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Skype has announced that the beta version of Skype for SIP has been certified as interoperable with the Cisco Unified Communications 500 Series for Small Business. This will enable small and medium-sized businesses who manage their networking and communications needs with this affordable UC solution to communicate more efficiently by directing their outbound calls to mobiles and landlines via Skype, while also allowing them to receive inbound calls from Skype users.

"In today's tough economy, executives of smart small and medium-sized companies realize that effective communications with customers, partners and employees are a key to helping them grow their business," said Stefan Oberg, VP and General Manager of Skype for Business. "By certifying Skype for SIP as interoperable with the Cisco Unified Communications 500 Series, we are providing a single offering that will help many SMBs around the globe save money, save time and stay ahead of the competition."

Interoperability with Skype for SIP means that small businesses can take advantage of the cost savings provided by Skype's low-cost global calling rates when their employees call landlines and mobiles around the world. A company can also receive inbound voice calls from any of the more than 480 million registered Skype users around the world via a global click-to-call button on its Web site. These Skype calls are received in the Cisco Unified Communications 500 Series solution and can be handled or directed in the same way as any other inbound caller. In addition, if a company buys and associates online Skype numbers with their Cisco Unified Communications 500 Series solution, it can then receive inbound calls via Skype from business contacts and customers calling from landline and mobile phones.

"Cisco is committed to delivering easy-to-use technology to small businesses to help them run their business better and gain a competitive advantage," said Mark Monday, vice president and general manager, Small Business Solutions business unit, Cisco. "We are excited about Skype for SIP interoperability since it adds a very cost-effective choice to the many other options within the Cisco Unified Communications 500 Series."

The Cisco Unified Communications 500 Series platform is part of Cisco's Smart Business Communications System which continues to expand having just added a new set of IP phones with high definition audio, a unified threat management device as well as support for third party application integration, including products from healthcare, automotive and insurance industries.

Certification testing of Skype for SIP with the Cisco Unified Communications 500 Series for Small Business was conducted by tekVizion Labs, an independent test facility in Richardson, Texas, which specializes in IP communications interoperability testing.

Cisco VARs will need to register for the Skype Service Partner Program and pass an online certification exam to qualify to configure the Cisco solution to support Skype for SIP, as well as to support those business customers who may already be using the Cisco Unified Communications 500 Series for Small Business and want to integrate Skype for SIP into their present communications solution.

Independent Peer and IT expert, Lord Errol, spoke of the importance of innovative, environmental thinking at the launch this week of a new data centre facility in Crawley.

The joint development between MDS Technologies and Elekta, will see the re-commissioned facility provide heating for the adjoining office building, housing more than 500 workers, from the excess heat generated by hundreds of servers.

Lord Erroll also spoke about the value of data centres to the UK economy and the importance of resilient data storage and delivery to businesses - heading an all star cast of technology leaders addressing a range of key issues affecting UK plc.

"Not only does the new centre more than double MDS's capacity, it also marks a significant development for companies striving to streamline their IT function and reduce costs in this challenging economy, said Phil Dawson, Managing Director of MDS Technologies.

"More importantly, our collaboration will secure significant environmental improvements."

Speakers at the event, on Monday September 21, also included Navman Wireless IT Director Barry Neill, Martin Large, CEO tibboh Internet and Elekta Director Simon Telfer-Smith.

European communications services company, NextiraOne, has signed a new three-year network maintenance and operational support contract with Red Bull Technology.

The new contract, which is due to run until 2012, will keep Red Bull Technology's communications systems running smoothly, ensuring the racing and development teams have reliable telephony and data communications at all times. A communications service partner for several years, NextiraOne's experts helped to design, build, maintain and improve the voice and data infrastructure which keeps Red Bull Technology's teams connected at all times, from trackside and wind tunnel to its headquarters in Milton Keynes.

Red Bull Racing is one of the top names in Formula 1, having started when the team took over the Jaguar Formula 1 team at the end of 2004. It currently lies second in the 2009 F1 Constructors' Championship. Red Bull also runs the Red Bull Junior Team which encourages promising young drivers and helps them to reach their goal of Formula 1.

With a strong reputation for the quality of its racing, development teams and cars, Red Bull Technology and Red Bull Racing need reassurance that every part of the organisation and infrastructure is performing to the highest standards. This includes the communications platform the company uses to handle voice and data, transmitting vital information, performance data and statistics between the track and factory, as well as handling telephony throughout the company's sites. Designers and engineers often work around the clock to test the cars and improve performance before and during Grand Prix races - so the reliability and availability of the communications infrastructure is a critical part of the continued success of the team.

Signed in January 2009, the new operational support contract means that NextiraOne is always available to maintain the Local Area Networking, Security and Unified Communications solutions which provide the telephony and data centre functions at the heart of Red Bull Technology's communications platform.

The new contract provides a comprehensive 24/7 maintenance service for all critical communications equipment.  NextiraOne experts in Cisco Unified Communications Solutions will also provide consultancy services to help with projects designed to optimise Red Bull's headquarters and trackside networking implementations, including Local Area Networking, Security and Unified Communications.

Matt Cadieux, Red Bull Technology's CIO, said: "We have worked with NextiraOne for several years now and this new contract builds on our existing trusted relationship. Communications are a vital part of our operation and this agreement gives us the peace of mind that we can call on NextiraOne Experts at any time."

Steven Skakel, Managing Director UK & Ireland at NextiraOne, said: "In the fast-paced environment of Formula 1 racing where every thousandth of a second at the trackside counts, Red Bull needs to know that its communications are 100% reliable. At NextiraOne we are geared up to provide this exceptional level of service and our experts know how to optimise systems to meet the exacting needs of the Red Bull operation."

The new VDSL2 card for KEYMILE's Multi-Service access platform MileGate, allows telecommunications providers to supply high-speed Triple Play connections to residential customers. Thanks to compatibility with traditional voice services, network operators can integrate broadband VDSL2 services into their networks effortlessly and efficiently.

KEYMILE is one of the leading manufacturers of Next-Generation data transmission systems. At the Broadband World Forum Europe, the company will be premiering a new powerful VDSL2 card for its multi-service access platform MileGate. The card allows network operators to supply Triple Play services, such as broadband Internet, Voice-over-IP (VoIP), Video-on-Demand and TV, to residential customers via DSL. As a result, telecommunications providers can also tap into additional revenue potential. Because the VDSL2 card is compatible with POTS and ISDN services, network operators can easily integrate broadband VDSL2 services into their infrastructures and from MileGate offer TDM, as well as Ethernet/IP services.

The ADSL fallback mode is available for each of the 32 ports per card. So network operators can offer ADSL and VDSL2 services with just one card. When setting up the paths, the optimum values are set for each user interface. Up to 640 customers can be connected via VDSL2 from one subrack. Therefore, the maximum number of ports has been doubled. The new VDSL2 card is one of a series of KEYMILE's products with a greater number of ports.

The two-stage multicasting of the card in combination with the core unit, enables proficient data transmission that is essential for applications like transmitting high definition TV signals (HD-IPTV) needing a lot of bandwidth. Multicasting relieves pressure on the core network because only data signals requested by at least one user are transmitted to the network element. The data signal is then duplicated on the card for the members of a multicast group and only sent to them. This prevents unnecessary data traffic to all users.

By using MELT functionality (Metallic Line Test) available for VDSL2 via ISDN, faults on the transmission path can be identified by the network management system. This reduces the necessity for local repairs and saves the network operators running costs.

The new high efficiency VDSL2 card is designed for indoor and outdoor use and consumes much less energy than previous generations. It will be available at the beginning of next year.

WeDo Technologies, the telecom revenue assurance player, has announced that Vodafone Hungary has selected WeDo Technologies' Revenue Assurance solution to automate and manage end-to-end service usage assurance processes across the whole business.

Through the tool, the Revenue Assurance team will be able to monitor any revenue leakage along the entire revenue stream. Several different kinds of usage controls are implemented to provide a complete view of the entire chain.

The typical benefits of this kind of solution range between 2-5% of operators' revenues, being today a clear requirement for any telecommunications service provider.

"We are delighted to be selected by Vodafone Hungary. It means the recognition of our commitment and capability towards delivering the most effective Revenue Assurance solution to the market" says Joao Moita, WeDo Technologies' General Manager for Central & Eastern Europe.

"Implementing usage assurance is an important step in our improvement initiatives since it provides real time monitoring and assurance of all service usage data as it is processed from the network to the appropriate prepaid or billing system. We have selected WeDo Technologies for their product capabilities and strong revenue assurance experience" says Sandor Tamasi, Vodafone Hungary Revenue Assurance Manager.

With great sadness, we have to announce that our long-serving and popular editor, Lynd Morley, died late last week. Her death came as a shock to all, and our thoughts are with her loving family and friends. There will be a full appreciation of Lynd in the next issue of European Communications magazine.

Headquartered in Kassel, Germany, E.ON Mitte controls its over 45,000 km long electricity network using KEYMILE transmission technology. As a result it ensures high levels of power supply availability. 

E.ON Mitte's network supplies customers in Hesse, southern Lower Saxony, eastern Westphalia and Thuringia. The company is owned by E.ON Energie AG, as well as 12 districts and Göttingen. Over 200 boroughs and towns with a total population of more than 1.5 million are connected to the 45,000 km long electricity network. E.ON Mitte uses a SCADA network (SCADA: Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) throughout to monitor, control and acquire data. The SCADA network is constantly being extended. E.ON Mitte needs access transmission technology for Ethernet applications with optical, SHDSL and E1 transmission interfaces to connect up substations and locations to the SCADA network. KEYMILE's LineRunner SCADA NG transmission systems fulfil these demands in one single device. By using KEYMILE's LineRunner SCADA NG, the regional power supplier is replacing previous PDH technology with modern and flexible broadband access transmission technology.

A variety of reasons speak in favour of using LineRunner SCADA NG, including the scaleability of the system in particular.The variable transmission interfaces enable flexible integration of the equipment in different network topologies. The systems offer reliable data transmission, even in tough ambient conditions (with operating temperatures ranging from -25°C to +70°C.) As a regenerator with remote feeding supply modules and a remote-fed converter of optical to electric (SHDSL) transmission paths or vice versa, LineRunner SCADA NG fulfils further demands that E.ON Mitte places. The central management system ASMOS is also used to operate and monitor all LineRunner SCADA NG systems. In real world conditions, establishing, operating and eradicating faults with LineRunner SCADA NG proved to be easier and less expensive compared with E.ON Mitte's previous network solution.

"The scaleability of the interfaces and the local availability of service and support in Germany were important criteria in choosing KEYMILE," comments Andreas Hluchy, Head of Communications Networks at E.ON Mitte in Kassel. "From the beginning, there were no problems working with KEYMILE. KEYMILE responded to, analysed and professionally implemented our very specific demands in terms of product functions. All involved benefit from this customer-manufacturer relationship that is based on teamwork."

Mobile base station electricity costs could rise by nearly 55% over the next five years unless operators address network inefficiencies and reduce reliance on non-renewable energy resources, according to a new report from Juniper Research.

The green base stations report utilised scenario-based models to derive estimates of base station power consumption, CO2 emissions and implied electricity costs. Under the incremental model  - wherein operators and vendors would not be markedly proactive in pursuing green policies - global base station electricity costs would exceed $9bn by 2014, with operators dependent on off-grid electricity hit particularly hard.

However, the green report found that a transformational approach - wherein operators invest substantially in power reduction in the base station, and migrate from diesel to renewable energy to power off-grid generators - total base station electricity costs would peak in 2011 and by 2014 would have fallen to 10% below their current levels.

According to report author Dr Windsor Holden, "Operators in Africa and Asia who continue to rely on diesel for off-grid generators will find margins increasingly squeezed as their networks expand and diesel prices rise.  We believe that unless a transition to generators powered by renewable energy is effected, then many such networks may no longer be financially viable within a few years."

Other findings from the green base stations research include:

  • Base stations are responsible for more than 70% of CO2 emissions in the mobile use phase
  • Operators should increasingly seek to utilise feederless sites and distributed site architecture as means of reducing inefficency
  • Adopting measures suggested under the transformational model will enable operators to reduce base station CO2 emissions by up to 30%

 

Interxion, a European operator of carrier-neutral data centres, today announced the completion of a 1,500 m² expansion of its Madrid Data Centre. Due to sustained demand from customers in the enterprise, Internet and public sectors, 60% of the high-specification, connectivity-rich space has already been sold.

The new data centre space has minimum N+1 power and cooling and 2N UPS, as well as the 'most advanced' security, alarm and monitoring systems. It supports the latest high-density power configurations and has been designed using Interxion's energy-efficient modular architecture, with free cooling and maximum-efficiency components and management as standard.

The opening of the new facility coincides with the implementation of a new Point of Presence in the data centre for Espanix, the leading Spanish Internet Exchange. Interxion's Madrid customers will be able to reduce latency and transit costs significantly by peering directly across the Espanix exchange. In addition to Espanix, Interxion Madrid customers have direct access to more than 30 carriers and network service providers within the data centre.

"The completion of this project increases our capacity to satisfy increasing market demand and pass on economies of scale at a time when enterprises are rationalizing investments in expensive in-house data centre infrastructure and looking for best-in-class outsourced solutions," said Robert Assink, Managing Director Interxion Spain.

Tele2 Netherlands has selected Amino Communications, an independent IPTV specialist, as the supplier of MPEG-4 set-top boxes (STBs) for the provision of IPTV services. Under the terms of the agreement, Amino is expected to supply Tele2 with STBs - including its latest A132 and A532 MPEG-4 dual SD/HD compatible and Personal Video Recorder (PVR) models - over an 18-month period.

Tele2's Director Consumer Market Günther Vogelpoel said: "We needed a STB that offered the most advanced features, responsive interface and a clear road map that was aligned with our own future strategy on IPTV. Amino's products combined advanced functionality, a total cost of ownership and a supporting ecosystem, which made them the compelling choice."

Amino Communications Chief Executive Officer Andrew Burke said: "This is a strategically important contract win with a large and established Western European operator. In a strong and competitive selection process, we were able to demonstrate a compelling package of product, partnerships, flexibility and a deep understanding of the needs and demands of network operators, like Tele2, that are actively deploying IPTV services. Tele2's endorsement is very welcome and we look forward to partnering with them in delivering their compelling and competitive IPTV solution."

AIRCOM International, an independent network planning and optimisation consultancy, today launched its latest management and engineering tool suite, ENTERPRISE 6.2.

The new features are said to include an upgraded OPTIMA module that is capable of monitoring both fixed and IP networks - essential for operators investing in converged networks. The RANOPT module now includes functionality to incorporate indoor coverage level measurement, which is said to be ideal for operators who want to roll out 3G femtocell home base stations across their network. Meanwhile, for those operators taking the evolutionary path towards LTE, the ASSET module now supports HSPA+.

ENTERPRISE 6.2 delivers a breakdown of network performance by aggregating the outputs of radio planning, drive test analysis, performance and management tools. Any necessary remedial action can then be taken through the suite's configuration management capability. Using this single platform, operators can maximise staff productivity through eradicating the need to input data repeatedly across multiple tools.

Users can purchase ENTERPRISE as standalone products or as part of the total network planning and optimisation suite, allowing them to select the combination of modules to complement their network optimisation requirements.

Commenting on the launch of ENTERPRISE 6.2, Margaret Rice-Jones, CEO of AIRCOM International, said, "The thinking behind ENTERPRISE 6.2 is very simple - better visibility of the network, whether in the planning or application stage, promotes improved situation awareness, so that problems can be identified and solved earlier and more efficiently. We have designed this suite to support operators in every facet of their network planning, now and in the future."

Huawei has announced plans to launch a 56Mb/s HSPA+ (High Speed Packet Access Plus) commercial solution in 2010. Huawei says the solution will enable operators to offer download speeds that are double what is available today.

The 56Mb/s HSPA+ solution, featuring multi-carrier and MIMO (multiple-input-multiple-output) technologies, was demonstrated in Beijing at P&T/Wireless & Networks Comm China 2009.

"Advances in mobile broadband, particularly record breaking data speeds and capacity of HSPA networks, have had a profound impact on the telecom industry and demonstrate the enormous potential of UMTS/HSPA," said Wan Biao, President of Wireless, Huawei. "This 56Mb/s HSPA+ solution will enable operators to maintain their industry leading positions and provide consumers with an evermore attractive mobile broadband experience."

The solution is said to allow operators currently using Huawei's fourth generation and 38xx series base stations to smoothly evolve their legacy networks to 56Mb/s HSPA+ networks via software upgrades alone, and deploy leading edge networks at significant cost savings that ultimately protect their long term investment.

As a provider of end-to-end mobile broadband solutions, Huawei has deployed over 10 commercial HSPA+ network contracts, as of August 2009. In Asia Pacific, Huawei has deployed a commercial 28Mb/s HSPA+ network, and, along with leading operators including Japan EMOBILE, Singapore StarHub, Vodafone Turkey and Hong Kong PCCW, Huawei has launched five commercial HSPA+ networks which support downlink speeds of up to 21Mb/s.