Thursday, June 03, 2004

HIGHLIGHTS


TELECOMUNICATIONS – WIFI

T-Mobile, Hyatt ink hotspot deal
T-Mobile signed a deal with Hyatt Hotels & Resorts to launch WiFi hotspots in nearly all of Hyatt's 200 hotels by mid-2005.
The companies have already launched service at the Hyatt in Charlotte, North Carolina, with plans to launch service in the Hyatt Regency at Chicago's O'Hare airport next week. Hyatt aims to have wireless access in nearly all of its hotels and in most of its hotel rooms. Access will be available for $9.99 per day for guests who do not subscribe to T-Mobile's nationwide hotspot service. This deal is T-Mobile's first major hotspot contract with a hotel franchise. No financial details of the deal were released.
The deal is a coup for T-Mobile, which beat out hotspot rival Wayport for one of the last remaining nationwide hotel WiFi contracts. Wayport dominates the paid-access WiFi sector for hotels. Wayport has recently emerged as the defining player in the paid-access hotspot market thanks to the company's growing hotel network and its recent nationwide hotspot deal with McDonald's.
Meanwhile, most investors and financial analysts are down on the paid access hotspot business model. This market pessimism has grown worse since hotspot service provider Cometa Networks closed its doors last month.
Date; May 2004

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TELECOMUNICATIONS – EUROPE - MOBILE VIDEO MARKET


Mobile Video to Generate US$5.4bn by 2008
Europe : In a new report entitled Mobile Video: Worldwide Market Analysis and Strategic Outlook 2003-2008, industry analysts ARC forecast that the mobile video market will generate worldwide revenues of US$5.4bn in 2008.
ARC Senior Analyst Rupert Reid, takes a quick look at recent developments in the mobile video space to ee how they measure up against ARC Group's forecasts and whether there is any substance behind the hype.
As the latest in a line of applications touted to turn around flagging ARPUs and kick-start the dawn of a new mobile multimedia era, mobile video has been much in the spotlight recently. Whereas the adoption and usage levels of 3's much publicised video telephony services have not exactly set the industry alight in the early days of its launch, the underlying trends nevertheless point to a steady ramping up of interest in mobile video.
In the last 6 months, a flurry of activity across all elements of the value chain has witnessed the increasing momentum behind bringing mobile video applications and enabling technologies to market as players from platform vendors to content aggregators all attempt to carve an early lead in this nascent market.
Recent deals between Vodafone and Warner Bros. Entertainment, Mobilkom Austria and CNN and 3 Sweden and Endemol/Kanal highlight the growing focus placed on strategic partnerships between operators and content owners to target mobile video streaming, downloading and messaging services. By building up a rich ecosystem of branded content, 3G operators are clearly positioning their networks primarily as video-capable, and heavily promoting video streaming and video telephony services as a differentiator from 2.5G networks.
It is not just the 3G operators however who are pioneering video services as a number of 2.5G operators have launched video services of their own. For example, a number of European operators including Telefonica, TIM and O2 have launched a range of early video streaming applications through partnership with RealNetworks and its Helix Universal Platform. Likewise, the indications from Sprint PCS are very encouraging with PCS Vision customers having sent more than 100m picture messaging images and 15-second video messaging clips since November 2002.

Despite these promising early trends, there are challenges at every point in the mobile video value chain, which must be resolved before video takes off on a mass-market basis:
- Reducing the price of video-supporting handsets to gain mass
market acceptance
- Developing viable business models for video distribution which
include content protection,
- Resolving the interoperability, interconnect and roaming
issues for such services.

Top of these challenges remains the perennial problem of video-capable handset availability and a lack of well-defined and established standards across the value chain which are essential for operators to build a full service that includes content, servers, applications and handsets.

Nonetheless, ARC is confident that ongoing developments in high-performance, low-power multimedia application processors coupled with continuing improvements in high-resolution CMOS image sensors and high-resolution colour LCD screens, will see the mass market penetration of video-enabled handsets by 2006.
As with any forecast, the purchasing behaviour of end-users remains the key variable in assessing demand and also the hardest to predict. Nevertheless, on the balance of evidence, ARC believes that the widespread availability of video-capable terminals together with high-bandwidth networks supported by a rich distribution network of branded and mobile specific content will result in a steadily growing market for mobile video services over the next 5 years.

Mobile Video, from the ARC Group, forecasts that between 2003 and 2005 there will be a relatively slow rate of adoption, as the market is in its launch phase although from 2005 onwards strong growth is anticipated, and by 2008 it is forecast that close to 250m consumers will use mobile video services.
Mobile Video also predicts that video messaging will remain the biggest application category throughout the forecast period. In 2003, the figure of 5.1m users is mainly made up of the video clip messaging services that have been launched by operators in Japan. In Europe, initial video services have also been focused mostly on video messages, since user-generated content frees the operator from dealing with content copyright issues and content owners' DRM requirements. As MMS starts to enter the mainstream in Europe, it is expected that as camera phones in the European market evolve to support video, there will be a high adoption rate for video messaging services as an enhancement to regular MMS.

Video download is expected to be second to video messaging in terms of users until 2005, when video streaming will take over second spot, based on the higher penetration of 3G networks. After 2003, streaming will be a preferred method of consuming video content, since it has a much more immediate viewing experience than video download, and enables longer video clips and also live TV-like live broadcast services.
As a strictly a 3G service, ARC expect the total number of video telephony users to increase from 1.3 m in 2003 to almost 90m in 2008. Video telephony will continue to differentiate 3G networks from 2.5G networks, and the popularity of this application will rise as more possibilities become available to connect via video calling to enterprise video conferencing systems and consumer video devices in the broadband-connected home. This network effect of home, office and mobile video telephony devices will cause mobile video telephony to overtake video download services by 2007.
Source; ARC; May 2004

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INTERNET – WIRELESS BROADBAND

Wireless Hits WiMax Speeds
Standardized products that are expected to drive down the price of WiMax wireless broadband gear may be as much as a year away, most industry insiders say.
But Alvarion used this week's Wireless Communications Association conference in Washington, D.C. to roll out equipment that it says can be easily upgraded to support the emerging standard.
Alvarion already makes its own proprietary wireless broadband infrastructure, which it sells to carriers that want to provide high-speed Internet access over long distances. The BreezeMax product line introduced Wednesday, based on an Alvarion chip, includes wireless base stations that later will be able to serve WiMax CPE (customer premises equipment). All that carriers will need in order to support the new CPE is a firmware upgrade, according to Patrick Leary, assistant vice president of marketing at Alvarion, which is based in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Vendors including Alvarion and Intel are counting on high-volume production of WiMax silicon to drive down the price of customer gear and make wireless broadband a profitable carrier service. WiMax is designed to deliver data speeds comparable to cable modem and DSL services over a distance of as much as 30 miles. The WiMax Forum industry group expects to begin certifying WiMax products by the end of this year.

Changing the Channel
The group is working toward specifications for three pieces of radio spectrum, around 2.5 GHz, 3.5 GHz, and 5 GHz, Leary says. Alvarion's platform introduced Wednesday, the BreezeMax 3500, will use the 3.5-GHz band. Once an Intel chip set that supports WiMax in the 3.5-GHz band is commercially available it will be integrated into new, standardized versions of Alvarion's CPE and its base stations, he says. Leary expects the chip set to ship around the middle of next year. That standardized, high-volume silicon should drive down costs significantly, Leary says.

The BreezeMax 3500 line will include "macro" base stations for dense urban areas and "micro" base stations for rural deployments, along with three kinds of CPE. One CPE device is for IP data only, one supports both data and voice over IP, and one has an integrated 802.11g wireless LAN access point for wireless hotspots or small businesses. For the CPE, Alvarion will charge carriers between $200 and $500 depending on volume, capacity and configuration. The micro base stations will range from $10,000 to $15,000 and the macro versions from $50,000 to $60,000.
Though much attention has been focused on the licensed 2.5-GHz and unlicensed 5-GHz bands, Alvarion is aiming at the initial sweet spot with a 3.5-GHz product, according to Leary. That band has already been licensed for wireless carrier services in many countries outside North America, he says. The 3.5-GHz BreezeMax products have been in trials at carriers in Europe and Asia.

The 3.5-GHz band is "the most stable environment in a regulatory sense, and it's where we believe mass deployment can be achieved most rapidly," Leary says.
Yankee Group analyst Lindsay Schroth agrees. Outside the Western Hemisphere, many major carriers already hold spectrum in that range, she says. By contrast, WiMax deployment in the 2.5-GHz range probably will have to wait for decisions by two big U.S. carriers, Sprint and Nextel Communications, Schroth says. Unlicensed 5-GHz services probably will remain the realm of enterprises and small rural providers, she adds.
"The U.S. market in general is kind of up in the air in terms of how quickly people will deploy stuff," Schroth says.
Source; IDG News Service, May 2004
Write; by Stephen Lawson

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TECHNOLOGY – MOBILE DEVICES

Motorola to promote first megapixel phone with online film
Motorola said it will sell its first megapixel camera phone in the United States starting this summer.
The company also said it has teamed with Hollywood director Scott Sanders to develop an online “advertainment” film promoting the phone.

“By finding innovative ways to showcase Motorola's dynamic phone technology, we are serving the consumer in two ways. First, we are highlighting the important benefits of the V710, which include seamless mobility, creative expression and personal freedom,” said Jason Few, vice president of marketing for Motorola. “Second, we are demonstrating the role technology plays in opening doors for the development of creative content and platforms in the arts. The V710 truly is the gold standard in mobile phones."

Motorola’s CDMA V710 features a 1.2-megapixel camera, video capture and playback, an MP3 player and 10 megabytes of internal memory. Motorola did not name a carrier to sell the phone, although Verizon Wireless in the past has said it is testing the device.

Under Motorola’s promotion with Sanders, the filmmaker wrote and directed a short film “starring” the V710, which is available at hellomoto.com/producer. Motorola said the cliffhanger ending to the film will be released online when the V710 becomes available this summer.

In other phone news, Japanese carrier NTT DoCoMo Inc. released three new third-generation wireless phones, which feature 2-megapixel cameras and video capabilities.
Source;RCR; May 2004
Write; by Mike Dano

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SCIENCE – ASTRONOMY

Cassini will unlock Saturn’s secrets
The international Cassini-Huygens mission is poised to begin an extensive tour of Saturn, its majestic rings and 31 known moons. After nearly a seven-year journey, Cassini is scheduled to enter orbit around Saturn at 10:30 p.m. EDT, June 30, 2004.

"The Saturn system represents an unsurpassed laboratory, where we can look for answers to many fundamental questions about the physics, chemistry, evolution of the planets and the conditions that give rise to life," said Dr. Ed Weiler, NASA's Associate Administrator for Space Science, Washington.

Cassini was launched Oct. 15, 1997 on a journey covering 3.5 billion kilometers (2.2 billion miles), Cassini is the most instrumented and scientifically capable planetary spacecraft ever flown. There are 12 instruments on the Cassini orbiter and six on the Huygens probe. The mission represents the best technical efforts of 260 scientists from the United States and 17 European nations. The Cassini mission cost approximately $3 billion.

The Cassini/Huygens mission is a four-year study of Saturn. The 18 highly sophisticated science instruments will study Saturn's rings, icy satellites, magnetosphere, and Titan, the planet's largest moon.

The spacecraft will fire its main engine for 96 minutes during the critical Saturn Orbit Insertion (SOI) maneuver. The maneuver will reduce Cassini's speed, so Saturn can capture it as an orbiting satellite. Cassini will pass through a gap between the planet's F and G rings, swing close to the planet, and begin the first of 76 orbits around Saturn's system. During the mission, it will have 52 close encounters with seven of Saturn's 31 moons.

There are risks involved with orbit insertion, but mission planners have prepared for them. There is a backup in case the main engine fails, and the path through the ring plane was searched for hazards with the best Earth and space-based telescopes. Particles too small to be seen from Earth could be fatal to the spacecraft, so Cassini will turn to use its high gain antenna as a shield against small objects.

Saturn is the sixth planet from the sun, and it is the second largest in the solar system, after Jupiter. Saturn and its ring system serve as a miniature model for the disc of gas and dust that surrounded the early sun, which formed the planets. Detailed knowledge of the dynamics of interactions among Saturn's elaborate rings and many different moons will provide valuable data for understanding how the solar system's planets evolved.

The study of Titan, Saturn's largest moon, is one of the major goals of the mission. Titan may preserve, in deep-freeze, many of the chemical compounds that preceded life on Earth. Cassini will execute 45 flybys of Titan within approximately 950 kilometers (590 miles) of the surface. This will permit high-resolution mapping of the moon with the Titan radar-imaging instrument. The radar can see through the opaque haze of Titan's upper atmosphere.

"Titan is like a time machine taking us to the past to see what Earth might have been like," said Dr. Dennis Matson, Cassini project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), Pasadena, Calif. "The hazy moon may hold clues to how the primitive Earth evolved into a life-bearing planet," he said.

On Dec. 24, 2004, Cassini will release the wok-shaped Huygens probe for its journey to Titan. Huygens is the first probe designed to descend to the surface of the moon of another planet, and the most distant descent of a robotic probe attempted on another object in the solar system. On Jan. 14, 2005, after a three-week ballistic freefall, Huygens will enter Titan's atmosphere. It will deploy parachutes and begin 2.5 hours of intensive scientific observations. The Huygens probe will transmit data to the Cassini spacecraft, which will relay the information back to Earth.

JPL designed, developed and assembled the Cassini orbiter. A team at the European Space Technology and Research Center in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, managed the development of the Huygens probe. The Italian Space Agency provided the high-gain antenna, much of the radio system and elements of several of Cassini's science instruments. JPL manages the overall program for NASA's Office of Space Science.
Source; NASA, May 2004



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FOCUS

INTERNET – SOFTWARE MARKET

The Changing Face of E-Mail
Information overload will drive e-mail into the ground unless software vendors act now and make major changes to the 30-year-old technology, warned a leading Internet expert Wednesday.

During his keynote speech at the Inbox e-mail technology conference, Eric Hahn, CEO of antispam firm Proofpoint, called on software developers to stop treating e-mail inboxes as places to dump memos and start thinking of them as control centers that combine e-mail, instant messaging, voicemail and other communications.

Gmail service features a similar option.
Advanced e-mail search is also gaining in popularity. The feature allows users to leave all their e-mails in a single folder, where individual messages can be found later using fast searches. Both Gmail and Stata Laboratories' Bloomba software now offer advanced search.
Still, it's unclear when more popular e-mail products will adopt similar features. Yahoo's antispam product manager Miles Libbey said his company is working on a summer face lift for its Yahoo Mail service, but he declined to say whether it would include any major interface changes.

He did say, however, that the upgrade would likely include the addition of some sort of indicator next to messages in the inbox that would let users know if their e-mails came from authenticated senders. Authenticating senders is a goal of Yahoo's DomainKeys antispam technology, which is currently in its testing phase. The indicator would make it easier for users to detect so-called phishing scams that some spammers send out in an attempt to trick people into revealing their personal information.

Speakers at the Inbox conference will continue to present more ideas for making e-mail more useful and manageable through Friday. Inbox is the first of two major e-mail-related conferences taking place this month. The second event, aptly named the Email Technology Conference, takes place June 16-18 in San Francisco.
Source; Wired magazine, May 2004
Write; by Amit Asaravala

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Later,

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