Optical/IP Networks

TelecomNext: Notebook Nuggets

LAS VEGAS – TelecomNext – As the desert sun sets today on the first iteration of this telecommunications industry tradeshow, we're nearly as in awe of the first day's hype as we are of the second and third days' tumbleweeds.

The press can argue that the show was a roaring success. Telco execs were relatively plentiful and easy to find. But we attend and eat for free.

The paying customers -- the vendors, especially -- weren't so thrilled as Wednesday's sessions rolled to a close. And a few exhibitors were perturbed that folks who did come to see the booths were flushed out of the room everytime one of the marathon keynote sessions kicked off.

One show better than two?
The results of our informal poll at TelecomNext indicated that most people are disappointed that the United States Telecom Association (USTelecom) and Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) have gone their separate ways to split Supercomm, into two individual tradeshows, TelecomNext and Globalcomm.

The main points of grief? Another show to travel to, a split marketing budget, and more expenses. As one person put it, “I’ve told a story here, and now in three months I have to make up another story?”

Several attendees expressed the hope that somehow, sometime in the future the shows would once again combine.

”We don’t think this industry can sustain two shows. We’d like to see it going back to one show,” said Ed Gracyk, director of marketing and communications for Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) TV.

Taco Bell neutrality
Net Neutrality was far from a neutralized topic at this show. And Scott Ford, the CEO of Alltel Corp. (NYSE: AT), had one of the more colorful takes on the subject in his Wednesday afternoon keynote address:

”I'm here to advocate that we have grocery store neutrality. You can come to the grocery store, pay $50, and you can have just whatever you want, take a cart, just load up on it. Or Taco Bell neutrality -- it's $25 a month, I can drive up and I can have a taco or whatever, or I can come with all those people in the Verizon commercial… bring them to load up on Taco Bell.

”Taco Bell neutrality, grocery store neutrality, Net neutrality… They all make the same amount of sense.”

Taco Bell neutrality? Sounds like a munchy idea to us.

Tandberg tandem
SkyStream Networks Inc. CEO Jim Olson had some promising comments on his company’s upcoming merger with Norwegian video specialist Tandberg Television . He points out that his company could add substantial growth to the Tandberg business: Skystream booked $31 million in revenue in 2005 and is expecting $40 million to $50 million in revenue in 2006. The company turned profitable in the fourth quarter of 2005. (See Tandberg Compresses SkyStream.)

Tandberg specializes in video encoding for content distribution in formats such as MPEG-4. Skystream makes a video headend encoding and switch product, Mediaplex. The idea is that Skystream can integrate Tandberg’s encoding technology into its headend product.

Skystream also supplies VOD servers, and one of its customers is MovieBeam Inc. , a digital content delivery service that Olson describes as “very successful.” MovieBeam is now a private, venture-backed company that was spun out of Disney.

The impending merger might make Tandberg a player to watch, especially in the M&A arena, given the rising interest in video by the major telcos. This success may be catching the eye of investors, which have recently bid Tandberg shares up to 60 Norwegian krone on the Oslo exchange. That’s up from a low of about 18 krone in 2003.

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