Archive of the Business Services Category

Analyst: Mobile Cloud Computing to rake in $5.2B by 2015

As smartphones become more sophisticated and wireless connections become faster, mobile cloud computing services are beginning to penetrate the enterprise at a fantastic clip. ABI Research estimates enterprise cloud services will become in 2015 a $5.2 billion market globally for mobile operators and IT services companies.

“The immediate opportunity lies in leveraging cloud platforms to develop mobile applications, particularly mobile applications that leverage enterprise data,” ABI practice director Dan Shey said in a statement. ”Directly and indirectly, Microsoft and Google are major players both influencing and enabling these developments. Mobile operators have the most to gain through offers of cloud services to the enterprise leveraging their networks, application enablement, and data centers.”

Smartphones and connected laptops are main the drivers of mobile cloud computing services today, but Shey said that new devices–many of which are targeted for 4G networks–such as mobile Internet devices (MIDs), netbooks and smartbooks will further expand the use of cloud services.

HD voice gains momentum

The past few days have seen a spate of announcements of hosted high-definition (HD) voice services, illustrating the technology’s growing momentum.

Orange, the UK’s third-largest mobile operator, caused a stir when it announced plans late last month to offer HD voice as an alternative to the scratchy service consumers have come to expect from their mobile phones. But it’s not yet clear how much extra consumers would be willing to pay for higher mobile voice quality, nor is it clear what the added bandwidth requirements of such an offering would mean for already congested mobile networks.

By contrast, HD voice’s promise seems more immediately clear in the realm of IP-based and web-based calling for businesses, which are more likely to shell out the extra cash for clear telephony. Several companies are jumping on the bandwagon. Phone.com announced a hosted HD voice service today, following Junction Networks’ announcement late last week that its OnSIP hosted PBX service now supports HD voice. Meanwhile, Ooma recently added HD voice to its consumer-focused Telo. HD-quality voice may be a sought-after differentiator for IP communications providers. My question is: How long will it be until it’s too common to be a differentiator and turns into table stakes? What do YOU think? Leave a comment below.

Genband’s Nortel bid continues VoIP-as-app trend

Genband’s bid for Nortel’s carrier VoIP equipment business — if it succeeds — could give the vendor a more direct relationship with the world’s largest carriers than it currently enjoys through its major vendor partners. But the deal could also be seen as further solidification of the VOIP equipment space as the domain of specialist suppliers, according to Elisabeth Rainge, IDC’s director of NGN operations.

“Clearly, given Genband’s acquisitions of assets from NSN, Alcatel-Lucent and others in the past few years, it makes sense that those larger players wouldn’t have a strong interest in taking on the Nortel CVAS VoIP asset,” Rainge said in an email. “For better or for worse, what we’re seeing with this move — assuming it goes through — is that More...VoIP infrastructure is a market for experts. No longer is it the expertise or possibly even the bread and butter, of the traditional telecom network equipment vendors. This is partly an acknowledgement that voice is an application and partly an outcome of the state of voice infrastructure for the largest operators. In a nutshell, the IP transformation is not only underway but today’s reality. To build on IP networks means treating voice as an application.”

Acquiring assets from major vendors and using them to create products that major vendors want has been key to Genband’s success, though the novel strategy is not an easy one to pull off. Likewise, integrating Nortel’s products with its own will be no small task for Genband, Rainge said, especially since the latter’s existing portfolio is already packed with gear from previous acquisitions.

“Genband has a continuing, and now expanding challenge in product portfolio management. I don’t envy their sales team with so many acquired product lines in the fold, especially for long-lived investments such as we see in the TDM-VoIP space,” Rainge said. “There is no doubt that Genband already offers and supports many voice infrastructure solutions. In taking on the Nortel assets, Genband will need to work to position itself as a product company with its own mission rather than a caretaker of a variety of products.”

One bright side for Genband: The shedding of similar assets from major vendors means the company is unlikely to enter a bidding war for Nortel’s business with much larger rivals.

As Frontier awaits Verizon lines, cable guys pounce

Competitors are pouncing on Verizon Communications’ (NYSE:VZ) move to sell 4.8 million access lines to Frontier Communications (NYSE:FTR) in 14 states, reaching out to Verizon customers in those areas and urging them to switch providers before the network changes hands.

In particular, Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) has been targeting customers in Washington and Oregon, according to Donald Shassian, Frontier’s chief financial officer. Those attacks are made easier by the high-profile service problems Verizon customers saw in the Northeast after they became Fairpoint Communications customers, in a similar transaction. Frontier says it knows how to avoid the problems that beset Fairpoint. But in the mean time, while its deal is still pending (perhaps until next summer), Frontier can’t fight back in the markets it has yet to acquire.

“We can’t force [Verizon] to come up with a new promotion or new incentives or change their marketing,” Shassian said at an investor conference this week. “It’s been challenging to compete against Comcast’s campaign like that. We can’t advertise in those markets because we don’t have regulatory approval. That [would be] poking a regulator in the chest. You can’t assume you’re going to get something. You’ve got to sit back on your heels and hope Verizon does their best.” more

Manufacturing in the U.S.A. — an Adtran photo blog

So this week Adtran invited press and analysts down to Huntsville, Ala., for a debriefing on upcoming announcements and a tour, of among other things, its manufacturing facilities that build and assemble enterprise and carrier equipment here on U.S. soil, right in-house.

The company does ship high-volume manufacturing off-shore to contract manufacturing partners, but says managing first-runs and rush jobs locally — with its engineers and designers right in the next building — can actually save money when all costs are accounted for. Further, it gives the company insights into its own products that it claims competitors lack.

U.S-based manufacturing is so rare these days, we thought we would share a look. more

Adtran focuses on multi-access economics, mobile backhaul opportunity

Adtran this week opened up the doors to its Huntsville, Ala., headquarters to press and analysts to talk about a range of topics spanning its enterprise and carrier businesses.

On the service provider side of the house, the focus was on helping carriers drive IP and Ethernet ever deeper into the network while using Adtran’s multi-access platforms to affordably serve the mix of copper and fiber and TDM and Ethernet environments that are the reality today for most carriers.

Also on the agenda: opportunities in mobile backhaul, especially moving from bundled T1s to something more flexible, affordable and Ethernet-based; thoughts on broadband stimulus, national broadband and other funding scenarios; and the potential for blurring the unified communications lines between enterprise and carrier.

Plus: a tour of its on-campus manufacturing operations — a unique resource in an industry in which most manufacturing off-shored and outsourced. more

Sprint calls it quits with QChat

Proving you don’t ever mess with a classic, Sprint (NYSE:S) has decided to abandon QChat and shift its push-to-talk efforts back onto the network which popularized the service: Nextel’s iDEN network. A Sprint official told PhoneNews that while Sprint would continue to support existing QChat handsets in the market, no new CDMA PTT phones were in its roadmap. Instead Sprint will focus on PTT as one of the principle services on its newly reinvigorated iDEN network.

Nextel set the gold standard for PTT services a decade ago and since then no one has been able to replicate it. many carriers have introduced push-to-talk solutions using the 2G  voice channel or VoIP, but they’ve been of limited success. The main barrier for those services has been matching the sub-second session setup times of iDEN, which none of the alternate technologies have been able to achieve. Operators also underestimated the potential size of the PTT market. While Nextel drew a loyal subscriber base of blue collar workers and emergency personnel, the service failed to appeal the mass consumer markets–with the possible exception of the youth market. Much of the early enthusiasm for PTT in the business and consumer markets dissipated in 2007 as customers wearied of its intrusiveness and found alternatives in SMS.

After Windstream buys Iowa, is Consolidated next?

What’s next for Windstream (NYSE:WIN)? As it announced its fourth acquisition in six months yesterday (its biggest buy yet, in fact), the company’s CEO, Jeff Gardner, maintained that, although he’d focus on execution and integration, he wasn’t done with M&A.

“A number of private companies could be opportunities for us in the future,” he told Connected Planet Tuesday. “There’s not a lot of public companies left out there, but there are a couple.”

A couple is right. In a note yesterday, Stifel Nicolaus analysts said Consolidated Communications (NASDAQ:CNSL) and Alaska Communications (NASDAQ:ALSK) are about the only publicly held acquisition targets Windstream has left. And given the unique integration challenges posed by Alaska’s geographic isolation, the analysts said, “We view Consolidated as the next, most logical potential target for Windstream.” more

Ciena outbids NSN in Nortel auction

Ciena (NASDAQ:CIEN) has outbid Nokia Siemens Networks (NYSE:NOK; NYSE:SI) to win the auction for Nortel Networks’ (OTC:NRTLQ) metro Ethernet and optical business unit.

Ciena agreed to pay about $769 million for the assets — $530 million in cash and $239 million in 6% senior convertible notes due 2017. It had originally bid about $521 million in cash and stock.

The Nortel unit reported $988 million in revenue for the first nine months of this year, down 21% from last year, and $377 million in gross profit (down 20% from 2008).

more

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

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