Erik Linask : Convergence Corner
Erik Linask
writer

Rich Tehrani Thoughts From California

I've been on the road in Vegas and California over the past ten days or so. Here are my thoughts. The Venetian...

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GENBAND Kandy Goes Public at Ruby Skye

Last night, GENBAND hosted a gala premiere at Ruby Skye in San Francisco for its official Kandy launch - the transitional solution...

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Peter's View: The Channel Ecosystem

I read CRAIG'S VIEW: THE NEW CHANNEL ECOSYSTEM by Craig Schlagbaum, channel chief at Comcast. My response was too long for...

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2 Ways to Maximize Your Vendor Relationship

As channel partners, we get hammered all the time to sell vendor's stuff - even if it is unreasonable or doesn't...

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The Changing Definition of the Diameter Signaling Controller and Diameter Routing Agent (DRA)

Next week, I will be speaking at the Signaling Focus Day of LTE Asia.  The signaling focus day obviously will have...

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The Cat Video Index: A Simple View of Data Costs

By: Andy Porter, Product Manager in the Payment, Policy and Charging department at Alcatel-Lucent

The Economist has its famous Big Mac index for comparing buying power across countries. But I wanted an index that focuses on the cost of mobile data usage. That meant I had to find a data-charging equivalent of the Big Mac. I needed an item that crosses cultural boundaries, is universally understood and is available worldwide.

I considered many possibilities. But the answer arrived when I saw my daughter laughing at a video of a cat playing a piano. Obviously, the mobile data equivalent of the Big Mac is the YouTube video. It’s a universally available service that is easily measured in quantitative terms, making it ideal for comparing mobile data costs.

In honor of my daughter, I chose the classic “piano-playing cat” as the baseline video. And by the way, this cat video has been viewed over 34 million times, proving its suitability as a baseline.

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THE SECRET VALUE OF VoLTE - WHAT'S IN IT FOR CONSUMERS

By: Ed Elkin, Director, IP Platforms Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent 

Today’s consumers want faster mobile broadband, and lots of it. That’s the dominant fact shaping Mobile Service Providers’ competitive strategies. So let’s look at what you can offer these valuable subscribers with voice over LTE (VoLTE).

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VoIP Testing is Needed, Test Automation is Needed More

July 15, 2009

Basically, WerkMATE is a vendor and device agnostic framework that allows automation of testing processes via a Web GUI, allowing users to cut manual testing time by as much as 80% according to research -- though Caterisano says, in his experience, that figure is closer to 50%.

CDW Snags Awards for Converged IT Solutions Expertise

June 23, 2009

Part of becoming a valued partner to both vendors and customers is the ability to leverage quality products to lower capital and operational costs, which is among the key areas of focus for CDW today, as it looks to solve networking and communications challenges for its budget conscious customers, with access to certified IT experts who are ready to help understand and address current and future business networking needs

Communications and Automation, a Match Made in Indianapolis

June 22, 2009

In other words, it places business processes onto the IP Communications system, not only creating a more efficient business, but also increasing the value of the communications solution.

Nokia Siemens Networks' Chief Welcomes Nortel Employees

June 19, 2009

In addition to providing access to a tremendous CDMA user base, the move strategically positions NSN in the growing LTE market, which could potentially include being added as a third infrastructure vendor for Verizon Wireless' LTE development.

Avaya and IBM, A Formidable UC and Security Alliance

June 11, 2009

Specifically, Avaya Aura, the company's new UC architecture, has been integrated into IBM's converged communications offerings. In addition -- and this is where the security element comes into play -- Avaya has certified IBM Security Systems' Proventia GX 5208 and Proventia Management SiteProtector SP1001 for interoperability with Avaya Aura.

Telx Opens Clifton Facility

April 23, 2009

I'm here in Clifton, New Jersey this morning, at the grand opening of Telx' latest facility and it's fourth in the greater NY area.  When we arrived, it was still pretty quiet, and the last minute preparations were still ongoing.  But shortly, Telx staff and other attendees began arriving and filling the lobby, and as I said to David Yedwab, the excitement level seems higher than what we've heard from some tradeshows this year.  

When Telx CEO Eric Shepcaro kicked off the event, the main hall, and the overflow room next door were both filled with attendees.  (Luckily, I found a place to sit and take some notes.)

 

Shepcaro began by answering the question as to why Clifton, especially when Telx already has two sites in the Manhattan and another in Weehawken, New Jersey.  He did suggest a visit to Rutt's Hut for fried hot dogs, and successful hockey and football programs (the Clifton facility is only a few miles from the Meadowlands Sports Complex) -- though that certainly wasn't an incentive for Shepcaro, himself a Rangers' fan.

 

But all joking aside, what it really came down to was the ability to provide its customers a central location for colocation, backup and recovery, and interconnection services in a network rich location within proximity to a variety of industries.  New Jersey also is among the leaders in broadband penetration (some studies put it at the top of the list of U.S.

WiFi Service Delivers Live Game Feeds to Fans at Penguins NHL Games

March 5, 2009

If you're a sports nut, you enjoy multiple angle replays of various plays when watching your favorite team play. But what about those fans sitting in the arena or stadium who can't buy a replay on the giant screens that otherwise aren't good for much?   Well, two Carnegie Mellon University engineering faculty -- Priya Narasimhan and Rajeev Gandhi -- and their students have taken the first steps to resolving that issue. No, they haven't added instant replay to stadium video displays. Instead, they have taken an easier, and more effective path, leveraging the growth of wireless communications to create a wireless video service that delivers multiple camera feeds to WiFi-enabled mobile devices.  

  The service, called YinzCam, gives fans at games the ability to view real-time replays, game stats, and player information on their WiFi-enabled handsets, including the iPod Touch.   The service was also developed with the ability to support push and pull video to users -- presumably to eventually allow users to create their own instant replays. (Maybe even highlights from out-of-town games so Greg Galitzine can keep tabs on the goals his team, which leads TMC's fantasy hockey league.)   Not surprisingly, the Carnegie Mellon group was able to get a test drive of their service with the Pittsburgh Penguins at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh. A pilot of the service has been launched there, allowing fans to use their handsets to try out YinzCam's features.   While the YinzCam service is only in its pilot phase in Pittsburgh, the potential for widespread use is limited only by the number of arenas and stadiums in the country -- or even the world. Not only are dual mode devices (not to mention the iPod Touch) being adopted at a remarkable rate, increasing the potential user base for the service -- which is currently being offered cost-free at Mellon Arena -- but opening up the service to the mobile operators exponentially increases its potential. It also creates a consistent revenue stream -- sports fans a fanatical about their favorites and are willing to pay to enhance their experience.   Furthermore, when you talk about extending to the cellular world, the service is automatically extended to fans worldwide who cannot be in attendance at games. Displaced fans are even more likely to pay for the ability to see live feeds of their teams.   With the momentum mobile video has achieved -- despite my early doubts, which I have since retracted ­-- combined with the fanaticism of sports fans, YinzCam has the real scoring potential, especially when you consider all the other applications consumers are willing to pay for.  I'd certainly consider it for the opportunity at NY Giants games.   For the time being though, Penguins' fans can relish the opportunity to use technology to enhance their in-arena experience, as they enjoy two of the NHL's youngest and most prolific stars -- Evgeni Malkin and Sydney Crosby -- battle for the scoring title.

Mobile Broadband Primed for Major Growth

February 19, 2009

I wrote yesterday about the promise in the newly announced partnership between Opera and Yahoo!, where the latest Opera Mini mobile browser will be bundled with the new Yahoo! Mobile application for smartphones.    A new study by The Nielsen Company, commissioned by Tellabs, suggests the timing of the alliance couldn't be better, as more than seven out of ten of American's surveyed say they expect to make daily use of mobile Internet and other similar services.    This revelation comes amid a major economic slump, where businesses are laying off thousands and spending is down as a whole. But, as has been suggested by many, the telecom sector, while not immune, may be better off than other industries. In fact, despite the economy, and despite their concerns about the cost, speed, and quality of service, a strong majority of respondents suggest a major increase in mobile data usage over the next year.   The survey, conducted in the U.S., and five Western European countries, included more than 50,000 consumers, suggests that, in these six markets, providers can expect mobile data services to be adopted by more than a quarter of current non-users. It also indicates an overall increase in usage -- including current users and non-users -- by more than 100 million subscribers. For comparison, that's about 40% more total subscribers than Verizon Wireless reports.   The results of the survey, announced at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, come at a time when there is significant debate as to the viability of and need for mobile infrastructure and its support, along with government support of such projects.   Not surprisingly, the consensus at the GSMA Leadership Summit was that government support is a necessity, and that the build-out of mobile broadband networks is vital to economic recovery. It will also help alleviate the concerns over the quality of mobile services among survey respondents.   Speaking to the need for providers to build out their networks and service offerings, Pat Dolan, vice president, Europe, Middle East and Africa, Tellabs, said, "By planning urgent and strategic network upgrades, operators can quickly and cost-efficiently address users' issues and meet increasing demands on networks."   As for the services most likely to be adopted by current non-users, Tellabs breaks it down:                                       U.S.         Europe Mobile Internet                         49%            34% MMS                                        38%            39% Uploading photos                      34%            27% Software/app download            30%            30% Email                                       28%            32%   Clearly, as the scope of news from the wireless community shows, mobile communications -- and mobile data services, in particular -- are in for a significant boost. It's now up to the service providers to ensure their networks are capable of handling the growth.   I suspect, given the projected growth of the mobile market, alliances like that between Opera and Yahoo! are only the beginning. And, as service providers continue to seek new ways of differentiating their services, they will also look to secure a series of new relationships that will enable them to deliver greater choice to their subscribers, as opposed to the one killer app that has for some time been the Holy Grail.

Yahoo! Partnership with Opera Sounds Good

February 18, 2009

As I wrote last month, Opera Software has a mobile browser, Opera Mini, which is well worth a try, especially when compared to many of the browsers that come standard on smartphones. I also said it should leverage the strength of its mobile application rather than trying to overtake Microsoft in the desktop browser market.   And I'm sure most of you are well aware that Yahoo! Plays second fiddle to Google in the desktop search engine space, by a long stretch.   But, the two have now combined their expertise to bring what should be an even better mobile Web experience to users. There's nothing wrong with the Yahoo! engine, and Yahoo! offers a variety of services and applications that quite good - it just isn't Google, but the company is clearly making an effort to compete in the mobile space, which isn't a bad move at all. We all know how the mobile market is evolving (which is precisely why that should be Opera's focus).   I've registered for the Beta of Yahoo!

Nortel Launches CaaS Solution to VoIP-enable Web Services

February 16, 2009

It was a mere month ago that the communications community was wondering about the future of the telecom equipment giant Nortel, though the company was quick to highlight the potential in the communications market going forward and its continuing role as a market leader.  Now, though some questions remain unanswered, the company is making a move to solidify its position again, leveraging not only its position in the carrier VoIP space, but also the growing trend towards software-based communications, launching its Communications as a Service (CaaS) Solution.   The idea behind CaaS is to enable the integration of communications capabilities into network-based services and applications. It originated from service like "click to call" or "click for assistance," which have become commonplace on static Web pages. CaaS takes this a step further, delivering communications capabilities from directly within internal or public services to create an increasingly effective and inherently more effective communications and collaboration environment.   Communications capabilities have become increasingly more widespread with the move towards mobility and the proliferation of mobile networks, services, and devices. But, as Rob Scheible, senior marketing manager, Carrier IP Voice and Multimedia Networks at Nortel points out, they invariably go through a deskphone, mobile phone, or some other multimedia interface that requires a communications session to be initiated through that separate medium. The idea behind CaaS is to eliminate that extra step and integrate the communications process directly into whatever applications or services people use in their daily activities.   "Today, the communication business is no longer about selling a phone line to a home or business," said Samih Elhage, president, Carrier VoIP and Application Solutions, Nortel. "It's about being able to easily add communication services, like conferencing, IM and video, into any online network service."   Through its CaaS Transaction Broker, Nortel will enable any number of communications services -- including conferencing, click-to-call, IM, video, and other media services -- to be easily integrated into popular Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings. According to Scheible, this includes social networking sites, online gaming, IPTV, CRM and HR applications, medical recordkeeping systems, job sites, and any other network-based service in which a user might suddenly need to communicate directly with a colleague, client, or potential customer.   Importantly, unlike its click-to-call predecessors, which often rely on best-effort VoIP, Scheible says that, with Nortel's solution, carriers are able to provide carrier-grade communications across their private networks, including any of the back-end operations they may choose to apply, like ACD to ensure call routing to a bank of operators.   He notes that a key element to the Transaction Broker is its ability to also perform accounting functions -- user verification and authentication, checking account credit, usage calculations, and any other means of tracking transactions service providers might use. This allows service providers to deliver this new wave of communications services and manage their accounting and billing aspects through a single solution.   The CaaS Transaction Broker leverages industry standard APIs, allowing for rapid deployment, even in today's multivendor networks, whether wireline, wireless, cable, or VoIP.   In rolling out its CaaS solution, Nortel also delivers a working model of the CaaS solution, having worked closely with IBM to integrate the capability into LotusLive, IBM's suite of online collaboration, conferencing, and email services. This is the first example of how the Nortel CaaS solution allows carriers to effectively create subscribers out of any individual or business in the world.    In addition to seeing an opportunity to leverage the continued growth of the SaaS industry, Nortel, after launching its Unified Communications solution with IBM last year, "Started to see how much value there was for the user in an integrated communications environment," according to Scheible. "As IBM was moving to this online, network-based environment with LotusLive, we realized there was an opportunity to create the same kind of advantage."   From the carrier perspective, he also notes that being able to deliver voice and other communications capabilities from within their existing Web applications and services offers a new recurring revenue stream --as much as an additional $10-20 per user for the addition of these voice services. In this environment, in particular, that potential is likely to create rapid demand for the solution.   But, the fact is that the combination of online services and mobility have been enabling innovative communications capabilities for many years, because of their ability to facilitate collaboration, file and document sharing, and simply access to resources and information. With Gartner estimating the CaaS opportunity to double over the next five years, this is a logical step, especially since many of these online interactions and transactions create an immediate need for further interpersonal communication, and since Nortel already has relationships with many of the worlds leading carriers, having shipped more than 100 million carrier IP ports worldwide.   "That's what it's all about," says Scheible. "It saves users from having to leave their communications environments to go to a separate device, and it doesn't involve contact look-ups or a multi-step process to initiate contact. It's generally a single click and communications starts."