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Test & Measurement

Testing's Tasty Tidbits

When the telecom test-and-measurement sector starts to get exciting, you know an industry revival is truly in full swing! And to prove -- as is proof were needed -- that T&M (as it's known in protocol analysis circles) is no sleepy backwater, here's the latest roundup of juicy news snippets.

But first, a call to action…

Who's Who in NGN Testing
With the arrival of video and VOIP set to kick TDM voice into touch [U.S. ed. note: whatever the hell that means] over the coming years, network operations teams are having kittens wondering how they're going to manage their networks and all the funky new services running over them.

So, in the seasonal spirit of goodwill, we've launched a report, Who Makes What: Test & Measurement Gear for Next-Generation Networks, designed to find out what next-generation network T&M technologies are out there to help the poor beleaguered operations teams.

And if your company is active in this sector, and not in the initial version of our taxonomy, now's your chance to let us know all about you and your products. Check out the report and download our questionnaire if you think we're missing something.

Spirent Sells Division
Spirent plc (NYSE: SPM; London: SPT) is selling its Network Products division, otherwise known as HellermannTyton, to a private equity group for £288.9 million (US$510.7 million). (See Spirent Sells Division.)

Before you reel back in shock, this business is nothing to do with T&M unit Spirent Communications.

In fact, Spirent says it is selling HellermannTyton, which develops and makes products for "fastening, identification, protection and connectivity in electrical and communications networks," so it can concentrate on the Communications unit.

Spirent is trying to haul the Service Assurance part of its Communications business into the IP world, and has been relying on the profitable Performance Analysis unit, which provides lab test tools to vendors and carriers, to shore up the OSS unit. (See Spirent Reports H1 and Spirent Cuts Back OSS Group.)

Following this year's cost-cutting, the Service Assurance unit is almost breaking even, so now CEO Anders Gustafsson and his team are considering their next step. Expansion further into Europe and Asia/Pacific is on the agenda, and that could involve "selective acquisitions," the CEO told investors on Thursday. Spirent is looking to beef up its capabilities particularly in the IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem), wireless, and triple-play areas, where the arrival of video traffic is set to give vendors and carriers a whole new set of challenges. (See Spirent Launches Tester and Spirent Latest to Tackle Video Test.)

Analysts at Lehman Brothers reckon Spirent is getting a good price for HellermannTyton, and raised their target price for the firm's stock from 56 pence to 59 pence. And with £50 million ($88.6 million) of the proceeds from the sale due to be returned to shareholders, the vendor's share price has crept up 3 percent in the past few days to 52 pence on the London Stock Exchange.

The telecom team at UBS AG has an even higher target price of 70 pence, as they believe Spirent's customer base, product range, and current low valuation make it a takeover target.

JDSU: More M&A on the Horizon?
Another T&M player with potential acquisitions up its sleeve is JDS Uniphase Corp. (Nasdaq: JDSU; Toronto: JDU). It's already reaping the benefits of having bought Acterna earlier this year, and it could be looking to beef up its test capabilities further. (See Revenues Ramp at Test Vendors and JDSU Lands IPTV Deal.)

At a recent meeting in London, JDSU's VP of marketing Enzo Signore told Light Reading that once the integration of Acterna is complete, in a few months' time, further M&A action is a real possibility in 2006.

While the JDSU man was offering no hints on any particular targets, Acterna, which is strong in service assurance and lab testing gear in the fixed-line world, is lacking in wireless T&M capabilities, so that could be a particular target area.

Sun Sets on Sunrise Listing
Unable to file its third-quarter report with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) because of an ongoing investigation into some jiggery pokery at its Korean sales office, Sunrise Telecom Inc. has been delisted from the Nasdaq. (See Sunrise Telecom Delisted .)

While the company says this won't have any impact on its day-to-day operations, it still doesn't know when the probe into the "issues and transactions" at the Korean unit, which has accounted for less than 5 percent of the firm's revenues, will be completed, so allowing it to file its financial reports.

Brix Doubles Up on Video
Having swarmed all over the VOIP service assurance space, Brix Networks Inc. is now looking to do the same with video over IP, an area where plenty of the T&M players are pushing their wares. (See Brix Unveils Tester, Acterna Uses Telchemy VOIP Tester, Spirent Latest to Tackle Video Test, Acterna Puts Video to the Test, Agilent Intros Triple-Play Testers, and IneoQuest Spews Video Test News.)

Its latest product, which the company says is already being used by its customers, is the Video Quality Index. In the same way a mean opinion score (MOS) provides a measure of how good, or bad, the quality of a voice call is, Brix has created a tool that measures both the signaling quality and the quality of the media stream to create a video service quality score.

"Our advantage is that we're not just tackling the media element, we're looking at signaling," to create a single measurement, says product marketing director Bob Travis, who recently joined from Sycamore Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: SCMR).

Other newsworthy items of note from the wonderful world of telecom testing:

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

digits 12/5/2012 | 2:49:28 AM
re: Testing's Tasty Tidbits Looks like video is taking over from VOIP as the new battleground for the test community. Be sure to let us know if there are video test startups out there we don't know about for the NGN report.
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