Next Generation Communications Blog

IP Platforms

Ethernet VPN (EVPN) - Networks for Ethernet Services

By: Greg Hankins, Senior Product Line Manager, Alcatel-Lucent

I’ve been talking a lot about EVPN recently at network operator conferences around the world, because I’m really excited about this new technology.  EVPN offers an alternative to VPLS that integrates both Layer 2 and Layer 3 services, and can run over simple IP networks with ECMP for resiliency and load balancing.  EVPN is an interesting new technology if you are providing a Layer 2 infrastructure over multiple sites, delivering integrated Layer 2/Layer 3 services, or providing cloud services.

Kabel Deutschland Simplifies its IP Edge

Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

IP address exhaustion is an issue every Internet service provider must face. With the dwindling of IPv4 addresses, operators must migrate to IPv6 and seamlessly if they are to meet the needs of commercial, residential and mobile services.

For Vodafone Company Kabel Deutschland (KD), Germany’s largest cable operator, it was no question whether the move to IPv6 would be a bolt-on solution or something more integrated. A bolt-on solution would not do for KD, according to a recent Alcatel-Lucent case study on KD. The company needed to address the issue of flexibility to accommodate long-term growth and next generation service delivery without compromising its reputation for high-performance and high-value service.

Advancing Utility IP Migration Takes Time and Care

Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

This is the third in the three part series looking at how IP, which has been playing an important role in business transformation for some time, now has become critical to the utilities industry as it is leveraging the transformation of communications networks to IP to maximize smart grid deployments. In short, taking full advantage of things like smart metering and big data means to improve usage, real-time information and improved interoperability.

The future of the smart grid has unfolded slowly partially because adoption is more than a technology issue, and because while businesses want reliability, utilities demand it; a cautious IP migration is almost a given. In fact, part of the path to adoption goes through social challenges, not just technology investment.

IP Migration Picking Up Speed among Utilities

Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

A few years ago, the idea of a smart grid and things such as smart metering was the stuff of science fiction. But thanks to recent innovations, a utility that is not working on a migration to IP is behind the curve.

In this second of a three-part series on the value of the migration utility infrastructure to IP as the means to enable and enhance the value of smart grids, we look at an expert’s view of the challenges as highlighted in a recent GridTalk posting by Bart Vrancken, utilities solutions architect at Alcatel-Lucent, who noted, “Utilities telecom used to be very simple, handled in the background with a very small team…The explosive growth in intelligent grid devices with communication capabilities was not foreseen at all several years back. But now we see numerous examples of customers deploying these technologies.”

IP Network Investments Enable Enhanced Smart Grid Value

Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

The future of the smart grid looks bright. Innovations such as IP/MPLS network connectivity and the desirability to all potential stakeholders in smart cities projects have helped propel smart grid spending in general and investment in the enabling networks. In addition, government programs such as the U. S. Smart Grid Investment Grant Program have pumped $7.8 billion into smart grid systems with accelerated activities taking place around the world. In fact, driven initially by government stimulus, investments by the electric power industry in IP technology is accelerating, with US$200 trillion projected in global expenditures by 2030.

In short, the networking piece of smart grid deployments is critical, as the migration of utility infrastructure to meet the needs to remotely monitor and manage their grids grows in complexity.  “The new IP/MPLS technologies offer a great deal of benefits within the utility in cost savings, operational efficiency and cost savings, and they also mandate a new way to operate, bridging those traditional organizational silos,” noted Mark Burke, VP of Intelligent Networks and Communications for DNV – GL, in a recent GridTalk posting.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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