2005 Leading Lights: Where Are They Now?

  • Best New Service, Public Company: Verizon's FiOS TV

    Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) continued the steady expansion of its fiber-fed FiOS data and video service during 2006. In fact, the numbers show that Verizon, so far, is almost single-handedly introducing fiber to the lives of North American consumers -- and the company is talking even bigger numbers for the near future. (See Verizon Fueling North American Fiber Growth and Verizon to Pump $18B Into FiOS by 2010.)

    Verizon launched is FiOS TV in September 2005 and says the service will be turning a profit in about four years.

    As for the data, video, and home networking services fueled by the fiber, the reviews by both consumers and industry people have been almost uniformly favorable. Notably, Verizon recently added to FiOS a new digital video recorder (DVR) with multiroom capability; consumers can now record shows on one set-top and watch them on up to two other TVs elsewhere in the home. (See Verizon Hones Home Networking .)

    But the cost of running fiber to each home is not declining as quickly as some on Wall Street had been hoping. Some estimates say Verizon is spending as much as $2,000 to hook up each new home. In optimal conditions, marginal cost per home is as low as $300, says Heavy Reading senior analyst Graham Finnie. (See Figuring FiOS.)

  • Best Marketing, Public Company: Lucent's IP Multimedia System (IMS)

    Trying to qualify itself as a leading next-generation player, Lucent picked up the IMS baton last year and ran at breakneck speed, announcing engagements with BellSouth Corp. (NYSE: BLS), AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) (SBC at the time), and Cingular Wireless . (See Lucent Lands BellSouth IMS Deal, SBC Jumps on Lucent IMS Bandwagon, and Cingular Picks Lucent for IMS.)

    This year, Lucent trotted out a few wins, including European incumbent KPN Telecom NV (NYSE: KPN), but the focus was on deliverables: partnership deals, capability announcements, and an acquisition that will boost Lucent's IMS powers. (See Lucent Moves on Mobilitec, Lucent Unveils MiViewTV, Lucent Demos Video Sharing, Lucent Names IMS Partners, Lucent Integrates Ubiquity Tech, Lucent to Resell TCS, and Lucent Wins IMS Deal.)

    It's not all sweetness and roses, though. Concerns have been raised about how Lucent and Alcatel will blend their IMS capabilities, while sources suggested that service development progress at AT&T may have hit some bumps in the road. (See Can Alcatel & Lucent Avoid an IMS Mess? and Lucent Having Dualmode Difficulty?.)

    That generated a typical response from Lucent CEO Pat Russo, who told analysts on a quarterly conference call that all was well on the IMS front. She also reminded everyone that IMS deployments are highly complex and involve a lot of integration work. As a result, revenues from IMS deals won't be hitting any balance sheets until some time in 2007.

  • Best M&A Strategy, Public Company: Cisco Systems

    Cisco acquires lots of companies, but this pick came down to Scientific Atlanta , a move that still looks like a turning point in Cisco's life.

    One year later, Cisco's fervor for video has only accelerated, as has its appetite to encroach on the living room. The company has launched a campaign to get cozier with consumers, through feel-good TV ads and the possible building of Cisco Field, a tech-adorned Major League Baseball park. (See Cisco Helps Build Ballpark, Cisco at Bat, and Two Strikes on Cisco.)

    Getting back to the point at hand, though, Scientific Atlanta gives Cisco a new angle on carrier networks, and that could be crucial if IPTV and other video services continue their headlock on carrier planning. This story's still got legs.

  • Industry Statesman, Private Company: Selina Lo, Ruckus Wireless

    Selena Lo has to be given credit for orchestrating her company's slow, steady campaign to convince carriers and gearmakers that Ruckus is for real.

    The startup's make-or-break challenge is convincing telephone companies that its wireless home networking technology can reliably transport video signals -- even the high definition (HD) kind -- to TVs around the home. If the technology proves out, Ruckus will have trumped other emerging home networking standards like the Home Phoneline Networking Alliance (HomePNA) and Multimedia over Coax Alliance (MoCA) , and eliminated the task of wiring homes for video.

    If Ruckus's financial backers are any indication, Lo and company are making progress. In October, the company announced $16 million in new funding from a set of investors led by Motorola Ventures and T-Online Venture Fund, which sits inside German incumbent Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT). (See P2P Industry Networks for Legitimacy.)

    Of course, $16 million can always come in handy, but the overriding meaning of the investment is that Motorola and T-Online believe the Ruckus gear -- with a little more development -- just might work. Meanwhile, the technology is being tried out in the largest IPTV deployment in the world at PCCW Ltd. (NYSE: PCW; Hong Kong: 0008) and at several small regional carriers in North America. (See Ruckus: Causin' a Commotion? and Ruckus Runs With Some Rurals.)

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    Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 3:34:39 AM
    re: 2005 Leading Lights: Where Are They Now? So, any thoughts on how our 2005 report card looks?

    The Russo and Selina Lo picks still seem defensible.

    Redback worked out, although that category seems to have a bit of luck involved. (If a "best investment" company took more than a year to blossom, would that still count as a hit? Hm.)

    The Alcatel 1850 pick seems less sure than a year ago, but maybe that's a U.S.-centric POV.

    Hindsight provides a good argument for the MEF's win, but it still feels weird that a best private "company" award went to a consortium.

    Any other thoughts?
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