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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...

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.

Addressing the threat from OTT voice apps with VoLTE

By: Josee Loudiadis, Director of Network Intelligence, Alcatel-Lucent 

Voice over LTE (VoLTE) and rich communications services can help mobile service providers reclaim market share being lost to over-the-top (OTT) applications.

Voice and text revenues are declining as mobile service providers (MSPs) face an unprecedented challenge from OTT communication apps such as Facebook, Instagram, and lesser known entrants, including WhatsApp and LINE. At first, MSPs enjoyed net gains because the use of these apps had generated significant data revenue. But times have changed. While still a source of revenue, these apps have begun to erode MSP’s native voice and messaging revenue.

To illustrate, let’s look at WhatsApp, who recently debuted its business model for mobile virtual network operators. In this model, WhatsApp (now owned by Facebook) provides voice and messaging services while leasing wireless services from a mobile operator. This means that MSPs are left with price per bit as their sole differentiator.

LTE Small Cells Help Public Transport Users Stay Informed in Real-time

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

It’s raining. It’s Monday morning. And the bus hasn’t turned up.

It’s a story experienced all the time in cities across the world, and is a major challenge for transit operators in the battle for passengers. When you are wet through and the bus still hasn’t come around the corner, taking the car always feels like the better option.

However, telecommunications technology is helping to readdress this balance. Research has shown that use of mobile apps which show up-to-date and accurate journey information is improving journey experience. Passengers can plan their journey better meaning the wait for the bus is no longer such a drag.

Partnering to Meet the Challenges and Opportunities in Building Smart Cities

The dynamics of this global change are fairly well known, although how to address the challenges isn’t so obvious. For example, cities consume three quarters of energy and contribute 80 percent of CO2 emissions globally, according to a recent report in The Guardian. How can that energy be most effciently delivered, with minimal environmental impact?

Consensus is emerging that what’s needed are smarter, safer, greener cities. Governments and municipalities are under pressure to invest in sustainable infrastructure capable of efficiently delivering services to citizens and workers.

There’s a pretty compelling smart grid transformation opportunity for public-private partnerships embedded in this evolution. Together, telecom service providers and information and communication technology (ICT) providers can bring in their assets, expertise and experience to help power utilities meet goals for smart grid applications.

Next Generation Railway Communications Highlighted by Alcatel-Lucent at InnoTrans 2014

From original posting on Alcatel-Lucent TRACKTalk Blog

InnoTrans might have been and gone for another two years but Alcatel-Lucent’s highlights from the world’s largest railway exhibition live on in three videos which are now available to view at any time online.

Small Cell Deployments Can Gain from Thoughtful Collaboration

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

Mobile operators know that small cells deliver efficient, cost-effective wireless coverage since they can be placed anywhere to add or augment service. But while the technological benefits are not in dispute, actual small cell deployment can be a challenge. The very advantage of small cells is also a disadvantage.

That’s because unlike macro cells, small cells require many deployments and agreements with many sites. Instead of one deployment, there are several. This adds complexity, especially with small cells outdoors.

The numbers bear this out. A recent study by Informa Telecoms & Media found that roughly 60 percent of the operators it surveyed said that deployment problems were the biggest challenge with small cell technology.

VDSL and Vectoring are Important Parts of Broadband Deployment

By: Wendy Zajack, Dir. Product Communications, Alcatel-Lucent

From original on Alcatel-Lucent corporate blog

A few months ago our home WiFi slowed to a crawl. At first we thought it was a temporary thing, but after my son ran a diagnostic there was a problem with our high-speed broadband.  

While the technician was fixing it, he mentioned that for an extra $10 a month we could get a faster plan.  Living in the US we already (in my opinion) pay enough for our monthly broadband package so I immediately said ‘no.’ But I told my kids that IF they wanted to pay for it … we would consider it.

German Internet Exchange Shows its Support for Alcatel-Lucent's IP Core Routing Solution

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

The routers and infrastructure that lay at the foundation of Internet service provider (ISP) networks rarely are named; which service routers that ISPs use are not often openly discussed.

But sometimes the veil does get pulled back, as was the case recently with the announcement that the world’s largest ISP, Germany’s DE-CIX, has leveraged the Alcatel-Lucent 7950 XRS Extensible Routing System (XRS) for its newly deployed DE-CIX Apollon German Internet exchange.

NFV INSIGHTS: The right SDN is right for NFV

By: Roland Mestric, Director, Video Solutions Marketing

It feels like it was just a few months ago when you could read articles in the trade press lumping together SDN and NFV with NFV being a form of SDN or vice versa.  Yes, both somehow are about virtualization and about converting hardware into software. Today – after numerous proofs-of-concept run by service provides around the globe – we know the role of SDN as virtually indispensable for NFV solutions that aspire to deliver the kind of agility and operational simplification we all expect from NFV. Only SDN can deliver quickly enough the (virtual) networks needed for newly deployed network functions. Alcatel-Lucent has recently demonstrated a complete virtual evolved packet core (vEPC) including a virtual IMS/VoLTE deployed in less than 30 minutes.

IP Video: A Whirlwind of Innovation

By: Roland Mestric, Director, Video Solutions Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent

Before the iPhone, the world of TV was relatively simple. Linear TV programs were delivered to the TV set over the air or to its set-top box (STB), which was directly tied to the cable coax, the home gateway or the satellite dish.

Now everything has changed.

Video-enabled, IP-connected devices with ever-greater screen resolution are flooding the market. Tablets, smartphones and smart TVs are running on many flavours of operating systems. All use different protocols, formats and standards. With these devices, end users have many options to watch video. These include being attached to the service provider’s managed network, or being directly connected to the Internet and consuming ‘over-the-top’ content. Moreover, end users want to watch their favorite content on demand; they no longer want to be restricted to linear programing. This adds yet another level of complexity to this whirlwind of change.

Covering all IP video options results in countless protocols, proliferating standards and loads of acronyms. Even industry watchers can find the rapidly evolving world of IP video confusing. That’s why I created this IP video streaming infographic.

The New Facet of Customer Experience Management - Field Service 2.0

By: Rhodo Odysseos, Product/Solution Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent, and Jess Verbruggen, Motive Integrated Marketing Assistant, Alcatel-Lucent

Traditionally, communications service providers (CSPs) have treated the field service aspect of their organization as a cost center. Field technicians engaged in maintenance activities were simply a part of the cost of doing business.  More recently, the communications industry in general and the field service arena in particular, has been disrupted by immense changes in the customer profile, service expectations, and behaviors.

Field service is often the only face of the company that a customer will ever see, so it’s not a surprise that CSPs are striving to make a positive impact on customers in this realm. Achieving full potential in field service saves CSPs a lot of time and money. Productivity and efficiency reviews targeted at field service operations, done correctly, can reinforce other areas of the business by increasing customer satisfaction and improving safety and quality. 

Here is how Telecoms Can Keep Over-the-Top in Check

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

Why I don’t use Skype much largely is the result of a savvy move from a telecom provider in Southeast Asia.

I have many friends in Asia, many of whom are not exactly rolling in money. So they can’t afford a data plan on their cell phone to use Skype. But what they all can do is use Facebook, and they all can use Facebook because many telecoms in the region give Facebook access away for free while charging for other Internet access such as web browsing. This is a good way to slowly upsell consumers—and to indirectly get me to use Facebook even more than I normally would.

Similar value-added services through selective access to particular mobile applications can be seen here in the U.S., too. T-Mobile, for instance, has recently begun offering unlimited streaming Internet radio even for customers who can’t step up for the larger data plans that normally would be needed to support Internet radio on a mobile device.

This is good business. It is a way that operators can help fend off the over-the-top challenge that threatens to turn telecoms into commodity businesses.

Answering the Question of How to Manage NFV Effectively with an vEPC

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

The advantages to mobile operators of network functions virtualization (NFV) and moving to a virtualized evolved packet core (vEPC) have become clear, and mobile networks operators are pretty much sold on the technology in theory.

As the technology side has been figured out and operators begin to plan commercial deployments of NFV and vEPC, however, discussion is starting to move toward operational requirements and challenges. Mobile network operators need to figure out how best to manage these new virtual network functions (VNFs) and the NFV infrastructure, and also how to modify the existing network operations model when these VNFs are deployed.

NFV INSIGHTS: Is OpenStack ready for NFV?

By Andreas Lemke, Ph.D. - Alcatel-Lucent

Open source has had a massive impact on information technology and the web: The Linux operating system, the LAMP stack, browsers, the Android smartphone OS. Individual enthusiasts, universities, and businesses spend enormous resources to build technologies, and then give them away for free. Are they out of their mind? The success of open source shows they are not. 

OpenStack, the open source cloud management software, has come into the focus of service providers as a rapidly advancing, cost-effective technology foundation for NFV. With OpenStack, service providers are expecting to escape the tangles of individual vendors and build an open horizontal platform for their future networks.

How to Kill Shadow IT: Step Three - Kill It with Kindness

By: Bryan R. Davies, Senior Director of Enterprise Communications Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent

In my second blog in this series, I discussed how you can regain control when enterprise IT users defect to self-service IT. In a nutshell, they’re looking for faster, easier ways to get their hands on tools that boost productivity. 

ALUSnip.10.3.14.JPG

So your solution starts with a simple concept. Think of these users as valuable customers. Then provide a superior offer. Of course, to succeed with this new approach, you’ll need a framework for agility. In this blog, we’ll look at three reasons why this framework is important for your enterprise, as well as individual IT users.

Successful Communications Services Have Six Features in Common

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

Large enterprises increasingly resemble public network service providers as they manage access, transport and network routing while controlling devices and sessions. Whether businesses build their own or buy their communications services through a public provider, the IP communications architectures are looking remarkably similar.

“I’ve noticed that both private service operators (CIOs of large enterprises) and public service providers are implementing very similar solutions around the globe,” wrote Oliver Krahn in a recent TechZine article, 6 Steps that Improve Communications Services.
ALUSnip10.14.2.JPGSource: Alcatel-Lucent

Most Mobile Traffic Happens In-Building, and Operators Need to Beef Up Their Support

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

Most mobile traffic is consumed indoors, and operators need to get a better grip on serving this market since it is a huge one.

Roughly 80 percent of mobile traffic is now consumed in-building, according to a recent Gartner study, whether mobile bandwidth is consumed in a public space, a shopping mall, or at the office. The total market for in-building services is estimated to be $4.3 billion currently, according to ABI research, and it is expected to grow to $8.5 billion by 2019.

Business leaders recognize the need, too; 72 percent of businesses are interested in enterprise cells that can boost performance on their premises. An Alcatel-Lucent infographic tells the tale.

Most Mobile Traffic Happens In-Building, and Operators Need to Beef Up Their Support

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

Most mobile traffic is consumed indoors, and operators need to get a better grip on serving this market since it is a huge one.

Roughly 80 percent of mobile traffic is now consumed in-building, according to a recent Gartner study, whether mobile bandwidth is consumed in a public space, a shopping mall, or at the office. The total market for in-building services is estimated to be $4.3 billion currently, according to ABI research, and it is expected to grow to $8.5 billion by 2019.

Business leaders recognize the need, too; 72 percent of businesses are interested in enterprise cells that can boost performance on their premises. An Alcatel-Lucent infographic tells the tale.

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