Thursday, December 13, 2007

Rogers ISP antics rattle net neutrality supporters

Rogers Communications Inc. plans to unveil technology that allows it to inject corporate content into any Web site its subscribers visit, but the move is generating outrage from net neutrality proponents as well as search engine giant Google Inc.

Earlier this week, a screen shot of a Rogers-modified Google home page – branded with a notice from the Toronto-based ISP – surfaced on numerous tech blogs. The message, which appears embedded into the body of the Web page, warns users who are close to reaching their monthly bandwidth capacity of the potential penalties they could face. Rogers later confirmed it is testing this service for a potential first quarter 2008 launch.

In the leaked screen shot, the top third of Google’s search page is obstructed by the corporate message; a fact that was troubling to the Mountain View, Calif.-based search engine.

“We are concerned about these reports,” a Google spokesperson said in an e-mail to ComputerWorld Canada. “As a general principle, we believe that maintaining the Internet as a neutral platform means that carriers shouldn't be able to interfere with Web content without users' permission. We are in the process of contacting the relevant parties to bring this to a quick resolution.”

And Google isn’t the only one raising the net neutrality issue, as many industry observers and bloggers were critical of Rogers’ new notification methods.

“This highlights the level of control network controllers have and in doing so further supports the need for net neutrality legislation,” Michael Geist, research chair of Internet and e-commerce law at the University of Ottawa, said.

As it is commonly defined, net neutrality is the idea that ISPs should treat all Web sites and traffic equally. But Taanta Gupta, vice-president of communications at Rogers, denied claims that the ISP is violating net neutrality and defended the notification service.

“This is not data substitution,” Gupta responded in an e-mail. “It is not linked to any specific search engine or Web site. It is simply a real-time message to a customer indicating that the customer has reached 75 or 100 per cent of their bandwidth limit.”

Gupta continued, saying that real-time notifications are more effective at reaching customers than e-mails and that Rogers “do not have e-mails for all [of its] customers.”

But according to Internet policy critics such as Pippa Lawson, executive director at the University of Ottawa’s Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic (CIPPIC), the ill-conceived and intrusive actions of the ISP are similar to those of spyware and malware companies and said it Rogers own fault that its ruined email as a useful medium for communication.

“I’m a Rogers subscriber and I just don’t look at the stuff they send anymore, because most of it is crap,” Lawson said. “Rogers has chosen to muddy their e-mail with stuff that its subscribers don’t need or want to hear about. This is exactly the medium for this kind of important information and they should be using it for these notifications rather than ongoing promotions and advertising.”

Another blogger, co-editor Boing Boing co-editor Cory Doctorow, said Rogers’ actions could be the first in a line of more serious net neutrality violations.

“There has been speculation that Rogers would love to insert advertisements via these means, which would certainly be coherent with its known behaviour lately,” Doctorow said.

Some industry observers have even gone so far to question the legality of the service. Russell McOrmond, an Internet consultant and head of the Digital Copyright Canada blog, said that because Rogers forces its users onto its Web proxy, modifying and distribution Web pages could become a copyright issue. According to McOrmond, when a Rogers subscriber accesses a particular Web site, the next person that accesses said Web site gets the images and content from Rogers cache rather than having to load it themselves.

A Web proxy services the requests of its clients by forwarding requests to other servers and having clients connects to the proxy when accessing files or Web pages. A proxy server may also cache the first request to the remote server, so it could save the information for later. The cache acts as a temporary storage area where frequently accessed data can be stored for rapid access and future use can be made by accessing the cached copy rather than re-fetching or recompiling the original data.

“When Rogers modifies the html file in their cache and sends it to its subscribers, it means the Web page has become a derivative work of the original page under copyright,” McOrmond said. “So if the licence for the particular Web site being modified does not allow for derivative works, Rogers would becomes a pirate. This is a modified work which is considered a worse violation of copyright than verbatim distribution for free.”

Rogers spokespeople did not respond to a series of follow-up questions sent via e-mail Tuesday afternoon.

By: Rafael Ruffolo

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

TomTom and Google team up on business information

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch navigation systems company TomTom (TOM2.AS: Quote, Profile, Research) said on Wednesday it was teaming up with Internet search leader Google Inc (GOOG.O: Quote, Profile, Research) so users can find and send business addresses to their portable devices.

TomTom, which makes navigation devices for cars and mapping software for handheld computers, said in a statement its users would be able to search for business addresses on Google Maps and transfer them to their TomTom device.

"This cooperation represents a major step for TomTom in meeting the growing demands of our customers for personalized content for their TomTom devices," said Eric Pite, vice president for product management at TomTom.

TomTom shares, which tumbled on Tuesday after announcing an equity issue to help fund its purchase of digital map supplier Tele Atlas (TA.AS: Quote, Profile, Research), were up 2.4 percent at 60.40 euros by 3:03 a.m. EST, compared with a 0.7 percent rise on the DJ Stoxx technology index .

TomTom said its users would be able to transfer information to their devices when they are connected to the Internet with one mouse click and then view the location on their TomTom.

It said it would continue to explore partnerships with third parties to expand the personalization options it offers.

The tie-up would for instance allow TomTom users to plan a city trip by searching for accommodation, restaurants or museums using Google Maps on their computer and then transfer the places they want to visit to their TomTom device.

TomTom's devices do include so-called "points of interest" -- such as restaurants, petrol stations and parking garages -- but if a user has not regularly bought map upgrades, such data can become out of date.

Industry experts have also argued that consumers usually do not sit in their cars using a navigation system to plan trips, and are much more likely to use their computers at home, where they have full Internet access.

TomTom expects a substantial number of devices sold next year to be online and receiving real-time traffic information and eventually other services over wireless networks.

These services could help TomTom fend off a challenge from handset makers such as Nokia (NOK1V.HE: Quote, Profile, Research), which are increasingly building global positioning (GPS) technology into phones, promising to turn a cellphone into a navigation device.

Nokia, the world's largest handset maker, signaled in October this month it was serious about GPS by offering to pay $8.1 billion to take over digital map maker Navteq (NVT.N: Quote, Profile, Research).

TomTom was forced to raise its bid for Tele Atlas to about 2.9 billion euros last month to seal the deal after U.S. rival Garmin (GRMN.O: Quote, Profile, Research) offered 2.3 billion euros for the company.

(Reporting by Emma Thomasson, editing by Will Waterman)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Can Sprint Hang On to WiMAX in the Face of a Financial Struggle?

Sprint is under increasing financial pressure as it loses subscribers to competitors such as Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T,” says Phil Solis, principal mobile broadband analyst at ABI Research. “Many say Sprint should focus on its core business rather than push forward with WiMAX, but this idea is nonsensical.”

ABI Research believes that within the general context of competitive prices, extensive marketing campaigns, and the continual release of new devices, Sprint would be foolish to abandon a differentiator such as WiMAX.

“It’s ironic,” continues Solis, “because Sprint’s investors seem to be pressuring the company to slow down if not halt completely its WiMAX deployments; meanwhile this could be the best avenue to turn the company around.”

In July 2007, Sprint announced a partnership with Clearwire, splitting build-out costs 63%:37%, respectively. But rumors suggested a breakdown, causing Sprint to bear the full financial weight with respect to WiMAX development, thereby adding to its monetary burdens. Many believed the contract was severed, but in fact, the two companies never formed an official contract; only a letter of intent was signed.

“So in reality, a ‘breakup’ never occurred,” explains Solis. “And at present, both companies are continuing with their own mobile WiMAX networks, with various options still open – a partnership remains viable. This may take a form roughly similar to what was originally conceived, or it may be a roaming arrangement.”

WiMAX network deployments hold great potential to re-shape the global telecommunications industry due to WiMAX’s expanded device array in which handsets play just a small part. Other 3G and 4G air interfaces will do this as well, as noted by Samsung’s HSPA-enabled camera, Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader with EV-DO, and Verizon Wireless’ announcement that it will open its network to any device supporting its air interfaces and spectrum; but there is a bigger push to do this with WiMAX, and it is expected that WiMAX chipset prices will be more competitive than 3G chipsets.

The recent ABI Research report WiMAX Market Analysis and Forecasts examines major drivers and barriers for WiMAX and compares it with 3G and other 4G technologies, and contains forecasts for 802.16-2004 and 802.16e-2005. It forms part of two ABI Research Services: Mobile Broadband, and Wireless Infrastructure.

ABI Research is a leading market research firm focused on the impact of emerging technologies on global consumer and business markets. Utilizing a unique blend of market intelligence, primary research, and expert assessment from its worldwide team of industry analysts, ABI Research assists hundreds of clients each year with their strategic growth initiatives. For information, visit, or call +1.516.624.2500.

Amazon launches info sharing Web site

NEW YORK, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Inc (AMZN.O: Quote, Profile, Research), the world's largest Web retailer, launched, an information-sharing Web site where users can ask questions and answer queries from others, on Thursday.

The site, open to all of its customers, has been in beta testing since December 2006 and has already been open to a few users, Amazon said.

Similar services are offered by Yahoo Inc's (YHOO.O: Quote, Profile, Research) Answers and other Web sites such as AnswerBank. Google Inc (GOOG.O: Quote, Profile, Research) also had an "Answers" section, which has been discontinued.

Monday, November 26, 2007

USB Wine


New handheld set to exploit WiMax

A Taiwanese government-backed consortium has developed a powerful handheld PC that uses a WiMax wireless broadband connection to access the web.

The MTube, as the device is called, carries a 1GHz microprocessor made by Via Technologies, an x86-based processor able to use software meant for PCs. But the MTube weighs only 150 grams and has a 2.8-inch screen, so it's small enough to fit in person's pocket. It can store 8GB of songs, photos and other data and runs on a Linux OS.

MTube also works with Wi-Fi connections, but does not work on 3G mobile telecommunications networks, according to Shen Shu-heng, an official at Taiwan's Institute for Information Industry (III), one of the groups responsible for the device.

Development of the MTube, which is made solely from parts manufactured in Taiwan, is aimed at promoting Taiwanese made goods, as well as developing more devices and applications for WiMax wireless Internet broadband services, Shen said.

Taiwan is positioning itself to be one of the fastest adopters of WiMax connectivity outside of North America through its MTube initiative. Officials see the technology as a good way to spread broadband Internet access throughout the island, which includes remote mountain villages and sparsely populated outlying islands.

Last month, the Taiwan government added several multinationals to a growing list of WiMax wireless broadband technology partners, including Alcatel-Lucent, Motorola, Nokia Siemens Networks and Sprint Nextel. The partnerships are intended to encourage foreign companies to build WiMax research and development centers in Taiwan and look to Taiwanese companies for parts and contract manufacturing work.

Intel was an early champion of WiMax as a replacement for the Wi-Fi wireless networking standard, used for Internet access in coffee shops, airports and other places in much of the developed world. The chip giant has already signed a similar agreement with Taiwan and is working with Taiwanese computer parts makers to ready the technology for inclusion in laptop PCs next year.

Taiwan's III worked with the Science and Technology Advisory Group, the Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) and other government agencies to develop the MTube.

By Dan Nystedt, IDG news service

Thursday, November 15, 2007

McCaw Bets Again on Wireless Frontier

An article in the Wall Street Journal sheds a bit more light some of the plans Sprint and Clearwire have been considering for their WiMAX businesses after ending their plans to build out a nationwide network together. The article, which features a rare interview with Clearwire's Craig McCaw (although very light on the quotes and attributions), says Sprint's board last week rejected a plan to spin off the WiMAX unit and merge it with Clearwire. Meanwhile, it says Clearwire is holding discussions with parties that might include Intel, Comcast and Google about a direct partnership.

Read Full Article »

Sunday, November 11, 2007

New WiMax Players Could Emerge As Sprint, Clearwire Split

NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- The early end to the partnership between Sprint Nextel Corp. (S) and Clearwire Corp. (CLWR) opens the possibility of others getting involved with WiMax, a longer range version of WiFi seen as an attractive way of connecting consumers online.

Those who might pursue a WiMax partnership include Google Inc. (GOOG), cable companies or satellite TV providers. Clearwire - which builds and operates the WiMax network and service - also could try to expand the business itself, and then there's the possibility that Sprint, after it finds a new chief executive, could seek a reconciliation.

"It's fair to say we are looking and exploring all of our potential strategic options," Clearwire Chief Executive Ben Wolff told analysts on a Friday conference call. "There's quite a lot of focus on this space now."

The attraction of WiMax isthe ability to provide an alternative road to the Internet, freeing a number of industries from the stranglehold placed on them by the telecommunications and cable companies. The potential to offer mobile phone service over WiMax is attractive to cable. For Clearwire, Kirkland, Wash., partnering with a household name gives it instant credibility and the means to acquire additional wireless spectrum.

But the cost of building out the network may serve as a detriment to some, and was likely a concern that Sprint, Reston, Va., factored in when ending its partnership.

Sprint's departure is a huge blow to Clearwire. Shares are down 25% to $13.46.

Google In Play?

Of all the possible alliances, the most intriguing is a potential deal with Google. The Internet giant recently unveiled its Android mobile phone operating system and the Open Handset Alliance in an effort to push its philosophy of an open network, which would fit well with WiMax wireless technology.

Google also plans to participate in the upcoming Federal Communications Commission auction for wireless spectrum, which could give it the necessary spectrum to build a national network, although it has little interest in building one.

Enter Clearwire, which could handle the deployment and run the service for Google. In return, it would get the backing of a high-profile company and nationwide reach. Industry observers say that the expanded reach is critical when launching a new service, and that a local market approach won't cut it.

"If you build a national product, you need a powerful brand, or be willing to work with multiple partners with powerful brands who can attract a large customer base," said Rory Altman, a partner at consulting firm Altman Vilandrie & Co.

Google couldn't immediately be reached for comment. Wolff, on the call, said the company doesn't comment on any potential partnerships.

Cable, Satellite In The Mix

Clearwire also has a partnership with DirecTV Group Inc. (DTV) and EchoStar Communications Corp. (DISH) in which the satellite companies will bundle its television service with Clearwire's WiMax connection, giving it a pipe into the home.

An independent Internet pipe into the home is critical for the satellite companies because their major bundling partner, the telecommunications companies, are building their own TV service.

"Without (another Internet connection), they risk economic foreclosure in the 40% of the country where the telcos build fiber, as the only two broadband pipes available in that portion of the country will be tied - potentially inextricably - to competing video offerings," Craig Moffett, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. LLC, said in a note.

The satellite companies could strengthen its relationship with Clearwire and help it acquire more spectrum in the FCC auction. It attempted to buy spectrum in the last major auction a year ago, but was quickly outbid.

Both EchoStar and DirecTV say that they haven't changed their partnership with Clearwire, and declined to comment beyond that.

Sprint backing away from Clearwire opens up the possibility that the cable companies could get involved. The cable companies could work with Clearwire, but the more likely path is hooking up with Sprint. Moffett, while acknowledging it's quite speculative, said the cable companies could use WiMax to as the " answer to the wireless question."

A deal isn't without complications. The existing relationship - a cellular joint venture called Pivot - has been a disappointment, and Sprint recently stopped the expansion of its service. But the two parties remain close.

"Cable, despite the evident difficulties in getting their voice-based venture with Sprint off the ground, remains allied with Sprint," Moffett said.

Time Warner Cable Inc. (TWC) declined to comment. But on Wednesday, Chief Executive Glenn Britt told analysts the company was exploring different wireless technologies.

"There's an alphabet soup of this, but it's WiMax, 4G, et cetera, et cetera, and it's different flavors I don't think anybody in the whole world really understands exactly where the technology is going."

Comcast Corp. (CMCSK, CMCSA) also declined to comment.

Clearwire On Its Own

Clearwire could attempt to expand alone but would be relegated to a local player.

"Clearwire returns to more of a local market model," said Jonathan Schildkraut, an analyst at Jefferies & Co. "We're still seeing the early stages of that model coming together."

The company is deploying in smaller markets but still has few customers. In the third quarter, it added 49,000 subscribers to bring its base to 348,000. Because of the wireless spectrum it owns, it can only serve smaller markets.

Clearwire operates like a local wireless provider such as Leap Wireless International Inc. (LEAP), building from market to market in a slow expansion.

Sprint, meanwhile, said it is on track for a soft launch of its Xohm WiMax service, considered a longer range version of WiFi, by the end of the year, with a commercial launch expected next year. Spokeswoman Leigh Horner declined to comment beyond those plans, only saying that the company would further review its deployment next year.

The best move may be a reconciliation. Sprint and Clearwire fit together well both in terms of their complementary wireless spectrum and their experience with the technology, and they will likely still work together down the line. Sprint would have given Clearwire a national presence and depth in spectrum, as well as access to Sprint's backhaul network infrastructure.

"We are continuing to discuss with Sprint on how to best collaborate on building a WiMax network," Clearwire's Wolff said. "I can't say if a deal will be reached."

He noted that all of the reasons that brought the two parties together still remain, but that the company has to move forward.

"At the end of the day, Sprint and Clearwire will figure out ways to work it out," Schildkraut said. "I do not think that Sprint is going away in the WiMax world."

-By Roger Cheng, Dow Jones Newswires

Saturday, November 10, 2007

One Companies Loss (Sprint) is another Companies Gain (Google)

Will the split between Clearwire & Sprint be to the advantage of Clearwire...Will Google buy Clearwire or Partner with them...

Sprint and Clearwire have big holdings in 2.5 GHz , other countries outside of the USA are also looking at 2.5 GHz as the place for WiMAX deployment. So that means that equipment etc. could work (potentially) worldwide. That isn't the case with 700 MHz, where only the U.S. is deploying it (so far) for wireless services. Everyone else is still using 700 MHz for television.

Now Sprint and Google have announced they're NOT working together. This is where it was going:

Sprint network bandwidth, location detection and presence capabilities will be matched with Google’s popular communications suite – Google AppsTM – that combines the GmailTM, Google CalendarTM and Google TalkTM services. Customers will be able to experience a new form of interactive communications, high speed Internet browsing, local and location-centric services, and multimedia services including music, video, TV and on-demand products.

Google is spreading its bets, and sees global potential in WiMAX.

Here is the thinking driving this latest Google rumor across the blogosphere. Google is interested in the 700 MHz spectrum auction. Google is also interested in WiMax. Since Google was a part of the Sprint, Clearwire WiMax partnership, the apparent end of that relationship would indicate that Google is out in the cold when it comes to a WiMax partner.

Friday, November 09, 2007

WiMax Massacre: Sprint (S) And Clearwire (CLWR) Split-Up

WiMax appears to be such a promising technology, at least on paper. It can send wireless broadband signals for miles from one base-station. If is faster than 3G, the core technology used for cellphone signals by AT&T (T) Wireless and Verizon Wireless.

WiMax can also send signals to PCs and hand-held devices. It is a broadband dream come true. It has the backing of tech giants including Samsung, Intel (INTC), and Motorola (MOT)

The only problem with WiMax is that it is not getting deployed around the US, at least not with any haste.

Sprint was to spend $5 billion to create a WiMax network that would reach 100 million people two years from now. WiMax start-up and recent IPO Clearwire (CLWR) was also building a network. It was probably going to need to spend as much as Sprint planned to. Both companies decided to link up and cooperate on the build-out and allow one another's customers to have free roaming privileges around the US.

But, Sprint and Clearwire broke off their agreement today. There has been pressure on Sprint to cut back capital spending as its core subscriber base has begun to drop. Sprint's recently departed CEO was a big WiMax champion.

Whither WiMax now?

For one, the Sprint plans are not dead. What becomes of them may depend on the thoughts of the company's yet-to-be-located new CEO.

Clearwire's stock is likely to take an awful beating on the news. But, Intel and others have a tremendous stake in the technology. The chip company is making products that could work in hundreds of millions of devices that would connect to a national WiMax network. Nokia (NOK), Samsung, and Mototola could bring in very large sums building the WiMax infrastructure and providing devices which will operate on it.

Look for a group of companies, perhaps lead by Intel, to put $2 billion or $3 billion into Clearwire. The company's market cap is only $3 billion, so the money might have to go in as a convertible preferred. That would probably give Intel and its partners de facto control of Clearwire.

But, it will take something at least a bit extreme to keep WiMax in the US on track.

Douglas A. McIntyre

Monday, November 05, 2007

Google G-Phone

New G-Phone developed on Android open platform for mobile phones and the Open Handset Alliance.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Clearwire Introduces Its First High-Speed Wireless PC Card

The Clearwire pc card Brings True Broadband Experience to People on the Go

KIRKLAND, Wash.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Clearwire Corporation (NASDAQ:CLWR) announced today the availability of the first Clearwire pc card through all of its distribution channels in its markets across the United States. Based on Clearwires guiding principles of simplicity, reliability, high speed and affordability the Clearwire pc card delivers a True Broadband experience unlike any other pc card available in the market place today.

Building on the success of our residential broadband services, the Clearwire pc card offers consumers, business and enterprise customers the ability to experience all that the Internet has to offer while they are on the go anywhere within our coverage area, said Ben Wolff, Clearwire chief executive officer. As our coverage area continues to expand, the Clearwire pc card is ideal for the majority of the population that spends most of their time in their local communities. Utilizing Motorolas pre-WiMAX OFDM technology coupled with more total spectrum devoted solely to data services in the markets in which we operate than any other carrier in the US enables the Clearwire pc card to deliver a unique user experience.

The Clearwire pc card expands the companys product portfolio to provide a personal broadband experience with greater portability through a smaller device, requiring only the power provided by the customers laptop or notebook computer. Utilizing Clearwires own broadband wireless network, the Clearwire pc card is designed to provide consumers a consistent user experience of up to 1.5 Mbps resulting in a smooth, seamless, robust Internet experience.

The Clearwire pc card is currently available in all Clearwire markets nationwide through Clearwire retail locations, as well with the companys authorized local retailers and national partners, Best Buy and Circuit City. Customers can also purchase the Clearwire pc card online at or by calling 1-888-CLEARWIRE. Service plans for the Clearwire pc card start at $59.99 a month with a pc card lease fee of $6.99 a month.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

WiMax Global Push, US Blip!

The WiMax Global push is being tainted by the departure of the Sprint CEO in the US, however there is a lot of weight behind making WiMax work, there are big companies supporting WiMax worldwide. Nokia has agreed to build base stations and has a stake in offering handsets as well. Samsung has also joined the alliance of companies pushing the 4G technology.

Trading around $20, Clearwire has not been a big stock market success. Its shares got a nice lift to $35 when it announced its WiMax alliance with Sprint. But, the shares are off at $21. Clearwire's current debt load is modest at $655 million, but, if it has to go it alone, that will rise. The company's market cap is $3.4 billion.

Sprint's market cap is $51 billion. Its revenue run rate is about $10.5 billion a quarter. Operating income in the June quarter was $316 million. The company's debt load, at $21.7 billion, is fairly heavy.

Sprint and Clearwire are facing the challenge of AT&T (T) buying licenses from Aloha in the 700 MHz frequency covering 196 million people in 281 markets, including 72 of the top 100 metropolitan areas and all of the top 10 markets. The FCC is going to auction off more 700 MHz.spectrum in January. Access to this will provide wireless operators the ability to offer better wireless broadband which is tough competition for WiMax.

Kevin Martin and the FCC have allowed for part of the 700 band to be reserved for open access - which would allow the bandwidth to be used on any device, in any way.

Google has announced that they will be throwing in their bid at the FCC’s $4.6 billion reserve price, but only if the FCC agrees to Google’s expanded demands for open access. Eric Schmidt, Google CEO, says that if the FCC will agree to open applications, open devices, open services, and open networks (conditions outlined in Google’s previous proposal), then Google will play ball.

The auction could net Google a prime piece of spectrum real estate from which to launch their very own wireless broadband network.

Will Google invest in Clearwire?

Sprint and Clearwire can face the competition separately and probably take a severe beating. Or, they can put together one company, Perhaps Intel, Nokia, and Samsung would make strategic investment to help finance building the US WiMax network. Having a single company building instead of two would save hundreds of millions of dollars.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

IPTV grows fivefold in two years

The DSL Forum released IPTV penetration statistics this week that chart a fivefold increase in subscribers from 2005 to mid-2007. As of June 30, the worldwide subscriber base for IPTV services reached 8.2 million, up from nearly 1.5 million on the same date in 2005.

Europe accounts for more than 60 percent of subscriber base, with nearly 5 million households hooked up to IPTV, half of them in France. The Asia Pacific region is next, with nearly 2.2 million. Hong Kong is the anchor there, with 938,000 subscribers. The Americas combined have just over 1 million IPTV subscribers.

The research was carried out by Point-Topic, a research firm in London. Point-Topic senior analyst John Bosnell said content and "clear bundle pricing" attract subscribers to IPTV. It also helps that the technology has cleared the tipping point.

DoCoMo, Acca grab 5 Net firms in WiMAX bid-Nikkei

TOKYO, NTT DoCoMo Inc (9437.T: Quote, Profile, Research), Japan's biggest mobile operator, and ADSL provider Acca Networks Co (3764.Q: Quote, Profile, Research) have signed up five Internet service providers to their WiMAX joint venture in a bid to launch ultra high-speed wireless Internet access, the Nikkei newspaper said on Saturday.

The firms include Nifty Corp (3828.T: Quote, Profile, Research), NEC Biglobe Ltd., So-net Entertainment Corp (3789.T: Quote, Profile, Research), FreeBit Co (3843.T: Quote, Profile, Research) and Asahi Net Inc (3834.T: Quote, Profile, Research), who will take stakes in the venture if DoCoMo and Acca win a WiMAX licence, the business daily said.

WiMAX, or Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access, allows high-speed and cheap Internet access and file downloads from laptops, phones or other mobile devices over greater distances than previous technologies.

Japan's telecommunications regulator plans to allocate 2.5 GHz band frequencies to two companies.

The DoCoMo-Acca group faces competition from three other bidders: personal handyphone system service provider Willcom Inc.; a group led by Japan's No. 2 mobile carrier KDDI Corp (9433.T: Quote, Profile, Research); and an alliance between No. 3 operator Softbank Corp (9984.T: Quote, Profile, Research) and eAccess Ltd (9427.T: Quote, Profile, Research) Ltd.

AT&T To Buy Wireless Spectrum From Aloha Partners For $2.5 Billion

AT&T Inc.'s (T) board approved the purchase of wireless spectrum licenses from Delware limited partnership Aloha Partners L.P. for about $2.5 billion in cash.

The telecommunications holding company said the spectrum licenses cover 196 million people in the 700 MHz frequency band.

The company said the deal enhances its spectrum position by adding 12 MHz of spectrum covering 196 million people in 281 markets. The spectrum covers many major metropolitan areas, including 72 of the top 100 and all of the top 10 markets in the U.S.

AT&T expects to close the deal within six to nine months.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Virgin Mobile USA files for IPO

Virgin Mobile USA has filed for an initial public offering, valued at as much as $467.5 million. The IPO will float 42.8 percent of the youth-focused MVNO, making available 27.5 million Class A common shares at $15 to $17 each--while Virgin Mobile USA plans to sell about 25.6 million shares, stockholders Best Buy and Sprint Ventures will liquidate an additional 1.95 million. Underwritten by Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch, the offering will drop Virgin Mobile's stake in the venture from 47 percent to 35.7 percent and trim Sprint's stake from 47 percent to 17.2 percent.

According to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, proceeds are earmarked to repay debt and for general purposes. For the six-month period ending in June, Virgin Mobile USA reported adjusted earnings of $29.3 million on revenue of $667 million. The MVNO plans to trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "VM."

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Clearwire Launches Service in Spain

NEW YORK - Wireless Internet service provider Clearwire Corp. said Thursday it launched its Instant Internet, or "Instanet" service in Seville, marking its entry into Spain.

Clearwire (nasdaq: CLWR - news - people ) said its network in Seville covers more than 300,000 households. It employs radio signals using a secure or licensed spectrum, which are transmitted from a tower to a small wireless modem that connects users' computers to the Internet.

Spain follows Ireland and Belgium among European countries in which Clearwire has launched its service.

Shares of Kirkland, Wash.-based Clearwire rose 47 cents, or 2 percent, to $23.46. The company was founded by cell phone pioneer Craig McCaw and went public in March.

Monday, September 10, 2007

ICO and Clearwire to Conduct Mobile Video Trial

Initiative Will Focus on Feasibility of Delivering Mobile Video From Satellite as Part of Mobile Triple Play

RESTON, Va. & KIRKLAND, Wash.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--ICO Global Communications (Holdings) Limited (NASDAQ:ICOG) and Clearwire Corporation (NASDAQ:CLWR) today announced a joint agreement to collaborate on one of the industry’s first mobile video trials. The collaborative effort is at the forefront of the intersection between two-way wireless broadband and satellite connectivity, and will focus on increasing the value and cost effectiveness of delivering an advanced interactive mobile video service to consumers. In addition to testing mobile video broadcast, the trial will also examine the feasibility of utilizing Clearwire’s 2.5 GHz spectrum and ICO’s 2.0 GHz spectrum more efficiently. The ICO trial with Clearwire is expected to begin in early 2008 in Raleigh, North Carolina, and ICO is also planning a similar trial in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“Our next generation wireless personal broadband networks are built to deliver data, voice and video over a single network,” said Scott Richardson, chief strategy officer for Clearwire. “Working with ICO to trial an interactive mobile video element that can potentially enhance our service offering not only in areas where we don’t intend to build our own network, but that can also potentially enhance the use of infrastructure and spectrum where our coverage overlaps, makes a lot of sense.”

“Mobile two-way video, advanced interactive navigation, plus emergency calling and messaging becomes an even more compelling value proposition when integrated with a wireless broadband network such as Clearwire’s,” added Tim Bryan, chief executive officer for ICO. “We are well positioned to be the first provider of next-generation mobile satellite services, and we have a clearly differentiated offering by leveraging integrated satellite and terrestrial networks to deliver advanced consumer mobility services.”

For the trial, ICO will integrate its Mobile Interactive Media (MIM) suite of services with the Clearwire broadband network. ICO MIM is a converged mobile media service which delivers a wide variety of consumer entertainment and communications services, all based on ICO’s next-generation satellite and terrestrial wireless communication capabilities. For the trial, ICO MIM will provide multiple channels of high-quality mobile video to large-screen user devices. Alcatel-Lucent has been chosen to supply the system architecture and design based on mobile multimedia DVB-SH open standard, and Hughes Network Systems has been tapped to provide the device as well as the interactive elements based upon the proven GMR standard.

About Clearwire

Clearwire, founded in October 2003 by telecom pioneer Craig O. McCaw, is a provider of simple, fast, portable and reliable wireless high-speed Internet service. Clearwire customers connect to the Internet using licensed spectrum, thus eliminating the confines of traditional cable or phone lines. Headquartered in Kirkland, Wash., the company launched its first market in August 2004 and now offers service in 16 states across the U.S. as well as in Europe and Mexico. For more information, visit

About ICO

ICO Global Communications (Holdings) Limited is a next-generation satellite communications company based in Reston, Virginia. ICO is developing an advanced hybrid system, combining both satellite and terrestrial communications capabilities, in order to offer wireless voice, data, video, and Internet services on mobile and portable devices. For more information, visit

Sunday, September 09, 2007

A World of My Own (AWOMO) -Dubbed the iTunes of Online Gaming

Your chance to win a ticket providing free access and games for life. Launching fully later this year, AWOMO will bring a huge choice of the world's best games to gamers in the UK - making them all playable within minutes rather than hours.

The games are set within a 3D virtual world, which will become home to the world's games community by offering hundreds of streamed games and many special features, including live voice chat and high profile competitions to win big prizes.

A limited number of customers can register from today to take part in the Beta testing - to explore the AWOMO world, feedback their experiences to the experts developing it and play free games from some of the world's top publishers.

As special test pilots they will have access to games from some of the top developers and publishers around the world - normally only available in the shops.

When the test is over, if you have completed the test, participants who registered with GAME will be entered into the final draw - and the lucky Golden Ticket winner will get a free lifetime subscription to AWOMO - granting them free games forever!

Everyone who completes the testing will receive offers of up to one month's free membership, plus an exclusive "virtual" item for their avatar to forever identify them as one of the first original AWOMO members, and to claim special advantages.

This offer is limited so anyone wanting to be one of the fortunate few should register now simply by via the link .

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

DoCoMo creates WiMAX joint venture

Japanese wireless giant NTT DoCoMo announced a joint venture with ACCA Networks to deploy WiMAX technology in the 2.5 GHz band in Japan. The partnership was necessary because the Japanese government has banned existing 3G operators, such as DoCoMo, from getting any rights to the 2.5 GHz spectrum. The government wants to encourage new market entrants.

ACCA Networks will be in charge of overall management of ACCA Wireless, such as operation of high-speed wired infrastructure and sales of broadband wireless services. DoCoMo will help construct the wireless access network and provide technical assistance. DoCoMo's stake in ACCA Wireless will be limited to no more than one-third, according to government stipulations, since DoCoMo already offers 3G.

For more about the partnership between DoCoMo and ACCA Networks:
- read this release

Related articles:
- Motorola, Japan's Softbank to trial WiMAX
- NextWave to be only foreign carrier in Japan
- Alvarion's position in mobile WiMAX grows stronger

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Why Is Wall Street Punishing Clearwire?

Posted by Richard Martin, Aug 31, 2007 05:54 PM

It would be unethical of me to offer stock tips in this space, so I'll just phrase this as a question: Why is Wall Street hammering Clearwire Corp.? After reaching a high of $33.30 on July 19th, the share price for the WiMax network startup has declined 37%. And on Tuesday the stock dropped 7% "on no news whatsoever," as The Motley Fool put it.

Actually, there was news that day related to Clearwire, and it was good. EarthLink announced that it is slashing half its workforce and effectively abandoning the municipal Wi-Fi market. Since EarthLink was the highest-profile company contracting to build citywide wireless networks, its exit has thrown the whole future of muni Wi-Fi into doubt.

How's that good for Clearwire? Well let's number the ways.

1. The longer cities wait on building Wi-Fi networks, the more likely they are to just wait forget about Wi-Fi (which is essentially a short-range networking technology) altogether and focus on WiMax. It's amazing, says Carmi Levy, senior vice president for strategic consulting at AR Communications, that "not one person in these city IT departments was asking 'Gee, should we be waiting for WiMax?'"

2. The pullback in muni Wi-Fi doesn't eliminate the demand for widespread wireless networks; it underlines the superior qualities of mobile WiMax systems of the sort that Clearwire is building. WiMax "changes the way people use the laptop," Sriram Viswanathan, who heads up Intel's WiMax strategy, told Reuters earlier this week. Ubiquitous, pervasive high-speed wireless access is still a desirable goal and a workable business model. It's just going to take a bit longer than expected, till network builders like Clearwire (which now says it covers 43 U.S. markets) and Sprint Nextel get their systems fully deployed.

3. EarthLink will almost certainly seek a buyer for its existing Wi-Fi networks, at a bargain price. The value of those systems is not primarily in the equipment, or even in the subscribers: it's in the mounting rights on city light posts and tall buildings. "Imagine a scenario where Clearwire or Sprint built a Wi-Fi underlayment as the entrance ramp to the mobile Wimax network," Ron Sege, CEO of Wi-Fi gear vendor Tropos Networks, told me this week. "You won't need the 40 or 50 cells per square mile that are common in Wi-Fi networks, but you'll need at least 15 or 20 in the WiMax world. In that case those mounting rights to streetlamps become valuable, and [an EarthLink fire sale] could be very opportune."

It's really not that hard to figure why Wall Street is fleeing from Clearwire (Sprint, which also saw its stock dip sharply on Tuesday, is essentially flat for the week). In the wake of debacles like the Google-EarthLink San Francisco network project (which collapsed this week), anything that has the words "wireless" and "municipal" and "networks" in the same sentence looks like a loser. It's the EarthLink contagion. I'm predicting now that it won't last -- but you didn't hear me say that.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

OpenTV Defines the Television Experience at IBC 2007

Showcases Solutions That Make Digital Television Services a Reality

SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 29 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- OpenTV Corp. , a leading provider of solutions for the delivery of advanced digital television and cross platform interactive services, defines the television experience with a showcase of its latest solutions at the International Broadcaster Conference (IBC) on stand 1.281 at the RAI Convention Center in Amsterdam, Netherlands, from September 7 to 11, 2007.

OpenTV will demonstrate how its proven solutions provide the foundation for the new television experience with innovative user interfaces, on-demand delivery, advanced graphics, home media and customer relationship and transaction management.

"OpenTV is building on its track record for both innovation and delivery," said Alan Guggenheim, OpenTV's President and CEO. "As an industry leader, we are focused on delivering innovations that address our customers' critical time-to-market issues. Our new solutions, designed to accelerate service adoption, will change the digital television landscape ultimately enabling network operators the flexibility to deliver compelling and relevant services quickly, cost-effectively and seamlessly with a unified user experience across their entire customer base."

"We are passionate about delivering high quality, creative solutions that consistently meet customer demands, while providing a foundation for rolling out cost-effective new services," added Mike Ivanchenko, OpenTV's SVP of Worldwide Sales.

    OpenTV's IBC showcase will include:
-- Live services from existing OpenTV satellite, cable and IPTV customers
-- OpenTV's proven high definition PVR solution
-- Advanced user interface designs and next generation HD user experiences
-- Innovative on-demand solutions including push and pull VOD
-- OpenTV's industry leading HTML browser solutions
-- Customer relationship and transaction management systems designed for
-- Integrated mobile solutions with OpenTV's partner weComm

Senior executives, sales and product marketing staff from OpenTV will be on site for meetings, demonstrations, and discussions.

About OpenTV

OpenTV is one of the world's leading providers of solutions for the delivery of advanced digital television and cross-platform interactive services. The company's software has been integrated in over 92 million digital set-top boxes and television around the world. The software enables enhanced program guides, video-on-demand, personal video recording, enhanced television, interactive shopping, interactive and addressable advertising, games and gaming and a variety of consumer care and communication applications. For more information, please visit

Monday, August 27, 2007

Samsung to build mobile Internet network in New York

SEOUL, Aug. 27 (Yonhap) -- Samsung Electronics Co. said Monday that it will build a mobile Internet network in New York to expand its homegrown technology in the United States, one of the world's largest communications markets.

혻 혻 "Recently, we received a request from Sprint Nextel Corp. for the establishment of a WiBro network in New York," Choi Gee-sung, head of Samsung's telecommunications business, told reporters at the 4G Forum currently underway in central Seoul. However, he didn't give details on timetables.

혻혻 WiBro, one of the major 4G communications standards, is an improved version of WiMax that enables high-speed Internet connectivity even when a user is in motion. WiMax refers to a wireless Internet technology developed by the world's largest chipmaker Intel Corp.

혻혻 Samsung, a global tech giant, and other Korean companies hold related core technologies.

혻 혻 In August 2006, Samsung signed a deal with Sprint Nextel, Motorola Inc. and Intel to cooperate in developing and commercializing WiBro in the U.S., one of the world's largest communications markets.

혻혻 It has built the WiBro network in five major cities and regions there including Washington D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia and Boston, Samsung officials said.

혻혻 Samsung expects that the number of its WiBro network users in the U.S. will exceed 100 million next year and it will grow to 140 million in 2009 and 170 million in 2010, respectively.

혻 혻 "Within three or four years, we will be able to generate profits from our network business including WiBro," Choi said, adding his company will raise investment for its network business from 120 billion won (US$128 million) a year to 160 billion going forward.

혻혻 Meanwhile, Samsung has held the 4G Forum every year since 2003, aimed at facilitating the emergence of new communications markets and strengthening its market superiority in the sector. This year's event kicked off Monday for a two-day run with around 130 experts from academia, business, and the governments of 26 countries expected to be on hand.

Google to launch gPhone in September

Google is reportedly closing in on the worldwide launch of its branded handset, the so-called gPhone. According to Business Standard, the search giant is currently in discussions with Indian mobile operators Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Essar to debut the device in early September. Sources close to Google say a simultaneous North American and European gPhone launch is expected, with the company currently waiting for federal regulatory approval before rolling out the handset in the U.S market. The Bharti Airtel and Vodafone negotiations are said to encompass mobile data, IM and search solutions as well.

Reports suggest Google plans to invest roughly $8 billion on the gPhone and related mobile initiatives. The Wall Street Journal previously reported Google invested "hundreds of millions of dollars" in the gPhone project, and entered negotiations with T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless.

During a keynote appearance last week at the Progress & Freedom Foundation's Aspen Summit, Google chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt acknowledged the company would "probably" participate in the FCC's upcoming 700 MHz spectrum. Google had said that it would potentially bid up to $4.6 billion in the auction if the FCC would enable open applications, open devices, open wholesale services and open network access.

For more on the gPhone launch:
- read this Business Standard article

Related Articles:
Google in handset talks with operators
Google files mobile advertising patent
Google developing mobile content search
KDDI launches branded Google e-mail
The Google Phone: I want to believe

Friday, August 24, 2007

Clearwire's WiMAX-Lite

Imagine having Net access almost anywhere. Clearwire has a new service that comes close to providing just that

If you're fortysomething or older, like me, you probably remember the thrill of getting your first home dial-up connection to the Net. Then came broadband, which was pure magic. And then Wi-Fi, which delivered fast Web access throughout the home, as well as in cafés and airport lounges. Now I'm completely spoiled. I want my Internet wherever I happen to be.

An emerging technology called WiMAX aims to indulge that craving. It will eventually provide Web browsing speeds many times faster than Wi-Fi and a gigantic range that will keep you permanently connected to the Net—at home, in your car, in a city park, or on the beach. The new WiMAX standard won't be ready for prime time until early next year. But you can get a taste of what's coming if you sign up with Clearwire (CLWR), a Bellevue (Wash.) startup from Craig McCaw that's available in 43 markets including Seattle, where I live. This WiMAX-lite service is disappointing in some ways. But Clearwire will start upgrading subscribers to the real thing next year, and it is also planning to roll out a nationwide WiMAX network in a joint venture with Sprint Nextel (S). If it addresses a few early glitches, it's bound to have tremendous appeal.

Location, Location, Location

To use Clearwire's current service (ranging from $30 to $50 a month), you just set up a nine-inch-high modem and plug it into the Ethernet jack on your PC. This one box is all you need for full Net access—say goodbye to DSL or cable-modem charges and wires—and it will work anywhere in the city, as long as you have a power outlet for the modem. No more searching for a Wi-Fi hotspot: The signals are everywhere.

Well, almost everywhere. In this proto-WiMAX system, there are dark spots, and my home at the bottom of a gully, surrounded by hills, trees, and other houses, happens to be in one. A row of five lights on top of the modem indicates signal strength, and the best I've ever gotten at home is two out of five. Two lights turns out to be fine for e-mailing and other basic tasks. But video and graphics-rich Web sites are sluggish, so check with Clearwire before making a commitment.

Things picked up when I tested the technology at work on the 19th floor of a Seattle office building. I got five lights out of five, and the experience was just like surfing the Web on my high-speed cable connection at home. Out of the dark zone, Clearwire was fast enough for me to catch episodes of the British car show Top Gear on YouTube (GOOG) and listen to a buddy's guitar music on MySpace (NWS). And I had no problem using Clearwire's voice-over-Internet phone service, which carries an additional monthly charge. There has been some subscriber grumbling about Clearwire's restricting network speed for heavy users during peak hours, but I haven't had that problem.

On the Road

The next step was to take Clearwire around town. This is a bit of a nuisance because you have to lug the modem with you and find a power outlet—or purchase a separate car adapter and a 12-oz. battery pack.

I didn't bother with that. Instead, I took my gear to a nearby Starbucks, plugged it in, and enjoyed surfing the Web without having to pay the usual Wi-Fi fee. I did have to tweak the settings on my laptop to turn off the radio that receives wireless signals so it would default to the Clearwire service—but that's not a big deal. And in the next few months, Clearwire will sell a card that slips into a laptop to receive its signal, so you won't need to tote the modem.

Clearwire isn't all it can be, especially if you live in a dark zone. But for folks who want to get out from under their cable or telephone company, it offers a dependable alternative that will get much better when real WiMAX finally arrives.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

OpenTV Announces New Customer Win in Israel

OpenTV Participate(TM) Solution to Power Unique Mobile Interactive Experience for Broadcast of Game Show '1 vs 100'

SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 16 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- OpenTV Corp. , a leading provider of solutions for the delivery of advanced television and cross-platform interactive services, announced today that its OpenTV Participate solution will power live, synchronized mobile interactive services for the international hit TV game show "1 vs 100" broadcast by Reshet, Israel's largest broadcaster.

The recent adoption of the OpenTV Participate system allows Reshet to provide a powerful, new interactive viewing experience to its audience, enabling viewers to actively participate in the "1 vs 100" game show using mobile phones.

"We are very excited to partner with Reshet on our new mobile interactive solution. It offers unprecedented flexibility for broadcasters and producers alike, as well as an exciting and unique interactive experience for viewers," said Alan Guggenheim, President and CEO of OpenTV. "This latest extension to the OpenTV Participate platform is part of an ongoing initiative at OpenTV to deliver the right content, at the right time to the right device. The power of OpenTV Participate is that it fully embraces the idea that viewers can participate and transact via multiple platforms," concluded Guggenheim.

During the show, a user friendly graphical interface, developed by the Vario Group, a Tel Aviv based Internet and mobile solutions provider, will display synchronized content enabling viewers to select their answer to the actual questions presented on the TV show. The mobile application, which works on both Brew and Java enabled phones, has already been developed and ported by Vario to the majority of mobile handsets in Israel.

"Reshet's goal is to lead Israeli TV into the new media age," said Reshet Deputy CEO Ilan Tovyahu. "Our strategy is to find and adopt technologies that can help us expand our offering beyond the traditional TV viewing experience, and we are happy to be able to partner with companies like OpenTV and Vario. We hope this is just the first such experience we offer our viewers," added Tovyahu. "The user interface created by OpenTV and Vario is so simple and intuitive that anyone can use it; the system offers us a very flexible platform for creating a seamless interactive experience with multiple new opportunities for viewers to get involved."

OpenTV Participate is a server-based system which can process several thousand transactions per second, delivering a personalized interactive experience to viewers who will be able to compete against the studio player, and each other, simultaneously. Powerful competition logic allows points to be allocated for each correct answer and provides viewers with 'on-the-fly' audience response statistics and personalized score and answer results for each response. Prizes can be set in the system, which automatically selects the winner, ensuring a fair process that can be independently audited if required. The system also creates a unique account for each user, allowing the broadcaster to contact winners as well as track weekly retention and usage statistics.

In addition to the synchronized interactive services, OpenTV Participate also allows Reshet to present other value-added content, such as trivia, fun facts, sponsor messages and interactive advertising, to the audience at various intervals during the show and commercial breaks.

About OpenTV

OpenTV is one of the world's leading providers of solutions for the delivery of digital and interactive television. The company's software has been integrated in over 92 million digital set-top boxes and digital televisions around the world. The software enables enhanced program guides, video-on-demand, personal video recording, enhanced television, interactive shopping, interactive and addressable advertising, games and gaming and a variety of consumer care and communication applications. For more information, please visit

About Reshet

Reshet Company, a communication entity, which operates and manages Channel 2 broadcasts ever since the Channel was established in 1993. The Company's new facilities, located in the Hi-Tech compound of Ramat Hachayal in Tel Aviv, include advanced studios; world class sophisticated broadcast room and a school for the various television-industry professions.

About Vario

Vario Group operates several lines of business, dealing with seed capital investments and serving as a "technological incubator." The Group also provides various services in the high tech arena including software development in fields of Web and mobile. Moreover, Vario Media manages various products in all three media platforms: Internet, television and mobile.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Virgin America partners with AirCell for WiFi

Virgin America, which flew its inaugural flight last week, has said AirCell will be offering WiFi connectivity in its planes once the airline receives regulatory approval, according to Zeni Jardin from Boing Boing. She took the Virgin flight last week from Los Angeles to San Francisco. The planes are wired. For every three seats, there are two 110-volt outlets, USB ports, two WiFi access points on board in the front and rear and Ethernet at every seat that connects passengers to a plane-wide network. EV-DO technology is planned for transmitting data back to the ground, which AirCell's technology does. AirCell won the exclusive rights in June 2006 to the air-to-ground spectrum that will enable it to provide wireless broadband services on airplanes. The company announced an agreement with American Airlines to test broadband services with passengers across the U.S. beginning in 2008. AirCell was a FierceBroadbandWireless Fierce 15 winner.

For more about Virgin America's plans with AirCell:
- read this blog post at Boing Boing

OpenTV's High Definition Personal Video Recorder and Push Video-On-Demand Solutions Selected by MultiChoice South Africa

OpenTV to act as System Integrator for the MCSA upgrade to OpenTV Core2(TM) and OpenTV PVR2(TM)

SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 14 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- OpenTV Corp. , a leading provider of solutions for the delivery of advanced digital television and cross-platform interactive services, announced today that MultiChoice South Africa (MCSA), the pioneer of multi-channel television in Africa and a Naspers group subsidiary, selected OpenTV as a key partner for the roll-out of advanced digital television services on their DStv platform.

"OpenTV is focused on developing innovative solutions that will help operators migrate to the vision of an integrated video and media world where end users have easy access and great entertainment interacting with their content," said Alan Guggenheim, President and CEO, OpenTV. "Our ongoing relationship with MCSA demonstrates that our solutions are proven, rapid to deploy and provide the functionality operators need to support new and innovative services to enhance their offering."

MCSA is investigating high definition personal video recorders (PVRs) with OpenTV Core2 middleware and OpenTV PVR2 software, in combination with Irdeto's content security for digital TV. OpenTV will act as system integrator for the project. The Push Video-On-Demand service will allow MCSA to broadcast a selection of television and entertainment content directly on the hard disk of set-top boxes for immediate access by subscribers. The advanced service will provide MCSA's subscribers over time, with a range of interactive TV content, Personal Video Recorder (PVR), video on demand (VOD), and high definition (HD) services.

"OpenTV has been one of our key partners in our efforts to offer advanced services and improve the overall user experience," said Nolo Letele, CEO MultiChoice South Africa. "We are excited about the new applications supported by OpenTV Core2 and OpenTV PVR2, as well as the other applications and upgrades that will provide customers with new ways to enjoy their video services."

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Startup Hopes To Challenge Apple's iTunes Through Google Ads

NEW YORK (AP)--Add gBox Inc. to the growing list of online-music services hoping to chip away at Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) iTunes's dominance.

The Cupertino, Calif., startup was forced out of a stealth mode when Universal Music Group announced late Thursday it would test sales of some digital music without the customary copy-protection technology.

Under the program, gBox will get referrals through ads Universal will buy through search leader Google Inc. (GOOG), gBox Chief Executive Tammy Artim said Friday.

Google will get standard advertising fees rather than a cut of sales under the arrangement. The ads, which would appear when a Google user searches for specific terms such as the name of an artist, will direct the user to gBox.

The arrangement with Universal and gBox is separate from Google's music-search service, which directs users to online music stores when they search for specific albums or artists. The company says it doesn't get paid for such referrals, and it doesn't restrict links to a single retailer.

Google, which has said it has no plans to create a music store of its own, described the new arrangement as strictly an advertising relationship.

Songs at gBox cost 99 cents each. For the Universal songs that are part of the test, gBox will offer an MP3 version free of copy-protection technology known as digital-rights management, or DRM. A DRM-enabled version will be available at the same price.

DRM technology is designed to block or set limits on copying and CD burning.

Although DRM can help stem illegal copying, it can also frustrate consumers by limiting the type of device or number of computers on which they can listen.

Copy-protected songs sold through Apple's market-leading iTunes store generally won't play on devices other than its popular iPod digital player, and iPods won't play DRM-enabled songs bought at rival music stores, including gBox.

Although many independent music labels have for years sold their tunes without copy restrictions, the major recording companies have resisted.

Earlier this year, Britain's EMI Group PLC (EMIPY) became the first of the major labels to embrace DRM-free tunes, letting Apple sell versions of songs with higher audio quality and without any built-in copying hurdles.

The test by Vivendi SA's Universal Music Group, while only encompassing a portion of its catalog, is significant because Universal is the world's largest recording company. That raises the prospect that other major labels could follow.

Universal Music will make DRM-free songs available Aug. 21 to Jan. 31. Inc. (AMZN), Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT), Best Buy Co. (BBY) and RealNetworks Inc.'s (RNWK) Rhapsody are among the other retailers selling such tracks, but only gBox will get Universal's Google referrals.

Although gBox won't formally launch until Aug. 21, it already has a site with music from Sony Corp. (SNE) and independent labels. Artim said the company has negotiated deals with other labels, but couldn't disclose them until the launch.

She also said gBox was working with other major labels to sell DRM-free tracks like Universal's, but such talks are ongoing.

GBox now works only with Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) Internet Explorer browser on Windows-based computers, but Firefox support will come by the launch date, Artim said.

It won't be compatible with Apple's Macintosh computers, however. Even though DRM-free tracks can play on any computer, the DRM versions won't, and gBox didn't want to confuse customers, Artim said.

GBox also is developing a "wish list" feature - software code that users can place on their blogs or social-networking profiles at News Corp.'s (NWS) MySpace, Facebook and other sites. Friends visiting the blog or profile can buy a song for that user through gBox.

In relying on referrals through Google and social-networking sites, gBox is taking a different approach to marketing. Other retailers tend to drive music buyers to the store's home page to discover new songs and make purchases there.

"Instead of doing marketing and (advertising on) billboards on Highway 101 to go to gBox," Artim said, "we want to take advantage of the viral element that has been so successful for companies in the past."

Monday, July 23, 2007

Google pledges $4.6B if 700 MHz is "open"

Google finally put its money where its mouth is, pledging to bid a minimum of $4.6 billion in the 700 MHz auction if the Federal Communications Commission agrees to set aside some spectrum for open access--that is open access the way Google envisions it to be. Earlier this month, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin leaked his draft order for the 700 MHz band. The proposal would allow a level of open access on two 11 MHz blocks in the 700 MHz band. Martin wants any device and application to be able to run on these networks, but he has apparently stopped short from requiring the winning bidder to open its network up on a wholesale basis. That wasn't good enough for Google. It is attaching stipulations to this $4.6-billion potential bid, saying it will only bid if the FCC enables open applications, open devices, open wholesale services and open network access.

In an interview with Dow Jones, Chris Sacca, head of special initiatives at Google, said Google isn't interested in selling service directly to consumers itself, which runs counter to its business plan. Rather, it wants to oversee construction of a new national wireless network and lease out access to third parties. Who might that be?

Meanwhile, after a few days of rumors that AT&T might sue the FCC over the proposed open access rules for the 700 MHz spectrum auction, the carrier surprisingly said it supports Martin's plan.

Check the FierceWireless website later for more on my views about Google's moves in the 700 MHz debate. Website

For more about Google's $4.6-billion commitment:
- take a look at this article from Dow Jones
check out the letter Google CEO Eric Schmidt sent to the FCC
- look at the official Google blog

Thursday, July 12, 2007

IPhone Turns Focus On Greater Wi-Fi Use By Handsets

NEW YORK -(Dow Jones)- The Apple Inc. (AAPL) iPhone, which has generated more than enough buzz for itself, is also corralling a lot of attention for wireless fidelity, or wi-fi, networks.

Already in iPhone's short life span, carriers are reporting greater demands on wi-fi as consumers seek a faster connection to the Web. The technology is a double-edged sword for carriers: It provides a short-term benefit by reducing the strain on their cellular networks, but could potentially wrest away their control over Internet service as networks expand. Sporadic availability and an unclear business model have kept consumer adoption muted, but that is poised to change.

"The iPhone is giving the industry a big shot in the arm in terms of imagination over different business plans," said Ron Sege, chief executive of network equipment maker Tropos Networks Inc.

More than laptops - the primary device used to connect to the wi-fi network - cellphones will be the primary driver for the adoption of citywide wi-fi networks. Some devices, like the iPhone, use the wi-fi hotspots as a means to access the Internet, but other true dual-band handsets are designed to make voice calls that can be seamlessly switched between the wi-fi and cellular networks.

So far, only a few devices boast that capability - around 1.9 million around the world - but that total should grow to 186 million by 2010, according to ABI Research analyst Philip Solis.

As more municipalities push for blanket wi-fi coverage - going beyond the hotspots offered by local business - the debate over their deployments gets increasingly tangled by a messy mixture of government, corporate and consumer interests. Local governments see wi-fi as a way to generate revenue while ensuring poor areas receive access to a high-speed Internet connection. Internet providers such as the telecommunications and cable companies view it as a potential threat.

Yet deployments are happening in the face of this conflict. Small towns across the country have installed municipal wi-fi networks that can be accessed anywhere.

"They say that a mayor can't get elected without a wi-fi strategy," said Karen Hanley, senior director of marketing for trade group Wi-Fi Alliance.

On a larger scale, Philadelphia is working with EarthLink Inc. (ELNK) to build a citywide network. But both it and San Francisco have faced delays in their rollouts. Some towns, meanwhile, have found that its wi-fi network has drawn disappointingly low interest, and have struggled to achieve a return on their investment.

Local governments hope that both residents and visitors alike will be more inclined to pay for wi-fi once dual-band handsets become more prevalent. Their portability brings true mobile Internet access compared with laptops, which are relatively stationary.

Some carriers and cable providers have felt threatened by the prospect that cities would offer their own access to the Web. Some have leveled criticism over the economics of such a business model.

"We're still looking at those networks," said Dan Yost, head of product management for Qwest Communications International Inc. (Q). "We haven't yet found an opportunity that makes sense for us to get involved in."

But things are changing. Yost said he doesn't consider city wi-fi networks a threat, since a physical line connection will always be faster and more reliable. On Monday, AT&T Inc. (T) waded into the business with a 3-square-mile deployment of wi-fi coverage to Riverside, Calif.

Near-Term Benefits

For now, wi-fi coverage is primarily accessed through "hotspots" of limited ranges and are used by hotels, restaurants and coffee shops as a way to retain customers. Many of the wi-fi hotspots are supported by big carriers such as AT&T and Deutsche Telekom AG's (DT) T-Mobile USA, as well as smaller private companies such as Wayport Inc. and Boingo Wireless Inc. They typically deal with the upkeep of the networks and take most of the revenue.

Last year, the worldwide hotspot business generated $1.49 billion in revenue, and should more than double by 2012, according to Solis.

The iPhone's slick browsing capabilities have people wandering around town looking for hotspots. Tropos' Sege said that in the week and a half since the iPhone hit the market, an estimated 10,000 unique devices have accessed wi-fi networks his company supports. "People are finding those networks with the iPhone," he said.

T-Mobile has been aggressive in pushing wi-fi as an alternative network for handsets. The company, which supports 8,500 hotspots across the U.S., last month unveiled a service to bring those access points into the home.

The service, called HotSpot @Home, allows for dual-band cellphones to switch networks, so customers wouldn't burn "anytime" minutes while at home. T-Mobile benefits through additional revenue and the chance to move some of its call traffic off of its cellular network and onto the wi-fi one, which is powered by the subscriber's separate Internet service provider.

By reducing the cellular traffic, T-Mobile can reduce the cost of running its network, which is among the higher expenses for a wireless carrier.

"The more they are using wi-fi, the less they are using the cellular network," Solis said. "That reduces congestion on the cellular base stations, and allows them to put off adding capacity until a later date."

AT&T, meanwhile, is using its wi-fi network as another arrow in its quiver of services used to protect its customer base. Last week, AT&T said it would offer free access to its 10,000 hotspots to customers who subscribe to either of the top two tiers of its high-speed Internet service.

Not everyone is jumping on the wi-fi bandwagon. Verizon Communications Inc. ( VZ) shut down its New York area hotspots in 2005 due to little interest and the need for costly upgrades.

"We concluded it wasn't getting a lot of use," said Verizon spokesman Eric Rabe. "Putting money up for an upgrade wasn't justified."

The company may have been a victim of bad timing - wi-fi was just getting its legs when the network was taken down.

Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) has won the contract to build out a WiMax network in France

"Alcatel-Lucent will equip the planned sites in the Ile de France and Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur regions by mid 2009."

The win is nice for Alcatel, but a big secondary winner is Sprint (S). The company is betting a great deal of its future on the WiMax network it plans to have up and running in the US by the end of 2008. The network will cost $3 billion, and is being supported by WiMax champions Intel (INTC) and Motorola (MOT) who have also put money into WiMax IPO Clearwire (CLWR).

The Sprint plan to cover an area that will reach 100 million people in the US has a number of skeptics. WiMax is untried across such a large region. It has been built out in several big cities including Seoul, but whether it can be knitted together to cover a regional that would be a large portion of the US is still open to question.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

OpenTV Launches 'Rapid Porting Program'

Program to Focus on Faster Time to Market, Lower Porting Costs and Reduced Operational Expenses

SAN FRANCISCO, June 26 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- OpenTV Corp. (NASDAQ: OPTV) , a leading provider of solutions for the delivery of advanced television and cross platform interactive services, today announced the introduction of its new Rapid Porting Program (RPP) to provide rapid, high quality ports of OpenTV middleware to a wide range of chipsets and set top boxes.

The goal of the Rapid Porting Program is to bring together the silicon vendors, set-top box (STB) manufacturers, conditional access suppliers, and systems integrators to create full-feature set-top boxes that can be brought to market quickly. By fostering the development of pre-integrated and pre- tested drivers between specific chipsets and OpenTV's Core2(TM) and PVR2(TM) solutions, the Rapid Porting Program will offer significant benefits to network operators.

According to Alan A. Guggenheim, OpenTV's President and CEO, "OpenTV's Rapid Porting Program promotes cooperation among the partners and fosters targeted sales and marketing efforts with our common customers and prospects. The benefits of RPP include bringing solutions to market faster, lowering porting costs, reducing operational expenses and achieving faster issue resolution. No one in the industry is approaching the problem in this way and the response to this new initiative by manufacturers and operators has been positive and gratifying."

The initial launch of the program is focused on efforts with chipset and set-top box manufacturer partners. The charter partners for the program include Broadcom, Conexant, and NXP Semiconductors as well as Philips Consumer Electronics. OpenTV expects other partners to join as the program advances.

"The OpenTV Rapid Porting Program will speed up the introduction of Philips new high definition (HD) set-top boxes and HD digital video recorders (DVRs) into the market," said Philippe Alcaras, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Home Networks at Philips Consumer Electronics. "This new program also delivers on Philips' brand promise of Sense and Simplicity as it will simplify the HD launch for Philips and OpenTV operators and provide high quality innovative solutions to our customers."

"OpenTV's Rapid Porting Program will enable us to meet our customers' desire for fully integrated hardware and software solutions that allow them to accelerate the delivery of complete products based on our advanced HD-AVC SoCs," said Lewis Brewster, senior vice president and general manager of Conexant's Broadband Media Processing business. "We're pleased to be one of the first chipset vendors to support this program, and providing our customers with even greater levels of service and support."

"With its advanced set-top box solutions, NXP Semiconductors is powering developments in the CE market. Our technology allows STB makers to deliver premier products to the market more quickly and at mass market price points. By partnering with OpenTV, NXP can continue to provide revolutionary offerings to the operator market-complete system solutions that boast both state-of-the-art hard and middleware," said Guus Frericks, VP and General Manager, NXP Semiconductors, Business Line Set-Top-Box and Home Media Devices.

"OpenTV's rapid porting program is an ideal way for Broadcom and OpenTV to enable our customers and minimize time-to-market across the industry's widest array of high-performance HD and SD AVC/VC-1 set-top platforms that we each offer," said John H. Gleiter, Senior Director of Marketing for Broadcom's set- top box platforms. "We are excited about working closely with OpenTV and offering this combined solution to the marketplace."

About OpenTV

OpenTV is one of the world's leading providers of solutions for the delivery of digital and interactive television. The company's software has been integrated in over 88 million digital set-top boxes and digital televisions around the world. The software enables enhanced program guides, video-on-demand, personal video recording, enhanced television, interactive shopping, interactive and addressable advertising, games and gaming and a variety of consumer care and communication applications. For more information, please visit

About Royal Philips Electronics

Royal Philips Electronics of the Netherlands (NYSE: PHG) is a global leader in healthcare, lifestyle and technology, delivering products, services and solutions through the brand promise of "sense and simplicity". Headquartered in the Netherlands, Philips employs approximately 121,700 employees in more than 60 countries worldwide. With sales of EUR 27 billion in 2006, the company is a market leader in medical diagnostic imaging and patient monitoring systems, energy efficient lighting solutions, personal care and home appliances, as well as consumer electronics. News from Philips is located at

About Conexant

Conexant's innovative semiconductor solutions are driving broadband communications and digital home networks worldwide. The company has leveraged its expertise and leadership position in modem technologies to enable more Internet connections than all of its competitors combined, and continues to develop highly integrated silicon solutions for broadband data and media processing networks. Key products include client-side xDSL and cable modem solutions, home network processors, broadcast video encoders and decoders, digital set-top box components and systems solutions, and dial-up modems. Conexant's suite of networking components includes a leadership portfolio of IEEE 802.11-compliant WLAN chipsets, software and reference designs, as well as solutions for applications based on HomePlug(R) and HomePNA(TM). The company also offers a complete line of asymmetric and symmetric DSL central office solutions, which are used by service providers worldwide to deliver broadband data, voice, and video over copper telephone lines.

Conexant is a fabless semiconductor company that recorded revenues of $970.8 million in fiscal year 2006. The company has approximately 3,200 employees worldwide, and is headquartered in Newport Beach, Calif. To learn more, please visit

About NXP

NXP is a top 10 semiconductor company founded by Philips more than 50 years ago. Headquartered in Europe, the company has 37,000 employees working in 26 countries across the world. NXP creates semiconductors, system solutions and software that deliver better sensory experiences in mobile phones, personal media players, TVs, set-top boxes, identification applications, cars and a wide range of other electronic devices. News from NXP is located at

About Broadcom

Broadcom Corporation is a major technology innovator and global leader in semiconductors for wired and wireless communications. Broadcom products enable the delivery of voice, video, data and multimedia to and throughout the home, the office and the mobile environment. We provide the industry's broadest portfolio of state-of-the-art, system-on-a-chip and software solutions to manufacturers of computing and networking equipment, digital entertainment and broadband access products, and mobile devices. These solutions support our core mission: Connecting everything(R).

Broadcom is one of the world's largest fabless semiconductor companies, with 2006 revenue of $3.67 billion, and holds over 2,000 U.S. and 800 foreign patents, more than 6,000 additional pending patent applications, and one of the broadest intellectual property portfolios addressing both wired and wireless transmission of voice, video and data.

Broadcom is headquartered in Irvine, Calif., and has offices and research facilities in North America, Asia and Europe. Broadcom may be contacted at +1.949.926.5000 or at