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NEC today announced the launch of ePASOLINK, a new compact wireless transmission system said to provide ultra-high link throughputs of up to 2.5 Gbps in the E-band spectrum range of 70/80 GHz. ePASOLINK is claimed to enable mobile network operators to build a cost-effective, IP-based mobile backhaul network that meets the high-capacity data demands of  mobile broadband technologies such as HSPA, WiMAX and LTE. 

The deployment of 4G mobile broadband networks will result in an ever rising capacity demand for backhaul. Tail links to cell sites are predicted to expand to several hundred Mbps in capacity, and network operators will increasingly use ring topologies with transmission throughputs exceeding 1Gbps in the aggregation portion of the backhaul.

Traditionally these capacity needs have been met with microwave and optical product solutions, says NEC. By utilizing millimeter wave frequencies, ePASOLINK addresses the market gap where sub-42GHz microwave spectrum becomes congested and the fiber optic alternative is too expensive to deploy efficiently. This is particularly the case in dense urban and suburban areas where operators often face intense competition in the expansion of 4G mobile broadband infrastructure, says NEC.

ePASOLINK provides scalable transport of 2G, 3G, HSPA, WiMAX and LTE, in addition to its support for both Ethernet and SDH (Synchronous Digital Hierarchy)/SONET (Synchronous Optical Networking) protocols with carrier-grade reliability.  Advanced Quality-of-Service capabilities ensure that operators can provide customers with SLA (Service Level Agreement) assurance and premium content delivery.  

"NEC continues its close relationship with leading operators across the world and we are confident that ePASOLINK will be a key component of their strategic portfolio for the evolution of mobile backhaul," said Hiroyasu Ishii, General Manager of the Global Network Division at NEC.  "NEC continues to innovate and build on its history of quality and exceptional services that ensure our market leadership in mobile backhaul." 

ePASOLINK from NEC helps mobile operators to build and operate their backhaul networks with a low cost of ownership.  ePASOLINK is supported by NEC's widely adopted Network Management Systems, which facilitate easy integration with existing microwave infrastructure, such as PASOLINK, the microwave transport system market leader.  ePASOLINK is an all-outdoor solution which is said to help lower installation and site rental costs in an all-IP backhaul network.

HomeGrid Forum and the Broadband Forum team up in what could be an important step towards ensuring that there will be a single standard for home networking equipment.

It's the holy grail for both fixed and mobile operators that want to secure a larger slice of the consumer purse: how to control the way information and entertainment products are used in the home.

To date, home networking has been plagued with problems, not least the existence of a variety of fragmented standards that make economies of scale for hardware makers difficult to achieve.

At last week's annual CommunicAsia conference and exhibition, an alliance between two major industry bodies was formed that could help the industry move a step closer to a single standard for home networking services. The HomeGrid Forum, which promotes the International Telecommunication Union's (G.9960 & G.9961) standardisation efforts for wireline home networking, signed an agreement with the Broadband Forum, which is a consortium of broadband service providers and equipment vendors from around the globe.

As part of this agreement, the two organisations said they will collaborate to deliver to the market "later this year" a global compliance and interoperability testing programme for products using technology.

The Broadband Forum will support HomeGrid Forum's validation of products, their promotion of product conformance and interoperability, and help expedite the total time to market for HomeGrid Forum Certified products of all types, a statement said.

"[The Broadband Forum's] support further validates the importance of and the interest in this technology throughout the industry," said Matthew Theall, president of HomeGrid Forum. "We're looking forward to working closely together on a range of projects as manufacturers bring the first silicon to market later this year, and introduce systems in early 2011."

The goal of is to unify the home networking of content and devices over any wire - coaxial cable, phone lines, and power lines. This would enable service providers to provide more services via their broadband networks; IPTV is an obvious one here that has so far been slow to achieve strong user take-up. For service providers, services such as IPTV are absolutely key to their strategies to become providers of more valuable and "sticky" services that help them compete with media and cable companies in the converging communications and media marketplace.

A unified standard will allow products to be built more cost effectively, and will benefit service providers as well as consumer electronics manufacturers. Consumers in turn should find it easier to connect all their various media and communications options throughout the home.

"This collaboration is a natural outgrowth of our focus on supporting industry standards that allow for seamless networking of content throughout the home," said Robin Mersh, COO of the Broadband Forum. "Our goal is to ensure online users have all they need to enjoy a rich multi-media experience."

In the statement, the forums added that the compliance and interoperability program will enable HomeGrid Forum to certify a wide variety of products indicated with the HomeGrid Certified logo. "Through this program, manufacturers will have defined guidelines to design, test and develop products for market introduction," the statement added.

Of course, is not the only contender on the market for home networking standards, and there are also wireless competitors in the frame. It's still not yet clear what role the femtocell will play in terms of uniting home-based communications, for example. But a step towards a single standard is a positive development in anyone's book.

Following the Femto Forum's announcement earlier this week to hold a second plugfest, TRaC Telecoms & Radio has today confirmed it will once again be facilitating the interoperability testing event and ongoing interoperability program.  

The agreement comes after TRaC facilitated the world's first femtocell plugfest event earlier this year, which received widespread vendor support and was attended by more than 20 companies. TRaC and the Femto Forum are now making plans for the second plugfest and looking to build on their already successful partnership.  

To be held towards the end of 2010, this second plugfest will focus on the Broadband Forum's femtocell management standard, building on the work of the Forum's first plugfest on the Iuh interface.  

Karim Sharf, chief operating officer at TRaC, commented: "Femtocells and their deployment is undoubtedly becoming a significant focus for many telecommunications operators.  

"By holding a second plugfest we can really drive forward the development of femtocell technology, providing valuable feedback to standards organizations and ensuring consistent interoperability between vendors' equipment."  

TRaC and the Femto Forum both see interoperability as integral to the successful uptake of femtocells. In order to address this need, the Forum created an interoperability testing special interest group (IOT SIG) and asked Karim Sharf, the vice chair of the SIG, to act as editor for the interoperability test specifications document, being used as the basis for the plugfest program.  

"Open and effective standards are central to the success of femtocells. They provide operators and users with a real choice of devices while also driving economies of scale to bring down the cost of the technology," said Simon Saunders, Chairman of the Femto Forum. "TRaC was instrumental in the success of our first plugfest and we look forward to continuing our partnership in the future."  

TRaC, which opened a flagship independent DSL testing facility at its UK headquarters following re-location from North America just six months ago, provides comprehensive regulatory and interoperability testing of femtocell products to help drive forward their deployment in a diverse range of communications infrastructure applications.  

Karim added: "Whilst our reputation for operating testing programs holds high esteem in the telecommunications industry, to be facilitating the Femto Forum's femtocell plugfests is a real testament to what we have created."

According to a new report from telecoms research firm, Berg Insight, the market for LBS platforms and middleware in Europe will return to growth in the coming years, with demand driven by E112 and lawful intercept requirements as well as increasing adoption of A-GPS. Annual revenues in Europe for mobile location platforms, including A-GPS servers and middleware platforms, are projected to grow from about € 18 million in 2009 to € 35 million in 2015.

"Location-based services are finally on the verge of mainstream acceptance, enabled by broader adoption of GPS-enabled smartphones", said André Malm, Senior Analyst, Berg Insight. "Mobile operators are now gradually responding by investing in location platforms and new technologies. Especially A-GPS servers and hybrid technologies will become very important as the installed base of GPS-enabled handsets is projected to surpass 400 million devices in 2014."

In addition to supporting commercial services, mobile operators also face increasingly stricter requirements for emergency call location and lawful intercept. Improved emergency call and lawful intercept capabilities typically entail accurate location of any handset deployed and therefore require installation of network-based location technologies, says Berg.

OneAccess, a European specialist in multi-service access routers, has today extended its range of ONE Series products to help service providers 'dynamically and cost-effectively' address the demand for unified voice and data services.  The ONE270 and ONE700 represent the largest scale multi-service access routers currently available from OneAccess, and share a range of advanced software options as well as incorporating OneAccess' suite of provisioning tools and latest industry-standard CLI, said to enable extremely low cost implementation and ongoing support.

"These latest products again demonstrate our responsiveness to the needs of service provider customers, giving them the functions and flexibility required to maximise revenue opportunities at minimum capital and operating cost," commented Mike Wilkinson, CMO at OneAccess.  "Small and medium sized enterprises, and the branch offices of major enterprises, represent a significant opportunity for fixed line operators, mobile operators and ISPs to drive a portfolio of managed and value-added services."

The ONE700 Multi-Service Access Router is the highest capacity integrated voice and data platform offered by OneAccess.  Scaled to provide up to 300 desks with legacy or IP voice, enterprise-class data services and embedded security, the ONE700 supports high availability connectivity over Ethernet, fibre, DSL and ISDN access networks. 

A SHDSL EFM (Ethernet First Mile) interface supports ATM and EFM protocols at speeds of up to 22Mbps, whilst fibre and copper Ethernet interfaces operate at a full 100Mbps.  A VDSL/ADSL interface is optional, offering a smooth migration from ADSL2+ to VDSL.

Like others in the ONE Series range, the ONE700 features Dial-Tone Continuity, sophisticated IP QoS and IPVPN as standard.  Traditional PBXs connect via two ISDN PRI interfaces for a full 60 voice channels. Up to two more PRIs can be specified - network side - for network service and number migration, or network failover.  Provisioning is simple, and supported by an industry standard CLI.  Software options including SBC Nano and Integrated Business Communications (IBC) add richness, assurance and simplicity to new service introductions.

The ONE270 Multi-Service Access Router is a smaller scale product than the ONE700 integrated voice and data platform though both share the same set of standard and optional functions.  The ONE270 is scaled to support up to 80 desks.  Traditional PBXs connect via an ISDN PRI interface for 16 voice channels, or eight ISDN BRI.  A second PRI can be specified - network side - for network service and number migration, or network failover. 

Vodafone Roaming Services has selected Roamware, a provider of mobile roaming solutions, to provide its Network Traffic Redirection (NTR) service as part of a wider managed traffic solution on Vodafone's roaming hub. NTR, also known as ‘traffic steering', is said to be a solution that enables mobile operators to proactively influence their outbound roamers' choice of mobile network based on signalling information.

NTR is said to enable operators to steer international traffic to partners with higher quality of service and lower inter-operator tariffs (IOT) resulting in optimum customer experience, lower costs for end-users and increased margins and revenues for mobile carriers.

"Customers are expecting the same quality of service at home and abroad. Previously, operators had little or no control over which network their customers connect to. With traffic redirection, operators are able to steer traffic to a network that provides voice and data services at a quality and price their customers demand," said Richard Grohol, Executive Vice President, Worldwide Field Operations at Roamware.

Roamware's NTR will form the basis of Vodafone Roaming Services' modular steering solution. Vodafone's roaming hub members will be able to deploy network-based steering, SIM based steering, or a fully integrated combination of both methods.

Opera Software and the Russian federal mobile operator MegaFon signed an agreement under which MegaFon's special package "Unlimited Internet with Opera Mini" will be distributed to all Russian territories. It means that more than 53 million Russian mobile subscribers will have access to the mobile web without traffic counting.

MegaFon is said to be the leader of mobile Internet in Russia, serving 39 percent of mobile web traffic, according to ComNews Research. In September 2009, MegaFon chose Opera Mini as the means to provide unlimited mobile web access in the Moscow region for just 7 roubles (0.18 EUR) per day. The dramatic user growth seen as the result of the "Unlimited Internet with Opera Mini" plan persuaded MegaFon to provide this package in all Russian regions in their coverage area. Ural and Siberia were the next areas to gain access to fast and cost-effective mobile web via Opera Mini after Moscow. The remaining regions will gain access from June 2010.

"According to our statistics, the traffic amount generated by an Opera Mini subscriber is twice more than any other MegaFon user generates," said Aleksey Ivlev, Head of new products and services, OJSC MegaFon. "This package got great interest, and the number of Opera Mini package unique users increase by 10-15 percent monthly".

"Opera Mini helps mobile operators to build an active mobile web user community and to make them loyal," said Mikhail Ilin, Sales Director of Opera Software, Russia and CIS. "Keeping in mind the popularity of Opera Mini browser in the Russian-speaking Internet segment, we expect a significant growth in user numbers."

Opera Mini is claimed to be the most popular browser for mobile phones in Russia, with the highest market share. Opera Mini compresses data up to 90 percent, resulting in cost savings and increased speed, even while surfing with low-end mobile handsets, it says.

The world's smartphone markets continued to build on their strong 4Q-2009 performance in the first three months of 2010, according to the latest ABI Research data, which says that a little more than 55 million smartphones were shipped during the quarter.

While this represents a drop of about one million compared to 4Q-2009, seasonal sales cycles always produce lower results in the first quarter of any year compared to the previous quarter, according to senior analyst Michael Morgan, "Normally we would see a much greater decline in shipments in the first quarter; the fact that the drop was so relatively small highlights the continuing dynamic growth of the smartphone market."

Much of the fastest growth is being seen in markets previously little penetrated by expensive, cutting-edge smartphones, says ABI. With new less expensive models becoming available, the global market is becoming much more diverse.

An example is provided by Nokia. Its shipments rose QoQ from 20.8 million to 21.5 million despite the usual quarterly decline, building on an explosive last quarter of 2009 which saw the firm's smartphone shipments expand 25%, largely on the strength of its new models such as the "C" and "X" lines which are really experience-focused, lower-cost smartphones that directly address those newer markets. Nokia has a history of success in lower-cost feature phone markets, but until recently their smartphone lineup was exclusively high-end, says ABI.

"These are not ‘iPhone-killers'," notes Morgan. "They're simpler, lower-end devices, not bleeding-edge top-of-the-line technologies, but they can still deliver satisfying social networking and other basic smartphone experiences."

iPhone shipments also rose slightly, from 8.7 to 8.8 million, partly on the back of strong performance in markets such as Japan and China. Morgan believes that "The smartphone market as a whole was probably buoyed by improving first quarter holiday season demand from the Asia-Pacific region."

Funambol, the open source mobile cloud sync company, today announced the availability of the new Funambol Cloud API (CAPI). CAPI is said to make it simple for developers to create mobile cloud apps that leverage contacts, calendars and pictures across diverse devices and systems. It allows data and media to be mashed up for novel purposes, such as machine-to-machine (M2M) communication, for example, using contact data in a car or internet appliance, calendars with navigation systems, or pictures for a TV slideshow. Funambol is hosting a gallery of open source CAPI apps built by its global developer community to facilitate collaboration of new mobile cloud services.

"The mobile cloud makes it super easy for people to access their data and media, anytime, anywhere," said Fabrizio Capobianco, Funambol CEO. "The Funambol Cloud API allows developers to quickly create new types of apps and services that mashup mobile and online data across a broad variety of devices."

The Funambol mobile cloud server syncs data and media on billions of mobile phones and connected devices with social networks, email systems and PCs. Funambol CAPI makes it easy for developers to access synced data, such as contacts, calendars and pictures, using simple API calls from high-level languages, such as Java, AJAX and PHP. This allows rapid development of apps that mashup mobile and online data and media from diverse devices and systems, for a wide range of projects.

Some apps and services that have been built using CAPI include: Automatic sync of calendars (from Google, Outlook or mobile phones) to a wireless navigation device, enabling people to always access their calendar on a GPS device and for the device to tell people how to get somewhere without manually entering addresses; Syncing pictures, which could be from mobile phones, to any internet-connected device, such as an e-picture frame, e-book reader, TV, or home internet appliance such as a Chumby; Syncing contacts, which could be from Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo! Mail or mobile phones, with people's Facebook profile pictures, to a car, to eliminate manual entry or dialing of phone numbers; Providing contacts and calendars, which could be from virtually any source, in iGoogle widgets

CAPI is designed to simplify the task of automatically accessing and sharing data such as contacts, calendars and photos from one system or device with another via the cloud. Funambol invites developers to use CAPI to create interesting apps and is hosting a gallery of open source CAPI apps built by Funambol community members, that can be modified for diverse purposes.

Envivio today announced that TTNET, a subsidiary of Türk Telekom and the leading broadband Internet service provider in Turkey with more than 5 million subscribers, has added a new dimension to its customer offerings by deploying multiple Envivio Three Screens video encoders to launch a new Web TV service. The new service, integrated by Envivio's system integration partner Birtel based in Ankara, enables TTNET to offer live TV channels and on-demand services to subscribers over the Internet for viewing on their computers and Wi-Fi enabled devices.

"The Envivio Three Screens solution provides TTNET subscribers with a superior viewing experience by ensuring exceptional encoding and video delivery with support for technologies such as Smooth Streaming," said Metin Olgun, General Manager of Birtel. "The result is that the new TTNET Web TV offers video quality to computers and Internet-connected TVs that exceeds what people have come to expect from satellite TV."

The Envivio Internet TV solution employed by TTNET, based on the Envivio 4Caster C4 encoders, delivers more than 70 live and on demand channels to the Web TV service subscribers across Turkey. The solution directly ingests MPEG-2 satellite sources, eliminating the need for additional costly and quality-degrading interfaces. The 4Caster C4 encoders supply IIS Media Servers with continuous streams of Microsoft PlayReady DRM-protected, Silverlight video encoded at up to HD resolution for distribution to subscribers. The 4Caster C4 systems simultaneously encode video at multiple resolutions enabling TTNET to use adaptive streaming technology to continuously deliver video, without interruptions or buffering, as network bandwidth and other conditions vary. Service reliability, redundancy management and operational control in the headend are fully integrated within the Envivio 4Manager network management system.

"The TTNET deployment is an excellent example of how Envivio's high efficiency encoding and support for advanced features like Smooth Streaming and PlayReady DRM are enabling operators to innovate and expand their services," Julien Signès, President and CEO of Envivio. "The Web TV service introduced by TTNET creates a new revenue opportunity for the company by offering a powerful enticement for consumers looking for an alternative to incumbent services."

cVidya Networks, a global  provider of Revenue Intelligence solutions for telecom, media and entertainment service providers, announced today the launch of an integrated version of its FraudView and MoneyMap modules, both key components of the IRIS (Integrated Revenue Intelligence Solutions) suite.

FraudView identifies next-generation fraud patterns and performs real-time subscriber risk management and MoneyMap identifies and reclaims revenue leakages by reconciling OSS/BSS and networks. The integrated solution leverages the abilities of both products and provides a platform that shares knowledge and information of revenue assurance and fraud cases.

With the acquisition of ECtel, cVidya consolidated the product portfolios of both companies and now offers fraud management and margin analytics in addition to revenue assurance.  In addition to MoneyMap and FraudView cVidya's IRIS suite offers the following modules, all integrated to address the entire spectrum of service operators' requirements: DealerMap - Manages relationships between service providers and their dealers; BusinessView - Analyzes and optimizes price-plan margins and measure service profitability; EZTrust - Manages disputes and settlements for B2B partners and wholesale providers.
"With the acquisition of ECtel, cVidya took the next step towards providing the optimum response to the market's growing need for convergent fraud management, revenue assurance and margin analytics while increasing overall market consolidation", said Alon Aginsky, Founder, President and CEO of cVidya Networks. "The integrated version of FraudView and MoneyMap provides operators with a global view of their fraud and revenue assurance issues and enables them to determine their targets to improve their bottom line."

cVidya's IRIS suite features built-in components that address all business domains and services, including data/IP, wholesale/retail, prepaid, mobile content, TV, cross-domain bundles, interconnect, roaming, and more.

Espial, a specialist in on-demand TV solutions and services announced that Optimus Clix has doubled the usage of its Time-Shift TV Services in the first 5 months of 2010. Optimus Clix is a fixed and mobile telecom operator in Portugal with a national DSL network reaching 1.6 million homes and a FTTH deployment already covering more than 200,000 households.  As part of its triple-play service, customers can subscribe to Optimus Clix TV, its IPTV solution.

"In 2009,  we invested heavily in our TV service to provide better quality, increased content and new On-Demand services",  said Susanna Barbato, TV Director, Optimus. "To achieve continued growth in service revenue we rely on the Espial MediaBase open application interface to simplify introduction of new services. Their intelligent content delivery distribution makes hyper-efficient use of our network and we can easily scale the system with commercial-off-the-shelf servers".

"Optimus Clix is the most innovative IPTV solution in Portugal" stated Robert Hopkins, Managing Director of Espial Europe. "They are achieving excellent growth with great on-demand content and innovative services. We're pleased that Espial MediaBase is powering their success with on-demand video services".