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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. 

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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.

Smart Cities Will Make Our Lives Better

By: Anthony Trinh, Integrated Marketing Assistant, Alcatel-Lucent

The Internet of Things (IoT) is enabling the world around us to exchange data via a common network. This data will actually help us to understand the ‘things’ (objects and devices) in our lives and make sense of it. But how does the IoT improve our lives?

By 2020, the IoT will connect more than 26 billion devices and almost anything – your connected car, your dog’s collar, and even your entire city – will be able to communicate with each another. Cities are getting bigger and there are a lot of opportunities to streamline operations and manage scarce resources with IoT technology. Innovations in IoT technology are helping public and private organizations gain in-depth insight into the needs of their communities. Cities will become smart – developing strategies to improve their infrastructure, plan for long-term growth, create more energy-efficient environments, and keep people safe.

Cloud DVR Comes of Age

By: Mathew Pitt-Bailey, Product Communications, Alcatel-Lucent 

I know what you’re thinking. Here is another article about “the cloud”. There’s been a lot of talk, a lot of promise – in short, a lot of hype about how the cloud will transform our industry. But when is it going to start delivering? 

Well actually, it already has.

Big Data for Better Operations - The Use of Analytics in the Connected Home

By: Alan Marks, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Alcatel-Lucent’s Motive Customer Experience Solutions

The increasingly competitive broadband market has service providers facing new challenges as they deliver services to today’s Internet-connected home. One challenge is delivering technical support for the rapidly increasing number of Internet-connected devices in the home. Consumers are now connecting gaming consoles, smart phones, tablets and other devices to their residential gateway, and their broadband Internet service. In light of this increasingly complex and dynamic technological landscape, it is no surprise that service providers have turned to analytics to better understand their customers’ needs.

The Cat Video Index: A Simple View of Data Costs

By: Andy Porter, Product Manager in the Payment, Policy and Charging department at Alcatel-Lucent

The Economist has its famous Big Mac index for comparing buying power across countries. But I wanted an index that focuses on the cost of mobile data usage. That meant I had to find a data-charging equivalent of the Big Mac. I needed an item that crosses cultural boundaries, is universally understood and is available worldwide.

I considered many possibilities. But the answer arrived when I saw my daughter laughing at a video of a cat playing a piano. Obviously, the mobile data equivalent of the Big Mac is the YouTube video. It’s a universally available service that is easily measured in quantitative terms, making it ideal for comparing mobile data costs.

In honor of my daughter, I chose the classic “piano-playing cat” as the baseline video. And by the way, this cat video has been viewed over 34 million times, proving its suitability as a baseline.

Cable MSOs Can Learn a Lesson from Kabel Deutschland

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

Kabel Deutschland (KD), a Vodafone company, is a good example of what cable multiple system operators must do to gracefully manage growing demand and continue to deliver innovative new services by upgrading their network edge for IP services.

As highlighted in a recent TechZine article by Steve Davidson, European Marketing Director for Cable, Alcatel-Lucent, KD’s investment in infrastructure and cable services had already paid great dividends. The company’s initial 100 Mb/s product offering had a take-rate approaching 50 percent. But with this positive consumer response came some new challenges.

Among these challenges were managing cable operator costs and subscriber growth, supporting legacy cable services, and accelerating IP service deployment. How the cable company dealt with these problems and did so in the context of having a vision of its IP services future is worth studying.

Ethernet VPN Brings Distinct Advantages over Its Predecessor

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

Ethernet services delivery based on the control plane approach hasn’t changed for proven solutions such as MPLS/VPLS and PBB. Layer 2 flooding and learning as an approach to build the forwarding database is still necessary, but this has inherent limitations.

A new approach has emerged that brings many benefits over the control plane approach in the form of Ethernet VPN (EVPN). With EVPN, the control plane and data planes are abstracted and separated. A multiprotocol BGP (MP-BGP) control plane protocol carries MAC/IP routing information, and there are several data plane encapsulation choices.

NFV INSIGHTS: Why Distribution Matters

By: Andreas Lemke, Alcatel-Lucent Sr. Marketing Manager – Cloud

 “GM factories reduce production in aftermath of Japan earthquake 2011”, “Hard disk shortage due to Thailand flooding 2012“, “Drug shortages continue to vex doctors”, “China factory fire sends memory chip prices to three-year high (2013)”. Industrial supply chains are becoming increasingly tenuous as they are thinned out and stretched across the globe. Raw materials are available from fewer and fewer specialized suppliers and warehouses are eliminated for just-in-time production. Small, local incidents affect the supply of goods on a global scale.

In the IT industry we are seeing a similar trend. Enterprises are moving their applications and data to the cloud, but this cloud is often highly centralized and not as resilient, free flowing, or efficient as one might think. Amazon Web Services, the largest cloud provider in the world, is serving their global customers from no more than two handfuls of locations. Netflix and other companies have experienced major outages due to single failures in the cloud they used.

So what does this mean for NFV?

Optical Transport Networks Help Operators Meet Growing Traffic Requirements

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor It has been called the “data storm;” due to increased online video usage, the cloud, and mobile devices, bandwidth demand is increasing relentlessly, and operators are straining to keep up. Research from Bell Labs suggests...

The proof is in: Measuring VoLTE, 3G and Skype in the Live Network

By: Ed Elkin, Director, IP Platforms Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent 

There’s been a lot of debate within the industry about VoLTE’s readiness and how it stacks up against 3G voice and applications like Skype.

Now Signals Research Group (SRG), a leading field research and consulting services leader covering the wireless telecommunications industry, has closely studied the performance of VoLTE, 3G and Skype in AT&T’s commercial network and issued their report.  As we noted last week, SRG conducted that independent network benchmark study in Minneapolis-St. Paul, in collaboration with Spirent Communications. This is a market where Alcatel-Lucent provides the infrastructure, so I’m particularly glad to share this report with my friends and colleagues who’ve helped design, deploy and optimize VoLTE. 

During June and July, SRG tested VoLTE, 3G and Skype for everyday conditions, including stationary and mobile locations, strong and weak radio coverage, and under a variety of network loading and multi-tasking conditions. The tests evaluated voice quality, call setup time, call reliability, eSRVCC handovers, network resource utilization, and battery life.

DLNA CVP-2 Will Make Sharing Pay TV Much Easier

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet.com Contributor

There are two kinds of technology consumers: Those who revel in the technology, and those who just want the benefits of the technology without having to think about tech itself.

While I definitely am someone who enjoys the technological innovation as much as the results of that innovation, most consumers are not. They just want technology that works, i.e., where the proof of the viability of next generation capabilities can be summed up as “seeing is believing.”  

One example of this is the increasing popularity of multiscreen entertainment as delivered over a leading-edge multiscreen video platform such as the Alcatel-Lucent one that has become with service providers around the world. Consumers don’t want to have to fiddle with their computer or TV to get their content from one device to the next. They just want it to work; consumers want to be able to walk around the house with their shows or take their entertainment out into the world via their smartphone, not unlike we’ve been able to do with hardbound books for generations.

Who's Afraid of Interoperability?

By: Mike Schabel, VP, Small Cells, Alcatel-Lucent In our never ending quest to deliver higher capacity networks and more effectively deliver a true broadband experience to wireless consumers, our industry continuously engages in vigorous debates about new technology, architecture, and...

Motive Helps Global Service Provider Know When to Upgrade Customers to Ultra-Broadband

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet ContributorAs one of the world’s largest network service providers, Norway’s Telenor must constantly upgrade its systems to stay on top. The company runs networks in 12 countries and operations in 29 more, and it has a...

Is the Connected Car Going to Replace your Smartphone?

By: Anthony Trinh (@Trinh_Anthony), Integrated Marketing Assistant, Alcatel-Lucent 

What if you didn’t need to have your phone beside you at all times? What if instead, you can use your own car to connect with you, direct you and protect you wherever you go?

Well, by 2022, a Telefónica Industry Report (PDF) predicts that there will be 1.8 billion automotive Machine-to-Machine (M2M) connections that can do just that. This will comprise 700 million Connected Cars and 1.1 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices for services such as navigation, insurance, stolen vehicle recovery (SVR) and infotainment. In fact, Machina Research predicts that by 2020, 90% of new cars will feature built-in connectivity platforms, growing from less than 10% today.

Connected Cars will not replace smartphones - merely it’s a way to extend the IoT connectivity and bring the everyday lifestyle right to the car. Ellis Lindsay’s blog on Connected Cars as an everyday lifestyle does a great job of explaining this concept. He goes into detail about connected cars giving us the ability to link our life experiences – whether it’s our deadlines, travel plans, monthly payments or Facebook notifications – to wherever we are and wherever we go.

How to Speed Small Cell Site Acquisition on a Large Scale

By: Jean Jones, Director, Wireless Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent

Outdoor small cells are now widely recognized as a great solution for expanding mobile capacity and coverage. And their use is expected to grow sevenfold by 2018.[1] So here’s the next big question: How can you put these cells where they’re needed, faster and at lower cost?

Maybe you’ve already encountered deployment issues, including difficulties with small cell site acquisition. According to an Informa Telecoms & Media survey, nearly 60% of mobile operators say that deployment problems are their biggest small cell challenge.[2] In other words, operators’ top concerns are not about small cell technologies or products. Instead, they’re about the practical aspects of getting these cells up and running on light posts, utility poles, bus stops, buildings and other street locations.

This blog looks at a collaborative approach that makes these deployment processes faster and easier. Alcatel-Lucent adopted these methods for our Metro Cell Express Site Certification Program. And we’re discussing them here, because this business model earned a top award in the small cell innovation leadership category.

Connected Cars as an Everyday Lifestyle

By: Ellis Lindsay, General Manager, Customer Experience Solutions, Alcatel-Lucent 

I drive to work and back home in my car every day. I tune in to a radio station for traffic news and upcoming events nearby. Like many of you I’m sure, this is a typical everyday activity. And like never before, we are connected to our home, our families, our phones, our work and our friends in a network that seems to be always on. Shouldn’t we be in a lifestyle where we are consistently connected to the everyday activities in our lives? Well, let me introduce you to the world of Connected Cars.

Enterprise Service Gateways Help Operators Extend Their Mobile VPN Offerings

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

The emergence of cloud computing and mobility, not to mention bring-your-own-device trend (BYOD), has introduced a strong need for mobile virtual private networks (VPNs). Yet, most operators are only able to offer mobile VPNs to larger customers since their fixed-line VPN infrastructure is often separate from their cellular infrastructure.

One solution to this problem, outlined in a recent TechZine article, Mobile VPNs for Enterprises of All Sizes, by Jan Vandehoudt, Principal Consulting Engineer and Patrick McCabe, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Alcatel-Lucent, is for mobile network operators to use an enterprise services gateway (ESG).

Packet Microwave Rings Get Resurgence with New Standard

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

Packet microwave rings are catching on as the network topology of choice for network operators when it comes to microwave backhaul networks.

Daisy chain and tree network topologies have historically been used for packet microwave due to bandwidth inefficiencies associated with the SDH/SONET protocols that historically made ring networks inefficient. All that has change with the introduction of ITU-T G.8032v2, a new standard that takes the place of SDH/SONET networking capabilities.

We ask the experts: How can exceptional QoE be achieved in VoLTE networks?

By: Jean Jones, Director, Wireless Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent

What does voice over LTE (VoLTE) offer your subscribers? Better voice quality, including HD voice. Rich communications with messaging and video. And whatever inventive applications you choose to introduce. In other words, VoLTE can provide a superior quality of experience (QoE) for subscribers and give you a competitive edge — particularly when your service operates at its best. 

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In my last blog[CCE1] , our experts explained why an end-to-end strategy is the key to maintaining peak VoLTE performance. Now we’ll look at how this strategy gets put into practice to optimize real-world service offerings. The information here is based on interviews with Luis Venerio who works with our VoLTE Readiness Services team. And his observations come straight from his experience on VoLTE deployments that serve millions of subscribers.

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