Next Generation Communications Blog

IBM, Mitel, Wearable Tech round out Latest ITEXPO News

Its been an amazing ITEXPO so far - wow. In case you missed some of the happenings from day 1, here are...

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3 Reasons UC Deployments Fail

Just getting ink on a Unified Communications deal is just the beginning. So many deployments go wrong or worse the company...

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Small Cells are Key to Attracting and Keeping SMB and Large Enterprise Customers

By: Peter Bernstein, TMCnet Senior Editor

To say that operators of macro-cellular physical networks are facing all type of challenges these days would be an understatement.  These range from spectrum scarcity issues, competitive pricing pressures, the need to build out LTE networks ASAP as platforms for new services and to meet the insatiable appetite of users for things like streamed and real-time video, getting ready for the Internet of Things (IoT) etc.  They also are busy figuring out how to keep users, particularly enterprise users on their smart devices always and all ways on their networks in an increasingly fickle world where alternatives abound, including for value-added traffic lost to Over-the-Top (OTT) providers.  

It is to keep enterprise customers on the mobile service provider networks for enhanced services that good in-building wireless solutions are seen as both a powerful business tool and a competitive advantage.  This is particularly true when it comes to retaining small-to-medium business customers (SMBs).

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Changing the SIM game

The iPad Air 2 with Wi-Fi + Cellular models comes with a SIM  that “gives you the flexibility to choose from...

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WebRTC and the Enterprise

I was reading an article titled, “How WebRTC can serve the Enterprise” but when I originally saw the headline I thought...

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Jeff Pulver, Andy Abramson, Craig Walker, Alon Cohen, Mike Tribolet, Andy Voss and Danny Windham at ITEXPO Next Week

Panel to celebrate 20 years of IP communications/VoIP and discuss its future. Next week at the 29th ITEXPO, I get the pleasure...

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Alcatel-Lucent CEO Michel Combes on Importance of Bringing Ultra-Broadband to Africa

By: Peter Bernstein, TMCnet Senior Editor

It may be almost cliché to say we live in a global economy, but many times when globalization is discussed the focus is on developed and emerging markets and not that often, if at all, on under-developed regions.  In fact, in the past few years until the recent drop in oil prices, much of the financial community’s and economic development interests has been focused on the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa).  This leaves out not just most of South America, but the promising rest of Africa which contains a wealth of rare minerals and other natural resources waiting to be literally and figuratively mined.

However, for most of the African continent countries to move from under-developed status, along with toward political stability and having a educated citizenry, infrastructure needs to be in place which it currently is not. This means not just giving the populace access to clean water and energy, but in a digital world ubiquitous and affordable access to businesses and individuals to high-speed broadband communications is now not just a foundation but a pre-condition that is essential for moving ahead.  

In this regard it is enlightening, refreshing and significant that Alcatel-Lucent CEO Michel Combes recently wrote a corporate blog stressing the company’s interest in working with governments and commercial interests to help accelerate economic development across the continent.  This about not just about the Oscar winning movie of several years ago “Out of Africa”, but is also about around, into and across Africa. 

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No 'One-Size-Fits-All' Path to Improving the Customer Experience

By Erin Harrison 

In this day in age, no matter what business you are in, the customer is king.

As we touched on last week (and commands further attention), European telecom operators are not cutting it when it comes to delivering a stellar – or even an adequate – customer experience. This weakened Quality of Experience (QoE) tendency is forcing tech-savvy consumers to side with the company that is most responsive to their communications needs and not necessarily the one that offers a specific kind of service.

Typically consumers base their requirements on the strength, speed and coverage of their network, the depth and breadth of their product and services portfolio and, least of all, price. But this is the case no longer.

A recent study conducted in EMEA by European Communications – the results of which appear in a recent special edition, “Customer Experience” – found overwhelmingly that telecom operators are losing their edge when it comes to QoE. Alarmingly, only17 percent of operators say they have a 360-degree view of their customers.

Green Telecom & IT Workshop by IISc and Bell Labs

By Vikram Srinivasan, Director, Networking Systems Research, Bell Labs, India

The GreenTouch consortium was formed with the ambitious goal of inventing new technologies that could reduce the energy expenditure of telecommunication networks by a factor of 1000 by 2015. Two of the newest members of the consortium are the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi and the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, two premier research institutes in India.  We recognized that India faces certain unique challenges and Green is not only far more relevant in emerging markets such as India, but also that emerging markets require certain unique technical challenges in the field of Green Networking. With this in mind, the Green Telecom and IT Workshop was co-organized by Bell Labs and IISc with support from GreenTouch to explore collaborative opportunities, on April 4-5, 2012.

Telecom Operators Need to Improve Leadership, Customer Experience Management

By Erin Harrison

We won’t sugarcoat it: European telecom operators are not reaching their full market potential due to a lack of leadership and customer visibility. In fact, just 12 percent of C-suite executives are leading the customer experience agenda at major operators, according to a new survey conducted by European Communications—the results of which appear in a recent special edition, “Customer Experience.”   

Of concern, no one is leading a customer experience effort in 8 percent of operators. In a majority of cases, (41 percent) individual managers are taking it upon themselves, while for 39 percent of respondents, a dedicated customer experience manager has been put in charge.

While the findings cast a negative shadow on the customer experience focus by European service providers (SPs), the study’s results should be motivation for the SPs’ IT decision makers who want to turnaround their customer experience efforts and become more profitable.

A lack of coherent leadership naturally feeds down to a fragmented implementation of strategy. Although a majority of operators (45 percent) said customer experience is treated as an integral part of everything their organization does across all business units, that means a majority does not.

Coherent Technology Enables the Seamless Upgrade to 100 Gb/s

Susan J. Campbell

The demand for data consumption and rich multimedia interactions is driving the call for 100 Gb/s. Fortunately, coherent technology in high-performance electro-optics engines enable the cost and performance benefits of such transmissions to be viable commercially. 

A recent Alcatel-Lucent TechZine article by Sam Bucci, Vice President and General Manager, Terrestrial Optics, entitled, Coherent Technology: Making 100 Gb/s Viable, focused on how fiber impairments can decrease the performance and quality of the data transmission as speeds increase. It made a compelling case that such impairment can be overcome with coherent technology which ensures performance and cost benefits are optimized.

Optimizing Networks in a Demand for Video Everywhere Era

By Mae Kowalke 

In my blog last week, I focused on some of the changes and challenges in digital media delivery that vendors likeVelocix (an Alcatel-Lucent company) are developing to help service providers maximize the quality of end user experiences while minimizing network traffic.  In that piece I cited the first article in a two part series by Richard Gibbs, Vice President Worldwide Technical and Business Consulting at Velocix’s article in the Alcatel-Lucent e-zine TechZine, “A New Approach to Publishing and Caching Video.”  It focused on the architecture and design considerations for a Content Delivery Network (CDN).  This post picks up the story with the second Gibbs post, “Optimize Delivery to Meet Demand for “Video Everywhere,” which looks in detail at the delivery, management and control functions needed for efficient CDN operation.

Consumer Demand Drives LTE and Creates Wireless Carrier Success

By Mae Kowalke

In the U.S., it is no secret that there is a substantial customer as well political interest in seeing that under-served areas have access to state-of-the art communications networks.  In fact, it can be argued that the data needs of such critical parts of the economy as agriculture and oil and gas exploration are as intense if not more so than those of industries in densely populated areas.  Plus, the desires and expectations of families in the areas are no less important than they are to families in other areas of the country.

What all of this translates into is that while fiber optics and WiFi have allowed most Americans broadband access vast parts of the U.S. have remained under-served for broadband.  All of that is changing.  As the major wired carriers continue to fiber their franchise areas and the national wireless carriers rush to deploy 4G LTE networks, WiFi hotspots, femtocells, etc.  Alcatel-Lucent has been leveraging the capabilities of its lightRadio™ portfolio of solutions to help mobile operators who serve less populous areas provide high-seed services to their customers at price points and performance capabilities that enable customers to enjoy the advantages of next generation devices and all the Internet has to offer in terms of content and applications. And, it allows the operators to do so at competitive prices and at a profit.     

A Holistic Approach is Necessary for Quality Customer Experiences

By Mae Kowalke

For the hotly competitive world of mobile communications service providers, it’s no longer enough simply to provide fast, reliable connections for a variety of devices at competitive rates.  

A recent article in the Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) e-zine Enriching Communications titled, “Taking Care of the Customer Experience,” co-authored by ALU’s Ben Geller, Senior Director of Marketing and Oliver Krahn, Customer Experience Transformation Growth Program Leader, on this subject is worth a read. They explain how, “Service providers are learning that they cannot differentiate with devices, services or pricing.”  This is clearly a dramatic change from the past.   

Digital Media Delivery Innovations Maximize Video QoE and Minimize Network Traffic

Mae Kowalke

As the consumer appetite for online video content grows, communication service providers (CSPs) find themselves increasingly marginalized in the market. Video content is usually delivered by third-party providers (e.g. companies such as BBC, Hulu, Netflix, CANAL+), which have their own relationships with end users and therefore earn any resulting incremental revenue.

Given marketplace realities, CSPs need to broaden their core businesses beyond merely providing connectivity. They must also offer enhanced digital media delivery. Doing this successfully requires innovative new methods of publishing/storage and caching using next generation content delivery networks (CDNs). These networks enable CSPs to transform themselves into entertainment providers and also allow them to leverage their networks without creating traffic bottlenecks near servers.

Demand for Connected Services Drives Need for Customer Experience Solutions

By Erin Harrison

Demand for broadband services is growing at an explosive pace as consumers look for richer and more personalized connected customer experiences. But service providers’ fast and reliable networks can’t win over every customer. In addition, competition from new brands is making it tougher to differentiate with devices, services and pricing. In short, to stay competitive, service providers (SPs) have an imperative to cater to the needs of the market that goes beyond traditional approaches.

While consumers are aware that new technologies can bring added complexity, they also expect their devices and services to keep bringing them simpler and more compelling experiences. Based on these trends, SPs need new differentiators to remain competitive. To stand out and deliver market leading customer experiences, SPs need to make their offers easier to buy, easier to use with more user-friendly options for payment.

Alcatel-Lucent’s Motive portfolio of solutions offers a four-pronged approach for SPs to step up their games.

LTE is Changing Public Transportation Operational Security

By Erin Harrison

Long-term evolution (LTE) is driving many changes in the IT landscape, not the least of which is operational security in mass transit. Railway operators and law enforcement agencies are using a range of CCTV technologies in a variety of situations to improve public safety.  Alcatel-Lucent’s TrackTalk e-zine is a great source for information and insights on what LTE can do for enabling a host of capabilities including significantly upgrading in a cost-effective manner video surveillance, IP camera monitoring and what the future of CCTV and surveillance will look like.

In a recent article that takes an expert view perspective, aptly titled, The Changing Face of Operational Security, Jeremy Haskey, Transportation System Integration Division, Alcatel-Lucent notes that, “The hype surrounding the development of LTE is justified…With greater capacity, it has the potential to revolutionize video surveillance by carrying live high-definition video to individual handheld devices carried by security personnel, staff in control centers or directly to the emergency services. The HD images will improve zoom quality making grainy images associated with current CCTV applications a thing of the past.”

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