NY Gives Tyco 45 days to Fix Network

< !DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/REC-html40/loose.dtd">

The New York State Office for Technology issued a letter of default to a unit of Tyco Electronics on Friday over a $2 billion contract to build an emergency communications network, giving the company’s M/A-COM Inc 45 days to fix “significant” problems, reports Reuters.

Tyco Electronics said it was disappointed in the move and has been cooperating with the state to resolve a “few” remaining issues.

“Contrary to public allegations … Tyco Electronics has met or exceeded contractual requirements for the project and is prepared to vigorously defend that position,” the company said in a statement e-mailed to Reuters.

The default letter, which comes amid a state budget crunch, follows a recommendation last week by the New York State comptroller to stop the 20-year contract because the already delayed system was rife with problems.

New York State’s biggest-ever technology contract, awarded to the Tyco’s M/A-COM unit in 2005, is a year-and-a-half behind schedule and has suffered from technology problems, according to the office of the comptroller (See Dailywireless: NY State’s Public Service Net: Failure?).

The system was intended to ease communication among emergency responders such as firefighters and police, and was prompted by the failure of wireless emergency communications systems after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

In its default letter, the state cited equipment failures, unreliable emergency call modes and inconsistent coverage, among other problems. Under the contract, Tyco Electronics has 45 days to recertify the system as ready for use, according to the state.

If Tyco were to lose the contract, analysts have estimated the loss of the contract would reduce Tyco Electronics’ 2009 sales by about $100 million and cut earnings by 2 or 3 cents per share. Rival Motorola potentially could benefit, Citigroup analyst Jim Suva said in a research note.

It may have repercussions for the federal Integrated Wireless Network (above), a nationwide public safety network which some have characterized as mired in bureaucratic and policy pettiness. The $10 billion federal network uses M/A-Com’s digital Land Mobile Radio (LMR) and the P-25 suite of standards to tie local, state and federal public safety agencies together.

Emergency managers like to point out “lives are at sake”. But dual-use handsets that can access satellite services when cellular or police radio towers go out would have saved lives during Hurricane Katrina. When the police radio system was destroyed.

TerreStar’s tiny sat phone (left) is the size of a Blackberry and roams on AT&T’s cellular network. It features Quad-band GSM, satphone connections, GPS, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. It will be available to North American customers in mid-2009. Spot beam satellites from Inmarsat and ICO will soon be joined by Terrestar and MSV for roaming between terrestrial repeaters.

Related Dailywireless articles include NY State’s Public Service Net: Failure?, NY State’s Wireless Net Broken?, New York State’s $1B Wireless Net, Topoff 4 Begins in Portland, FCC: What’s Wrong with 700MHz Public Service?, Public Safety: We Like 700MHz Public/Private Plan, Hearings on 700MHz Auction, TerreStar Roams with AT&T, Skyterra/MSV Get $500M, MSS: Battle Space,

Wireless Carriers Prepare for Hurricane Gustav

Hurricane Gustav (Times-Picayune coverage & Wikipedia), the tropical storm bearing down on the Gulf Coast, could be a test for the country’s wireless carriers, which faced criticism and a regulatory push after Hurricane Katrina took out networks.

Sprint Nextel’s Emergency Response Team, with trucks that can act as cell towers, was “caravaning down, military-style,” to the Gulf Coast on Friday. In 2007, Sprint installed permanent generators at more than 1,300 sites throughout the Southeast and Gulf Coast.

Verizon Wireless and AT&T, the main landline phone company in the region and the country’s largest wireless carrier, have added capacity and replaced some cables with optical fiber, to resist flooding.

While cell towers may survive a hurricane, their electrical power and connection to the larger network, often do not. After Katrina, the FCC sought to mandate that almost all cell sites in the U.S. have at least eight hours of backup power in the event main power fails.

But that requirement was disputed by the wireless industry association CTIA, as well as Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA. The carriers said the FCC failed to follow federal guidelines for creating new mandates and went far beyond its authority in creating the requirement. Requiring each cell site, even in areas that aren’t disaster-prone, to have its own backup power is expensive and robs them of the flexibility to deploy generators in more sensitive areas, they said.

Verizon Wireless says all of its cell sites have batteries that will power them for at least eight hours. Many of them also have generators that kick in when the batteries run down, and have fuel for five to seven days, according to the company. Of the 59 new cell sites Verizon Wireless has set up in the Gulf Coast area since the start of 2007, 85 percent have their own generators.

AT&T said its cell sites in hurricane-prone areas have generators that will power them for up to 36 hours, and it has been topping up the fuel in their tanks this week.

Sprint said it spent $59 million in 2007 to boost its hurricane preparedness, in part to install generators at 1,300 cell sites in the Southeast and on the Gulf Coast. It spent additional $140 million in the first six months this year to reinforce the network in the Gulf Coast states.

Gustav could be a communications challenge for emergency responders, who remain split up on incompatible networks. The FCC wanted to tackle that problem by setting aside radio spectrum to be operated by a private company for a national emergency network, but the spectrum band failed to find a bidder in an auction this year.

Tropical Storm Gustav was near Jamaica on Friday, and forecasters said it could hit the Louisiana coast at the beginning of next week as a major hurricane.

In related news, the 501 Tech Club and HumaniNet will present a status report on their Maps 2.0 initiative, in Portland on September 4.

The Tech Club is an initiative of NTEN with the support of the Meyer Memorial Trust. Also joining them, from Washington D.C., will be Justin Perkins, the Nonprofit Services Director of Care2, the largest online social network empowering civically active people to “make a difference.”

Dailywireless has more on emergency communications and public service communications including NY State’s Public Service Net: Failure?, Inmarsat F3 Successfully Launched, Minneapolis WiFi Breaks Even, Minneapolis Bridge Collapse & Emergency Communications, Public Service Users Talk Interop, Broadband, Hurricane/Tsuanmi Satellite Access , Katrina Telcom: One Month Later, FCC Talks Katrina and Katrina Telecomunications Report.

Enforta’s Russian WiMAX Expands

Russian WiMAX operator Enforta has announced the expansion of its wireless broadband services to an additional 13 cities in Russia thus increasing the company’s overall service area to 68 cities. In September the company will launch operations in the cities of Armavir, Artem, Birobidzhan, Vanino, Dzerzhinsk, Zlatoust, Miass, Novorossiysk, Novotroitsk, Sochi, Sterlitamak, Syzran, and Ulan-Ude.

The company says that it now operates the largest wireless broadband ‘footprint’ in Russia, servicing cities comprising 70% of Russia’s urban population.

Enforta is using Alvarion gear for its WiMAX solution in the fast growing Russian market. Alvarion’s BreezeMAX 3500 equipment, certified by the WiMAX Forum, will use the 3.400 – 3.600 GHz band. Alvarion’s local partner in Russia is Cedicom.

“The WiMAX technology continues to perform well and we are pleased with the subscriber growth”, said Lee Sparkman, Enforta’s President. “With this announcement we conclude our geographic deployments for 2008. We are now finalizing plans with our investors for an exciting 2009 that further leverages our ‘first to market’ leadership in wireless broadband services”. Enforta is adding 3 additional cities to its earlier announcement that it would launch 10 cities in the 4th quarter of 2008.

Enforta was formed in October 2003 with the objective to provide broadband services using WiMAX in Russia’s regional capitals. The Company is owned by Baring Vostok Capital Partners, Sumitomo Corporation, Bessemer Venture Partners, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. In December of 2003 Enforta acquired ZAO Prestige-Internet and in 2005 they acquired OOO Evgenia. Later in 2005 the company launched its first wireless broadband services. Enforta has the largest market share amongst Russia’s wireless broadband operators at 20-22% of the total market.

Other WiMax networks are being launched in various regions in Russia by Synterra, Start-Telecom, Comstar-UTS, and Media-Net. Summa Telecom Company, announced the launch of its own network,having been granted a large frequency resource across Russia. The first cities to be launched in are Moscow, St. Petersburg, Samara, Novosibirsk, and Vladivostok. Summa Telecom is owned by Russian businessman Ziyavudinu Magomedov, whose principal businesses include oil transport logistics and metals.

Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) is the largest mobile operator in Russia and CIS with over 89.64 million subscribers. Vimpelcom, Russia’s 2nd largest cell operator, is owned by Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman’s Alfa Group and Norway’s Telenor which have been locked in a court battle over expansion overseas, something Russian shareholders contend was blocked by Telenor.

The Russian State Commission of Radio Frequencies (GKRCh) plans to transfer 2300 ~ 2400 MHz (2.3 GHz) from the military to public WiMAX.

Telework Takes Off

There has been a sharp increase in the number of North American employers offering telecommuting as an option, reports Telephony Magazine. According to an annual survey by WorldatWork, a global human resources association, 42% of U.S. employers said they offered a telework option, up from 30% in 2007, while in Canada, the jump was even greater, from 25% to 40%.

One reason for the increase, according to the survey, is that technology is no longer a major issue, said Rose Stanley of WorldatWork.

The rise of easy-to-use Web conferencing and collaboration programs is making it much easier for workers to operate efficiently even when they aren’t in the same physical location, Stanley said, and widely available broadband access makes use of Web-based technologies easier. Collaborative software like Webex, Go to Meeting, and Microsoft’s Live Meeting bring disparate people together and enable them to work on a single document.

Managers still are concerned about how to manage employees that aren’t in one site, however. “When we conduct polls, the responses we get are, ‘We don’t know how to manage someone we can’t see,’” Stanley said.

High gas prices make telecommuting more attractive to employees, but that doesn’t necessarily motivate employers, Stanley said.

“Honestly, from a business perspective, gas prices are not as much a factor,” Stanley said. “That doesn’t mean that senior management isn’t concerned and doesn’t see that as a definite problem. But they still run their businesses, and what they are going to react to is when it starts to affect their turnover and ability to attract employees. They won’t necessarily implement something unless they see it as a win for both.”

Telecommuters need not necessarily work from the home. A more recent extension of telecommuting is distributed work.

Distributed work entails the conduct of organizational tasks in places that extends beyond the confines of traditional offices. Remote Office Centers lease offices to individuals from multiple companies.

A Remote Office Center provide professional grade network access, phone system, security system, and mail stop. They’re generally located in areas near where people live.

On June 3, 2008, the House passed H.R. 4106 which would require agencies to develop a program allowing employees to telework at least 20 percent of every two-week work period. GSA currently provides 14 Remote Offices in the D.C. area that can be used by Federal Employees. The Oregon Telecommunity Center Project (pdf) assessed the needs of specific Oregon rural communities that can be served by telecommunity centers.

Thailand Gets Mobile WiMAX

Cisco Systems announced that Thailand’s TT&T is deploying its WiMAX network equipment at Mae Fah Luang University. It’s Thailand’s first production WiMAX network and Cisco’s first WiMAX win in the Asia Pacific market.

Located in Chiang Rai province in north Thailand, Mae Fah Luang University selected TT&T to deploy the network after it obtained a WiMAX license as part of the Pilot Tele-Center for Rural Area Education and Development Project of north Thailand. “We chose Cisco because of its proven expertise and leadership in networking technology,” said Prachuab Tantinon, managing director of TT&T Public Company Limited. Tests conducted in a Bangkok school delivered broadband speeds under non line-of-sight conditions at ranges of 5-7 kilometers.

Cisco acquired Navini Networks in October 2007, and their mobile WiMAX (IEEE 802.16e-2005) offering combines two smart antenna techniques: adaptive beamforming and beamformed multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO). The result is double the data throughput for mobile WiMAX, extending the effective range of coverage and enhancing the signal strength.

Cisco claims their base station and smart antenna solutions enable data transmissions at rates up to six times that of systems not incorporating the capabilities.

Last week, NEC announced it is providing mobile WiMAX equipment to hospitals in Thailand. The Chiang Khong hospital WiMAX services will provide wireless broadband communications to locations within a maximum of five kilometers, which currently includes three medical clinics, and expands communications beyond fixed analog telephone lines to include new video and TV phone services that can assist with remote medical care. NEC announced today that it has received the WiMAX Forum Certified seal of approval for its 2.5GHz base station and PC cards.

Thailand is home to more than 67.3 million citizens. According to an ITU report, about 8.5 million have access to the Internet but only 600,000 have broadband services.

China Mobile: TD-SCDMA in 28 More Cities

China Mobile is planning a large-scale launch of the country’s own TD-SCDMA technology by the end of June next year, reports Unstrung.

The world’s largest mobile operator, by subscriber numbers, said yesterday that the operator plans to roll out its TD-SCDMA network to a further 28 cities. The operator has already invested 15 billion Chinese Yuan (US$2.2 billion) to cover 10 cities with 3G. China Mobile said it planned to launch in those 38 cities by the end of June next year.

China Mobile (415 million subs), is the last of the big three carriers to outline its 3G plans. The other two are China Unicom (125 million GSM subscribers and 43 million CDMA subscribers) and China Telecom (216 million fixed line subscribers with 38 million broadband subscribers).

China Unicom and China Netcom are scheduled to finalize their merger this October. Under the terms of the restructuring, China Unicom will also sell its CDMA operations to China Telecom, which will become a new mobile operator. The sale of CDMA business is expected to focus Unicom’s transition of GSM to 3G (using China’s own TD-SCDMA standard). China Netcom is a provider of wire-line telecommunications services, mainly to areas in the north of China. It is building a new broadband Internet backbone across the country and is the number two fixed-line operator in mainland China after China Telecom.

China Unicom and China Telecom have investment plans for their GSM and CDMA network expansions, respectively, that total $26.3 billion. (See Unstrung: Unicom Plans Capex Blowout and China Begins $70B Carrier Revamp.)

China Mobile said it will increase its capex spend this year by less than $1.5 billion, which is less than 8 percent of the $18 billion budgeted for 2008, but said this was due to “post-disaster reconstruction from the catastrophic Sichuan earthquake hit which wiped out 4,457 base stations. (See Quake Hits China’s Networks.)

Competition among the equipment vendors is really heating up in China now that the operators have finally started their restructuring and 3G licenses are on the horizon, says Unstrung. Nokia Siemens Networks has already bagged a mobile infrastructure deal worth €550 million ($807 million), while Alcatel-Lucent recently signed a framework agreement with the operator for mobile network upgrades worth $1 billion. These contracts are surely just the beginning.

China Mobile now boasts 415 million customers, making it the world’s largest operator by a long shot. Average revenue per user (ARPU) for the period was 84 Chinese Yuan ($12.3) per month. China Mobile also boasts 81 million subscribers to its wireless music club. A “Mobile Paper” news and information service has more than 40 million subscribers.