Next Generation Communications Blog

Wearable Tech Expo 2014 Kicking off in NYC

My team is at the Jacob Javits Center setting up for Wearable Tech Expo 2014 which will take place Wednesday and Thursday...

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When Does WebRTC Need a Media Server? Reason #7

Tsahi Levent-Levi’s white paper, “Seven Reasons for WebRTC Server-Side Processing,” details a variety of WebRTC-related scenarios that necessitate a media server....

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How signaling spikes affect networks: 3 real-world examples

By: Josee Loudiadis, Director of Network Intelligence, Alcatel-Lucent

Data and signaling growth are usually good news for network operators, since growth often translates into higher revenues. But when growth is averaged over a month or quarter, the daily highs and lows of network activity are smoothed out. And signaling spikes remain hidden within the averages. These spikes can overwhelm available signaling capacity, which impairs the customer experience, as well as the operator’s reputation.

What happens when a spike occurs? Typically, a CPU Overload alarm appears on various mobile nodes. And the Network Operations Center (NOC) immediately starts praying that the burst is short-lived and doesn’t go over maximum peak-rate capacity. Because when that happens, all consumers are denied service access. Then, the process of identifying the source of the problem begins. This can be arduous, because it often involves applications completely out of NOC control. And the issue can’t be resolved easily without solid network analytics that enables engagement with application and device developers.

That’s the reason signaling information is a crucial part of the Alcatel-Lucent Mobile Apps Rankings report and why LTE World 2014 devotes an entire pre-conference day to the topic. It’s also why this blog offers a closer look at how some real-world disruptive signaling spikes got started — and were finally resolved.

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The Expanding Channel Programs

Not only do I see more cloud service providers looking to the channel for sales, I see other channel programs expanding....

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When Does WebRTC Need a Media Server? Reason #6

In a recent blog about the current state of WebRTC, I mentioned that readers should check out an excellent white paper...

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The Six Degrees of Mobile Data Plan Innovation: It's Not All About Data- Mobile Voice and Messaging Share Plans Offer Plenty of Appeal

Alcatel-Lucent’s Rich Crowe continues the Six Degrees of Mobile Data Plan Innovation blog series by examining the degree to which consumers are interested in share plans that include unlimited voice and messaging but don’t include data.

The last Six Degrees blog explored consumer attitudes toward two different mobile share plan options: sharing data only and sharing voice, messaging and data. This blog will explore attitudes toward a 3rd option: sharing unlimited voice and messaging — but not data — across multiple devices or subscribers.

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200G Optical Networks: What you need to know

By: Earl Kennedy, IP Transport Product Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent

Optical network operators have already made the move to 100G. But skyrocketing bandwidth demand means many are already pondering what’s next. With a 200G optical solution hitting the market, you probably have questions about when to move to 200G optical – and what you need to know when you make that move.

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Motive Mobile Device Manager Key to Better and More Cost-Effective Customer Experiences

By Mae Kowalke

The customer service challenge for cellular providers is clear.

Numerous research firms have recently published studies estimating that smartphones currently make up half of all mobile phone purchases globally and that number is expected to reach 75 percent by 2013. This is context for what is a vexing industry challenge. It turns out that more than half of all customer service calls to mobile service operators now deal with the difficult technical problems that can come from smartphones, such as mobile internet, and 63 percent of returned phones are not actually faulty.

In fact, a recent Yankee Group study notes that technical difficulties now represent a bigger percentage of call center volume than billing issues. They also represent a huge financial drain on operators.  A single support call, for example, can cost a provider roughly a month’s worth of customer profit.  This means finding ways to effectively address device configuration and service provisioning is more crucial than ever.

Bell Labs Celebrates TELSTAR Anniversary

By Susan J. Campbell

It is hard to believe but July 10 marks the 50th anniversary of the launch of TELSTAR I.  This was the first active communications satellite and its placement into orbit is considered the birth of modern multimedia global communications.

Developed and built by Bell Labs with funding from AT&T in conjunction with NASA, TELSTAR I, which was a 34 inch sphere, was a true marvel of its time.  It transformed communications. It rightfully is considered not just one of the Alcatel-Lucent research arm’s greatest historical achievements, but as President John F. Kennedy noted at the time it really was a turning point in the history of communications.

It is something worthy of a significant celebration.  

The new era TELSTAR I NASA ushered in we now take for granted — high-speed (for the time) data communications, real-time global telephone service and TV broadcasting.  
Delta launches Telstar.jpg 

2012 Global Innovation Index Released

By Mae Kowalke 

The fifth edition of the Global Innovation Index (GII)—which ranks 141 countries on the basis of innovation capabilities and results—was released last week in Geneva, Switzerland.

The index was developed by INSEAD eLab and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), with experience from knowledge partners Alcatel-Lucent, Booz & Company and the Confederation of Indian Industry.

For Alcatel-Lucent, assisting with the GII is part of its overall commitment to further innovation, the company said in a blog post. “Alcatel-Lucent is a global company with employees all over the world,” the company said. “The GII is one of the places where we can exercise this role as a global citizen, dig deeper into innovative ideas and work closely together on common objectives with other global players.”

Wi-Fi Roaming Takes the Stage --Get Ready for ANDSF and Hotspot 2.0 Capabilities

Mae Kowalke

The next major cellular technology advancement is on its way. Here comes Wi-Fi roaming.

Cellular users often switch between 3G or 4G networks to Wi-Fi to access the internet, especially as cloud services continue to grow in importance. The switch from a cellular service to a Wi-Fi network is not always seamless, especially when it requires first finding a network and then getting through a login screen.

But a group of new cellular technologies, in particular the 3GPP Access Network Discovery and Selection Function (ANDSF) and Hotspot 2.0, will change that with what amounts to Wi-Fi roaming, according to a white paper, “Wi-Fi Roaming – Building on ANDSF and Hotspot2.0,” jointly produced by Alcatel-Lucent and BT.

The War Will be Won over Customer Experience

By Mae Kowalke

The battle for the best mobile device portfolio steals the headlines with its flashy array of smartphone offerings. However, increasingly it appears that the war will be won by the mobile broadband operator who provides the best customer experience as enabled by overall quality of experience (QoE) on their network.

“To thrive in today’s competitive mobile broadband market, service providers must deliver superior QoE and enrich the customer experience,” noted Greg Owens, director of marketing for customer experience at Alcatel-Lucent, in a recent Enriching Communications article, “Customer Insights Improve Business Performance, stated that, “With growing pressure to reduce churn and increase revenues, service providers need to have a better understanding of how customers use their services.”

The Mobile Customer Experience Imperative

By: Susan Campbell

Mobile service providers throughout the world are in an interesting competitive situation. The service provided is becoming a commodity by consumers. This means that true differentiation in this market going forward will be driven by customer experience transformations, such as those enabled by Alcatel-Lucent’s portfolio of Motive Customer Experience Solutions, as traditional approaches prove to be increasingly ineffective.

Market realities today are that consumers tend to avoid brand loyalty when considering services delivered and even price points when there is little differentiation. As a result, mobile service providers by competitive necessity must pay particular attention to establishing exceptional customer experiences if they hope to achieve business success. The focus must be on building trust with customers over time and increasing customer perceptions of the value of the customer experience, rather than leveraging services and products.

Alcatel-Lucent s recently shared its view on this in a piece entitled, “Customer Experience Transformation: The Mobile Customer Experience Imperative.” It  highlights these market changes and what service providers need to be thinking about in order to be correctly positioned for success.

Alcatel-Lucent States Position on Corporate Responsibility, Sustainability

By: Susan J. Campbell

Increasingly, corporations around the world have recognized that they have a responsibility to be good stewards of the earth’s resources and to act in an ethical manner that promotes sustainability. Alcatel-Lucent considers corporate responsibility to be an important business imperative, and also believes that doing well and doing good can and should be mutually inclusive.

A recent Alcatel-Lucent 2011 Corporate Responsibility Report explores the company’s commitment to playing a key role in being a good steward. Alcatel-Lucent intends to continue its focus on not only making the communications solutions it produces eco-friendly, but doing so in a manner that also ensures they are accessible and affordable so that the full potential of a connected world can be realized.

A bold new direction in sustainability was initiated in 2011 with a focus on three core priorities:

  • Green innovation
  • Digital inclusion
  • People

Customer Experience in the Spotlight

Greg Owens, Director, Customer Experience Solutions Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent

Customers have growing expectations for mobile broadband services. Better networks, broader device support, ubiquitous connectivity and competitive prices remain essential, but they’re no longer enough to keep customers coming back for more. Today’s mobile customers demand a superior customer experience, one that focuses on making it easy to discover, use and enjoy applications, devices and services.

Service providers are feeling the pressure to deliver on these expectations.

A renewed focus on QoE

Rising smartphone use is thrusting quality of experience (QoE) back into the spotlight. Smartphones appeal to users because they promise easy access to e-mail, apps, social networking and video. But smartphones have hidden complexities. Many users struggle with smartphone setup, app configuration, usage tracking and connectivity.

The end result is that smartphone users are turning to service providers more often — with problems that take more time to resolve.

'Main-Streaming' Changing Video Game in Content Delivery Networking

By Mae Kowalke

As traditional TV collides with the internet, unprecedented changes are taking place in the video industry. The biggest trend is what Alcatel-Lucent calls ‘main-streaming:’ video streaming as the new normal mass market model for how consumers get their video.

In short, consumers want video content anywhere, anytime, on any device. In an early 2011 report, Neilson said U.S. consumers spent 34.5 percent more time watching video on the internet, and 20 percent more time watching mobile video, than they did in early 2010. No doubt that number has grown since—and will continue to grow.

Online video is popular with consumers because it satisfies an appetite for flexible consumption. Plus, the success of online services like Hulu+ and Netflix indicate customers are willing to pay for that flexibility.

Content delivery industry players like Netflix and Hulu offer video using ad-funded or direct-subscription business models. These content providers pay traditional content delivery networks (CDNs) like Amazon and Limelight to publish video content online, because doing so theoretically helps ensure quality of service (QoS).

Trouble is, CDNs are making promises they can’t keep. The structure of their platforms—where caches are located at the edge of ISP networks—simply can’t provide guaranteed adequate QoS for end users. This presents a significant opportunity for network service providers.

Customer Experience Management Key to Mobile Services Differentiation

By Susan Campbell

The mobile broadband services market has become almost hyper-competitive globally. And, it has become increasingly clear that providing superior quality of experience (QoE) to customers, end users as well as third parties, will likely be a (if not the most) critical element in creating sustainable and profitable differentiated value. As a result, mobile service provider investment attention needs to be focused not just on delivering speeds and feeds but also on all aspects of QoE. A holistic approach for concentration on customer care¸ such as the Alcatel-Lucent portfolio of Motive Customer Experience solutions, fits the needs for making sure the best possible user experiences can be provided, monitored and constantly improved.  

Why customer care, and why a comprehensive approach?

The reason is that a holistic approach to customer care is a fundamental tool for reducing vital churn rates. The bottom line is the bottom line here. Service providers (SPs) have the opportunity to make better use of the subscriber and network data to help not only make customers more loyal but also improve average revenue per user (ARPU) based on establishing a relationship that customers view as more “trusted.”  In fact, if done correctly, they can leverage the provisioning of compelling customer experiences into a powerful tool for making satisfied customers enthusiastic brand advocates.

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