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Getting Past the Dark Side of Unified Communications in Large Enterprises

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

I often write about the virtues of unified communications, but a downside to UC also is emerging for large enterprises.

One of the big promises of UC was consolidating a range of disparate communications technologies and bringing them together both for a single communications experience, and also for easier deployment. Yet, the downside of this consolidation has been perhaps an over-reliance on a single vendor solution. This concentration in a single UC vendor it is limiting the ability of enterprises to adopt the latest technology as it emerges, instead having to wait on their provider or record.

With one vendor providing the entire communications technology, an inconsistency in quality also is emerging, suggests a recent blog post by Brendan Ziolo, Head of Large Enterprise Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent, 5 reasons unified communications is hurting large enterprises.

How the Airlines Can Make Their Systems, and Air Travel, More Reliable

By: Paula Bernier, TMC Executive Editor

If you traveled by air this summer, consider yourself lucky if you made it to your destination on time. It was a tough summer for both the airlines and for passengers, as IT issues in both July and August led to widespread delays and flight cancellations in the U.S. and beyond.

Most recently, a software update to a plane routing system at an FAA control center in Leesburg, Va., led to what some are now calling Flypocalypse.

UCC for the 21st Century

By Richard Hatheway, Director, Enterprise Communications Product Marketing – Rapport for Large Enterprise, Alcatel-Lucent

Let’s face it, most large enterprises are stuck in a rut when it comes to unified communications and collaboration (UCC) solutions – and a 20th century rut at that.   While these enterprises would like to be more in control of their UCC and ICT infrastructure, most are not sure where or how to begin.

Large enterprises typically choose a UC solution vendor based on one primary fact – that the vendor told them they could provide everything they needed. From an enterprise perspective that makes sense. Having only one vendor eliminates additional budget requests and cycles, reduces the number of people involved, and effectively streamlines the operation.

The problem is that choosing one vendor effectively locks the enterprise into a proprietary technology silo with that vendor. Sure, the vendor may be able to provide the tools the enterprise needs, but at what price, using what technology and in what timeframe? Instead of the enterprise choosing the technologies that it needs, the vendor is now effectively in control and dictates which technologies will be used by the large enterprise.

The Internet Poses Challenges for Sustainability

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

We already know the mercurial growth of the Internet and mobile technology. Cloud and data center traffic will increase by 440 percent by 2017, according to a recent Alcatel-Lucent blog post, and video consumption will rise by 720 percent during that time.

What many of us do not know, however, is that the Internet also damages the environment; Gartner recently showed that the Internet creates more than 300 million tons of CO2 a year. So growth of the Internet and mobility is not such a happy picture from a sustainability perspective.

If we are to combat this looming environmental challenge, it will take the work of not just individuals but also businesses committed to sustainable practices. Thankfully, sustainability can be good for companies and not just the environment.

BT leverages the power of Rapport™ APIs to drive service innovation in a 3 days hackathon

By: Gilles Duboué, Marketing Director, Communications and Collaboration, IP Platforms, Alcatel-Lucent

I crossed the English Channel to spend a few days in Ipswich. Not to explore its beautiful port but to participate in the hackathon organized by BT, hosted by its Innovation Hub in Adastral Park (7th to 9th July).

ALU.8.4.15.a.jpgHackathons are flourishing these days. These are fast, dynamic, creative
events in which software developers collaborate intensively around ideation and prototyping with specific Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and on dedicated themes such as mobile apps, internet of things, home automation, connected car, etc.

BT leveraged our Rapport APIs and Rapport Sandbox to run their first hackahon. Rapport is our communications software platform, used by service providers and large enterprises to deliver voice, video and messaging.

Why TWDM is Superior to XG-PON1

By: Paula Bernier, TMC Executive Editor

Fiber-to-the-home networks service more than 130 households today, and PON is the dominant FTTH architecture. This trend is expected to continue, with 90 percent of the forecast 300 million FTTH subscribers by 2019 to be served by PON, according to Ovum.

As PON subscriber numbers grow, so will the types of users it can address. And that will include enterprise customers. That said, TWDM is the best and obvious way forward for service providers in the GPON realm, according to Ana Pesovic, senior marketing for wireline networks at Alcatel-Lucent who in a recent TechZine posting, TWDM technology moves ahead: XG-PON1, explains why TWDM is superior to XG-PON1 on a number of fronts. These include from a bandwidth perspective, in terms of revenue potential, and in its ability to lower carrier risk.

Ovum backs up those statements in its recent article TWDM-PON is on the horizon: Facilitating fast FTTx network monetization, in which the firm suggests that communications services providers would do well to leapfrog XG-PON1 and move on to TWDM-PON.

IP/MPLS Helps the Paris Metro Handle Increasing Complexity and Commuter Volume

p>By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

The Paris Metro shows that you can, in fact, teach old dogs new tricks.

For more than a century, the massive Paris Metro has been enabling commuters and tourists to easily travel across the French capital. Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (RATP), which operates the metro network, employs roughly 54,000 employees and has yearly revenue of more than €5 billion ($5.43 billion). As part of the Grand Paris initiative, which has support from several levels of government, RATP is planning:

  • 205 km of automatic metro lines
  • 68 new stations
  • Deployment of 30,000 high-definition video cameras

However, getting there means having a next generation communications network. With that in mind, the Paris Metro is converging its five communications networks into a single IP/MPLS network.

Next Gen Wireless is Fueling African Developing Nation Growth

By: Paula Bernier, TMC Executive Editor

There tends to be a prejudice in the press for covering the latest and greatest technology and how it is being used in the developed world. The reality is that especially when it comes to wireless, the impact of having ubiquitous and affordable access to communications, not just for voice but for data (aka the Internet), is busy transforming the developed world in ways that may be even more profound.

In fact, in the developing world, connectivity is the lifeblood of economic progress improving not just commerce itself but also the delivery of healthcare and as a tool for rapidly improving the education of young and old alike.  Data is where it is at, and 4G has become as important in the developing world as in the developed. 

A great example of this is in the work Alcatel-Lucent has done with aggressive mobile services provider Smile in Tanzania and the Ivory Coast.  One interesting factoid is that in Tanzania, for every 1 landline subscriber there are 166 mobile phone subscribers.  In short, the age old problem of increasing tele-density in the developing world as the engine for progress is being conquered and with impressive speed that has opened the eyes of man

The Next Evolution for SCADA will include M2M

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

Is machine-to-machine (M2M) technology the future of SCADA?

Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) is widely used by railways, highways management, power utilities and the oil & gas industry, among others. It brings an end-to-end supervisory system which acquires data from the field through Remote Terminal Units (RTUs) or Intelligent Electrical Devices (IEDs) and connects it to sensors through a communications network.

The oil industry employs SCADA technology to monitor offshore and onshore extraction, for instance.

Some pundits are predicting the end of SCADA in the near future.  However, a recent TrackTalk article by Thierry Sens, Marketing Director Transportation, Oil & Gas Segments, Alcatel-Lucent, entitled with the same question posed above, Is M2M killing SCADA?, arrives at a different answer.  Sens argues that SCADA instead will adapt and include M2M, which is closely related to the Internet-of-Things (IoT) megatrend currently sweeping the consumer world.

Small Cells Fill the Gap in Mobile Network Infrastructure

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

There will be 70 billion connected devices globally by 2020, according to a recent Alcatel-Lucent posting. That’s a lot of demand on operator networks.

“We know that there’s a new market and new problem here to solve,” said Mike Schabel, senior vice-president of small cells for the wireless division at Alcatel-Lucent. “To handle the expected volume, we would need to significantly increase the number of cell towers used in the network. So we made [base stations] smaller.”

Small cells represent the future of the network for operators. They are cheap, easy to deploy, and can be adapted to deliver the right amount of coverage for an area of heavy use.

Why CSPs Will Retain a Strong Position in Video Services

By: Paula Bernier, TMC Executive Editor

Facilities-based service providers that own the access network are ideally positioned to distribute video both today and in the future, according to Chris Croupe, who works in strategic marketing at Alcatel-Lucent. Video comes in a variety of forms, its applications continue to expand, and this kind of content continues to multiply, Croupe notes in his recent TechZine posting, Future of video content: Evolution toward 2020.

Calls leveraging video have become widespread, he adds, noting that 59 percent of smartphone users under 35 years of age make at least one video call a month, and 37 percent of this group does so at least once a week.

For In-Building Cellular Small Cells Have You Covered

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

Large office buildings sometimes encounter a troubling problem in the form of poor cellular reception for employees. With atriums, business space in basements, internal walls and glass windows, more than one “modern architectural masterpiece” has discovered that workers lose cell coverage when they enter the building.

Of course, there are steps that can fix such problems even after a building is constructed. One of the best options is small cells technology for good in-building cellular coverage.

Analyzing the mobile devices connected to today's network

By: Patrick McCabe, Senior Marketing Manager, Alcatel-Lucent

We know from our own experience and from anecdotal evidence that mobile devices are proliferating and that mobile data usage is growing rapidly. This tremendous change necessitates change to the underlying network, too. But in order to make the best choices in terms of infrastructure investment, mobile service providers must have accurate data showing what devices are being used and which consume the most data and signaling resources. 

CSPs Can Leverage Self-Help Apps to Unburden Help Desks

By: Paula Bernier, TMC Executive Editor

The Internet and the smartphone have altered customer expectations related to service. They have both elevated the requirement for fast results in terms of response times, and they have made consumers more comfortable with finding answers themselves using the devices in their hands and the information that is now at their fingertips.

Meanwhile, communications providers continue to expand the ever-growing number of services they offer to consumers. That now includes an array of Internet access, mobile, and TV services. The growing number of CSP services and customers also increases the potential for more help desk inquiries.

New network service platform adds agility to cloud computing

Guest blog: Paul Parker-Johnson, leader of cloud and virtual system infrastructures practice at ACG Research

Alcatel-Lucent has developed its Network Services Platform (NSP) as a unified solution for creating agility in delivering network services. NSP brings efficiency and flexibility to the front-end problems of new service creation and the immediately downstream problems of operating those services efficiently and intelligently in a multilayer, multidomain, multivendor network. It does so in a unified and holistically designed solution.

Remarkable gains have been made in the cloud computing community to create and deploy new services efficiently and at scale. It’s also true that a significant impediment to service delivery is the rigidity of networks we deploy and processes used to define and instantiate services being offered.

A great deal of energy has been expended in recent years to enhance the flexibility of networks. Solutions have begun to appear that address parts of the problem, but to date they have been constrained to a particular function or domain and haven’t actually solved the whole agile service delivery problem for networks.

Until the Alcatel-Lucent NSP.

Not All Virtual Route Reflectors Are Created Equal

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

Border gateway protocol (BGP) route reflectors have played an important role for decades, since they help remove the need for a full internal BGP mesh within an autonomous system.

Currently, most route reflectors run either on a router that is dedicated to route reflection, or on routers that also perform other IP routing and service functions. Both scenarios have downsides.

Dedicated BGP route reflectors are a waste because route reflection functions require minimal data plane resources. Routers that juggle route reflection with other duties, on the other hand, may not have sufficient resources to support scalable route reflection.

How to Secure the Growing Internet of Things

By: Paula Bernier, TMC Executive Editor

The Internet of Things is based on the concept of sharing large amounts of data – even if it’s a little bit at a time – in real time. The collection and analysis of such data can allow for better business intelligence, higher levels of safety and security, lower cost and more proactive maintenance, and potentially improved health and welfare.

But more connectivity and more data sharing also can mean more potential for security problems.

VoLTE Challenges: The Case for Integrated Policy, Charging and Diameter Signaling

By: Peter Bernstein, TMCnet Senior Editor


VoLTE Challenges: The Case for Integrated Policy, Charging and Diameter Signaling

Hopefully, Voice over LTE (VoLTE) has arrived or is coming to your preferred mobile service provider.  As mobile networks transform into end-to-end IP ones, the business case for VoLTE as a means for mobile operators to provide differentiated services, including high definition voice and multiple media ones, has become compelling and taken on a sense of urgency. 

Indeed, it is being viewed strategically as a way for service providers to distinguish their services on the basis of Quality of Experience (QoE) from 3G and OTT voice apps. It is also seen as providing competitive advantage because of its ability to enable end users to seamlessly move from a voice call to a video call, or shift from one device to another in the midst of the conversation.  It is why interest in accelerating VoLTE deployments is so high. 

However, network transformations are not easy.  VoLTE deployment and operations is an interesting case in point.  It brings unique challenges for service providers related to policy control, charging and Diameter signaling control.  Steffen Paulus, Director of Product Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent has some interesting insights worth sharing on the need for integrated policy, charging and Diameter signaling in a virtualized solution, as the path forward for VoLTE success.  This is particularly relevant in light of Alcatel-Lucent’s recent launch of its End-to-End Voice over LTE (E2E VoLTE) solution that is an integral part of the Rapport multimedia real-time communications platform which has been architected specifically to me service provider and enterprise needs.

Details on New Zealand's Ultra-Broadband Effort

By Paula Bernier, TMC Executive Editor

New Zealand is a remote place, which may explain why most people know little more about it than that it served as the backdrop for the Lord of the Rings movies.

The now-concluded HBO series Flight of the Concords also had a lot of references to New Zealand, but it could be tough to discern which ones were real (I checked, and it seems there actually is a toothbrush fence) and which were created for comedy value.

In any case, there’s now a real and important effort going on in New Zealand that involves the creation of a nationwide ultra-broadband network. That state-of-the-art network will help New Zealand’s citizenry and businesses communicate with one another and the rest of the world, and to access existing and next generation information and applications. It’s also intended to make New Zealand a more important player on the world economic stage and to give the country a competitive edge over others in attracting business.

Cable MSOs can Create New Revenue Streams with Cloud-based Big Data and Analytics for SMBs

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

Cable multiservice operators (MSOs) have embraced the need for broadband data, and with good reason. Broadband data demand is expected to grow by 560 percent over the next five years, according to a recent Bell Labs study, largely driven by demand for pay TV and video and cloud traffic generated from the proliferation of data centers.

Cable MSOs are doing well by their entertainment services bundled with residential broadband offers, but this revenue is under siege by the likes over over-the-top (OTT) video services such as Netflix and Apple. Hence, cable MSOs are constantly in search of new revenue opportunities.

One strong candidate for new revenue is commercial services for small and medium-sized business (SMBs). This area generated 10 percent of MSO revenue in 2014, according to Gilbert Marciano, CMO Strategic Marketing - Customer & Market Insight Senior Manager at Alcatel-Lucent, in a recent TechZine posting appropriately titled, Differentiate your SMB services with big data. In fact, it is noted that in the U.S. Comcast and Time Warner Cable together generated roughly $5.5 billion from the segment in 2013.

Optical Network Terminal (ONT) Provisioning Made Simple

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

Fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) enables providers to deliver more bandwidth and better services to customers, but service provisioning can be a substantial headache since FTTH networks are shared and therefore the optical network terminal (ONT) location is not known. Not knowing the ONT location, currently operators must send a technician to the customer’s home to establish the right location and apply service provisioning.

Alcatel-Lucent understands this problem well, and it has taken steps to ease the pain of FTTH service provisioning by developing its ONT Easy Start solution.

Alcatel-Lucent Explains the Importance of CDC-F Optical Networks

By: Paula Bernier, TMC Executive Editor

Today’s technology now allows a single fiber strand to carry up to 17.6 terabits per second of traffic. That’s the equivalent of transmitting 88 Blu-ray discs in a second. This ultra-broadband capability, and the new software-defined networks that service providers are embracing, have important impacts on optical networks further upstream.

“…we need to stay in the light/photonic domain as long as possible in order to reduce the cost associated with repeatedly converting wavelength photonic signals to electrical,” notes Scott Larrigan, senior marketing manager of IPR&T product and solution marketing at Alcatel-Lucent, in a recent TechZine posting, CDC-F optical networks propel us forward, and in the podcast embedded below.

How to meet the challenges of virtual network functions assurance

By: Kevin Landry, Product Marketing Manager, Alcatel-Lucent

As they move into the cloud era, network operators need a service aware network operations tool to assure virtual network functions (VNF) management. They’ll need it to efficiently perform a variety of network operations tasks, including:

  • Service impact assessment
  • Fault localization
  • Identification of true root-cause (from symptomatic faults)
  • Taking corrective actions to resolve problems fast

As described in a vEPC post related to converging NMS and VNF manager functions within the ETSI Management and Orchestration (MANO) architecture, operators need to evolve their network operations tools for NFV through tighter coupling the NMS and VNF manager functions. Specifically for VNF assurance, the blog states “Troubleshooting is simplified because traditional NMS faults/events are correlated with VNF related events/faults. The VNFM provides lifecycle management and automates the self-healing of VNFs.”  

Video Shows How Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) Actually Works

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

Rarely does a video about network functions virtualization (NFV) captivate your attention like the one that Alcatel-Lucent recently uploaded about service innovation and lean operations in the context of NFV. Sometimes NFV can be a challenging concept to get your head around, but the video breaks it down with clear visuals and none of the PowerPoint that usually puts you to sleep.

If you haven’t seen the video you can watch the embedded version below. But also let me explain what the video is talking about.

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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