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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. 

ALU.7.28.14.1.JPG

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.

The WebRTC Craze

Blog post is co-written by Anne Lee, Chief Technology Officer of IMS Innovations at Alcatel-Lucent and recently recognized by the industry as a WebRTC pioneer and by Gilles Duboué, IP Platforms Innovation Marketing at Alcatel-Lucent.

The craze for WebRTC grows louder as its realization in the market begins to be marked with high profile adoptions such as in Google Hangouts, Amazon Mayday, and SnapChat’s AddLive solution. The formal standardization of WebRTC began in 2011.  Early implementations by Google and Mozilla, on Chrome and Firefox respectively, followed shortly - beginning in 2012.  And with the availability of developer versions of WebRTC on Chrome and Firefox, an ecosystem of proof-of-concept and early commercial products and solutions quickly emerged.  Open source plug-ins are filling the gap in browsers that do not yet support WebRTC e.g. Internet Explorer.  There is also clear progress being made in WebRTC standards for ORTC.  Given this, we expect that WebRTC ORTC will likely be natively available on Microsoft’s Internet Explorer within the next 18 months.

Network Functions Virtualization: Learnings from an NFV proof-of-concept

By: Asaf Peled, Cloud Solution Architect, Alcatel-Lucent's CloudBand activity 

We live in exciting times – again. I had been wondering if there was still room for fundamental innovation, for technological disruption – the worn out word. We had the Internet bubble that burst 2001/2002. We had the advent of the smartphone in the recent years. Great innovation, but somehow they reached a plateau. Faster processors, larger screens? It doesn’t seem to make a real difference. Apple’s engine showed the first signs of sputtering.

And yet, there is something brewing behind the scenes that makes the engineer’s heart beat faster: NFV and SDN, a bold new vision about the future of networks (read these blog posts about understanding Network Functions Virtualization and Software Defined Networks). Network functions are to be reduced to pure software - doing away with all the special purpose chips, circuit boards, and cabinets into which we have poured our brains to deliver the ultimate in features, performance, and reliability.

Third Party Pays Mobile Data Plans Hit the Market

Alcatel-Lucent’s Rich Crowe continues the dialogue on the Six Degrees of Mobile Data Plan Innovation by examining recent market developments in third party pays mobile data.

Syntonic Wireless™ is bringing sponsored data to AT&T customers. The Seattle-based mobile services company’s new Syntonic Sponsored Content StoreSM, creates an open marketplace where AT&T’s iOS and Android customers can find and consume free or premium content without consuming their data plans. Integrated with AT&T’s Sponsored DataSM service, the Syntonic Sponsored Content Store operates on the third party pays concept, one of the six degrees of mobile data plan innovation.

When it announced Sponsored Data in January 2014, AT&T offered a vision for a service that would give sponsors new ways to engage with customers and employees. Sponsors could come from industries as diverse as healthcare, retail, media and entertainment, and financial services. They could use sponsored data in a variety of different ways, including:

The Six Degrees of Mobile Data Plan Innovation: It's Not All About Data- Mobile Voice and Messaging Share Plans Offer Plenty of Appeal

Alcatel-Lucent’s Rich Crowe continues the Six Degrees of Mobile Data Plan Innovation blog series by examining the degree to which consumers are interested in share plans that include unlimited voice and messaging but don’t include data.

The last Six Degrees blog explored consumer attitudes toward two different mobile share plan options: sharing data only and sharing voice, messaging and data. This blog will explore attitudes toward a 3rd option: sharing unlimited voice and messaging — but not data — across multiple devices or subscribers.

200G Optical Networks: What you need to know

By: Earl Kennedy, IP Transport Product Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent

Optical network operators have already made the move to 100G. But skyrocketing bandwidth demand means many are already pondering what’s next. With a 200G optical solution hitting the market, you probably have questions about when to move to 200G optical – and what you need to know when you make that move.

Alcatel-Lucent in Action: a year of progress and look to the future

Sustainability, Alcatel-Lucent

Alcatel-Lucent in Action” is the story of one year of action to transform our company and position it for innovation and growth.

How signaling saps phone batteries - and what you can do about it

By: Josee Loudiadis, Director of Network Intelligence, Alcatel-Lucent (@joseeloudiadis) What do consumers know about the effects of signaling? We pay attention to our data plan costs — such as how many bytes of data we use for Skype calls, sending...

NFV INSIGHTS: Making the [business] case for NFV

By: Joaquin De La Vega Gonzalez-Sicilia, Alcatel-Lucent Sr. Manager, Cloud Consulting Services I still remember with great excitement how, in October 2012, a group of network operators published a whitepaper that coined the term Network Functions Virtualization. This announcement validated...

Hackathon Generates New Conversations, New Applications and Potential Revenue Opportunities

By: Gilles Duboué, IP Platforms Innovation Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent 

Recently in Munich, Alcatel-Lucent ran a 12 hour Hackathon that pitted the industry’s best and brightest developers against each other. The mission: build the most original, compelling and marketable app using New Conversation APIs.

New Conversation APIs make the rich functionality of IP Communications simple to mash up into applications. By enabling developers to easily integrated voice, video, data and contact information into any app, service providers can innovate faster – providing entirely new communications experiences to end users from any screen, device and network. They enable operators to explore new opportunities for enhancing retail services and to pursue new wholesale markets through application partners (web, verticals, M2P, M2M…).

NFV INSIGHTS: The making of NFV security - "from vision to reality"

By: David Amzallag - Alcatel-Lucent Vice President, Virtual Telecommunications and CloudBand CTO

While network functions virtualization (NFV) introduces new challenges to security, it also presents unique opportunities for addressing security problems due to the unprecedented scale, flexibility, and central control it affords. Compute, storage, and network resources can be optimally allocated and stitched together as required by the security policy. Our approach to address NFV security is based on a recursive, divide-and-conquer methodology, which involves securing the Alcatel-Lucent CloudBand™ NFV Platform, cloud nodes, and the network that interconnects them. CloudBand uses policy-based placement capabilities enabled by the CloudBand Management System to install virtualized functions in their appropriate security zones, and re-uses the security services provided by NFV applications.

I thought it would be a good idea to describe the journey to this approach together with its "making of" episodes.

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