Next Generation Communications Blog

Alcatel-Lucent Technology News

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."

IP Convergence Delivers for Railway Operators

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

Rail communications have not been immune from the information technology revolution, but any new rail solutions need to be rock-solid since safety is on the line. Rail communications failure is just not an option.

Moving from separate network services to a converged IP/MPLS multi-service network is helping railway operations make a step-change in flexibility and efficiency while reducing total cost of ownership.

IP convergence--and IP/MPLS in particular—bring safety-related train control communications under a single unified architecture while delivering new railway communications flexibility.

One railway operations pioneer, Portugal’s REFER Telecom (the telecommunications subsidiary of Portuguese railway infrastructure manager, REFER E.P.E), has been using a fixed IP communications network since 2004. Since 2008 it has been running on IP/MPLS technology provided by Alcatel-Lucent.

Viable Carrier Wi-Fi Starts with ANDSF

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

Mobile technologies such as smartphones and tablets have made users a little more ornery. They now expect both a high quality of experience and high bandwidth availability to run their mobile devices. Yet, this can be a challenge for operators.

One solution to tackle the bandwidth issue is leveraging carrier Wi-Fi, which eases the cellular load. But Wi-Fi has historically been challenging in terms of user experience, as logins and moving between cellular reception and Wi-Fi have made the experience anything but simple and elegant.

Policy empowered carrier Wi-Fi control looks to change that, however, delivering both bandwidth and a high quality of experience. This empowered Wi-Fi is possible thanks to 3GPP, Access Network Discovery and Selection Function (ANDSF).

Managing Signaling Traffic a Must for LTE Operators

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

The first wave of large-scale LTE rollouts have shown that LTE networks have significantly greater packet core signaling volume. This is partly due to the flatter, all-IP architecture of LTE where macro and micro cells are directly connected to the mobility management entity (MME), the dedicated control plane element in the evolved packet core. This is also because of the increased overall network use that comes with subscribers who have access to a faster network.

An MME can experience a sustained signaling load of more than 500-800 messages per user equipment (UE) during the normal peak busy hours and up to 1500 messages per user per hour under adverse conditions, according to a recent blog by David Nowoswiat and Gordon Milliken of Alcatel-Lucent, Managing LTE Core Network Signaling Traffic.

This is why it is incumbent that operators intelligently manage packet core signaling.

G.fast Promises a Copper Speed Boost with VDSL2 Vectoring 2.0

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

There was a time when fiber-to the-home was seen as the future of broadband. But all that changed with the introduction of VDSL2 vectoring.

“With a single innovation, the market shifted,” noted Alcatel-Lucent colleagues Paul Spruyt and Dr. Stefaan Vanhastel in a recent blog post, The Numbers are in: Vectoring 2.0 Makes G.fast Faster. “Copper became a valuable commodity again as operators began using their copper assets to deliver fast broadband speeds faster.”

Making that copper even more valuable potentially is the new G.fast standard.

G.fast can increase aggregate bit rates over copper loops shorter than 250 m to fiber speeds of more than 1 Gb/s, the authors explained. It also delivers a cost advantage over deploying fiber directly to the home.

The trouble is that G.fast suffers from crosstalk even more than VDSL2. Tests by Bell Labs on older, unshielded cables in Austria showed that G.fast reached speeds of 500 Mb/s over 100 m when a single line was active, but they fell to a measly 60 MB/s when crosstalk was introduced as a result of a second G.fast line being added.

Playing the Mobile Data Game

If the 'price is right,' operators could win in mobile data.

By Cassidy Shield, Head of Global Solutions Marketing for Content, Cloud, and Communications, Alcatel-Lucent

I am bullish on the mobile broadband opportunity and pro mobile data share plans as an innovative approach to data pricing.  With that said, the irony of mobile data sharing plans is that you're not really sharing anything. Sure, multiple devices can pull from the same data pool, but there's no exchange of data, no bartering, and essentially no value associated with each byte.

That's how the market is today, in these early days of data sharing, but "gameification" has the potential to transform how consumers interact with their data plans.  Imagine a family of four, in fact I often imagine my family of four all on the same data plan. My wife could negotiate with our daughter, saying, "I will trade you 10 megabytes of data for doing your chores." Maybe my daughter who is quite clever doesn't want to do her chores, so he makes a similar deal with her brother. Each family could set their own rules for chore bartering, but what is interesting is that when data is treated as a currency with real value associated with it, the possibilities open up.

It's not just chore-evading children who would find this model interesting, but also advertisers and third parties. Brands are exploring every possible means to build their mobile presence, but the key lies in figuring out how to connect with mobile users by giving them what they want -- connectivity.

Network Analytics Show the Rise of Mobile Phone Malware

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

It is a scene out of a Mission Impossible movie, only the threat is real. Two product managers and a VP sit down to discuss the latest product release, one that’s been under wraps for months. While the group thinks it is safely beyond the ears of its competition, unknowingly one of those present in the meeting has had malware installed on his Android phone. The malware activates the microphone on the smartphone, and the whole meeting is taped and sent to the competition.

This nightmare scenario is unfortunately not beyond the possible these days.

Kindsight, an Alcatel-Lucent suite of solutions, leverages network-based security analytics such as its 9900 Wireless Network Guardian to reveal the latest trends on security threats to fixed and mobile networks, and its Q2 2013 Kindsight Security Labs Malware Quarterly Report reveals that the number of mobile spyware applications discovered this quarter is on the rise, according to an Alcatel-Lucent blog post, Android phones playing “I spy” at home and at work..

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