Next Generation Communications Blog

Google Glass Hackathon Comes to New York

At TMC’s Wearable Tech Expo event this past summer in NYC I had a chance to meet Katy Kasmai who heads up...

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What's Driving IMS Today?

IP multimedia system (IMS) network architecture has been around for a long time.  While it was originally conceived for mobile IP...

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Optical Transport Networks Help Operators Meet Growing Traffic Requirements

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor It has been called the “data storm;” due to increased online video usage, the cloud, and mobile...

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Altair: LTE the Right Choice for M2M & IOT

Some of my early conversations about the M2M and IoT space with carriers had them explaining to me how they love these...

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Speech Analytics - Data Mining Those Recordings

When I was in Vegas for ITExpo, I participated on a Voice Analytics panel at the SmartVoice co-located conference.  Speech /...

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Defending Against an Autocomplete Smear Campaign

What would you do if you started to Google your name and Google was to suggest you complete the query with the...

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VoLTE Versus WebRTC: I didn't know it was a battle

When I talk to customers, they often ask about how WebRTC compares to voice over LTE (VoLTE), and which technology “will...

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How Service Providers Can Increase Profits from Mobile Data Services

By Mae Kowalke

When it comes to potential profits from the growth in mobile data use, network providers are sitting on a goldmine but often are not cashing in on it. What’s stopping them? Quite simply, networks that can’t keep pace with the demand.

There’s the temptation to apply brute force to this problem by simply building more network capacity the same way the existing infrastructure is designed. But it will take brains and brawn to be successful.

In this case, brains involve adopting technologies that enable on-demand quality of service (QoS) upgrades to deliver immediate, short-term boosts to network performance—for a fee. This is possible using dynamic QoS and traffic policy management to efficiently allocate network resources and generate additional revenue.

In other words, by intelligently applying technology that exists today, network providers can do more with the resources they already have, and get more leverage out of infrastructure investments.

Alcatel-Lucent calls this strategy application enablement, defined as “an industry vision that offers more effective ways to counteract the increasing gap between revenues and traffic growth” using “efficient high leverage network architecture that can provide low-cost transport for a wide range of new personalized multimedia services.”

“This solution can also generate additional revenues from application and content providers (ACPs), as well as from subscribers,” Alcatel-Lucent said in a recently published white paper.

To create high leverage networks and realize the benefits of application enablement, today’s providers must adopt new business models.













Proactive Service Assurance: Why Quality of Experience Matters

By Mae Kowalke

For mobile service providers, Quality of Experience (QoE) is today’s Quality of Service (QoS). The problem is, most service assurance tools are still operating under the old paradigm of QoS, the goal being to meet pre-defined service level agreements and key performance indicators (KPIs). This is a reactive approach rather than a proactive one, and just won’t cut it any longer.

In today’s mobile services market, successful providers are the ones that adopt a new paradigm of proactive service assurance.

“To truly meet the end-user QoE expectations that will accompany next-generation mobile networks and the advanced applications and services that end users will adopt, service providers need a proactive monitoring process that can identify, reduce, and help eliminate potential network service problems before they impact subscribers,” notes Alcatel-Lucent in a recently published whitepaper on QoE.


Using IMS to Develop and Deliver Better Mobile Applications and Services

By Mae Kowalke

People have been talking about IP multimedia subsystem (IMS) for years, touting it as one of the next big things for next generation delivery of mobile services. What exactly is IMS and how can it help providers transform the development and delivery of services consumers are willing to pay for?

From a technical standpoint, IMS can be defined as an architectural framework designed to make possible the delivery of Internet Protocol services. This framework mostly uses protocols—like Session Initiation Protocol (IMS)—developed by the Internet Engineering Task Force.

By design, IMS is not intended to standardize applications; instead, its underlying purpose is create a form of fixed-mobile convergence by making multimedia and voice applications easier to access from both wireline and wireless terminals.



Alcatel-Lucent Helps Bring Energy Metering to Pennsylvania

By Mae Kowalke

In the three Rs of the environmental movement—reduce, reuse, recycle—reduce comes first because in the long run it’s less expensive to use fewer resources than to recover resources once they’ve already been used.

The same principle holds true in the area of energy. Technology that helps with energy efficiency might not seem as exciting as the development of renewable energy sources, but it can make a big difference in terms of cost and impact on the environment.

In its entry for energy conservation, Wikipedia points out that one way technology can help is by “allowing energy users, business and residential, to see graphically the impact their energy use can have on their workplace or homes,” and by providing smart metering solutions to help people change their energy use behaviors with minimal impact on their daily activities.

Communications technology company Alcatel-Lucent takes the idea of energy efficiency seriously, and is working with customers to help them achieve sustainability goals. Case in point: a solution being developed for Exelon Corporation’s electric and natural gas utility subsidiary PECO in Philadelphia, which will bring updated metering technology to 1.6 million Pennsylvania customers.

PECO is embarking on a ten-year metering technology upgrade project, and selected Alcatel-Lucent to build an IP-based optical communications network to support the system’s goal: give residential and commercial customers in southeastern Pennsylvania the information they need to effectively use and save energy.

“By deploying a network that combines optical, IP and microwave technology, PECO will have the ability to transmit mission critical data and applications to and from its control centers automatically, so customers can rapidly and efficiently control individual energy usage,” explained Eric Thomas, VP of Alcatel-Lucent’s strategic industries division for North America, in a statement to the press.

Alcatel-Lucent is providing a converged IP/MPLS network, a gigabit Ethernet switch designed for demanding operational environments, a microwave packet radio and long-haul system, and a portfolio of network integration services. Together, these will deliver service seamlessly across fiber and microwave technologies, and optimize service delivery regardless of operating conditions.

IP traffic engineering and design, circuit provisioning, maintenance services and project management will also be provided by Alcatel-Lucent.

Alcatel-Lucent’s mission to make a difference doesn’t end in the energy sector. The company also recently teamed up with nonprofit World Education in a $6 million global initiative (ConnnectED) to provide educational and digital skills training for children and teens in disadvantaged communities.

















Optimizing Mobile Broadband Profits through Enhanced Customer Care

By Mae Kowalke

For today’s service providers, the most important—and often untapped—source of revenue is mobile broadband. The challenge is that, as the market continues to mature, this very source of revenue is becoming commoditized and providers are finding it more and more difficult to differentiate services and keep those offerings profitable.

The simple truth is that competing on price and network capacity alone no longer cuts it. What’s needed is a return to the basics of maximizing overall customer experience.

“With strategies that leverage their unique customer intelligence and deliver it where and when it’s needed most, service providers can turn their customer support operations into profitable assets that transform the customer experience,” said Alcatel-Lucent in a new white paper about mobile broadband.

Understanding what will really create loyal customers means taking a long, hard look at the typical client experience, and then finding a way to remove all negative aspects of that experience and build on the good aspects.

“Many customers encounter complex problems from the moment they begin using their mobile devices,” Alcatel-Lucent points out in its white paper. “Customers need guidance on practically every aspect of use, from connectivity and device configuration to billing, data usage and e-mail setup. But when they contact service provider help desks, they often reach agents who can’t help them solve their problems.”

The resulting frustration is not good for anyone involved.

In its white paper, Alcatel-Lucent cites TeleManagement Forum’s definition for customer experience:  “the result of the sum of observations, perceptions, thoughts and feelings arising from interactions and relationships between customers and their service providers.”

Customer experience is formed from every touch point, direct and indirect, adding up to an overall perception of the provider, which impacts the customer’s loyalty.















Alcatel-Lucent, PowerTrunk Partner on North America's First TETRA LMR Trial for NJ Transit

By Beecher Tuttle

Telecom giant Alcatel-Lucent and mobile radio solutions provider PowerTrunk recently wrapped up a very successful trial of a TETRA/LMR network (Terrestrial Trunked Radio/Land Mobile Radio).

The trial, which was the first of its kind to be completed in the United States, enabled New Jersey Transit buses to stay connected with operations personnel using next-generation voice and data technologies.

Formerly known as Trans-European Trunked Radio, TETRA is a digital trunked mobile radio standard that is commonly utilized in Europe and other locations outside of North America. Public-safety agencies, utilities and transportation companies in more than 100 countries currently embrace the technology, but New Jersey Transit is the first to do so in the U.S., Mexico or Canada.

The TETRA network was a strong fit for the nation's largest statewide transportation system because it is proven to provide higher data bandwidth than New Jersey Transit's current network, which is very limited and not spectrally efficient.

Alcatel-Lucent, Vodafone Germany Collaborate on Comprehensive Enterprise Communication Solution for Mid-Sized Organizations

By Beecher Tuttle

In an effort to provide small- and medium-sized enterprises with a seamless and efficient next-generation communication platform, telecom giants Alcatel-Lucent and Vodafone Germany recently announced that they will be partnering on a comprehensive new solution.

The motivation behind creating the new package, known as "Business PBX," was due to the noticeable lack of end-to-end enterprise communication solutions for smaller organizations, which don't have the resources necessary to adopt today's traditional converged communication platforms, according to a company release.

Marketed by Vodafone Germany, Business PBX is made up of several key Alcatel-Lucent components, including its Business integrated Communication Solution (BiCS) and related end-user devices. The platform is designed to provide medium-sized enterprises with an all-encompassing communication solution that is extremely intuitive and easy to maintain.

Each crucial function of the Business PBX is pre-installed on the BiCS platform and can be utilized immediately following installation.



How Can Small Cell APIs Help Service Providers Create New Revenue Opportunities?

By Mae Kowalke

Service providers looking for a way to boost indoor coverage for wireless networks are increasingly turning to small cell application programming interfaces (APIs), more commonly referred to as femtocells.

A femtocell is best defined as a small, cellular base station that connects to a service provider’s network using broadband. Femtocells are most commonly used in homes or small businesses, and are typically capable of supporting connections for up to 16 active mobile phones.

“A femtocell allows service providers to extend service coverage indoors, especially where access would otherwise be limited or unavailable,” notes Wikipedia. “Although much attention is focused on WCDMA, the concept is applicable to all standards, including GSM, CDMA2000, TD-SCDMA, WiMAX and LTE solutions.”

Femtocells are especially attractive because they don’t use much power and are capable of providing 5-bar signal strength for ‘dead zones’—indoors and out. Dell’Oro Group predicts that shipments of small cell base stations will increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 163 percent during the next four years, reaching 61.8 million units by 2014.

Alcatel-Lucent notes that small cells offer improved coverage and additional network capacity for applications like presence and services like location information. For service providers, small cell APIs represent a significant opportunity to grow revenues.









How Can Outsourcing Operations Improve Network Performance While Reducing Costs?

By Mae Kowalke

Emerging markets tend to be very attractive to service providers, because they have the potential for significant future growth. There’s also a lot of inherent risk, however, in launching services in unproven markets.

This is one instance where a strategic partnership can alleviate some of the risk. That’s the approach Bharti Airtel took when deploying a new, first-of-its-kind business in India, offering managed broadband services.

In a video case study about the launch of this new business, Bharti Airtel’s director of networks and technology, Joachim Horn, explained the attraction of India and why it made sense to partner with Alcatel-Lucent on this venture.

India, Horn explained, is a very vibrant market; telecom penetration there is still only at about 35 percent. Bharti Airtel has about 110 million customers and is a market leader, so it knew that launching managed services in India could be done viably. But, the company faced stiff competition from many other operators.







IMS VoIP the Best Method to Help Operators Realize LTE's Potential

By Tracey Schelmetic

Today, the popularity of smartphone devices such as the iPhone, Android-based devices and BlackBerry, together with the video and social networking capabilities they enable (and users expect) is rapidly outpacing existing 3G technology's ability to deliver services. Mobile operators are in a bit of a dither over pricing plans for mobile data: witness the switches that AT&T and Verizon have effected in their pricing plans last year and during the early months of this year. None of these operators wants to reduce service usage – that won't go over well with either subscribers or stakeholders expecting growth. So most operators are preferring to increase subscribers’ usage of mobile data by deploying LTE (Long-Term Evolution), a next-generation mobile standard. Among other things, LTE is expected to solve today’s pressing needs for increased mobile data bandwidth as more and more people begin using smartphones and toting tablet computers, writes Alcatel-Lucent in a new white paper entitled, “What's Next for Mobile Voice?

LTE has gained worldwide support by vendors and operators as the preferred broadband evolution path.



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