Verizon, Google propose net neutrality legislation

Verizon, Google propose net neutrality legislation
(Telecompaper) Verizon and Google announced a proposal for net neutrality rules in the US. The proposed legislation centres on ensuring non-discriminatory access for web services over broadband networks, for the moment extending only to fixed and not mobile networks. The two companies would like to see the FCC receive the power to enforce its current rules on broadband openness as well as the ability to take action against providers that discriminate for or against certain types of traffic on their networks. Enforcement would be led by complaints from the market, with the FCC getting the power to issue fines of up to USD 2 million against infringers. The companies also want requirements on broadband providers to be more transparent on how they manage their services and networks; these principles would extend also to mobile providers. The Government Accountability Office would regularly assess progress in the mobile broadband market to see if the other rules should be extended to wireless. Verizon and Google also included their support for the development of new broadband-based services, which could be exempt from some of the above requirements, and for a reform of the universal service fund to increase access to broadband. The announcement comes as the FCC considers extending some of the stricter Title II telecom operator regulations to ISPs. The FCC attempted to negotiate a deal on this with industry players and public interest groups but was unable to reach an agreement. The Google-Verizon proposal was criticised by public interest groups, in particular for leaving out the mobile industry and for reducing the FCC’s room for manoeuvre.[Lees verder]

Sohu to sell stake in search business to Alibaba
(Telecompaper) Chinese internet portal Sohu.com announced an agreement to sell a minority stake in its search engine Sogou to Alibaba Group and Yunfeng Fund, a fund co-founded by Alibaba founder and chairman Jack Ma. The agreement would also see Sohu’s chairman and CEO Charles Zhang invest in the search business. Alibaba and Yunfeng, and Zhang would each each have a 16 percent stake, and Sohu would keep 68 percent. Completion of the deal remains subject to due diligence. Sohu did not disclose any pricing terms, and said it would use the proceeds of the sale to further develop its business.[Lees verder]

Skype files for IPO
(Telecompaper) VoIP services provider Skype announced that it has filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission for a proposed initial public offering of shares. The number of shares to be offered and the price range for the offering have not yet been determined. Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley are joint global coordinators as well as joint book-running managers for the offering. The SEC filing shows Skype had 560 million registered users at the end of June. In the second quarter, the number of average monthly users of the VoIP service was 124 million, up from 91 million a year earlier, while paying users grew to 8.1 million from 6.6 million over the same period. In the first six months of 2010, the company generated adjusted EBITDA of USD 115.8 million, up 53.9 percent from a year earlier on revenues of USD 406.2 million, up 25.1 percent year-on-year. Net profit over the period fell to USD 13.1 million from USD 22.5 million, due mainly to the costs of financing the debt taken out for the company’s acquisition from Ebay by private equity groups. Skype said it targets further revenue and profit growth by expanding its user base, growing the number of paid users with the introduction of more tailored calling plans and services such as video calls, expanding its advertising and licensing revenues and launching more products for business users. Skype did not specify in the filing what it plans to do with the proceeds of the IPO, saying only they are intended for “general corporate purposes”. The company had cash of USD 85.5 million at the end of June and total debt of USD 727.9 million.[Lees verder]

Zain H1 revenue up 10% to USD 2.33 bln
(Telecompaper) Middle East mobile operator Zain said its revenues for the first half rose to USD 2.33 billion, an increase of 10 percent compared to the same period of 2009. The results exclude its African operations, which have been sold to Bharti Airtel. EBITDA from continuing operations reached USD 995 million, and net income soared 488 percent to USD 3.085 billion. This includes the capital gain of USD 2.653 billion from the sale of the Zain Africa assets on 8 June. Chairman Asaad Al Banwan said that despite the challenging global economic conditions and the competitive markets in which Zain operates, the company was pleased with the 10 percent revenue increase and record profit. With the sale of the Zain Africa assets now concluded, coupled with a healthy cash balance and reduced debt levels, the company is now well positioned to focus on, and further grow, its profitable Middle East operations. Zain had a total 34.2 million customers at the end of June, up 28 percent from a year earlier.[Lees verder]

China Unicom to launch iPhones with Wi-Fi
(Telecompaper) China Unicom is set to offer iPhones with Wi-Fi capability, the Financial Times reports. Unicom earlier offered iPhones without Wi-Fi as the country is promoting its homegrown technology, Wapi. The country has tried to get Wapi recognised as an international standard but has been unsuccessful. The government then decided that all devices sold in China must have Wapi instead of Wi-Fi, which prompted an outcry from the worldwide IT industry. The government then relaxed its rules saying that Wi-Fi enabled devices are allowed but must offer Wapi as well, which delayed the Wi-Fi enabled iPhone launch. Unicom began offering iPhones in China in October 2009 but sales have been sluggish as customers prefer unauthorised imports which come with Wi-Fi, are cheaper and come without long-term contracts. Unicom will offer Wi-Fi enabled iPhones from 9 August. The company is also in talks with Apple on offering the iPad and the iPhone 4 in China.[Lees verder]

Ericsson terms Indian security norms ‘unjustly onerous’
(Telecompaper) Ericsson has asked the Indian government to overturn the recently unveiled security rules for network equipment suppliers, calling the new norms “unjustly onerous”, reports the Economic Times. Ericsson has sought that it be exempted from sharing its source code and placing the code in an escrow account. The company has said that once the supplied products are certified by an agency of repute, as suggested in the proposed draft, escrowing of source code is not required. Ericsson also contested that the responsibility for security should not be vested completely on the foreign vendors. According to the company, all such requirements need to be discussed and mutually agreed between all parties. Also, the vendor cannot be expected to give access rights to its premises to the service provider anytime and without prior intimation, the company said in a letter to the Department of Telecom (DoT). There should be an overall cap on liability and it should not apply to every purchase order, the company added. The network major’s move to seek a cap on the liabilities is related to a clause in the norms which state that penalties of 100 percent of the contract value will be imposed on mobile operators if any spyware or malware is found in their imported equipment. In a communique to the union home minister P Chidambaram, telecommunication minister A Raja and commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma and the US, Europe and Japan’s trade associations, the company urged a a public consultation process with stakeholders to develop a regulatory framework that would address India’s legitimate security concerns while minimising the impact on commercial transactions. The new rules are currently being incorporated in the licence agreements of all telecommucation companies. They were issued after security agencies and the home ministry raised concerns regarding imported telecommunication gear, especially those sourced from Chinese companies.[Lees verder]

Inmarsat signs contract with Boeing for 3 Ka-band satellites
(Telecompaper) Mobile satellite communications services provider Inmarsat has signed a contract with The Boeing Company for the delivery of three 702HP Ka-band satellites. The Inmarsat-5 constellation will enable Inmarsat to provide a global mobile broadband service offering. With operations expected to start in 2014, Inmarsat-5 will support an enhanced global service, Global Xpress, which will target a USD 1.4 billion incremental market opportunity in VSAT services. Global Xpress will address the established, growing markets for VSAT services in the maritime, energy and government sectors, with further growth potential in developing markets such as the aeronautical sector. Global Xpress will deliver global coverage and mobile broadband with speeds up to 50 Mbps, to customer terminals from 20-60 cm in size. Inmarsat will target USD 500 million of annual Ka-band revenues five years after global service launch. Under a separate arrangement, Boeing has agreed to become a distribution partner for both Inmarsat’s Ka- and L-band services and has pre-committed to capacity purchases representing more than 10 percent of Inmarsat’s target Ka-band revenues in the first five years after global service launch. Inmarsat estimates that the total cost of Inmarsat-5 and Global Xpress will be USD 1.2 billion over 4.5 years, incorporating the fixed cost of the satellites, as well as the cost of additional ground network infrastructure, product development, launch services and insurance. Inmarsat-5 will also complement its global L-band services, offering hybrid packages using both networks. Inmarsat’s CFO Rick Medlock commented that the Inmarsat-5 programme was expected to be largely funded from the company’s internally generated cash flows and, with significant available liquidity currently, it sees no immediate financing needs. In connection with the Boeing contract, the company is seeking Export Credit Agency financing support from the US Ex-Im Bank, which could provide a source of long-term debt. He added that given the multi-year build phase and the free cash flow from Inmarsat’s existing business, it believes the peak impact on its ratio of net debt to EBITDA will be less than 0.5. Furthermore, as a result of investment in Inmarsat-5, the company will move to a more gradual replacement of its L-band network, resulting in a deferment of more than USD 500 million of previously planned replacement expenditure over the next eleven years.[Lees verder]

Verizon, Google propose net neutrality legislation
(Telecompaper) Verizon and Google announced a proposal for net neutrality rules in the US. The proposed legislation centres on ensuring non-discriminatory access for web services over broadband networks, for the moment extending only to fixed and not mobile networks. The two companies would like to see the FCC receive the power to enforce its current rules on broadband openness as well as the ability to take action against providers that discriminate for or against certain types of traffic on their networks. Enforcement would be led by complaints from the market, with the FCC getting the power to issue fines of up to USD 2 million against infringers. The companies also want requirements on broadband providers to be more transparent on how they manage their services and networks; these principles would extend also to mobile providers. The Government Accountability Office would regularly assess progress in the mobile broadband market to see if the other rules should be extended to wireless. Verizon and Google also included their support for the development of new broadband-based services, which could be exempt from some of the above requirements, and for a reform of the universal service fund to increase access to broadband. The announcement comes as the FCC considers extending some of the stricter Title II telecom operator regulations to ISPs. The FCC attempted to negotiate a deal on this with industry players and public interest groups but was unable to reach an agreement. The Google-Verizon proposal was criticised by public interest groups, in particular for leaving out the mobile industry and for reducing the FCC’s room for manoeuvre.[Lees verder]

Sohu to sell stake in search business to Alibaba
(Telecompaper) Chinese internet portal Sohu.com announced an agreement to sell a minority stake in its search engine Sogou to Alibaba Group and Yunfeng Fund, a fund co-founded by Alibaba founder and chairman Jack Ma. The agreement would also see Sohu’s chairman and CEO Charles Zhang invest in the search business. Alibaba and Yunfeng, and Zhang would each each have a 16 percent stake, and Sohu would keep 68 percent. Completion of the deal remains subject to due diligence. Sohu did not disclose any pricing terms, and said it would use the proceeds of the sale to further develop its business.[Lees verder]

Skype files for IPO
(Telecompaper) VoIP services provider Skype announced that it has filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission for a proposed initial public offering of shares. The number of shares to be offered and the price range for the offering have not yet been determined. Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley are joint global coordinators as well as joint book-running managers for the offering. The SEC filing shows Skype had 560 million registered users at the end of June. In the second quarter, the number of average monthly users of the VoIP service was 124 million, up from 91 million a year earlier, while paying users grew to 8.1 million from 6.6 million over the same period. In the first six months of 2010, the company generated adjusted EBITDA of USD 115.8 million, up 53.9 percent from a year earlier on revenues of USD 406.2 million, up 25.1 percent year-on-year. Net profit over the period fell to USD 13.1 million from USD 22.5 million, due mainly to the costs of financing the debt taken out for the company’s acquisition from Ebay by private equity groups. Skype said it targets further revenue and profit growth by expanding its user base, growing the number of paid users with the introduction of more tailored calling plans and services such as video calls, expanding its advertising and licensing revenues and launching more products for business users. Skype did not specify in the filing what it plans to do with the proceeds of the IPO, saying only they are intended for “general corporate purposes”. The company had cash of USD 85.5 million at the end of June and total debt of USD 727.9 million.[Lees verder]

Zain H1 revenue up 10% to USD 2.33 bln
(Telecompaper) Middle East mobile operator Zain said its revenues for the first half rose to USD 2.33 billion, an increase of 10 percent compared to the same period of 2009. The results exclude its African operations, which have been sold to Bharti Airtel. EBITDA from continuing operations reached USD 995 million, and net income soared 488 percent to USD 3.085 billion. This includes the capital gain of USD 2.653 billion from the sale of the Zain Africa assets on 8 June. Chairman Asaad Al Banwan said that despite the challenging global economic conditions and the competitive markets in which Zain operates, the company was pleased with the 10 percent revenue increase and record profit. With the sale of the Zain Africa assets now concluded, coupled with a healthy cash balance and reduced debt levels, the company is now well positioned to focus on, and further grow, its profitable Middle East operations. Zain had a total 34.2 million customers at the end of June, up 28 percent from a year earlier.[Lees verder]

China Unicom to launch iPhones with Wi-Fi
(Telecompaper) China Unicom is set to offer iPhones with Wi-Fi capability, the Financial Times reports. Unicom earlier offered iPhones without Wi-Fi as the country is promoting its homegrown technology, Wapi. The country has tried to get Wapi recognised as an international standard but has been unsuccessful. The government then decided that all devices sold in China must have Wapi instead of Wi-Fi, which prompted an outcry from the worldwide IT industry. The government then relaxed its rules saying that Wi-Fi enabled devices are allowed but must offer Wapi as well, which delayed the Wi-Fi enabled iPhone launch. Unicom began offering iPhones in China in October 2009 but sales have been sluggish as customers prefer unauthorised imports which come with Wi-Fi, are cheaper and come without long-term contracts. Unicom will offer Wi-Fi enabled iPhones from 9 August. The company is also in talks with Apple on offering the iPad and the iPhone 4 in China.[Lees verder]

Ericsson terms Indian security norms ‘unjustly onerous’
(Telecompaper) Ericsson has asked the Indian government to overturn the recently unveiled security rules for network equipment suppliers, calling the new norms “unjustly onerous”, reports the Economic Times. Ericsson has sought that it be exempted from sharing its source code and placing the code in an escrow account. The company has said that once the supplied products are certified by an agency of repute, as suggested in the proposed draft, escrowing of source code is not required. Ericsson also contested that the responsibility for security should not be vested completely on the foreign vendors. According to the company, all such requirements need to be discussed and mutually agreed between all parties. Also, the vendor cannot be expected to give access rights to its premises to the service provider anytime and without prior intimation, the company said in a letter to the Department of Telecom (DoT). There should be an overall cap on liability and it should not apply to every purchase order, the company added. The network major’s move to seek a cap on the liabilities is related to a clause in the norms which state that penalties of 100 percent of the contract value will be imposed on mobile operators if any spyware or malware is found in their imported equipment. In a communique to the union home minister P Chidambaram, telecommunication minister A Raja and commerce and industry minister Anand Sharma and the US, Europe and Japan’s trade associations, the company urged a a public consultation process with stakeholders to develop a regulatory framework that would address India’s legitimate security concerns while minimising the impact on commercial transactions. The new rules are currently being incorporated in the licence agreements of all telecommucation companies. They were issued after security agencies and the home ministry raised concerns regarding imported telecommunication gear, especially those sourced from Chinese companies.[Lees verder]

Inmarsat signs contract with Boeing for 3 Ka-band satellites
(Telecompaper) Mobile satellite communications services provider Inmarsat has signed a contract with The Boeing Company for the delivery of three 702HP Ka-band satellites. The Inmarsat-5 constellation will enable Inmarsat to provide a global mobile broadband service offering. With operations expected to start in 2014, Inmarsat-5 will support an enhanced global service, Global Xpress, which will target a USD 1.4 billion incremental market opportunity in VSAT services. Global Xpress will address the established, growing markets for VSAT services in the maritime, energy and government sectors, with further growth potential in developing markets such as the aeronautical sector. Global Xpress will deliver global coverage and mobile broadband with speeds up to 50 Mbps, to customer terminals from 20-60 cm in size. Inmarsat will target USD 500 million of annual Ka-band revenues five years after global service launch. Under a separate arrangement, Boeing has agreed to become a distribution partner for both Inmarsat’s Ka- and L-band services and has pre-committed to capacity purchases representing more than 10 percent of Inmarsat’s target Ka-band revenues in the first five years after global service launch. Inmarsat estimates that the total cost of Inmarsat-5 and Global Xpress will be USD 1.2 billion over 4.5 years, incorporating the fixed cost of the satellites, as well as the cost of additional ground network infrastructure, product development, launch services and insurance. Inmarsat-5 will also complement its global L-band services, offering hybrid packages using both networks. Inmarsat’s CFO Rick Medlock commented that the Inmarsat-5 programme was expected to be largely funded from the company’s internally generated cash flows and, with significant available liquidity currently, it sees no immediate financing needs. In connection with the Boeing contract, the company is seeking Export Credit Agency financing support from the US Ex-Im Bank, which could provide a source of long-term debt. He added that given the multi-year build phase and the free cash flow from Inmarsat’s existing business, it believes the peak impact on its ratio of net debt to EBITDA will be less than 0.5. Furthermore, as a result of investment in Inmarsat-5, the company will move to a more gradual replacement of its L-band network, resulting in a deferment of more than USD 500 million of previously planned replacement expenditure over the next eleven years.[Lees verder]

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