Next Generation Communications Blog

Why Aren't You My Customer?

COMPTEL had a sales training session for attendees with Stephen Schiffman. Schiffman has written 50+ books in his 35 year career...

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How Imagine Communications is Bringing Video Distribution to the cloud and Beyond

At the end of 2014 I declared Imagine Communications one of the companies to watch in 2015, specifically stating: The video industry...

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The Race to Gigabit is About Business

The cable companies racing to Gigabit networks isn't about delivering ultra-fast broadband to consumers. The Gigabit announcements get them good PR...

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Four Ways Cable Operators Can Boost the Customer Experience

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

The customer experience has always mattered, but its importance has grown in recent years. This has been driven by increased global competition, including the almost instant availability of alternations, and the rising expectations by fickle and informed consumer. Yet, cable operators have a long way to travel if they want to deliver the customer experience (CX) that consumers demand.

The Temkin Group’s Q3 2014 survey of 10,000 US consumers’ opinions about goods and services registered the lowest ranking average Net Promoter Score (NPS) for pay TV providers, a telling statistic. Internet service providers did almost as poorly, coming in only one position higher.

“As technology innovations drive shifts in consumer behavior and open new service opportunities, operators must start eliminating pain points,” stressed Alcatel-Lucent’s Nicholas Cadwgan in a recent TechZine article, Cable MSOs transform the customer experience. “This includes any obstacles that will impede their ability to launch and provide adequate care and quality assurance for those services.”

Cadwgan lays out four customer experience management (CEM) areas that cable operators should focus on.

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HP Can't Compete in Public Cloud as Amazon Machine Learning Launches

There are long-term trends in technology we all know are happening. Computers will get more powerful. More devices will be connected. Finally,...

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Citrix and Grasshopper Make a Good Pair

Citrix has many products - DaaS, NetScaler, ZenApp, SingleSignon and the GoTo suite of products: GoToAssist, GoToMyPC, GoToMeeting, GoToTraining, GoToWebinar, Podio...

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Railway Operators Moving to IP/MPLS for many Good Reasons

By:  Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

As greater demand is being placed on Railway operators to deliver services that are more bandwidth hungry, many are starting to make the switch away from the SONET/SDH architectures that have traditional run their communications network and move toward the more robust IP/MPLS architecture. In fact, Europe is illustrative of this with rail transportation systems in Milan, Paris and Portugal already enjoying the operational and customer experience benefits of making the move.

There are many reasons why railways are using IP/MPLS for their communications networks but two major ones are:

  1. IP/MPLS offers high network availability and resiliency through “Non-Stop” technologies such as Non-Stop Routing (NSR), Non-Stop Services (NSS), Link Aggregation Group (LAG) and Fast ReRoute (FRR).
  2. IP/MPLS enables traffic engineering and isolation, since railway communications cannot afford to fail.

The Mobile Customer Experience: It's all about the Journey

By: Peter Bernstein, TMCnet Senior Editor

No matter where one looks these days, be it in enterprises or service providers, there can be no disputing that enhancing the customer experience has become a top, if not along with security the top,  C-level concern. 

Indeed, from burnishing the brand to enhancing customer loyalty, having permission to upsell and getting early visibility on new opportunities the customer experience (CX is now the short appellation) has become a cross line-of-business preoccupation and priority.  This has meant business units’ increased attention on listening to, analyzing and reacting upon needs arising from the “voice of the customer” (or certainly knowing more about their service usage behavior), and IT department focus on providing the tools necessary to support these requirements. 

It has also meant that businesses of all sizes and vertical markets are changing their views on what it takes to have a better understanding of the customers. This means using new metrics for success. It also has highlighted the realization that you need to look at life cycle management of customers, i.e., as the headline says it is no longer about the destination in the form of a sale but is about assuring optimization of what has been popularized as “The Customer Journey.”  

Ultimately, what it has also meant is that organizations need not only the tools, skills and strategies to optimize the customer journey but also need to be able do so quickly. The reasons are obvious but worth repeating.  Competitors are becoming more nimble and customers armed with better real-time information themselves have become more fickle. Time is of the essence.   

Illustrative of an area where there is, or certainly should be, a sense of urgency regarding having all of the capabilities to optimize the customer journey is in the global mobile services business. This is a sector rife with competition and susceptible to high churn rates.  The good news is that the information that resides in the network and various lines-of-business (LOBs), when properly mined, analyzed and acted upon can give service providers more satisfied customers and a competitive edge.

The question is, where are the places to go to get the information and tools needed?  The answer can be seen in a recent Alcatel-Lucent webinar, “LTE, It’s Not About the Destination, but the Journey,” which is embedded in its entirety below.


Analytics, Visibility are Key for Service Providers in Addressing the Connected Home

By Paula Bernier, TMC Executive Editor

Churn can be a costly problem for service providers, particularly when it gets up into the high double-digit percentages. And that’s exactly what can happen when customers are less than satisfied with their communications services. In fact, it has been estimated that churn is 89 percent for subscribers who have a poor customer experience.

But there is an answer.

Columbian Broadband Provider Brings 100G Rollout in Time for World Cup Action

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

Anyone who knows “futbol” (aka “soccer” in the U.S. and “football” elsewhere) knows how enormously popular it is in Latin America.  Hence, being able to provide as many fans as possible great inside and particularly remote from stadium user experiences has become something of an obsession.  Illustrative of this is that thanks to its newly installed 100G ultra-broadband network, Colombia’s mobile provider, UNE, was able to debut widespread streaming video services in time for the recent 2014 FIFA World Cup. This meant its subscribers could have quality viewing experiences over their   smart TVs, tablets and smartphones.

Partnering is Key to Successful Network Transformations

By: Peter Bernstein, TMCnet Senior Editor

One of the things that will characterize 2015 is the trend that started picking up momentum in 2014 that operators of physical communications networks have developed a sense of urgency about transforming their networks.  It used to be that if you were a network operator you could invest with some level of assurance that the hardware and the associated software to run it would be core to your network for possible decades before becoming obsolete.  However, as everyone in the industry knows, this is no longer the case.

As the world becomes more software-centric in terms of service creation, delivery, agility, security and performance— to meet the tsunami of data heading operator’s way and to allow network operators to maintain their relevance as ecosystem hubs rather than “dumb pipe” providers—cost efficient and effective operational excellence and the need to be fast-to-market and fast in the market with innovative services and enhanced customer experiences have become paramount. It is why so much attention is being paid to thing like Software-Defined Networks (SDN) and Network Functions Virtualization (VFV). 

The need for speed has become (pardon the turn of phrase) hyper-critical.  However, with recognition of the need to transform and do so rapidly should also come the recognition that network operators cannot transform rapidly and successfully on their own...

In-building Cellular Options are the Next Connectivity Battleground

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

The Law of 80 Percent clearly explains why in-building Internet access currently matters a lot. Mobile data traffic grew by roughly 80 percent in 2014, about 80 percent of mobile usage occurred in-building, and 80 percent of WLAN installations are at risk of not being able to handle traffic loads, according to research by ABI and Gartner.

This is a problem as Internet access expectations shift from coverage to quality and capacity. While some form of Internet access is available just about everywhere, there is a huge difference between good Internet and inadequate capacity.

Enterprise cells and indoor small cells can help meet this demand.

Alcatel-Lucent Helps Rural Areas Thrive with Ultra-Broadband Connectivity

By: Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC

Conventional wisdom seems to be that rural America moves a little slower than other parts of the country. That isn’t necessarily always true, however – especially not in the case of rural areas served by Alcatel-Lucent’s ultra-broadband gigabit technology.

In fact, such areas are among the country’s elite when it comes to ultra-fast connectivity, as highlighted in a recent Alcatel-Lucent paper, Municipality Rural Ultra-Broadband .

Why Carriers Are Embracing NFV, and What They Should Demand of These New, More Agile Environments

By: Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC

Service providers are undergoing a sea change.

Their networks, which traditionally have been based on turnkey network elements running software on purpose-built hardware, are moving to a software-centric model. In this model the true value lies in the software, while the hardware is typically of the commercial-off-the-shelf variety.

Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) is the name of this new architecture, which not only embraces the model of instituting network functionality in software and running it on industry-servers, but also allows applications and services to leverage those resources whenever and wherever they are.

Opening up the skies with LTE Air-to-Ground

By: Thierry Sens, Marketing Director Transportation Segment, Alcatel-Lucent

(Note:  Originally posted on Alcatel-Lucent corporate blog)

“Ladies and gentlemen, the fasten seat belt sign has now been turned on. Please ensure your mobile devices are switched off for the full duration of the flight” It is the announcement that many passengers dread as they hurry to finish up one more e-mail, or send one final text or tweet, before the start of a flight and a few hours of absence from the connected world.

But from the end of 2016 this is set to change in Europe. Inmarsat announced on November 20 that it has signed a contract with Alcatel-Lucent to develop Long-Term Evolution (LTE) air-to-ground technology, which will be delivered in partnership with service providers and airlines in 30 European countries. Alcatel-Lucent will supply the ground LTE radio infrastructure, which consists of antennas situated 100 km apart. The system is capable of providing download speeds of up to 75 mbps to planes using 2x15 MHz FDD licenses which Inmarsat owns in the Mobile Satellite Service (MSS) S-band. This makes it not only the world’s fastest airborne broadband service, but a pioneer of future in-flight services for passengers and airline operations.

Subscribers Want Service Providers to Protect Their Devices

By: Patrick Tan, Alcatel-Lucent General Manager of Network Intelligence

A recent U.S. survey by Alcatel-Lucent Motive found that 71% of smartphones had no security protection to defend against malware. That’s a sobering stat considering the 20% rate at which mobile malware is increasing annually. The malicious activity can degrade smartphone performance, secretly pirates your data minutes, and steal personal information from you, spy on your whereabouts and track your browsing calls, texts, emails and web browsing.

Now here’s where the survey gets even more interesting: It reveals 65% of mobile subscribers think it’s the service provider’s responsibility to protect their smartphones. And the majority is willing to pay their service provider for this mobile service – up to $4.40 per month!

For operators continually on the hunt for new revenue generating services and “sticky” offers that attract and retain subscribers, device security services is a lucrative and differentiating opportunity right under their nose.

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