Next Generation Communications Blog

SmartPhoneMan and His Interaction with Media Servers on St. Patrick's Day

Last week we made it about halfway through SmartPhoneMan’s day.  Let’s finish his day.  Right now, he’s in a rush to...

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Verizon Invites the Channel Once More

Jon Arnold wrote up a good review of Verizon's Broad Cloud offering (VCE). One glaring problem is that it targets in...

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Media Servers and St. Patrick's Day

Last week I wrote about the important role media servers play in the network.  Today is St. Patrick’s Day and let’s...

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What Can You Learn from Target?

I was reading a couple of articles about Target. The retailer has not been doing well lately, including closing all Canada...

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Media Servers Will Play an Increasingly Important Role for Telco Apps

Media servers play an important role in enabling many of the real-time communications applications many of us use every day.  When...

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How a "Wi-Fi first" strategy benefits EMEA MSOs

By: Steve Davidson, European Marketing Director for Cable, Alcatel-Lucent

From original Alcatel-Lucent TechZine posting

A Wi-Fi first strategy can help multi-system operators (MSOs) remain competitive in the evolving marketplace.  Wi-Fi enabled devices default to using the cable operator’s Wi-Fi network for voice, and cellular equipped devices can switch to cellular when out of Wi-Fi range.

Although nuances in the business drivers for adopting such a strategy vary by region globally, this model turns the traditional cellular voice paradigm on its head.

Just like other communications or media industries, MSOs face a dynamic and extremely competitive market. As a result, in EMEA, they have evolved their end-user offerings to embrace market-leading fixed high speed internet access, Wi-Fi connectivity, and bundled mobile cellular services using mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) partnerships.

As the pace of change continues to accelerate, subscribers have made a widespread move to Wi-Fi enabled smartphones and tablets. A European commission study stated that 71% of all EU wireless data traffic in 2012 was delivered to smartphones and tablets using Wi-Fi. This is expected to rise to 78% by 2016.

European MSOs have already invested in Wi-Fi and offer data connectivity services in and out of the home. This not only is a customer retention strategy, but also lets MSOs build out further value added services (VAS) and can reduce data costs of their MVNO agreements.  So if we now contemplate the delivery of voice to these Wi-Fi enabled devices, how do we get started?

Existing Mobility Assets

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Alcatel-Lucent CEO Michel Combes says Europe Must Stop its Cellular Race to the Bottom

Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

As leaders in Europe debate whether the EU is “back” during the World Economic Forum, the region is increasingly falling behind when it comes to telecommunications, according to Alcatel-Lucent CEO Michel Combes.

“There is a real danger,” noted Combes in a recent blog post on Europe’s digital divide (published in the Wall Street Journal, “that Europe is losing ground in the information era.”

That’s because there is an increasing gap between what the latest smartphones can deliver and what Europe’s telecommunications companies can support due to a price war that inhibits infrastructure upgrades.

“Europe is locked in a vicious circle of competition focused exclusively on price, one that forces operators to reduce their investments and destroys their innovation capacity,” noted Combes. “This type of competition is bad news for a digital Europe and its consumers.”

LTE Growth Explosive, According to Alcatel-Lucent Data

By Mae Kowalke, TCMnet Contributor

They like it, they really like it!

The story of 4G LTE is not just the massive infrastructure upgrade, it also is one of intense subscriber adoption as the increased data transfer capabilities of 4G LTE make themselves known.

The number of active LTE subscribers jumped an average of 20 percent per month in 2013, according to a recent Alcatel-Lucent blog post by network intelligence general manager, Patrick Tan.

Your Current IP Session Border Controller Won't Cut It Long Term

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

Conversations are changing.

In the past, people could expect to call each other, e-mail or meet in person. But the new conversation experience includes the ability to instantly interact via multimedia with others, video conference from any location and without installing special software, and seamlessly merge several different voice and chat streams.

The session border controllers currently used by many network operators are not meant to handle this complex new communications environment.

OpenTouch--Welcome to the Personal Cloud

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

What mobility has done is change the conversation. For the past 30 years, enterprise data communication was about the personal computer. But that’s shifting as smartphones and tablets have given the world the ability to more easily perform work from any device with a cellular and/or Wi-Fi connection. The cloud has then given business the ability to perform business with these devices, effectively taking enterprise computing resources and making them available to any employee with authorized access at any time.

The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend within the enterprise is the manifestation of this. And, IP-based communications of all types has also changed quite a bit driven by mobility and the cloud. Collaborative conversation is much easier, and video conferencing is easier than ever.

Helping to meet the needs of the new direction of business companies such as Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) have developed services that help enable this transformation of business.

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.

Cable MSOs Need a Flexible Network Edge

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

It seems these days that no matter how much bandwidth and services multiple systems operators (MSOs) it is not enough. Subscribers want higher quality user experiences not just for their televisions but for the exploding number of other network connected devices they possess which are multiple media bandwidth hungry. 

Even if cable MSOs can meet current demands the pressure to go faster is intense, especially when the competition is only a click and a quick connection away.  This need for speed to the market and in the market is placing increasing strains on cable system architectures and creating a need to accelerate cable network IP transformation.

As Time Warner Cable senior director and chief network architect Michael S. Kelsen has written: “Cable operators are seeing their network capacity requirements double approximately every 24 months to keep up with customer demand and the launch of new services.”

One way to cope with increasing capacity demands is ensuring cable operators have a flexible network edge. A flexible network edge helps maintain growth but reduces costs at the edge of the network by supporting the evolution of residential, commercial and even mobile services.

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