Insight Founders Lead Mobile Video Startup

2012-09-22 16:00:46

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Insight Founders Lead Mobile Video Startup
Former Insight Communications CEO Michael Willner has dealt himself back into the game just seven months after he closed the sale of his company to Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) for $3 billion. (See Insight Founders Back Penthera.)Willner and fellow Insight Communications founder Sidney Knafel have taken a controlling stake in Penthera Partners Inc. , a startup that's developed technology that accelerates the transferring of large files, including video, to smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. Willner is now CEO and Knafel is chairman of the Pittsburgh-based company, which was founded in 2007 and has about a dozen employees.Willner tells Light Reading Cable that he came across Penthera when a mutual friend invited him to meet its CTO, Adam Berger, to help the company get a firmer understanding of the cable industry. Willner, who was in the process of figuring out his next move, ended up liking the company enough not just to invest in it, but to run it, too.
"I never really felt that the sale of Insight was the moment where I would just ride off into the sunset; it's not my nature," Willner says.Although cable's not Penthera's sole focus, he thinks the company is well-positioned to be at the "forefront of next-generation video consumption" on all sorts of devices.Penthera's core technology is a software engine that moves large files efficiently to a wide array of devices. Penthera has done some work with Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), and counts High Tech Computer Corp. (HTC) (Taiwan: 2498) as a licensee. At The Cable Show in May, Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) used Penthera's software to power a video-sharing application in a new IP-capable set-top. (See The Cable Show 2012: Comcast Flies the X1, Comcast's X1 Video Platform Lands First in Boston and Comcast's Set-Top Accelerator Gains Traction .)
Willner said he was attracted to the company in part because he found that its apps and software can be easily integrated with cable's next-gen platforms.While Penthera will focus mostly on business-to-business deals, it's already launched a consumer product. Its Ribit app for iOS devices helps users share and browse videos via their social media feeds.Penthera didn't disclose the amount of the investment, but Willner said he and Knafel are "investing a significant amount of money to get the company on its feet," adding "we'll, hopefully, help them take it to the next level."Why this matters It's the next big move for Willner and Knafel, two well-respected industry vets who founded Insight Communications in 1985. And, their involvement puts Penthera on the cable map.With their financial and executive backing, Penthera should have no trouble setting up high-level meetings with the MSOs as cable operators migrate more video services to IP and seek out apps that they can offer on their set-top and mobile platforms.
Sprint: LTE in 100 Cities in the 'Coming Months'
Sprint Nextel Corp. (NYSE: S) says that it will have its faster 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) service coming to "more than 100 cities" in the U.S. in the "coming months."The third-ranked operator revealed those new launch plans on its community blog Monday morning.The new cities will include Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York City. The post also notes that 4G LTE construction has begun in Washington, D.C.; Austin, Texas; New Orleans, and parts of Florida, as well as many other towns and cities.The note does not yet give an exact timetable for any the new LTE launch cities. However, Sprint has previously committed to covering up to 120 million PoPs with LTE by the end of the year. (See Sprint, the LTE iPhone & 4G Plans.)What fresh 4G means for Sprint usersThe Sprint LTE network is currently in 19 towns and cities in the U.S. These are mostly clustered in Georgia and Texas at the moment. Here's a map of the areas that are live. (See Sprint Launches 4 LTE Markets for Labor Day.)Sprint says that its new LTE network offers peak download speeds of 25Mbit/s, with averages of 6Mbit/s to 8Mbit/s. Uploads clock in at 2Mbits to 3Mbit/s. The WiMax service it has touted as 4G since 2008 offers averages of 3Mbit/s to 6Mbit/s on the download. (See Sprint's 4G LTE Scramble.)The most important aspect of the coming launches, however, is how much more LTE coverage it will give Sprint users in major cities. Sprint, like all the major LTE operators in the U.S., operates on its own unique LTE frequency (1900MHz) and doesn't roam onto other carriers' 4G networks.Thus, if you want coverage that doesn't revert to a 3G crawl, you have to look for Sprint's flavor of LTE. It presently sells four LTE-capable smartphones and a mobile hot spot, but no tablets. (See Sprint LTE Devices Arrive Before Network.)A 4G launch from Sprint won't necessarily guarantee 4G LTE across a city, as Bob Azzi, senior vice president of Networks at Sprint, explained to Light Reading Mobile in July about the initial launch. (See Sprint: The Birth of a Network.)"We weren't planning to wait until we had all our cell sites covered," Azzi told us. Instead, the cities went live "when we determined that we had a sufficient footprint that enough people could find it in enough places." (See Sprint Launches 15 Markets in 4G LTE Clusters.)The operator will fill in 4G gaps after launch. The entire 3G CDMA network is expected to be LTE-capable by the end of 2013.Where's the Bay Area?
The lack of Bay Area cities is one puzzling aspect of Sprint's new launch list. There's no mention of Oakland, San Francisco, or any of the surrounding areas. In fact, Los Angeles is the only California city on the list so far. This apparent absence also comes amid recent reports of Sprint 4G test signals in the Bay Area from users with LTE devices. (See Sprint's 4G LTE Testing Tease.)We'll keep an eye on Sprint's California gap and report back if anything changes as the year closes out.
Euronews: NSN Has Huawei in Its Sights
Nokia Siemens Networks , Everything Everywhere Ltd. (EE) and Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. slug it out from the baseline in today's Murraymania souvenir edition of EMEA news.Nokia Siemens Networks is feeling bullish about its mobile infrastructure prospects in 2013, reports Reuters, with Kenneth Wirth, the company's head of customer operations for the Americas, predicting that NSN will leapfrog Huawei to take the number two spot in the mobile network equipment market, behind market leader Ericsson. (See Who's Going to Buy NSN?, NSN Sticks It to Huawei and NSN CEO: We've Got Our Mojo Back.)
Now that the U.K. has its own tennis Grand Slam champion, after a wait of just 76 years, what could be better? The imminent launch of 4G services, of course. Everything Everywhere -- the U.K. joint venture between Orange UK and T-Mobile (UK) and the country's largest mobile operator with about 27 million subscribers -- has announced plans to launch LTE services before the end of the year in 16 cities, covering about 33 percent of the population. And to go with the new network and services, the company (thankfully!) unveiled a new brand too -- EE. Rumors of a subsidiary brand for northern England, EE bah gum, have yet to be confirmed. (See Brits Braced for 4G , EE to Launch 4G in UK, Euronews: Orange/T-Mob JV Given 4G Head Start and Ofcom Allows EE to Go Early on 4G.)Huawei is to invest £1.2 billion (US$1.92 billion) and create 700 jobs in the U.K. over the next five years, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph. Exactly how much of this announcement represents new, previously unheralded investment, however, is unclear. The newspaper notes that half of that investment is "direct," while half is "through the supply chain," which means that's how much it will spend on buying all sorts of supplies from other companies based in the U.K. (See Huawei Unveils UK Investment Plan, Euronews: Huawei to Hire More Brits and Huawei Affirms UK Commitment.)GTS Central Europe has launched retail and wholesale Carrier Ethernet access services in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Poland using Ethernet-over-copper equipment from Overture Networks Inc. GTS CE has deployed Overture's gear in about 130 central offices and is offering services of up to 10 GigE. (See GTS CE Offers Carrier Ethernet Access.)Telefónica Digital has continued its spending spree with an investment of €3 million ($3.8 million) in AddFleet, a startup behind an M2M-based application that uses mobile devices to connect vehicles to taxi dispatch centers and users. Taxi drivers can download the application to a smartphone, which will then allow them to connect to the dispatch centre and pinpoint the location of the customers closest to them. (See Telefónica Digital Invests in M2M Startup, Telefónica: A New Breed of Telco, Telefónica: Digital Dreamer? and Telefónica to Hatch Startups .)French mobile operator SFR has joined forces with Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD), Etisalat , Maroc Telecom and Tata Communications Ltd. (NYSE: TCL) to form an alliance called Network Team (see this press release, in French). The aim of the alliance is to help provide private network services and other goodies to major French companies that have offices scattered around the world.Swisscom AG (NYSE: SCM) looks set to acquire 75 percent of Telecom Liechtenstein, for an undisclosed amount. The cable activities of Telecom Liechtenstein and the Swiss subsidiary Deep AG will not be included in the takeover, however. For those wondering about the scale of this deal, the Principality of Liechtenstein is a land-locked European country (the sixth smallest in the world) that is home to about 35,000 people. Find out more, here. (See Swisscom to Acquire TelecomLiechtenstein.)Japanese vendor Oki Electric Industry Co. Ltd. has announced that, following an investigation into allegations of fraud at its Spanish subsidiary Oki Systems Ibérica S.A.U.(OSIB), the company has sacked the managing director of OSIB and has informed investors that the six years of "improper accounting" at the subsidiary will negatively impact the company's reported net income during that period to the tune of ¥30.8 billion ($395 million). An investigation into the fraud was launched in early August. (See Euronews: Summer Scandal Special.)
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