The new line cards, which will be available in the next few months, have 16 10-gigabit-per-second Ethernet ports.

Cisco is claiming top-dog position at the moment, but its competitors have taken turns with edge router announcements of late. Juniper expects to start trialing 100-GigE cards for the MX 960 edge router before the end of the year. Alcatel Lucent is on a similar timetable. Huawei expects to introduce a 100-GigE line card, as well. So, different day, different vendor announcement.

The bigger question is why? What’s really happening is that vendors are positioning to help service providers engineer the next generation of services, according to CIMI Corp. President Tom Nolle. The approaches equipment vendors are announcing are extremely subtle; the point is to be a player in the network edge carrier build-up.

The likely reason service providers are interested in beefing up the network edge is not to serve up video for over-the-top players more efficiently, but to get into the content delivery network (CDN) business themselves so they get a bigger cut of the revenue, Nolle said. “If a provider is going to get a piece of the action by selling CDN services, they need to provide a better user experience.”

This isn’t the end of the port wars by any means, and who wins the most carrier market share will be interesting to watch.

August 24, 2009  6:41 PM

Traditional carriers lead business Ethernet market, study shows

Posted by: KateGerwig
Carrier Ethernet, Metro Ethernet, Telecom

Predictions about the growth of business Ethernet services in metro area networks have not been greatly exaggerated. Whether in spite of the recession or because of it, traditional telecom providers have found increased revenue in the business Ethernet market this year, according to a new report by Vertical Systems Group. The market report for the first half of 2009 showed that incumbent carriers’ business Ethernet installations are now greater than those of competitive providers and cable operators combined.

According to the consulting firm, AT&T made the biggest business Ethernet services gains, but Verizon and Qwest also gained market share in the first half of 2009. Lower-cost metro services were partially responsible for increased enterprise interest, according to Rick Malone, principal at Vertical Systems Group. The top nine business Ethernet service providers, by port share, are AT&T, Verizon, Time Warner Telecom, Cox, Qwest, Time Warner Cable, Cogent, XO and Level 3.

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