Archive by Ed Gubbins

Rogue T-Mobile employees sell millions of customers’ data

Rogue employees at a major mobile operator in the UK have illegally sold millions of customer records to competitors, the Associated Press is reporting.

Authorities won’t name the carrier because an investigation is underway. (UPDATE 11/18: T-Mobile has identified itself as the carrier.)

The British government says fines for these crimes are no longer a deterrent because they’re dwarfed by the amount of money one can collect from selling customer data these days. In this case, “substantial amounts of money changed hands,” authorities say, in exchange for data including contract expiration dates, which allowed competitors to target subscribers whose contracts were about to end.

Utah’s Utopia moves forward with user-owned fiber

Utah’s multicity public fiber network, Utopia, is moving forward with a new model in which individual users pay the cost of connecting their homes with fiber.

Late last week, the Brigham City Council approved a $5.5-million plan to extend the wholesale fiber network throughout its streets. The city itself is putting up just $655,384 of that cost, while business and residential customers who want fiber are putting up the rest. more

Ethernet, IP VPNs bright spots in data spending decline

The 2% drop projected this year for the US for wireline business data services market is the first decline In-Stat has seen in more than a decade of covering the sector.

Spending on wireline data services (which doesn’t include managed services such as hosted VoIP in In-Stat’s coverage) should stabilize next year before rebounding, reaching $25 billion by 2012 after dropping to $22.4 billion this year.

“Ethernet Services and IP VPN services are among the lone bright spots in the market,” In-Stat analyst David Lemelin said.

Spending on IP VPN services among small and medium businesses should grow 150% between last year and 2012, In-Stat said. And spending on Ethernet services among healthcare firms should triple in that time.

SkitterTV sounds off from TelcoTV floor

SkitterTV drew buzz at the TelcoTV show this week thanks to a partnership with Zeugma Systems (for service quality) and a deal that puts its service — a combination of local broadcast TV and Internet video — on the Roku set-top box. Skitter’s president Robert Saunders describes his company’s strategy and some recent developments from the TelcoTV show floor in an interview you can listen to here.

Nortel postpones optical, Ethernet unit auction

Nortel Networks (OTCBB:NRTLQ) has postponed the auction of its Metro Ethernet Networks unit, which was scheduled to be held today.

“In light of ongoing discussions with interested parties, [Nortel] has decided to not hold the previously scheduled auction today in relation to the sale of its global Optical Networking and Carrier Ethernet businesses,” the company said in a statement today. “Qualified bidders are now required to submit offers by November 17, 2009.”

The news puts a damper on Ciena (NASDAQ:CIEN), whose $521-million stalking-horse bid for Nortel’s assets (that’s slightly less than half of the unit’s 2009 revenue) would catapult its stature globally and domestically.

Other potential bidders may include Ericsson, Nokia Siemens, Huawei, Tellabs, Cisco, and Infinera. In October, one analyst suggested that interest among potential buyers had waned in recent months, a notion that seems to bear more credence now that Nortel is seeking more time to attract alternative bids. More recently, however, UBS analyst Nikos Theodosopoulos called NSN a “likely active bidder” that could push the purchase price above $750 million. more

Only two regions remain in AT&T union talks

Only two districts remain in AT&T’s (NYSE:T) region-by-region negotiations with union workers after the company signed a four-year agreement with Southwest employees this week.

AT&T’s contract with workers in District 3, which includes nine Southeastern states, expired in August. And its contract in District 1, which includes Connecticut, expired in April. Together they represent just 30% of AT&T’s roughly 120,000 landline employees.

Agreements in those remaining regions don’t appear likely to be coming any time soon. Union officials in District 1 haven’t met with AT&T officials since October. And yesterday William Henderson, a union president there, called AT&T’s region-by-region approach a “divide and conquer” strategy, though the company pointed out that its existing labor contracts are divided into these regions.

Would you use Adobe’s Flash to deliver IPTV?

Adobe’s (NASDAQ:ADBE) group platform evangelist, Kevin Hoyt, was at the TelcoTV show this week, aiming to sell telcos on the idea of using the company’s Flash media player to deliver video to the home.

“Consumers are demanding the full Web, and part of the full Web is Flash,” Hoyt said.

Version 10.1 of the Flash player, introduced this year, is coming to living rooms in 2010 through a partnership with chip vendor Broadcom. It’s also part of Adobe’s Open Screen Project, an effort launched last year to remedy the fragmentation of video-enabled consumer electronics by using Flash to play video in the home, eliminating the need for service providers to have to adapt video content for myriad different devices.

Adobe’s “goal,” Hoyt said, is for TVs to come equipped with Flash when consumers buy them. more

XO in limbo after Icahn standoff

Carl Icahn’s withdrawal of his latest rejected offer to buy the 10% of XO Communications (OTC:XOHO) that he doesn’t already own leaves the company’s next move hard to predict.

Rob Powell at Telecom Ramblings has an interesting analysis of the conundrum the company now faces. And he throws cold water on some of the current speculation that XO might make an acquisition sometime soon.

XO stirred that speculation by writing in its third-quarter earnings report this week, “We believe that certain opportunities exist today in the highly competitive CLEC industry that may not recur such as, but not limited to, the acquisition of other CLECs.” That observation came in the context of the company defending its decision to raise cash without raising high-yield debt. How it will pull that off in Icahn’s orbit is one of the key questions facing XO.

How Verizon takes share from cable, satellite

Data from the Massachusetts Department of Telecommunications offer a rare level of detail into the way Verizon takes share from cable and satellite providers, pointed out Craig Moffet, senior analyst with Bernstein Research, in a research note today.

Verizon added 81,000 FiOS subscribers in Massachussetts last year (up from 66,000 the year before), while Comcast lost 31,000 subscribers there. Comcast lost 46,000 subscribers where FiOS was available and gained 15,000 subs where FiOS was not available. Moffett estimated that stolen share from satellite providers accounted for 43% of Verizon’s gains, though he pointed out that Massachusetts may have a below-average number of satellite subscribers, suggesting that Verizon may be taking greater share from satellite providers elsewhere.

“Broadly speaking, the results confirm the expectation that Verizon’s video gains are likely to peak this year and next,” Moffett wrote. “Incremental passings are at peak levels, while the base remains relatively small. We would expect subscriber growth for Verizon — and subscriber losses for Verizon’s competitors — to decelerate quite rapidly thereafter.”

Windstream becoming RLEC, CLEC hybrid

Windstream (NYSE: WIN) CEO Jeff Gardner told me this summer that he wanted to increase the company’s revenue from business customers from about a third of its total revenue to half over the next five years. Today’s acquisition of privately held CLEC NuVox could cut that down to more like two years. more

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