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VoWiFi extends and enriches LTE services

By: David E. Nowoswiat, Senior Product and Solutions Marketing Manager, IP Routing & Transport, and  Ed Elkin, Head of Marketing for IP Communication, Alcatel-Lucent

The growing importance and usage of Wi-Fi™ is spurring rapid development in voice over Wi-Fi (VoWiFi) to complement robust VoLTE services. Mobile device manufacturers are taking advantage of Wi-Fi to solidify their relationship with consumers and enterprises, so mobile network operators (MNOs) need to act quickly to secure a share in the hot Wi-Fi market. By developing a strategy that encompasses Wi-Fi, MNOs can leverage their most important asset - their LTE network - to deliver a seamless experience for subscribers while leveraging their virtualized IMS investment to create  new revenue opportunities for themselves.

Mobile World Congress 2015 - What's the Next Big Thing?

By: Peter Bernstein, Senior Editor

In doing preparations for what many have called “the circus” aka the annual Mobile World Congress (MWC)—which is arguably now the most important industry trade event as the world goes mobile and which takes place in Barcelona March 2-5—the excitement is already palpable.  From all of the new cool devices of all shapes and sizes to interesting advances on things like antenna technology, Network Functions Virtualization, carrier aggregation, etc., the eye candy alone is almost overwhelming in terms of imagining the possibilities.  However, MWC always is tantalizing because not only does it answer what we will see in terms of capabilities in the near-term, but also because of the questions it raises about the longer term.

In this regard I was struck by a recent blog by Michael Peeters, CTO, Alcatel-Lucent Wireless, entitled I think appropriately, The Circus is in Town. Peeters’ main point is summed up nicely where he says in characterizing his view on what’s the next big thing that will be the buzz of the show that, “ thing is certain: its story will be about removing place and time constraints we took for granted.”

LTE Broadcast: More than just a Pretty Face for Mobile Video

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

Mobile video is very popular. In fact, it is predicted to become very much more so in the future with the expectation that it will account for up to 69 percent of total mobile traffic by 2018. Demand is driven by subscribers who want to take content like news programs and favourite TV series with them wherever they go.

As discussed on the Wilson Street blog by Habib Nouira, Product Marketing Manager, Alcatel-Lucent, LTE broadcast is enabling operators and internet service providers (ISPs) to meet this need.  They are also exploring how the technology can expand their coverage areas, reduce customer churn, cut costs, and grow revenue.

Transportation communication networks: Combating the cyber terrorist threat

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

Originally posted on Alcatel-Lucent Blog February 3, 2015

Talk of “cyber armies” working on behalf of nations might once have been the work of Hollywood, but recent events have demonstrated the opening of a new front in the global war on terror: cyber security.

Dunedin: a gigatown positioned for a smart city future

BY: Tim Marshall, External Affairs Director, Alcatel-Lucent Oceania

Originally appeared on Alcatel-Lucent Blog February 10, 2015

Perched on the southern edge of New Zealand, a small picturesque city with a big digital vision is about to be wired with the fastest broadband speeds in the Southern Hemisphere.

You may never have heard of it, but Dunedin is the envy of New Zealand after being crowned the winner of Gigatown, an online and real world competition for communities to receive 1Gbps broadband* and two development funds to support entrepreneurs, innovators and social initiatives. The competition was run by Chorus, New Zealand’s largest telecommunications infrastructure company which is rolling out the nation’s world-leading Ultra Fast Broadband (UFB) program.

On the Road to IP and Optics Convergence

By: Peter Bernstein, Senior Editor

For what seems like ages now the communications industry has been talking about convergence. We have already gone through many phases as networks move from TDM to being end-to-end Internet Protocol (IP) with voice traffic increasingly being carried on converged networks.  Indeed, the popularity of Voice-over-IP (VoIP) and the coming of Voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) on mobile networks is the future.  

That said, convergence is not just about IP but is also about the transformation of global network infrastructures in the wired world, with legs into the wireless one as well, of IP and Optics.  And, as Steve Vogelsang, VP Strategy and CTO, IP Routing and Transport Business Division, Alcatel-Lucent noted in a recent TechZine blog, IP and optics: Time to make nice, “Let’s face it. The future of the communications industry requires a convergence of IP and optics. So maybe it’s time to give each other some overdue respect."

Five Countries with Strong 4G LTE Presence

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

Even connectivity-challenged Laos advertises 4G LTE wireless connectivity. Albeit coverage is limited and not all 4G LTE networks have been created equal. Reality is that you’ll be hard-pressed to find 4G LTE even in the heart of Laos’ capital, Vientiane. And, despite global industry and government enthusiasm for 4G LTE, many other parts of the globe are still achingly slow with their 4G rollouts. However, not every country has poor 4G LTE coverage. In fact, five 4G standouts include France, Spain, China, Dubai, and of course the U.S.

Customer Self-Care is Win-Win for CSPs and Users

By: Mae Kowalke, TMC Contributor

Self-service to one degree or another has been present since the rise of the web. However, customers are increasingly choosing self-service because they feel more empowered and it is often perceived to be an easier interaction than dealing with a live person. The rise of the smartphone also has increased the use of self-service.

In fact, as explained by Jessica Verbruggen, Integrated Marketing Assistant at Alcatel-Lucent Motive, in a recent TechZine article, Empowering Autonomous Customer Self-Care, self-service can be a win-win for customers and communications service providers (CSPs).

LTE Carrier Aggregation--Meeting the Challenges of the 'Need for Speed' and Capacity

By: Peter Bernstein, TMC Senior Editor

In business as well as our personal lives there are finite resources that gate our activities. The big one that covers both is time which we cannot create more of and hopefully optimize for obvious reasons.  In mobile communications the issue is getting the most out of not just the finite but scarce radio frequency (RF) spectrum allocated for service provider networks. 

Realities are that in most parts of the world mobile service providers have access to different frequency bands as a result of things like auctions and mergers. Thus, they have a need to mesh their various spectrum assets (i.e., bands and associated carriers) in general. They also must optimize them to meet the insatiable appetite of customers for bandwidth-hungry services such as real-time and streamed video where Quality of Experience (QoE). Indeed, QoE and its extensibility to cover anywhere a customer is located is now foundational for attracting and keeping customers. 

Small Cells are Key to Attracting and Keeping SMB and Large Enterprise Customers

By: Peter Bernstein, TMCnet Senior Editor

To say that operators of macro-cellular physical networks are facing all type of challenges these days would be an understatement.  These range from spectrum scarcity issues, competitive pricing pressures, the need to build out LTE networks ASAP as platforms for new services and to meet the insatiable appetite of users for things like streamed and real-time video, getting ready for the Internet of Things (IoT) etc.  They also are busy figuring out how to keep users, particularly enterprise users on their smart devices always and all ways on their networks in an increasingly fickle world where alternatives abound, including for value-added traffic lost to Over-the-Top (OTT) providers.  

It is to keep enterprise customers on the mobile service provider networks for enhanced services that good in-building wireless solutions are seen as both a powerful business tool and a competitive advantage.  This is particularly true when it comes to retaining small-to-medium business customers (SMBs).

Why Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) Calls for a Distributed Network Architecture

By: Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC

There’s no question that the network functions virtualization (NFV) technology around which many telecommunications carriers and vendors are rallying takes a page from the virtualization that already has taken hold in IT data centers. But you can’t judge a book by its cover. NFV and IT virtualization also have their differences.

One key difference is that while data center virtualization tends to rely on a centralized architecture, NFV calls for a distributed one, Andreas Lemke, marketing lead for the CloudBand NFV platform at Alcatel-Lucent, points out in a recent TechZine posting by Andreas Lemke, Marketing Lead, CloudBand NFV platform, Alcatel-Lucent titled, Why distribution is important in NFV.

The Need for Smart Cities is Obvious

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

It goes without saying anymore that people and businesses in an increasingly connected world rely on the Internet for personal and commercial communication. We are also in the midst of a continuing migration of people are increasingly moving to cities as the world is becoming more urbanized.  What has also become clear is that cities with a smart grid and a solid IP infrastructure thrive more than cities that do not. The case for the smart city has never been stronger.

The Evolution of Cable MSOs Must Continue

By: Mae Kowallke, TMCnet Contributor

Triple play was a good start. But Cable multiple-system operators (MSOs) must continue their evolution.

Cable MSOs have been leading the residential entertainment and communication services segment for years. The expansion of their service offerings from broadcast video to video-on-demand, high-speed Internet and voice has enabled MSOs to expand their market share in the face of changing technology and viewing preferences. But to stay competitive, cable MSOs cannot rest on their laurels.

The explosion of connected devices, competition building Gigabit networks over fiber, the expansion of over-the-top applications such as Skype and the evolution of higher quality video such as 4K resolution are demanding that cable MSOs continue to beef up their access networks.

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.

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