Next Generation Communications Blog

Alcatel-Lucent Technology News

IP Migration Picking Up Speed among Utilities

Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

A few years ago, the idea of a smart grid and things such as smart metering was the stuff of science fiction. But thanks to recent innovations, a utility that is not working on a migration to IP is behind the curve.

In this second of a three-part series on the value of the migration utility infrastructure to IP as the means to enable and enhance the value of smart grids, we look at an expert’s view of the challenges as highlighted in a recent GridTalk posting by Bart Vrancken, utilities solutions architect at Alcatel-Lucent, who noted, “Utilities telecom used to be very simple, handled in the background with a very small team…The explosive growth in intelligent grid devices with communication capabilities was not foreseen at all several years back. But now we see numerous examples of customers deploying these technologies.”

IP Network Investments Enable Enhanced Smart Grid Value

Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

The future of the smart grid looks bright. Innovations such as IP/MPLS network connectivity and the desirability to all potential stakeholders in smart cities projects have helped propel smart grid spending in general and investment in the enabling networks. In addition, government programs such as the U. S. Smart Grid Investment Grant Program have pumped $7.8 billion into smart grid systems with accelerated activities taking place around the world. In fact, driven initially by government stimulus, investments by the electric power industry in IP technology is accelerating, with US$200 trillion projected in global expenditures by 2030.

In short, the networking piece of smart grid deployments is critical, as the migration of utility infrastructure to meet the needs to remotely monitor and manage their grids grows in complexity.  “The new IP/MPLS technologies offer a great deal of benefits within the utility in cost savings, operational efficiency and cost savings, and they also mandate a new way to operate, bridging those traditional organizational silos,” noted Mark Burke, VP of Intelligent Networks and Communications for DNV – GL, in a recent GridTalk posting.

Enterprises Need a Converged Network to Meet Current and Future Requirements

Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

Bring-your-own-device, mobile video, virtualization and a greater need for quality of service have prompted the need to rethink the network. In fact, the exponential increase in traffic has added a sense of urgency on the part of enterprises to upgrade their networks.

What’s needed is a converged network, according to a recent paper by Alcatel-Lucent (ALU). Enterprise Converged Network Solution, which carries the subtitle, Deliver a Consistent and Quality User Experience, Streamline Operations and Reduce Costs.  With a long and deep history of providing state-of-the-art enterprise networks, ALY is advocating a converted, application-aware network that accounts for the latest evolutions in computing, yet is a resilient enough to meet both today’s needs and those of tomorrow.

Cable MSO Discovers the Benefits of 10G EPON

Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

Bright House Networks loved its 1G Ethernet passive optical network (EPON). But there was just one problem: demand was increasing, and 1G EPON was quickly becoming not enough.

The cable multiple system operator, the sixth largest owner and operator of cable systems in the United States, serves roughly 2.5 million subscribers with its video, high-speed data, home security and automation and voice services.

Bright House Networks is a proponent of EPON because it allows the company to provision multiple customers onto one fiber and still provide dedicated bandwidth without oversubscription. It is their preferred way to accelerate the transformation of their network to an all IP ultra-broadband infrastructure.

IP/MPLS Enables Robust Public Safety Capabilities for Calgary

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

This is the third in a series of blogs that have taken a look at natural disaster communications and how public safety organizations around the world a leveraging next generation communications to better prepare and respond to emergencies.

In this final installment, the focus is on the Canadian city of Calgary which had catastrophic flooding in June. But it also got lucky.

That’s because just as the worst flooding in the history of the city was overflowing the riverbanks and flooding downtown, taking down infrastructure as it went, Calgary was testing its new, next-generation IP/MPLS-based network infrastructure.

As its infrastructure was endangered by the flooding, the city’s IT team was able to move over to this new system and start the migration of 50 remote locations in a matter of hours, preserving its essential communications needed to deal with the flooding and preserve business continuity.

Social Media Increasingly Plays a Big Role in Public Safety

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

Middle Eastern revolutions and national ad campaigns are not the only situations that benefit from social media. Natural disaster communications also can be greatly helped by effectively harnessing the opportunities of social media.

“Communication reliability depends upon how we engage through the media, and new media is the conduit through which we negotiate those relationships,” noted Marya L. Doerfel Ph.D., an associate professor at Rutgers University who focuses on natural disaster communications in a recent Alcatel-Lucent LifeTalk article, Social Media, Relationships Boost Emergency Communications

Ultra-Fast Broadband the Path to End-to-End IP Telephony and PSTN Migration

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

The TDM-based public switched telephone network (PSTN) still brings in revenue, but operators need to start thinking about PSTN transformation as vendors start to move away from TDM equipment support and existing revenue from the PSTN network dries up.

Adding fuel to the need for PSTN transformation is the increasing cost of maintaining the PSTN network.

The direction of the PSTN migration is clear.  Operators need to move to an IP-based network. This has been an inevitable and desirable trend for many years. In addition, it presents the opportunity for operators to converge their voice and data services onto a single network architecture that can drive revenue and cost reductions.

Scaling Microwave Networks Effectively Requires a Mix of Optimization Techniques

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

The data storm kicked up by the rise in data use from smartphones and tablet computers necessitates a focus on scaling microwave capacity efficiently.

Microwave networks can be adjusted for spectral efficiency on a link-by-link basis, but this is not practical. What’s needed is a network-based approach such as that used in the Alcatel-Lucent 9500 Microwave Packet Radio that can avoid optimizations that are only valid on a small scale, and reduce the amount of spectrum used to help save rights-of-use costs.

According to a recent Alcatel-Lucent TechZine article, operators have two good microwave scaling methods at their disposal on the topic, hierarchical quadrature amplitude modulation (HQAM) and packet compression.

Next Generation Public Safety Communications is a High Priority for Houston

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

It might be an understatement to say that Harris County in Texas takes its public safety first-responder communications seriously.

The county, which encompasses the fourth largest city in the United States, Houston, also is home to the country’s petrochemical industry. The county also is no stranger to natural disasters.  Hurricanes are common for the area, and big one named Hurricane Ike ripped through the region in 2008. In fact, Hurricane Ike was the third most costly storm in U.S. history, and $60 million has gone toward the recovery effort with another $100 million committed for the future.

As a result, natural disaster communications for enabling not just fast response during a crisis but also for preparations and dealing with the aftermath has been recognized as a top priority. The county believes that to best protect its citizens and give first-responders the capabilities they need to work in a high-performance manners is to have a communications network that is second to none. A next generation public safety communications network is the one thing they know they cannot do without when a natural disaster strikes.

MPLS-Based Networks Keep Public Safety Communications Humming

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

When it comes to first responder communications, network quality matters a lot. Public safety organizations need reliable, secure communications networks.

Traditionally, public safety networks have used plesiochronous digital hierarchy (PDH), synchronous digital hierarchy (SDH) or synchronous optical network (SONET) TDM technologies for their networks. But as communications have evolved, TDM is proving insufficient for IP-based voice, video and data systems.

“Many public safety communications networks are evolving to broadband solutions which utilize an IP WAN for first responder radio networks, video surveillance, LTE, improved interoperability, and better integration with growing IT applications, noted a recent white paper on the topic by Alcatel-Lucent, "Mission-Critical Communications Networks for Public Safety."

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