Next Generation Communications Blog

Customer Experience

How Popular Applications Can Impact Mobile Carrier Networks

By: Paula Bernier, TMC Executive Editor

Carriers’ mobile networks are extremely vulnerable to sudden changes in the signaling behavior of popular applications. In fact, Patrick McCabe, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Alcatel-Lucent, devolves into this subject in some detail in a recent blog, Google’s power to impact network signaling.  In fact, while Google Cloud Messages provide an example in the blog, the companies recent Mobile Device Report goes into the topic regarding the impact of the top mobile apps on signaling in greater detail.

SurePay Helps U.S. Mobile Operators Overcome Challenges with Flexible Prepaid Charging Options

By: Peter Bernstein, TMCnet Senior Editor

There a few things more confounding to mobile service providers in hotly contested markets than missing out on opportunities to generate more revenues and profits from what have been lightly used services.  This is particularly the case in the United States where unlike much of the world where prepaid services are the norm, it is estimated that roughly 19 percent of U.S. subscribers avail themselves of these services.

That said, and despite some cultural and addressable market challenges, U.S. mobile services providers can change the game in their favor as prepaid is already experiencing significant growth due to a variety of factors, and if done correctly is poised according to research firm Yankee Group is to grow over the next few years faster than the overall telecommunications.

Rapport Open APIs Increase Employee Productivity

By: Richard Hatheway, Director, Enterprise Communications Product Marketing, Rapport for Large Enterprise, Alcatel-Lucent

What is one of the biggest factors affecting employee productivity today? Recent studiesby the National Business Research Institute and the Pew Research Center indicate that not having the right technology tools to do their jobs is one of the most critical. From something as simple as having a cell phone to as advanced as having a customized app, having the right tool provides employees with a productivity boost.

Unfortunately though, many large enterprises are unable to take advantage of advances in technology due to old or outdated infrastructure and ICT technology silos. In addition, being locked in to one technology vendor often stymies the enterprise from being able to update the tools necessary to increase employee productivity.

For instance, something as simple as developing and deploying a new app is often a frustrating experience, as the enterprise must submit a request to the technology vendor for a new app to be developed, then wait until the vendor adds it to their development queue before finding out when to expect it. This often takes months, if not longer.

In the meantime, instead of waiting for the new app, many employees take the “shadow IT” route. They download rogue (i.e., non-IT-supported) apps that will allow them to move forward with at least some of the functionality they seek, even without IT support. While this work-around may provide some degree of productivity enhancement for the employee, wouldn’t it be better if the enterprise was able to either plug in existing best-of-breed third-party apps or develop and deploy its own apps without having to wait for a vendor to become involved?

Alcatel-Lucent thinks so, which is one of the reasons our new solution, Rapport™ for Large Enterprise, is generating so much interest. Rapport is a private cloud-based communications and collaboration solution designed specifically for the large enterprise.

Getting Past the Dark Side of Unified Communications in Large Enterprises

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

I often write about the virtues of unified communications, but a downside to UC also is emerging for large enterprises.

One of the big promises of UC was consolidating a range of disparate communications technologies and bringing them together both for a single communications experience, and also for easier deployment. Yet, the downside of this consolidation has been perhaps an over-reliance on a single vendor solution. This concentration in a single UC vendor it is limiting the ability of enterprises to adopt the latest technology as it emerges, instead having to wait on their provider or record.

With one vendor providing the entire communications technology, an inconsistency in quality also is emerging, suggests a recent blog post by Brendan Ziolo, Head of Large Enterprise Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent, 5 reasons unified communications is hurting large enterprises.

Android Malware Can and Should be Stopped at the Network Level

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet, Contributor

I just bought an Android tablet after living exclusively in the Apple iOS world for the past couple years. The cost of the cheaper Android tablet was great, and my geek side surely will enjoy the customization options in the days ahead. However, what I do not look forward to are potential security issues.

All of the reports in recent years have exposed the fact that the Android environment is more susceptible to being compromised than IoS, however, recently even that is becoming a matter of degree as cracks in the Apple armor have been exposed. The one as somebody who is in the tech industry and tries to be vigilant that should make us Android users be somewhat concerned is the Stagefright vulnerability which hopefully will not make it into the wild.

To be frank, Stagefright is pretty scary. Anyone with an Android mobile device who is vulnerable to the exploit should be thinking about it, and that’s roughly close to 1 billion devices at last count. What makes Stagefright so frightening is that it isn’t just a malware exploit that cause significant grief.  In what might be considered a perverse flip side of ease-of-use, Stagefright is unfortunately about ease-of-infection.  It loads itself onto an Android device with nothing more than an MMS message. A message with a carefully crafted media attachment can infect the Android device without any user intervention.

UCC for the 21st Century

By Richard Hatheway, Director, Enterprise Communications Product Marketing – Rapport for Large Enterprise, Alcatel-Lucent

Let’s face it, most large enterprises are stuck in a rut when it comes to unified communications and collaboration (UCC) solutions – and a 20th century rut at that.   While these enterprises would like to be more in control of their UCC and ICT infrastructure, most are not sure where or how to begin.

Large enterprises typically choose a UC solution vendor based on one primary fact – that the vendor told them they could provide everything they needed. From an enterprise perspective that makes sense. Having only one vendor eliminates additional budget requests and cycles, reduces the number of people involved, and effectively streamlines the operation.

The problem is that choosing one vendor effectively locks the enterprise into a proprietary technology silo with that vendor. Sure, the vendor may be able to provide the tools the enterprise needs, but at what price, using what technology and in what timeframe? Instead of the enterprise choosing the technologies that it needs, the vendor is now effectively in control and dictates which technologies will be used by the large enterprise.

BT leverages the power of Rapportâ„¢ APIs to drive service innovation in a 3 days hackathon

By: Gilles Duboué, Marketing Director, Communications and Collaboration, IP Platforms, Alcatel-Lucent

I crossed the English Channel to spend a few days in Ipswich. Not to explore its beautiful port but to participate in the hackathon organized by BT, hosted by its Innovation Hub in Adastral Park (7th to 9th July).

ALU.8.4.15.a.jpgHackathons are flourishing these days. These are fast, dynamic, creative
events in which software developers collaborate intensively around ideation and prototyping with specific Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and on dedicated themes such as mobile apps, internet of things, home automation, connected car, etc.

BT leveraged our Rapport APIs and Rapport Sandbox to run their first hackahon. Rapport is our communications software platform, used by service providers and large enterprises to deliver voice, video and messaging.

Sponsored Data Plans Can Help Keep Mobile Subscribers Connected

By: Paula Bernier, TMC Executive Editor 

It’s no secret that many of us these days are very attached to our smartphones and tablets. Yet for all the entertainment and value these devices – and the applications, information, and people they can access – provide, nobody likes getting bills from their wireless carriers. That’s especially true when the dollar figure at the bottom of those bills increase.

But there are some options mobile carriers might want to consider to help keep their subscribers’ data plan bills more manageable, and keep their customers happier. One way to allow for that is by introducing sponsored data charging programs.

Sponsored data charging programs are an effective way mobile carriers can help their subscribers justify the cost of connectivity, while growing their own user bases and expanding their ecosystems to include more application providers and marketers. That’s the word from Barbara Sampson, senior marketing manager for policy and charging PLM marketing, and Thomas King, manager of the policy and charging portfolio, at Alcatel-Lucent. The two wrote a recent TechZine posting, Operators benefit from sponsored data charging, that details how mobile operators can prosper with these types of programs.

CSPs Can Leverage Self-Help Apps to Unburden Help Desks

By: Paula Bernier, TMC Executive Editor

The Internet and the smartphone have altered customer expectations related to service. They have both elevated the requirement for fast results in terms of response times, and they have made consumers more comfortable with finding answers themselves using the devices in their hands and the information that is now at their fingertips.

Meanwhile, communications providers continue to expand the ever-growing number of services they offer to consumers. That now includes an array of Internet access, mobile, and TV services. The growing number of CSP services and customers also increases the potential for more help desk inquiries.

VoLTE Challenges: The Case for Integrated Policy, Charging and Diameter Signaling

By: Peter Bernstein, TMCnet Senior Editor

VoLTE Challenges: The Case for Integrated Policy, Charging and Diameter Signaling

Hopefully, Voice over LTE (VoLTE) has arrived or is coming to your preferred mobile service provider.  As mobile networks transform into end-to-end IP ones, the business case for VoLTE as a means for mobile operators to provide differentiated services, including high definition voice and multiple media ones, has become compelling and taken on a sense of urgency. 

Indeed, it is being viewed strategically as a way for service providers to distinguish their services on the basis of Quality of Experience (QoE) from 3G and OTT voice apps. It is also seen as providing competitive advantage because of its ability to enable end users to seamlessly move from a voice call to a video call, or shift from one device to another in the midst of the conversation.  It is why interest in accelerating VoLTE deployments is so high. 

However, network transformations are not easy.  VoLTE deployment and operations is an interesting case in point.  It brings unique challenges for service providers related to policy control, charging and Diameter signaling control.  Steffen Paulus, Director of Product Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent has some interesting insights worth sharing on the need for integrated policy, charging and Diameter signaling in a virtualized solution, as the path forward for VoLTE success.  This is particularly relevant in light of Alcatel-Lucent’s recent launch of its End-to-End Voice over LTE (E2E VoLTE) solution that is an integral part of the Rapport multimedia real-time communications platform which has been architected specifically to me service provider and enterprise needs.

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