Next Generation Communications Blog

Amazon Fire Phone Should be a Laptop

I’ve written a lot of headlines in my life but this one is among the oddest. Why on earth does a phone...

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Apple Pay Vs. Google Wallet

Replacing credit cards can likely only be done if the new system is dead-easy to use and it moreover has to be...

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Signaling Offers Great Differentiation for Mobile Value-Added Service Offerings

We’ve all heard that some Value Added Services (VAS) revenue such as Short Message Service (SMS) are starting to decline in...

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Birdstep Improves Wireless User Experience, Reduces Churn

A smartphone user can get tripped up easily when in motion as today’s smartphones look for WiFi networks to connect to and...

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Sonos BOOST, For Music in Tough to Reach Places

I’ve been using Sonos as an in-home streaming solution for many years and since it relies on WiFi it provides infinite levels...

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IOT tests do NOT tell the whole story

Service providers typically have infrastructure from multiple vendors installed in their networks.  Mostly this is by design since they don’t want...

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Notes from Connections 2014 Part Deux

More notes from BSFT Connections 2014 in the desert by friends of my at the show. These notes are from ANPI's...

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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.

A High-Performance Evolved Packet Core is Essential to Handle Mobile Data Demand

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

The glass can be half empty or half full when it comes to mobile broadband.

On the one hand, data usage is growing at exponential rates, and seems to be no end in sight. In fact, it is projected that by 2017, the monthly mobile broadband usage of the average subscriber will reach 5 GB, according to research from Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs.

On the other hand, the emergence of LTE enables operators to more cost-effectively monetize this traffic demand by rolling out quality-of-service (QoS) guarantees for sensitive data traffic such as voice-over-LTE (VoLTE), as well as other data service packages that until recently did not make sense.

Finding the glass half full from the emerging data storm requires some planning when rolling out LTE, however. Network optimization is not a given. While LTE flattens IP traffic and enables new business models it also introduces new problems. Chief among them is increased network signaling rates.

Oil & Gas: Dynamic Communications Enables Faster, Farther and Safer Operations

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

The demand for oil and gas capabilities has never been greater and continues to grow. In fact, world energy needs are expected to increase by roughly 40 percent by 2030, according to the International Energy Agency, with the fast-developing China and India leading the way in energy consumption growth. The demand for oil is expected to grow by 20 percent, and gas needs should expand during this time by 50 percent. As much as dependency on fossil fuels is seen as needing to be reigned in, clearly oil and gas demand is going to go up despite greater reliance on alternatives. .

With that said, meeting energy needs is getting more complex. Hydrocarbon delivery is challenged by the fact that so much of the relatively low-hanging fruit has been plucked. The energy reserves of the future will increasingly come from deep-sea drilling, tar sands mining and other more challenging methods. Hydrocarbon delivery also will have to travel farther distances.

To effectuate cost-effective and efficient exploration and fuel deliveries in more challenging environments, it has become paramount that gas and oil communications be upgraded to next generation capabilities.

The Mobile Gateway Could Choke LTE Networks if Telcos Are Not Careful

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

LTE is the future of the network. That much is no longer in dispute in dispute.

Mobile network operators are embracing IP-based networks, and the numbers prove it. By the end of 2013, predicts the GSA, there will be 260 commercial LTE networks in 93 countries.

“Telecom operators like IP-based networks because they are interoperable and flexible,” noted Patrick McCabe, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Alcatel-Lucent, in a recent TechZine article, 3 Reasons for an IP-Optimized Mobile Gateway. “This makes them easy to modify as new IP-based functions, features, and applications become available.”

But getting there could have some bumps unless mobile network operators improve their mobile gateways, leveraging enhancements to their wireless packet cores. The mobile gateway needs to be IP-optimized if it is going to deal with the deluge of traffic that has begun and will only get worse as users get their hands on the fast speeds that come with LTE.

Chinese City Ensures its Railways Provide Superior Service by Leveraging Next Gen Communications

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

Railways came into their own several hundred years ago thanks to England. But today, modern railways are being pioneered by China, which has plunged headlong into railway development as part of its rapid growth and evolution as an emerging superpower. And, as part of the deployment of its extensive next generation railroad network, Chinese railway operators are relying on dynamic next generation communications networks, to assure operational excellence and provide passengers a high-quality user experience.

When China began work on its new metro network in the city of Xi’an, home to the famous terracotta army, it wanted to ensure that it had both a cutting edge rail communications network for its operations and complete wireless coverage in stations for its passengers.

Australian Hospital Upgrades its Healthcare Communications Infrastructure

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

As the second oldest hospital in Australia, the more than 200-year-old Liverpool Hospital has seen its fair share of change. The most recent change: Adding a new wing and a state-of-the-art communications network.

Railways See the Benefits of IP Convergence - Customer and Network Operator Perspectives

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

TDM just doesn’t cut it any longer when it comes to rail communications. Railway operations decision-makers the world over are moving from TDM-based rail solutions to a single IP-based communications network that maximizes bandwidth and delivery true multi-tenancy. When it comes to communications, rail solutions in 2013 are all about IP convergence.

“The necessity of an IP network transformation is due to the increasing need to host more services and its ability to converge these onto a single piece of infrastructure to provide a truly multi-service network,” Stefano Pasetti, director of mobile and telecommunications for Milan’s metro rail service provider, Azienda Trasporti Milanese (ATM), said recently in a blog post by Alcatel-Lucent.

MPLS-Based Networks Keep Public Safety Communications Humming

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

When it comes to first responder communications, network quality matters a lot. Public safety organizations need reliable, secure communications networks.

Traditionally, public safety networks have used plesiochronous digital hierarchy (PDH), synchronous digital hierarchy (SDH) or synchronous optical network (SONET) TDM technologies for their networks. But as communications have evolved, TDM is proving insufficient for IP-based voice, video and data systems.

“Many public safety communications networks are evolving to broadband solutions which utilize an IP WAN for first responder radio networks, video surveillance, LTE, improved interoperability, and better integration with growing IT applications, noted a recent white paper on the topic by Alcatel-Lucent, "Mission-Critical Communications Networks for Public Safety."

IP Convergence Delivers for Railway Operators

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

Rail communications have not been immune from the information technology revolution, but any new rail solutions need to be rock-solid since safety is on the line. Rail communications failure is just not an option.

Moving from separate network services to a converged IP/MPLS multi-service network is helping railway operations make a step-change in flexibility and efficiency while reducing total cost of ownership.

IP convergence--and IP/MPLS in particular—bring safety-related train control communications under a single unified architecture while delivering new railway communications flexibility.

One railway operations pioneer, Portugal’s REFER Telecom (the telecommunications subsidiary of Portuguese railway infrastructure manager, REFER E.P.E), has been using a fixed IP communications network since 2004. Since 2008 it has been running on IP/MPLS technology provided by Alcatel-Lucent.

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