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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.

Metro Networks Must be Optimized in Multiple Dimensions

By: Dave Brown, Product Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent

From original TechZine Article

Metro network transport platforms must be compact, scalable, and agile to conquer the specific challenges of this key portion of the transport network. Growing and shifting traffic in the metro has triggered these challenges.

Today’s cloud-optimized metro network transport platforms “must” be:

  • Compact – with optimal power and performance in a form factor that meets metro operational cost targets
  • Scalable – to have the capacity you need when you need it to aggregate and transport multiple, high-performance services
  • Agile and intelligent – to dynamically reconfigure network resources to get services to your customers faster

vEPC in LTE networks: Time to move ahead

By: Keith Allan, Director IP Mobile Core Product Strategy, Alcatel-Lucent

From original TechZine article

Can the virtualized evolved packet core (vEPC) be deployed today in large scale, LTE networks?  Mobile network operators (MNOs) are increasingly convinced that the vEPC has become viable both financially and technically. And I think so, too, based upon the advances made over the past year that I’ll discuss in this blog.

Ultra-broadband isn't just for big-city folks

By: Arnaud Legrand, Customer Marketing Manager, Alcatel-Lucent

From original TechZine article

Rural communities and small cities need fast broadband access to prosper in an increasingly globalized and connected world. Municipal governments recognize the socioeconomic benefits that ultra-broadband connections can bring. Many also understand the technical and financial challenges involved in bringing these connections to small communities. Still, most municipalities lack a clear strategy and implementation path  for realizing their ultra-broadband vision.

Cities like Opelika, Alabama and Chattanooga, Tennessee have proven that the transformative benefits of ultra-broadband are within reach for smaller population centers. Both cities have successfully deployed fiber networks that deliver gigabit speeds and services to homes and businesses. Their citizens now enjoy ultra-broadband experiences that had previously been unknown outside the world’s elite cities.

So how can your small city or rural community emulate the success of Opelika and Chattanooga? There’s no universal ultra-broadband deployment strategy. But there are fundamental steps you can follow to build a fast network that lets your citizens and businesses thrive.

Broadband as an essential component of sustainable development

By: Michel Combes, CEO, Alcatel-Lucent

From original Alcatel-Lucent Corporate Blog (Feb. 27)

I had the great pleasure today of participating in the 11th meeting of the Broadband Commission for Digital Development, which was held here in Paris.

The Broadband Commission is a remarkable institution that exemplifies the growing trend of collaboration between multilateral organizations, governments, civil society, and business. The commission follows a process of co-creation, which brings together the different skills and resources of the member institutions - such as financial management, operational skills, on-the-ground knowledge, regulatory or public policies expertise – to develop solutions to some of the world’s most complex, multi-dimensional challenges.

Network operations tools can be more efficient

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

From original TechZine article

Assurance visualization can prepare network operations tools to meet the demands of increasingly complex networks. And the limitations of today’s tools are indeed a cause for concern.

  • Will they be efficient enough to meet new network operations requirements?
  • Will they scale to meet the challenges of tomorrow’s network operations environment?

As networks evolve to next-generation IP/optical technologies, cloud networking, software defined networking (SDN), and network functions virtualization (NFV), network operations tools need to evolve, too.

Get more from public safety packet backhauling

By: Jérôme Brouet, Public Safety Solution Director, Alcatel-Lucent

From original Alcatel-Lucent TechZine posting

Increased number of security threats, demand for greater efficiency, and requirement for cross-agency coordination all point to the need to modernize public safety communications networks toward IP and broadband. And, backhauling is at the forefront of this evolution.

The rationale for the evolution of public safety backhaul networks is twofold:

  • In the short-term, existing voice-centric PMR/LMR networks need upgrading to support more data-centric applications.
  • But they also need to get ready for upcoming deployment of wireless broadband 4G/LTE systems complementing existing narrowband PMR/LMR systems.

By deploying a converged MPLS-based backhaul network now, public safety organizations can address current and future requirements for public safety IP communications while controlling costs. And when properly designed, mission-critical public safety transport networks also feature more efficient and more resilient support of legacy TDM-based applications.

Employ backhauling as a strategic asset

Quantifying IP/optical integration synergies

By:  Alcatel-Lucent’s:

  • Ben Tang, Distinguished Member of Technical Staff in the Bell Labs Consulting Services department
  • Mohcene Mezhoudi, Senior Consultant Member of Technical Staff in the Bell Labs Consulting Services department
  • Arnold Jansen, Senior Product Marketing Manager

From original Alcatel-Lucent TechZine posting

IP/optical integration typically results in cost savings, but maintaining service availability is also essential when measuring total return on investment (ROI). An analysis of 3 modes of operation found multi-layer protection and restoration to be the most cost efficient while meeting availability requirements.

5 models to speed LTE public safety adoption

By: Jérôme Brouet, Public Safety Solution Director, Alcatel-Lucent
From original Alcatel-Lucent TechZine posting

Public safety professionals require the highest level of reliable, multimedia mobile communications to enhance their operational effectiveness. And while standard based long term evolution (LTE) provides the most cost-effective and secure way to support these broadband communications, transitioning to this new technology will demand a complex technical, operational, and business evolution for the public safety community.

Why LTE – and why now?

Public safety communications are at a turning point. The most urgent events – planned and unplanned – require more than mission-critical voice to improve first responders’ efficiency. Real-time imagery, video, geo-localization, and high-speed access to private cloud-based information and applications are becoming essential to fulfill first responders’ missions.

Existing private mobile radio (PMR) systems have limited capabilities to deliver this, because they were designed to primarily support narrowband mission-critical voice.

For LTE, it’s a different story. LTE can complement existing PMR networks to dramatically enhance operational effectiveness and coordination within a secure infrastructure shared by cooperating agencies.

5 areas OpenStack needs help to support NFV

By: Andreas Lemke, Marketing Lead, CloudBand NFV platform, Alcatel-Lucent
From original Alcatel-Lucent TechZine posting

OpenStack isn’t an as-is solution for telco network functions virtualization (NFV) infrastructures. OpenStack is an open-source cloud management technology that provides many of the capabilities needed in any NFV environment. And this has prompted interest among many telco service providers.

But to realize the full benefits of NFV, service providers need NFV platforms that provide additional capabilities to support distributed clouds, enhanced network control, lifecycle management, and high performance data planes.

Cloud DVR Network Impact Deeper than You Think

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

From original Alcatel-Lucent TechZine posting

This article provides guidance on network architecture choices for operators considering introducing the time-shifted TV services provided by cloud digital video recording (DVR) solutions. Time-shifted TV services include catch up, restart, pause live TV, and personal recordings. The same guidance applies to those wanting to deliver subscription-based VoD services—either their own or those of partners[1].

Forward thinking providers are already concerned that the coming wave of unicast traffic generated by popular on-demand video services will affect the delivery network from end to end. Clarifying the potential impact of these services on the network is vital as the ramifications could be significant.

NFV INSIGHTS: Preparing for the future of NFV

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


Have you ever gotten your hands dirty and really implemented an NFV or SDN application? Six teams from academia and industry in Israel and Europe can answer with a resounding yes! These teams gathered in Haifa at the 4-day 2015 Winter School and Hackathon event, organized by Bell Labs, Alcatel-Lucent’s CloudBand team and Israel’s leading Institute of Technology, Technion. The event offered a full program to get acquainted with the fundamental concepts behind cloud computing, software defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV).

The Evolution of Customer Experience Management: From scoring net promoters to customer effort

By:  Greg Owens, Senior Director, Global Marketing, Motive CEM Solutions, Alcatel-Lucent

I just returned from a Customer Experience Management (CEM) event in London. After attending the same event in January 2014, I reported that I was struck by how pervasive customer experience had become within the world of telecoms. Well, a year has not changed that. In fact, I no longer feel compelled to extol the virtues of focusing on customer experience. There is no doubt: CSPs are intent on improving customer satisfaction and on making it a key focus of their businesses. Many of the CSP-led presentations showed examples of mission and vision statements that place the customer smack-dab in the crosshairs.

So what has changed in twelve months? Here are some highlights, for me, of some great presentations and scintillating conversations that took place over the course of three days in the shadow of Westminster.

Can the vEPC be deployed in the LTE consumer network?

By: Keith Allan, Director IP Mobile Core Product Strategy, Alcatel-Lucent

This article discusses the progress in the development and operational management of the vEPC to support the LTE consumer network. It answers the question: Is the vEPC commercially viable in large-scale, LTE network deployments? At Mobile World Congress 2015, Alcatel-Lucent will show a live demonstration of vEPC dynamic scaling together with simplified NFV management and orchestration.

Over the past several years, I’ve met with many mobile network operators (MNOs) and discussed their plans for virtualizing the evolved packet core (EPC). It’s clear from the more recent conversations that MNOs are now convinced that the vEPC is both financially and technically viable for their networks.  But is the vEPC ready for the MNO’s LTE consumer network?  In this article, I’ll discuss why I now think that’s possible.

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