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June 1999

The Wireless Last Mile

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Over the course of the past several months, we have looked at various methods of broadband Last Mile connectivity and the implications for the overall telecommunications services market. This month, we do away with wires and focus on Wireless as an alternative to last mile access.

To begin, let’s take a look at what constitutes the last mile. The last mile, or local loop as it is often referred to, is that distance from the local central office to the subscriber’s premises. In most cases, the local loop is made up of twisted pair copper wiring, but technology is changing that scenario. A growing number of telecommunications companies, including the likes of AT&T, MCI, Sprint and others, are focusing considerable efforts at developing a wireless local loop that can provide greater bandwidth and higher-speed transmission rates than that of a traditional wired solution.

To date, POTS (plain old telephone service) twisted pair solutions were able to offer a number of advantages, such as clear reception and low cost, but that is changing. With the advent of "wireless fiber," companies such as Teligent (www.teligent.com) and WinStar (www.winstar.com) are promising their customers greater bandwidth and (at least) equal quality at lower cost. The competition for this market is growing apace. Back in 1996, there were less than 50 wireless local loops in place across the United States. By 1997, that number had grown to over 130, and this does not take into account the rest of the world. Furthermore, while this technology has been traditionally more expensive than most wired solutions, experts believe that costs will continue to drop — as much as 40 percent over the next several years.

In one wireless local loop scenario, a service provider sets up a base station, possibly on an existing telephone or utility pole. This receiver is hard wired to a central office type digital switching station, which in turn connects to the existing infrastructure of the PSTN. On the subscriber side, we find a small transceiver (let’s say pizza box or less in size) attached to the side of the subscriber’s house. All the inside telecom wiring terminates here. And there’s your wireless local loop.

This type of solution has the potential to offer high-speed voice/video/data/Web transmissions while allowing the service provider to bypass the incumbent local exchange carrier’s (ILEC’s) network altogether.

While many contend that wireless is a new technology, communicating without wires is hardly a novel concept. To take it to an extreme, let’s consider Paul Revere’s warning, "The British are coming." His lantern told the tale over some distance. (Early line of sight technology?) Native Americans used smoke signals to communicate. Ok, ok, maybe that is a bit of an extreme example, but let’s consider that 100 years ago, at the turn of the last century, people like Samuel Morse and Gugliemo Marconi were already experimenting with wireless communications solutions. Granted, up until the 1970s, the main users of the technology were police forces, taxi dispatchers, and railroads. In the waning years of that decade, the advent and subsequent proliferation of the portable wireless telephone foretold today’s wireless craze. (For more on how far we’ve come, see the article on 3G Wireless and the sidebar entitled Wireless Handset Showcase.)

Now, one argument in favor of wireless local loop technology is the fact that it provides a way for service providers to get around the ILEC’s hold on the last mile, but consider this: There are close to 6 billion people in the world and only 500 million or so actually have telephones. Wireless local loop technology would allow a service provider to establish telecommunications service to a vast majority of the world’s population that does not yet enjoy any service. The solutions are relatively easy to set up, and are not necessarily limited in that if service providers need to provide more coverage, they can easily add more capacity as time goes by. Couple that with the fact that wireless solutions are not as vulnerable to the same problems (severe weather, rough terrain) as wired alternatives, and it’s no wonder people are paying attention to wireless local loop as much as they are.

Analysts also point to another factor contributing to the potential growth of wireless local loop solutions. Consider the number of second lines being ordered by the populace. The vendors of wireless technology see no reason why these second lines shouldn’t be wireless.

Two acronyms that we constantly come across in any discussion of wireless local loop technology are MMDS and LMDS.

Multichannel Multipoint Distribution Service uses small microwaves to beam data to subscribers’ homes. This technology is one-way, line of sight, technology which allows users to receive data via the downstream link. Still, a modem and a phone line are needed to communicate upstream. MMDS is hampered by terrain, obstructions (urban and otherwise), and is generally only useful within a 35-mile range, but has met with considerable success in densely populated urban areas where receivers and transceivers mounted on tall buildings can be deployed aplenty. One company, BellSouth (www.bellsouth.com) is offering consumers wireless digital television (wireless cable) in the Southern cities of New Orleans and Atlanta, and is soon to start offering service in the Florida cities of Jacksonville, Orlando, and Daytona. Since all digital transmission is essentially made up of 1s and 0s, can broadband Internet access be far behind?

Local Multipoint Distribution Service also uses microwaves to transmit data, although due to issues of frequency and bandwidth, operates in a much smaller footprint (typically 3-10 miles) than MMDS. Unlike point-to-point solutions, LMDS enables two-way simultaneous communications between a single central hub and multiple subscribers. One of the largest advantages of this technology is the sheer bandwidth that becomes available. LMDS is theoretically capable of transmitting 1.5 Gbps downstream (200 Mbps upstream), which is enough for users to watch a digital movie, talk on the phone, and surf the Internet -- all at the same time.

For all the talk of massive bandwidth, LMDS deployment has been a bit slow in the United States. While most of the LMDS license holders will likely begin widespread operation of their networks within the next 1-2 years, there is already some activity in the market. Siemens (www.icn.siemens.com) is undertaking some extensive testing of an LMDS-based wireless broadband solution. The recently introduced AirNetXpress is a point-to-multipoint access product that will deliver two-way, high-speed data, voice, video, and Web. For more details on this project, visit the company’s Web site.

The expansive amount of services that can be offered over such vast amounts of bandwidth certainly sets the mind reeling. Voice, digital video, screaming Web access. And, that’s just the beginning. Video conferencing, bandwidth on demand, streaming video, data transfer... packet-heads all over the world must be salivating at the prospect.

Of all the competing technologies vying for a piece of the broadband marketplace, perhaps wireless has some of the bigger advantages in the long run. While telcos and cable companies have a tremendous amount of infrastructure in place and many many years of a headstart, the ascension of wireless service providers cannot be ruled out. When you consider the relative ease of deployment, and the vast amount of untapped subscribers in the global market, things look pretty promising for the future of wireless broadband access.

Wireless Handset Showcase

The newest, and neatest of the handsets on (and soon to be on) the market. Just remember: We saw them first!

The NeoPoint 1000
It’s a phone, an Internet MiniBrowser, and PDA in one! The NeoPoint 1000, from Innovative Global Solutions (omwww.igsolution.com), is a CDMA digital phone that works on 1.9 GHz PCS networks (such as Sprint PCS) and has been garnering cooing sounds since it first made the cover of the New York Times "Circuits" section. This very smart gadget with the cute face offers an amazing array of data and PDA functions, including smooth instant syncing to programs like Outlook, ACT! and Lotus Organizer. It’s even got speech recognition functions that let you say things like "Internet, Stocks, Lucent" and it will bring up the Lucent stock quote on its screen. NeoPoint’s "information alerts" will be especially attractive to corporate MIS — information alerts come through NeoPoint’s Personal InBox that captures e-mail, voicemail, and text messages. All this and more for under $300.

Qualcomm’s pdQ smartphone
Qualcomm’s (www.qualcomm.com) pdQ smartphone is the industry’s first integrated CDMA digital phone and Palm Computing platform-based organizer. Both the 800 MHz dual-mode and 1900 MHz digital versions of the phone/PDA allow users to make calls, track appointments, catalog contact data, send and receive e-mail, surf the Internet, and more. For those of us who own both Palm Pilots and cell phones, this device is a dream come true.

Motorola v3688
Launched at CeBIT 1999, the v3688 from Motorola (www.motorola.com) is one of the lightest and smallest GSM dual band (900/1800 MHz) digital phones available. It incorporates a new prototype WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) browser that allows true mobile surfing of the Net and sets the stage for a new age of push-type applications. In fact, Motorola has committed to delivering mobile Internet capability by incorporating WAP browsers across its entire range of mobile digital communications products. Motorola believes that WAP technology will be an essential ingredient in all of its consumer products across all digital technologies as it predicts that the number of mobile devices with Internet access will exceed that of fixed based access within five years. We concur.

Motorola i1000+
The Motorola i1000plus handset is a first palm-size device that supports wireless access to the Internet, corporate intranets and networks, and enhanced phone features for use on Motorola’s iDEN networks. Designed for business users who rely on voice communication and convenient access to information over networks, the i1000plus handset is an Internet-ready wireless device that integrates the capabilities of a digital phone, two-way radio, and alphanumeric pager with Internet microbrowser, e-mail, fax, and two-way messaging capabilities using Motorola's advanced iDEN integrated digital communication technology. The IP (Internet Protocol) addressable i1000plus handset will enable a user to browse Internet, intranet, and extranet Web sites using Unwired Planet (www.phone.com) microbrowser technology. The new handset can also serve as a wireless modem when connected to a notebook computer or PDA (personal digital assistant).

Ericsson’s R380
Ericsson’s (www.ericsson.com) R380 smart phone is a dual-band handset that’s loaded with features. At first glance, it looks like your basic high-end mobile phone — until you flipp the keypad forward to uncover a full-length touch-sensitive screen with rows of icons for accessing the handset’s wealth of functions. In addition to almost standard e-mail, fax, and SMS (Short Messaging Service) functionality, the R380 has a built-in modem, a voice notes recorder, voice dialing and call answering, hands-free speakerphone operation, handwriting recognition, and a gaggle of personal organizer functions including address book, calendar, alarm clock, and notebook. When commercially available, it will also support Internet access via a built-in WAP browser and will also synchronize data with a PC via an infrared link. The Symbian-developed, Epoc operating system on which the device is based will ensure long usage and standby times.

Nokia 9000il Communicator
By fully integrating a GSM 1900 digital phone, a personal organizer, fax capabilities, data and messaging services, as well as Internet access into one compact device, the Nokia 9000il Communicator allows users to be fully connected and get things done regardless of their location. The Nokia 9000il Communicator can quickly and easily sync-up with standard POC-based calendar programs and other applications, and also allows users to connect to a company’s network to check information in company databases or download e-mail. The Communicator offers a backlit display, hands-free speakerphone, and the ability to conference call with up to six people. For more information, visit www.nokia.com.

3G Wireless: The Next Frontier


In the late 70s, the folks at Bellcore made an astounding prediction: There will be more than 2 million cellular subscribers by the year 2000. If this reminds you of some of the classic lines from Dr. Evil in Mike Myers’ hilarious film Austin Powers, you’re in good company.

Check out these numbers, baby: Today, there are over 277 million wireless subscribers worldwide, according to such market researchers as the Strategis Group (www.strategisgroup.com) and the various wireless standard bearers such as the CDMA Development Group (www.cdg.com), GSM North America (www.gsmworld.com), and the Universal Wireless Communications Consortium (UWCC) (www.uwcc.org). The Yankee Group estimates that there will be more than 529 million subscribers worldwide by 2002 — and that the wireless market will grow more than three times faster than landline. This doesn’t even factor in the impact of China, which just gave the go ahead for a massive buildup of a CDMA-based national network.

But here’s the real kicker: Over the next five years, the number of wireless Internet subscribers is expected to grow from about 200,000 today to more than 4 million, while the number of wireless e-mail users will jump from about 10 million today to 50 million.

From Analog to Digital
Predictions notwithstanding, wireless technology has come a long, long way from the first-generation clunky analog (AMPS) wireless service started in Chicago by Roger’s Radio Call in 1978. Back then, cellular service was looked at as a pure vanity item — an expensive new toy for the rich who had everything. Today, we’re deep into the adoptive phase of second-generation digital wireless technology, otherwise known as TDMA, CDMA1, and GSM, as digital PCS and cellular service has overtaken analog in subscribers. (For some more information on these standards, check out the sidebar entitled Another Blend of Acronym Soup.)

According to Neil Shank, director of strategic marketing and business development at the Network Operator Group of Ericsson (www.ericsson.com), and one of the people heading up Ericsson’s push into 3G, 1983 was a watershed year due to the realization that analog wasn’t going to cut it anymore — not in terms of capacity, quality, or enhanced services. Digital wireless, whether you’re talking GSM, TDMA, or CDMA1, effectively provides about six times the capacity of analog, along with numerous enhanced services, such as caller ID, call waiting, forwarding, conferencing, etc. One area where second-generation gets weak, however, is support of high-speed data services.

Current circuit-switched data rates for TDMA are 28.8 Kbps and 14.4 Kbps for CDMA and 9.6 K for GSM — enough for very modest text-based e-mail and short messaging applications, but far short of what’s needed for full-blown multimedia wireless communications and Internet access. For example, AT&T (www.att.com) uses a protocol called CDPD, for Cellular Digital Packet Data, which runs at 19.2 K for its Pocket Net e-mail and information access service. One notable enhancement to 2G standards for data (call it 2G1/2) is GPRS — for General Packet Radio Services — that will run at a 115 K data rate. GPRS is slated to go into live testing by the end of this year.

Enter 3G
3G wireless standards on the drawing board promise global access, high-speed data rates, and native support for IP — tantalizing features for subscribers looking for a way to access their information from anywhere, at any time. Factors driving demand for faster and better data transmission protocols are the enormous growth in Internet and data usage, as well as the incredible escalation in the number of digital wireless subscribers around the world. In addition, current wireless operators are no longer just pure wireless plays. Carriers such as AT&T, Sprint (www.sprint.com), Bell Atlantic (www.bellatlantic.com), etc., also run landline voice and data networks. With its acquisition of TCI and bid for MediaOne, AT&T also is deep into the cable TV domain and looking to get deeper.

One of the objectives of 3G is to provide access to the network and network services, regardless of the access method. In theory, the same features would be available on wireless and wireline networks, providing consistent interfaces and usage procedures for myriad IP-based enhanced services. When third-generation wireless systems begin launching worldwide — sometime after 2001 — subscribers will immediately notice a number of advantages over current wireless systems. Data access speeds will increase by more than 20 times compared to today’s situation. The third generation will also offer multimedia capabilities and even location-enabled features such as emergency 911. This means a user from Paris will be able to use her wireless phone in New York to dial 911, and New York emergency crews will be able to pinpoint her location to send help. Third-generation technology will also allow subscribers to access several services at once. The user will be able to carry on a voice conversation while surfing the Internet, or to participate in a video conference while sending a fax. What’s more, 3G will offer a true global wireless system, permitting users to roam all over the world and make connections with anyone, anywhere.

Currently, there are more than five competing 3G standards. Three that have made most of the headlines include EDGE, cdma2000, and Wideband CDMA. EDGE, for Enhanced Data Rate for Global Evolution, will run on existing TDMA and GSM infrastructures and promises to offer 384 K data rates for users moving a high speeds (such as driving in a car), and 554 K data rates at low mobile speeds (such as walking), as well as global roaming and access capabilities for subscribers. The standards bodies UWCC, GSM Alliance and ETSI are all supporters. The market for EDGE is the more than 180 million TDMA and GSM current subscriber base.

cdma2000, or IS95, is a 3G standard championed by Qualcomm (www.qualcomm.com), Lucent Technologies (www.lucent.com), and Nortel Networks (www.nortelnetworks.com). Both EDGE and cdma2000 offer similar data rates and are appealing to wireless operators due to the fact that they require only minor changes to the network infrastructure, such as new radios in base stations and the addition of packet switches and software upgrades.

Wideband CDMA, championed by Ericsson and Nokia (www.nokia.com) , was developed originally for Western Europe. Wideband CDMA involves the creation of a packet-based network from the ground up, and requires licenses for new spectrum in the 2 GHz range. Wideband CDMA also offers native IP capability and can provide data rates up to 2 Mbps.

Why Can’t We All Just Get Along
Recently, a meeting of U.S. and European companies — called the Transatlantic Business Dialogue (TABD) — convened to hash out an informal understanding on a single 3G CDMA standard. Overseeing this effort is the International Telecommunications Union (www.itu.org). One of the outcomes of the meeting was an agreement over a three-mode CDMA standard, which would allow cell phones to be compatible with cdma2000, Wideband CDMA, and TDMA. Other development groups, such as the CDMA Development Group, are also looking for ways to converge standards.

The recent treaty over standards entered into by Qualcomm and Ericsson should also help speed up 3G development and help consolidate overlapping and redundant standards efforts.

(Note: I’d like to thank Neil Shank for his contributions to this article.)

Another Blend of Acronym Soup

CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) utilizes what is known as spread spectrum technology. What this means is that CDMA spreads the signal — or rather the information contained within a specific signal — over a greater bandwidth than the originating signal. Operating in the 1900 MHz spectrum, CDMA assigns each conversation a particular code, spreads each of the conversations across a broad portion of the spectrum, sends the information to the receiving end, and reassembles the conversations using the same code it used to spread them out. (CDMA also operates in the 800 MHz spectrum.) CDMA supports more voice conversations per channel (54) than its competitors, but since it is the newest of the three technologies discussed here, it has yet to be deployed as widely as the others are.

GSM, or Global System for Mobile communications, is the European standard for wireless. The standards name has its origins in the French Groupe Special Mobile, which, conveniently has the same acronym. While it is the European standard, GSM is in use in well over 100 countries today. GSM operates exclusively in the 1900 MHz frequency and is in fact based on narrow-band TDMA. While it can handle eight conversations per channel, that is far less than CDMA, albeit more than TDMA. One of the more interesting benefits of GSM, is that since it is so widely deployed across the globe, users can theoretically travel (roam) much of the world with just their one cell phone.

Time Division Multiple Access (TDMA) is the oldest of the three standards, insomuch as we are talking about deployment here in the United States. TDMA’s headstart in the U.S. market has afforded it the most users. TDMA operates at both the 1900 MHz spectrum and 800 MHz spectrum. As the name implies, TDMA divides the spectrum into time slots, allocating these to a number of users to access a single channel. One benefit of TDMA is its higher-speed support of circuit-switched data: 28.8 Kbps.

No discussion of wireless standards would be complete without at least mentioning AMPS. AMPS (Advanced Mobile Phone Service) is an analog cellular standard that operates only in the 800 MHz frequency band. Once the only standard in the United States, AMPS has seen it’s market steadily eroded. While analog wireless is on the decline due to the encroaching digital standards described above, it is still a good bet that users can connect from anywhere in the U.S. using analog. Unfortunately in a world that demands ever increasing enhanced services, this technology just doesn’t offer the same breadth and potential of services as digital.

Bluetooth: Wireless For The Home

A few years ago, some of the technologically savvy minds at Ericsson sought to create a technology that would utilize a radio link to replace cabling between devices. The work done in Ericsson’s development lab has snowballed into an industry phenomenon called Bluetooth. To paraphrase the FAQ on the Bluetooth Web site, Bluetooth is a technology specification for small-size, low-cost, short-range radio links between portable computing and communications devices. Think wireless LAN for the home. Think personal area network (hmm, a PAN to go along with all the discussion of POTS). Think wireless everywhere at any time.

Last year, representatives from Ericsson Mobile Communications, Nokia Mobile Phones, IBM, Intel, and Toshiba got together to form the Bluetooth Special Interest Group (SIG). To date, over 500 companies currently make up the Bluetooth SIG. These companies are charged with developing the technology and eventually bringing it to market (expect Bluetooth-enabled devices within the next 6–18 months).

Bluetooth takes advantage of the unlicensed 2.4 GHz spectrum, which gives it the potential for global acceptance. Currently restricted to operating in a 10-meter area, the wireless technology will eventually be upgraded to a larger networking area, approaching 100 meters. Today’s specifications allow data rates in the range of 1 Mbps, with future plans to increase the throughput to 2 Mbps. While partially derived from the IEEE’s 802 standard for wireless local-area networks, Bluetooth is designed as a "piconet," which does not offer the same network management benefits of the IEEE standard. The term piconet describes a small network of up to eight devices. For more information on the technology, a list of the current vendor members of the SIG, or a sneak peek at some of the future applications to be enabled by Bluetooth, check out www.bluetooth.com.

Services News


Amteva, Cisco Enter Partnership
Amteva Technologies, Inc. has announced that it has entered into a partnership with Cisco Systems. Under a joint development and marketing agreement, the two organizations are integrating Amteva’s Unified Messaging Plus and Cisco’s remote access servers as part of Cisco’s new Unified Communications strategy. Cisco Unified Communications delivers new revenue opportunities to service providers by consolidating voice, e-mail, and fax communications within an IP infrastructure independent of location, time, or device.
No. 540, www.itmag.com/freeinfo

Lucent Announces IP-Based IN Services And Platform
Lucent Technologies has announced it will offer a new intelligent network (IN) platform that communications network operators will be able to provide using IP networks. The services will enable users to retrieve Web-based content with a standard telephone, manage telephone calls through a Web browser, and gain access to IP network services regardless of callers’ locations or what computer or phone they may be using. The services are enabled by Lucent’s new Packet Intelligent Peripheral software platform, which will allow carriers to deliver enhanced services for both voice and data networks.
No. 541, www.itmag.com/freeinfo

SABRE Group, IBM, Nokia Create Interactive Service
The SABRE Group, IBM, and Nokia have announced that they are working on a real-time, interactive service -- delivered via mobile phone utilizing the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP), a new open industry standard for mobile Internet -- that will allow travelers to initiate flight changes and even receive updates from airlines anywhere, anytime. The service will combine SABRE Business Travel Solutions, the company’s online corporate travel purchasing system, IBM e-business technologies, and the latest mobile communications technology and terminals from Nokia.
No. 542, www.itmag.com/freeinfo

$11 Billion In Prepaid Telecom Revenues By 2003
A new report from The PELORUS Group entitled Prepaid Telecommunications Services characterizes prepaid telecom as a hotbed of opportunity. In 1998, prepaid telecom revenues totaled $2.8 billion. Calling cards accounted for 53 percent of prepaid revenues. By 2003, they will provide less than a third of the market’s revenues. Concurrently, prepaid wireline will shift from just 4 percent of the total to 32 percent. Prepaid wireless and prepaid Internet telephony are also ready to redefine their parameters. From 1993 revenues of less than $300 million, the total prepaid telecommunications market, had leapt ten-fold to nearly $3 billion by the close of 1998.
No. 543, www.itmag.com/freeinfo

APC Launches Internet Telephony Service, Changes Name
APC Telecommunications, Inc. has introduced its new Internet telephony service concurrent with a company name change to Innofone.com, Inc. The company’s new Internet telephony service provider (ITSP) division now delivers state-of-the-art VoIP fax and data communications over the Internet. Innofone is working with NetSpeak Corporation and PSINet, Inc., and is poised to provide Canadian customers with a fully integrated worldwide Internet telephony service including phone-to-phone as well as PC-to-phone telecommunications.
No. 544, www.itmag.com/freeinfo

GI, Telcordia Provide Next-Gen IP Telephony Solutions
General Instrument Corporation and Telcordia Technologies, Inc., formerly Bellcore, have announced that they intend to work together to help customers develop and implement Next Generation Network IP telephony solutions for cable providers. The two companies will work together to promote open, standards-based telephony networks focused on enabling cable operators to deploy complete and cost-effective IP telephony solutions. GI and Telcordia will create synergies that will benefit their customers in a number of key areas including the integration of the Telcordia call agent software with GI’s communications gateway for the home.
No. 545, www.itmag.com/freeinfo

telecom technologies Offers LSR-FOC Service Bureau
telecom technologies, inc. has announced an industry first: A Web-based Local Service Request-Firm Order Confirmation (LSR-FOC) service bureau, e.Mediate, that enables ported number requests to be communicated instantly and efficiently between providers of local phone service, including ILECs and CLECs. e.Mediate automates the pre-port process, which reduces costs and errors of the manual system, and the electronic LSR-FOC process between multiple carries provides robust integration capabilities, such as EDI and CORBA interfaces.
No. 546, www.itmag.com/freeinfo

VIP Calling Announces AQR 2.0
VIP Calling, Inc. has announced Assured Quality Routing Version 2.0. AQR 2.0 dynamically reroutes traffic from the Internet to the PSTN as a result of triggers from a set of tools that monitor the performance of the public Internet on a continuous basis. AQR 2.0 enables VIP Calling to deliver toll-quality service with public Internet-based costs. The VIP Calling Network is optimized to deliver low-latency and packet loss, high voice quality, no echo, high call completion, and low post-dial delay with one-stage dialing.
No. 547, www.itmag.com/freeinfo

Spyglass Secures $20 Million Agreement With Microsoft
Spyglass has announced a new strategic agreement with Microsoft Corporation which provides Spyglass a minimum of $20 million in revenues over a three-year period. Spyglass will license technology and provide services to Microsoft to help accelerate the development and deployment of Windows CE-based products. Spyglass will work directly with Microsoft to develop and integrate multiple Windows CE-based applications for Internet device manufacturers that are developing products utilizing the Windows CE operating system. Microsoft has licensed Spyglass technology and is exploring ways to utilize this technology to enhance the Windows CE experience.
No. 548, www.itmag.com/freeinfo

Abatis Introduces New Architecture
Abatis Systems Corporation has introduced the Business Services Architecture, a solution enabling carriers to offer advanced IP business services to enterprise users in a consumer-oriented, pay-as-you-go format. In the same way that the openness and accessibility of the Internet have created an explosion of content, the Business Services Architecture creates unlimited potential for network-based applications and services. This open architecture transforms service providers into value-added distributors and retailers of a broad range of business-quality services such as application hosting, unified messaging, multimedia conferencing, business continuity, and software timesharing.
No. 549, www.itmag.com/freeinfo

NetCentric, Cisco Collaborate For Carrier-Class Internet Fax Solution
NetCentric Corporation and Cisco Systems, Inc. have announced an agreement to provide carriers and network service providers (NSPs) a powerful, scalable network architecture for deploying Internet fax services. Under the joint development and marketing agreement, the two companies have integrated NetCentric’s FaxStorm Internet fax technology and Cisco’s AS5x00 universal access servers via open Internet fax protocols. This integration allows RBOCs, carriers, and NSPs to quickly implement an Internet fax service without adding new infrastructure by purchasing both a software upgrade to their existing Cisco hardware and NetCentric’s FaxStorm software.
No. 550, www.itmag.com/freeinfo

Registry Magic Announces New Virtual Operator
Registry Magic has announced Virtual Operator Version 2.0, improving the price performance of their speech recognition call routing system for the second time in the last five months. The new version doubles the number of names that are understood by the system, improves the speed of the recognition engine by one-third, and adds new functionality without an increase to the system price.
No. 551, www.itmag.com/freeinfo

PixStream Announces VDS2000
PixStream Incorporated, a developer of video networking solutions, has announced the PixStream VDS2000 video networking platform. The PixStreamVDS2000 was designed to give network service providers and enterprises the ability to offer high-quality video distribution services to their customers. PixStream has been shipping trial versions of VDS2000 to its customers since October 1998, and has also been collaborating with several leading suppliers and manufacturers such as Newbridge Networks to integrate the VDS2000 with network equipment and management software.
No. 552, www.itmag.com/freeinfo

TelePacific , Call Sciences Introduce Personal Assistant
TelePacific Communications, a California-based CLEC, launched the Shadow Personal Assistant at the Telecom Business 1999 Conference and Exposition in Anaheim. Personal Assistant, available from Call Sciences, allows users to manage all of their communications activities through a single number that integrates all communications needs. One number replaces all other telephone and fax numbers, and manages voice, fax, voice mail, paging, electronic mail, and Internet access.
No. 553, www.itmag.com/freeinfo

telecom technologies, TransMedia Advance
telecom technologies, inc., and TransMedia Communications, Inc. have announced a joint development and marketing agreement to provide integrated products that advance new IN voice services over converged Internet/packet and telephony networks. The integrated product offering by telecom technologies and TransMedia is targeted at both new and existing carriers that seek reduced operating expenses by offering distributed voice/data services over an integrated PSTN/packet network.
No. 554, www.itmag.com/freeinfo

Telogy, NetSpeak Launch Cable Modem VoIP Software Testing
Telogy Networks and NetSpeak Corporation have announced the launch of the industry’s first SGCP/MGCP call agent and signaling software testing to facilitate the development of interoperable VoIP-enabled cable modems. The testing, part of NetSpeak’s new SGCP/MGCP interoperability testing program, will speed the deployment of interoperable devices in VoIP-enabled cable systems. The interoperability testing program was developed in support of the PacketCable Initiative, sponsored by Cable Television Laboratories, Inc. NetSpeak and Telogy have developed the two components that comprise the SGCP/MGCP protocol software which enable Internet phone calls to be made across cable networks.
No. 555, www.itmag.com/freeinfo

Local ISP Enters Intelligent Network Service Deployment Agreement
Internet Direct Communications, Inc. (IDC), a Midwest ISP and Kansas City, KS’s largest local provider of Internet connectivity and communications solutions, has announced that it has signed an agreement with Vsys, Incorporated, a leading supplier of Intelligent Network/IP integration software, for deployment of a next-generation Intelligent Network-based IP services platform. The new service platform will allow IDC to provide a whole suite of IP-based services to customers throughout its service territory.
No. 556, www.itmag.com/freeinfo

Lucent’s OCC Offers Customers Range of Services
Lucent Technologies’ new Internet call management software suite, Online Communications Center (OCC), will enable carriers and ISPs to offer consumers and businesses a broad range of easy-to-use options for answering and forwarding telephone calls received while connected to the Internet. Lucent’s Internet Call Waiting service enables someone using a phone line connected to the Internet to be notified of incoming calls by a pop-up, on-screen message without disrupting the connection. OCC adds VoIP capabilities, allowing users to remain online while answering phone calls at their computer.
No. 557, www.itmag.com/freeinfo

Net2Phone Signs Major Int’l Distribution Agreement
IDT’s Net2Phone has announced that it has signed an agreement with MEE S.p.A, a full service multimedia company based in Italy and France, to have Net2Phone software bundled into its CD-ROMs. Under the terms of the deal, Net2Phone will be bundled onto CD-ROMs created by MEE S.p.A. and readily available to more than 12 million customers throughout Europe. The CD-ROMs will be distributed through MEE S.p.A.’s existing partnerships with European computer and trade magazines, ISPs, and hardware manufacturers.
No. 558, www.itmag.com/freeinfo

Portal Software Announces Infranet DNA
Portal Software, Inc. has announced Infranet Distributed Nonstop Architecture (DNA), a new technology included in the latest release of Portal’s leading Internet customer management and billing software, Infranet 5.5.3. Because Infranet DNA delivers a new level of high-availability in the customer management and billing component of an Internet service infrastructure, providers can offer their customers uninterrupted service access and usage in the event that the network link to Infranet, or the main Infranet database in inaccessible.
No. 559, www.itmag.com/freeinfo

I-Link Activates Enhanced IP Services
I-Link, Inc. has announced its Enhanced IP Services Network has been activated in the Orlando, Fla. metro area. The majority of telephone customers within the 407 area code now have access to V-Link and I-Link’s 4.9-cents-per-minute long-distance. Providing enhanced V-Link services such as unified voice, fax, and e-mail messaging, conference calling, and one-number call routing, I-Link offers an enhanced IP telephony network in the United States and provides enhanced telephony services over an IP network.
No. 560, www.itmag.com/freeinfo

Time Warner to Launch Business Telephony in Dallas
Time Warner Telecom, LLC has announced that it will introduce cable telephony services for businesses in Dallas this summer. Time Warner Telecom will construct a fiber optic network using leased conduit from Level 3 Communications, Inc. The companies recently entered into a 20-year agreement to provide Time Warner Telecom access to Level 3’s conduits in the Greater Dallas metropolitan area. Medium and large business customers will be able to purchase Time Warner Telecom dedicated transport, long distance, high-speed dedicated Internet access and switched services.
No. 561, www.itmag.com/freeinfo

RCN Offers Services in San Francisco
RCN Corporation has announced that South San Francisco has granted RCN its first local approval to offer services to customers in California. RCN also announced that it has been granted a preliminary approval to build a network in nearby San Mateo. Both cities represent attractive markets for RCN, and the company expects to begin service to both communities by the end of this year. Internet usage in Northern California is more than 50 percent above the national average, and home PC ownership is 60 percent above the rest of the nation.
No. 562, www.itmag.com/freeinfo

Open Port Announces New IP Fax Client
Open Port Technology has announced a new fax client in its IP LaunchPad product suite that can be easily branded by a service provider to seamlessly integrate into their overall services strategy. IP LaunchPad Fax client is Windows-based PC software that allows users to send and receive faxes over Open Port-enabled networks, while service providers build demand and grow traffic for their network. While Fax Client is designed for use with IPI LaunchPad, it is compatible with Open Port’s legacy fax servers for service providers and enterprise customers.
No. 563, www.itmag.com/freeinfo

Interphase Launches Startup
Interphase Corporation has announced that is has launched a new subsidiary that is selling inexpensive, high quality international telephony service. Zirca.com, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary, provides a cost-effective portfolio of services for both retail and corporate consumers, allowing them to save more than 40 percent of the cost of their international long-distance calling to a large number of countries around the world. Zirca.com offers international telephony service by using both traditional voice networks through established carriers, and by routing traffic through its own IP-based network.
No. 564, www.itmag.com/freeinfo

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