News Release

Astral Telecom Chooses BearingPoint and Cisco Solution to Support Expansion Into Voice Over IP Services

Cable operator works with BearingPoint and Cisco to take advantage of deregulation of voice market in Romania
May 20, 2003

BUCHAREST, Romania, May 20, 2003 - Cisco Systems today announced that together with BearingPoint, Inc. (NYSE:BE), one of the world's largest business consulting and systems integration firms, the two companies will work to help Astral Telecom, the Romanian broadband cable television operator, provide Voice Over IP (VoIP) services to its subscriber base.

"Our business is always evolving, and so adding voice services over our existing broadband cable infrastructure is a natural progression for us," said Aurel Costea, General Manager at Astral Telecom. "The Cisco DOCSIS-based cable architecture has helped us to implement Quality of Service policies effectively throughout our network. In the end, we opted for the BearingPoint and Cisco solution because we recognized that a reliable infrastructure and robust service would ultimately help to us to win more new customers for our services."

Cisco's strategic alliance relationship with BearingPoint played a key role in working with Astral to integrate and implement a combined solution for primary-line voice services over the broadband cable infrastructure. Today, Astral Telecom, one of Romania's largest cable TV operators, is providing cable TV to 650,000 subscribers in over 100 towns and data services to over 9000 online customers in more than 20 cities.

"Astral has been quick to take advantage of the new opportunities presented by the deregulation of the Romanian telecom market," commented Michael Bayer, director of service provider marketing, Cisco Systems EMEA. "By selecting technologies that fully support the delivery of data, voice and video services, Astral has been able to harness the full potential of its existing cable infrastructure, and can now broaden its service offering to customers, opening new revenue streams."

The combined class 5 VoIP solution, which integrates BearingPoint's Infonova solution with the Cisco architecture, will help Astral deliver both on-net and off-net call switching capabilities, as well as services such as local number portability and voicemail. BearingPoint's Infonova solution also provides OSS/BSS systems to help Astral provision and bill the company's VoIP subscribers.

"This project can demonstrate how Astral can offer subscribers a new generation of telecommunications service," commented Michael Blaschitz, vice president, product development, BearingPoint. "Astral can offer the type of new products and services that consumers may seek in the burgeoning Romanian telecommunications market."

Astral customers will be able to connect standard telephones to the Voice Over IP service via analogue ports on cable modems. Business customers or users preferring to use the full functionality of IP phones will be able to connect IP phones by using standard Ethernet interfaces.

Astral will deploy the carrier class, PacketCable 1.0 qualified Cisco uBR10012 cable modem termination system (CMTS) including the Cisco DOCSIS-based MC5X20S high density, high performance Broadband Processing Engine. The operator is also deploying the Cisco PGW 2200 PSTN Gateway and AS5000 Series Universal Gateways to provide SS7 connection and VoIP transit services, connecting to carriers including Romtelecom. This helps ensure that Astral's voice customers can interconnect with PSTN users throughout Romania and internationally. The PGW 2200 is helping enable Astral Telecom to become the first broadband voice operator to interconnect to Romtelecom since de-regulation in Romania.

Astral's cable network architecture also comprises Catalyst 6500 series switches and Cisco 7500 series routers.

About Astral Telecom

Astral Telecom began its operations back in 1993 and positioned itself as a local cable television operator with headquarters in one of the most important historical and cultural centres of Transylvania - Cluj Napoca. Astral Telecom developed and successfully expanded its services on a national level and by the beginning of 2003, had grown into a national communication services provider (CSP) with a strong presence in over 650.000 residences in over 100 cities. The company's full Internet services are available in over 20 of the most important Romanian cities, counting an increase of 50% of the online Internet client accounts in 2002. Astral Telecom launched international voice services in March 2003 and IP telephony services in April 2003.

Astral's services include: Cable television, international voice services, IP telephony services, Internet and data services (TV cable, optical fiber, radio and leased lines) free webmail and WEB services, VPN, video conference services, voice services, advertising services on its own channel and web products:;;;