Next Generation Communications Blog

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Metro Transport Networks Need to Get More Efficient or Choke on Tomorrow's Data

Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

Metro transport networks are in for a rough ride in the next few years if steps are not taken to ameliorate the impending bandwidth challenge they will face.

Metro networks are expected to grow in traffic by 560 percent by 2017, according to a recent Alcatel-Lucent TechZine post, Retool Metro Transport Networks with Packet-Optimized WDM. That’s because, thanks to the cloud and increasing video usage, the percentage of overall network data is increasingly happening in metro networks. In 2012, 57 percent of data traffic terminated in the metro network. By 2017, according to Alcatel-Lucent estimates, 75 percent will terminate in metro networks.

The short-term solution is to add bandwidth through the addition of higher capacity 100G-capable transport systems. But this is only a quick fix.

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.”

LTE Growth Explosive, According to Alcatel-Lucent Data

By Mae Kowalke, TCMnet Contributor

They like it, they really like it!

The story of 4G LTE is not just the massive infrastructure upgrade, it also is one of intense subscriber adoption as the increased data transfer capabilities of 4G LTE make themselves known.

The number of active LTE subscribers jumped an average of 20 percent per month in 2013, according to a recent Alcatel-Lucent blog post by network intelligence general manager, Patrick Tan.

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.

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."

Shared Data Plans Mean New Charging Challenges

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

The move to LTE networks, increasing data usage, and the proliferation of multiple devices per user has ushered in the concept of shared data plans.

Shared data plans offer benefits both to consumers and operators. For carriers, shared data plans mean the ability to have a single pool of data minutes that they can use across their multiple devices. For carriers, shared data plans mean increased customer loyalty and additional revenue opportunities.

However, shared data plans also mean challenges for carrier charging systems.

Managing Signaling Traffic a Must for LTE Operators

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

The first wave of large-scale LTE rollouts have shown that LTE networks have significantly greater packet core signaling volume. This is partly due to the flatter, all-IP architecture of LTE where macro and micro cells are directly connected to the mobility management entity (MME), the dedicated control plane element in the evolved packet core. This is also because of the increased overall network use that comes with subscribers who have access to a faster network.

An MME can experience a sustained signaling load of more than 500-800 messages per user equipment (UE) during the normal peak busy hours and up to 1500 messages per user per hour under adverse conditions, according to a recent blog by David Nowoswiat and Gordon Milliken of Alcatel-Lucent, Managing LTE Core Network Signaling Traffic.

This is why it is incumbent that operators intelligently manage packet core signaling.

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