jump to navigation

The Target Data Attach Reveals HVAC Vulnerabilities March 17, 2014

Posted by TelUS Consulting Services in Data Networking catagory.
comments closed

The massive Target data security breach has led to revelations that I feel certain not many customers knew existed. With many companies using internet-connected HVAC systems for heating, ventilation and air conditioning very little thought has gone into security of such systems., giving hackers a potential backdoor gateway into otherwise secure corporate systems.

Qualys, a provider of cloud-based security services has said that its research has discovered that most of the nearly 55,000 HVAC systems connected to the internet over the past two years can easily be exploited by hackers. In Target’s case, hackers appear to have stole login credentials belonging to to a company that provides the retailer with HVAC services.

HVAC systems connect to networks at all kinds of enterprises, retailers, government agencies and hospitals. HVAC vendors and other third parties often have remote access to their customer’s systems for administrative and support purposes. Companies tend to be lax about HVAC security because they have no idea that HVAC systems can provide entry into corporate networks. In fact, many HVAC management firms use the same username and password for multiple customers. This, as we all know, is a security no no.

As a general rule of thumb, if your company or your vendors can access your facilities via the public internet for any reason, so can the hackers. Security precautions should be observed for all such access.


Joe Buck, NCE


New York City to award free fiber-based broadband to area startups October 26, 2012

Posted by TelUS Consulting Services in Data Networking catagory.
comments closed

New York City believes the best way attract more high tech startups is to give them a fiber connection, so on Friday the city announced a contest whereby New York-based startups can compete to get a fiber-based broadband connection.

The ConnectNYC Fiber Challenge contest is targeting companies with less than 100 employees. Over a two-year period, the organization will award $12 million, including $7 million to be allocated in 2012. On average, the city said each deployment will cost about $50,000.

Interested businesses who want a fiber connection have until Nov. 27 to apply and make their case as to why their site is worthy of a fiber-based connection.

“Contestants demonstrating the highest potential impact of fiber connectivity–on their own business, nearby businesses, and underserved areas–will become finalists,” said ConnectNYC in a blog post. “Finalists will have a chance to win a free build-out of fiber internet connectivity to their place of business.”

This contest is part of a move by New York City’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg to motivate service providers like Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) to expand fiber availability in NYC to more businesses.

In late August, the cable MSO’s business unit Time Warner Cable Business Class (TWCBC) committed $25 million to build a new fiber network in New York City to better serve its business customer base.

One recipient of TWC’s recent fiber network drive is the Hispanic Information and Telecommunications Network (HITN). At that time, TWCBC was in the process of completing a multimillion-dollar fiber build to serve tenants of housed in the 300-acre Brooklyn Navy Yard business complex.

As the complex’s first tenants to use the TWC fiber connection, HITN said it is “utilizing the technology to improve and enhance its overall business operations, as well as to transport and deliver its online and television-based educational programming to viewers across the U.S. and Puerto Rico.”

Looks like someone is finally taking a bipartisan approach to promoting growth and helping our ailing our economy. Congratulations New York.

Joe Buck, NCE

And now the Cable Companies jump in –  Comcast plans usage-based system for broadband customers May 25, 2012

Posted by TelUS Consulting Services in Data Networking catagory.
comments closed

Comcast plans to end its 250-gigabyte limit on data for broadband subscribers in favor of a tiered system in which heavy users would pay more. The cable giant will test two pricing plans over the next few months, with one granting 300 GB of usage each month to Internet Essentials, Economy and Performance tiers, and bigger data limits for higher tiers, and the other trying out a 300 GB cap for all users. Under both scenarios, users who go over the caps would pay about $10 for each additional 50 GB of data.

Interesting how they sell us products and services that consume such high bandwidth, all the while lulling us into believing that watching a movie or TV on on IPAD is free. And once they have a generation hooked, they go to a pay as you use it bandwidth plan to suck the life out of our wallets. And all this time we thought that Skype, Vonage and the like was the wave of the future because it was cheaper. Hang on America, your about to get the short end again…

Joe Buck, NCE

Video Conferencing player Polycom falls this quarter April 9, 2012

Posted by TelUS Consulting Services in Data Networking catagory.
comments closed

Polycom (Nasdaq: PLCM), which had strong enough fourth quarter numbers  that analysts in January raised price targets for the videoconferencing company’s stock to upwards of $24 a share, just-released preliminary results for the 1Q2012 which fall way below expectations, due, the company said, to softer demand than expected for its product in both the APAC and North American regions, as I have been predicting all quarter.

Immediate response to the estimated numbers has Investor withdrawal  pushing shares down nearly 19 percent to $14.79 in pre-market trading, flirting with the stock’s 52-week low of $14.45 (it’s high was a whopping $34.30 last summer).

Polycom said it expects to report net revenues for the quarter in the range of $364 million to $370 million, compared with net revenues of $344 million in the first quarter of 2011, a seven percent increase. In January, the company said it expected sales of some $399 million, and analysts expected sales to be in the range of $399.7 million for the quarter.

The company today said its EPS would be in the range of 21 to 23 cents, down from 24 cents a year ago; analysts were calling for 30 cents per share. Polycom said the quarter saw sales increases in every region but acknowledged the growth rate was below our overall expectations. According to ther CEO, Polycom’s current operating model assumes a higher level of revenue growth, and we will analyze our assumptions between now and our regularly scheduled call on April 18th.

Earnings per diluted share for the first quarter likely will come in at 7 to 9 cents on a GAAP basis, Polycom said, a big drop from the 19 cents per diluted share on a GAAP basis in the first quarter of 2011.

Polycom said its best-perfroming region was EMEA, where sales increase 15 to 17 percent, year over year; APAC was up five to eight percent and the Americas were up one to three percent.

Network infrastructure, meanwhile, saw the strongest growth in Polycom’s product lines, improving 11 to 14 percent from the same period a year ago; UC personal devices were up 7 to 9 percent, and UC group systems improved 4 to 6 percent.

As I have been recommending over the years of following this company, Polycom has announced several strategic relationships to fill out its product offerings however these things take time. This will be a company to watch a year from now but in my opinion caution is the key word right now.


Joe Buck, NCE

Chattanooga, Tn city government fiber project a success February 22, 2012

Posted by TelUS Consulting Services in Data Networking catagory.
comments closed

EPB revealed on Friday that it has surpassed 35,000 fiber-optic customers in the Chattanooga area, leaping ahead of initial projections of 26,000 users by the third year. The 59-employee fiber-optic division brought in $57.3 million in its third year, according to the company’s 2011 report.

If the city-owned utility continues to make money and pay down its debt, it will become the most successful government-owned network after cities such as Chicago, Philadelphia and Marietta, Ga., gave up their similar efforts. At the current rate, EPB can shave seven years off the time it will take to pay off its telecom debt, becoming virtually debt-free by 2020 instead of 2027 as projected.

Even so, the government utility still is spending money to sign up new customers, a process that will increase debt until 2013. The utility has $51 million in total debt so far, but it only needs 30,000 customers to break even on operational costs.

EPB won’t speculate about when EPB could earn enough to offset the taxpayer dollars that helped fund the Smart Grid, but the utility already is finding new sources of revenue.

A new advertising program brought in $30,000 in January, and is projected to show $360,000 in ad revenue for the year. The main driver of cost is the cost of video content, which will have to be offset.

It appears on the surface that one city utility is doing broadband right, for both the city and its residents. It’s a shame more small cities don’t jump on the band wagon and learn something from this.

Joe Buck, NCE

Bell Canada further reducing usage limits on internet access January 11, 2012

Posted by TelUS Consulting Services in Data Networking catagory.
comments closed

Bell Canada (NYSE: BCE) is once again up to its usage-based billing ways by lowering the amount of bandwidth users can consume on their broadband service package.

Although it appeared to take some of the sting out by lowering the monthly cost of its speed tiers, it’s of little help that Bell Canada lowered usage limits and raised the overage cap penalty limit ($1 per gigabyte) up CAD 20 (USD 19.74) to CAD 80 (USD 78.99) per month.

The service lowered the usage caps on its four Fiber to the Node (FTTN)-based Fibe tiers: its Fibe 10 service cap was lowered from 75 GB to 60 GB, Fibe 12 has gone from 50 GB to 40 GB, Fibe 16 dropped from 75 GB to 65 GB and Fibe 25 went from 125 GB to 100 GB.

Not surprisingly, users in DSL Reports‘ forum aren’t thrilled about the new limits.

“If they drop my package from 75 GB to 60 GB, then they better have a really good offer for me, or this might finally convince this 10+ year customer here to move elsewhere,” the user said. “I had been staying with them recently mostly because of the inconvenience of switching. If my bill is going to increase by another 10-20$/month due to that change, I’m gone.”

Everyone that uses internet access should watch these trends around the world. In an effort to expand on corporate greed and to offset loses due to the economic downturns worldwide, this could quickly become a growing trend among service providers. After all, we have seen this with most of the major wireless providers in the states and several of the CATV providers.

This growing trend will begin to kill of TV & video over the net and start to hinder innovation and development if left unchecked.

Joe Buck, NCE

Region Broadband fiber optic network project moves forward in North Georgia December 29, 2011

Posted by TelUS Consulting Services in Data Networking catagory.
comments closed

The North Georgia Network has crossed Clayton Mountain and the Appalachian Trail to complete the first leg of the 260-mile core ring that will bring a high-speed fiber optic network to several north Georgia counties. The fiber-optic network will benefit Dawson, Forsyth, Habersham, Lumpkin, Rabun, Towns, Union and White counties with more reliable and more affordable high-speed Internet access.  The fiber optic network should help open north Georgia to global business, helping local businesses grow and create more jobs. In the end, we want it to support a new technology-based economy for generations to come. The trail crossing also joins the existing networks of two participating EMCs, Blue Ridge Mountain EMC and Habersham EMC, who were previously unable to connect across the mountains.

The network has been routed by schools, universities, technical colleges, hospitals and government offices, bringing it close to thousands of businesses and homes. It will be able to support applications such as eCommerce, eGovernment, high-definition video and social networking that require enormous amounts of bandwidth and will allow businesses to better compete in the global economy, enable schools to offer more distance learning, support more healthcare services and provide area citizens with world-class connectivity.

Connecting back to the Internet hub in Atlanta from two directions, the 260-mile core ring which stretches over the Appalachians will be completed by January 2012. Build out will continue on the “middle mile” and “last mile” network, which will run fiber optics to industrial parks, schools and individual businesses and homes. The entire project will be completed by Dec. 31, 2012.

One of the main issues for getting high-speed Internet access to this region in the past has been the terrain. The mountains are beautiful, but they aren’t conducive to technology. Nor does anyone want to ruin the amazing views.  The North Georgia Network cooperated with the U.S. Forest Service, Georgia Office of Historic Preservation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, National Indian Tribes, a group of citizens named Forest Watch, Georgia Department of Transportation and local governments to get the approvals and environmental go-ahead to cross the trail. Workers buried the fiber cables across the mountains about three feet beneath the surface in a narrow channel. They bored to a similar depth under the trail and pulled the armored fiber cable under the trail without disturbing the pathway.

The North Georgia Network began as a joint effort of economic development professionals in Dawson, Forsyth, Lumpkin, Union and White counties, North Georgia College & State University, Blue Ridge Mountain EMC and Habersham EMC. The goal was to lay a foundation for a new technology-based economy in the region. The $42 million North Georgia Network broadband infrastructure project is made possible in large part by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). ARRA provided grant funds to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to support major improvements in broadband infrastructure for the nation’s digitally unserved and underserved. In December 2009, NGN became the first organization to be awarded a grant through the program, receiving $33 million under the NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). Additional $ 9 million funding came from the State of Georgia, electric utilities and participating local communities.

Now if North Georgia Utility Companies would offer their regional fiber networks in a similar partnership manner as has East Tennessee’s JCPB this could develop into an aggressive and robust Regional Fiber network.

Joe Buck, NCE

Cisco seeking SMB’s as they introduce a low cost Hosted Telepresence Service November 16, 2011

Posted by TelUS Consulting Services in Data Networking catagory.
comments closed

This week’s announcement from Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) that it was introducing a $99-a-month videoconferencing service, Cisco TelePresence Callway, aimed squarely at the SMB market is a pretty good indication that the networking giant and leader in the video conferencing space isn’t waiting around for the competition to reduce its market share.

Cisco said the hosted service reduces the complexity and costs of TelePresence that slowed adoption by SMBs. Cisco also introduced Jabber Video, a standards-based, HD video-calling software application that lets Mac and PC users join a conference hosted by a TelePresence user. The free application will go into beta in 2012.

Cisco, which introduced its benchmark room-based TelePresence system five years ago,is agressively addressing any chances being overtaken by any of its competitors any time soon; wanting to preserve it’s market share that exceeds 50 percent.

Infonetics Research earlier this month said revenues from enterprise telepresence and video conferencing systems were way up in the first half of this year, 24 percent above a year ago. The global video conferencing and telepresence equipment market set a record for quarterly revenue in the second quarter, increasing 21 percent from the previous quarter to $683 million, and increasing year-over-year 34 percent. Infonetics predicted an increase for the entire year that would be in the “strong double digits.”

The enterprise segment has long been a target of the biggest video conferencing vendors, and projections have long said there was big money to be made in the segment.

But SMBs and smaller enterprise customers have begun to look more appealing to the segment, especially as travel costs continue to be a bugaboo, and companies look to contain costs in the economy of what feels like a perpetual recession.

Infonetics says the market should see double-digit growth through 2015, “thanks to demographic and communication trends favoring video, increasing acceptance of video among users, and specific use cases like telelearning and telemedicine.”

The past couple of months have seen a markedly different picture of videoconferencing emerging.

Polycom (Nasdaq: PLCM), Radvision (Nasdaq: RVSN) and startup Vidyo all have introduced new mobile clients, aimed especially at tablets and at a workforce that’s spending more time than ever away from the office. And, nearly every other vendor has introduced some low-cost iteration of their video conferencing product aimed at expanding down market.

Cisco was taken to task earlier this year for a lack of innovation, and CEO John Chambers spent two quarters trying to reshape the company (and perhaps trying to reignite that innovation spark). Callway may not be Cisco’s biggest innovative leap, but at least it looks like it wants to get back in the game.

As I have mentioned before on this blog, the competition better watch closely, they may move somewhat slowly but the giant in the market will roll over you if you do not remain nimble.

Joe Buck, NCE

New Broadband Law in North Carolina blocks Municipalities from entering the Broadband Market. May 27, 2011

Posted by TelUS Consulting Services in Data Networking catagory.
comments closed

Gov. Bev Perdue on Friday criticized a bill that restricts municipalities from building and operating broadband Internet systems, but said she would not use her veto power to block it. Instead, she urged the legislature to reconsider the issue, which had been championed by the cable and telephone lobby. By not signing it, Perdue is symbolically signaling her displeasure.

“I will neither sign nor veto this bill,” Perdue said in a statement. “Instead, I call on the General Assembly to revisit this issue and adopt rules that not only promote fairness but also allow for the greatest number of high quality and affordable broadband options for consumers.”

The governor said there is a need to establish rules to prevent cities and towns from having an unfair advantage over private companies. But she said she was concerned the bill would decrease the number of choices available to consumers. The bill would require towns and cities that set up broadband systems to hold public hearings, financially separate their operations from all other government operations, and bar them from offering below cost services. They also couldn’t borrow money for the project without voter approval in a referendum.

The five cities that now offer the service – Wilson, Salisbury, Morganton, Davidson, and Mooresville – would be largely exempt from the bill’s provisions.

The measure was opposed by the N.C. League of Municipalities, which argued that towns in less populated areas should be able to obtain better broadband services than private companies are willing to offer in order to attract industry.

Time-Warner Cable, which has been pushing for the legislation since 2005, has argued that it ought not to face competition from tax-paid sources. Time-Warner’s political action committee has contributed at least $214,000 to state candidates since 2008, most of them state legislative candidates, according to campaign finance records.

This ruling could present a serious challenge for rural residents desperately seeking broadband services. Providers such as Time Warner have little incentive to serve rural areas with high speed services as the financial returns are usually not there.

This ruling does however appear to present a window of opportunity for such infrastructure plays as Cadence Infrastructure (http://www.cadenceinfrastructure.com) who has been advocating a public-private partnership for broadband infrastructure growth. As companies increase their reliance on broadband service, such plays will become more prevalent if ruling such as this continue nationwide.

Joe Buck, NCE

Merger activity signals Telco & Cable Companies interests in Cloud Computing May 19, 2011

Posted by TelUS Consulting Services in Data Networking catagory.
comments closed

In the battle for enterprise customers, the country’s giant telecommunications and cable companies are going to the cloud.

CenturyLink, the nation’s third-largest telecommunications company, announced plans to buy Savvis, a data center services business, for $2.5 billion. Under the deal, CenturyLink will assume $700 million in debt and pay Savvis shareholders $40 a share, 11 percent above the stock’s closing price on Tuesday.

It’s a play on the boom in so-called cloud computing — the practice of using the Internet to process, manage and store data on remote network servers. It also signals an industry trend back to centralized data centers much like the days of the main frame.

As more companies shift away from on-site computer servers, demand is rising for companies like Savvis that provide hosting and data center services. Since the start of the year, several major telecommunications and cable companies have hungrily snapped up these sorts of businesses.

In January, Verizon Communications announced it’s purchase of Terremark, a provider of data storage services for large enterprises, for $1.4 billion. A month later, Time Warner Cable, the nation’s second-largest cable company, acquired Navisite, another business hosting service, for $230 million. In both deals, the acquirers agreed to pay over 30 percent more than the 30-day average prices of the two stocks.

And it is not just older communications companies fishing for cloud computing acquisitions. Data storage players have also attracted the more traditional technology giants. Hewlett-Packard, EMC and Dell have all signed multibillion dollar deals in the last 12 months.

Part of the reason companies are making these acquisitions is to find new growth engines as their traditional business segments slow. Residential markets are becoming increasingly saturated with cable installations. Traditional telecommunications companies are facing more landline disconnections as cable steps up its broadband presence.

CenturyLink, based in Monroe, La., is best known for providing voice and broadband services to rural homes across the United States. In the last year, it has pushed aggressively to expand its business, notably announcing the $10.6 billion purchase of Qwest Communications in April 2010. For CenturyLink, Qwest offered significant infrastructure, a sprawling fiber optic network, 17 data centers and a growing enterprise business. The acquisition of Savvis, with its deep portfolio of hosting solutions for businesses, will significantly expand those offerings. Last year, revenue rose 7 percent at Savvis, to $933.0 million.

Data center services companies are also becoming more attractive as businesses change the way they make their information technology purchasing decisions. With voice, broadband and wireless — and now hosting — services, traditional telco’s will be able to offer its enterprise customers more robust, bundled packages.

As the pressure to consolidate grows, analysts say, more deals are likely this year. In the sector, there are several private and public companies ripe for takeover including Rackspace Hosting, Joyent, GoGrid, SoftLayer and Internap. Of this group, Rackspace is the largest, with a market capitalization of $5.92 billion. Shares of Rackspace rose 4.2 percent on Wednesday to close at $45.80. Because of its size, the pool of eligible bidders for Rackspace is limited however it might be attractive to large companies like H.P., I.B.M., Dell or Microsoft, which could pay a premium for its strong portfolio of support services.

As the business community rushes headlong into the bandwidth consumption frenzy, one key future factor may be metered bandwidth efforts by the telco’s and MSO. If this trend continues it may even affect their investments in cloud computing as business once again balances the cost justifications of moving data to a cloud and paying for bandwidth, vs. managing internal data centers without the external bandwidth requirements. If I remember, this and the falling cost of desktop computing power were the driving forces behind the first industry move away from mainframes and centralized data centers. Stay tuned, move on this as merger mania continues.

Joe Buck, NCE

%d bloggers like this: