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The War Will be Won over Customer Experience

By Mae Kowalke

The battle for the best mobile device portfolio steals the headlines with its flashy array of smartphone offerings. However, increasingly it appears that the war will be won by the mobile broadband operator who provides the best customer experience as enabled by overall quality of experience (QoE) on their network.

“To thrive in today’s competitive mobile broadband market, service providers must deliver superior QoE and enrich the customer experience,” noted Greg Owens, director of marketing for customer experience at Alcatel-Lucent, in a recent Enriching Communications article, “Customer Insights Improve Business Performance, stated that, “With growing pressure to reduce churn and increase revenues, service providers need to have a better understanding of how customers use their services.”

The Mobile Customer Experience Imperative

By: Susan Campbell

Mobile service providers throughout the world are in an interesting competitive situation. The service provided is becoming a commodity by consumers. This means that true differentiation in this market going forward will be driven by customer experience transformations, such as those enabled by Alcatel-Lucent’s portfolio of Motive Customer Experience Solutions, as traditional approaches prove to be increasingly ineffective.

Market realities today are that consumers tend to avoid brand loyalty when considering services delivered and even price points when there is little differentiation. As a result, mobile service providers by competitive necessity must pay particular attention to establishing exceptional customer experiences if they hope to achieve business success. The focus must be on building trust with customers over time and increasing customer perceptions of the value of the customer experience, rather than leveraging services and products.

Alcatel-Lucent s recently shared its view on this in a piece entitled, “Customer Experience Transformation: The Mobile Customer Experience Imperative.” It  highlights these market changes and what service providers need to be thinking about in order to be correctly positioned for success.

Alcatel-Lucent States Position on Corporate Responsibility, Sustainability

By: Susan J. Campbell

Increasingly, corporations around the world have recognized that they have a responsibility to be good stewards of the earth’s resources and to act in an ethical manner that promotes sustainability. Alcatel-Lucent considers corporate responsibility to be an important business imperative, and also believes that doing well and doing good can and should be mutually inclusive.

A recent Alcatel-Lucent 2011 Corporate Responsibility Report explores the company’s commitment to playing a key role in being a good steward. Alcatel-Lucent intends to continue its focus on not only making the communications solutions it produces eco-friendly, but doing so in a manner that also ensures they are accessible and affordable so that the full potential of a connected world can be realized.

A bold new direction in sustainability was initiated in 2011 with a focus on three core priorities:

  • Green innovation
  • Digital inclusion
  • People

Customer Experience in the Spotlight

Greg Owens, Director, Customer Experience Solutions Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent

Customers have growing expectations for mobile broadband services. Better networks, broader device support, ubiquitous connectivity and competitive prices remain essential, but they’re no longer enough to keep customers coming back for more. Today’s mobile customers demand a superior customer experience, one that focuses on making it easy to discover, use and enjoy applications, devices and services.

Service providers are feeling the pressure to deliver on these expectations.

A renewed focus on QoE

Rising smartphone use is thrusting quality of experience (QoE) back into the spotlight. Smartphones appeal to users because they promise easy access to e-mail, apps, social networking and video. But smartphones have hidden complexities. Many users struggle with smartphone setup, app configuration, usage tracking and connectivity.

The end result is that smartphone users are turning to service providers more often — with problems that take more time to resolve.

'Main-Streaming' Changing Video Game in Content Delivery Networking

By Mae Kowalke

As traditional TV collides with the internet, unprecedented changes are taking place in the video industry. The biggest trend is what Alcatel-Lucent calls ‘main-streaming:’ video streaming as the new normal mass market model for how consumers get their video.

In short, consumers want video content anywhere, anytime, on any device. In an early 2011 report, Neilson said U.S. consumers spent 34.5 percent more time watching video on the internet, and 20 percent more time watching mobile video, than they did in early 2010. No doubt that number has grown since—and will continue to grow.

Online video is popular with consumers because it satisfies an appetite for flexible consumption. Plus, the success of online services like Hulu+ and Netflix indicate customers are willing to pay for that flexibility.

Content delivery industry players like Netflix and Hulu offer video using ad-funded or direct-subscription business models. These content providers pay traditional content delivery networks (CDNs) like Amazon and Limelight to publish video content online, because doing so theoretically helps ensure quality of service (QoS).

Trouble is, CDNs are making promises they can’t keep. The structure of their platforms—where caches are located at the edge of ISP networks—simply can’t provide guaranteed adequate QoS for end users. This presents a significant opportunity for network service providers.

Customer Experience Management Key to Mobile Services Differentiation

By Susan Campbell

The mobile broadband services market has become almost hyper-competitive globally. And, it has become increasingly clear that providing superior quality of experience (QoE) to customers, end users as well as third parties, will likely be a (if not the most) critical element in creating sustainable and profitable differentiated value. As a result, mobile service provider investment attention needs to be focused not just on delivering speeds and feeds but also on all aspects of QoE. A holistic approach for concentration on customer care¸ such as the Alcatel-Lucent portfolio of Motive Customer Experience solutions, fits the needs for making sure the best possible user experiences can be provided, monitored and constantly improved.  

Why customer care, and why a comprehensive approach?

The reason is that a holistic approach to customer care is a fundamental tool for reducing vital churn rates. The bottom line is the bottom line here. Service providers (SPs) have the opportunity to make better use of the subscriber and network data to help not only make customers more loyal but also improve average revenue per user (ARPU) based on establishing a relationship that customers view as more “trusted.”  In fact, if done correctly, they can leverage the provisioning of compelling customer experiences into a powerful tool for making satisfied customers enthusiastic brand advocates.

Growing the Pay-TV Industry: It's Time for Disruptive Thinking!

By: Wim Van Daele, PMP
Director, Communications – Motive CxS Portfolio, mCommerce & IP Video Solutions

For far too long, the pay-TV industry has been hanging on to legacy infrastructures and traditional business models. Few people are raising the one question that really matters: will today’s practices allow us to face the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow?

Guess what? They won’t. To secure growth in this established market, a more disruptive and unbiased thinking is required. Alcatel-Lucent embraces this new, open mindset - while marrying it to a staged and economically viable migration scenario.

As a starting point, three key thoughts/questions for your consideration:

LTE Wireless Networks -- Time to Deploy

By Mae Kowalke

Wireless operators and those who supply them infrastructure spend a lot of time focusing on the ‘data storm’ and what they are doing to stay one step ahead of it. The goal is to deliver more data, faster, with a better customer experience and greater economies of scale than in the past. Thanks to Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology, these goals are now within reach.

“According to the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA), 4G LTE is the fastest developing mobile system technology ever,” said Maniam Palanivelu, director of global 4G LTE solutions marketing at Alcatel-Lucent, in an Enriching Communications article, “LTE: The Best Thing to Happen to Wireless Networks.”

Building New Zealand's Ultra-Fast Broadband Network

By Erin Harrison

New Zealand is on the brink of a new era in communications. Two major initiatives will significantly help improve the speed and capacity of the country’s high-speed broadband network, as outlined in a recent Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) white paper, “How New Zealand can increase the social & economic impacts of high-speed broadband.”   

The Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) project and Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI) are set to improve the network speed and capacity available to nearly 98 percent of New Zealanders, based on a study conducted by Bell Labs, the research arm of Alcatel-Lucent. The goal is, as ALU likes to say about its broadband portfolio, “Get to Fast, Faster.”

Information and Communications Technology has Key Role in Green Economy

By Mae Kowalke

It will take dedication, teamwork and technology to achieve the future we want in terms of reducing poverty, advancing social equity, and ensuring environmental protection. That’s the message behind upcoming Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development, this June in Brazil.

Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) and others are focusing heavily on technology as one key aspect in achieving a better future. At a Rio+20 planning conference earlier this month, Philippe Richard, who heads up green strategy at Bell Labs, participated in the closing panel, where he highlighted the role information and communications technology (ICT) plays in sustainable development.

Report: Chinese Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Industry Interested in Going Green, But More Development Needed

By Mae Kowalke

People working in the Chinese information and communications technology (ICT) industry are open to the concept of going green, but need support and education to achieve carbon reduction targets using technology. That is the conclusion of a recent research study conducted at China’s Tsingua University Media Lab on behalf of Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) titled, “Green Information Communications Technology in China.” 

No 'One-Size-Fits-All' Path to Improving the Customer Experience

By Erin Harrison 

In this day in age, no matter what business you are in, the customer is king.

As we touched on last week (and commands further attention), European telecom operators are not cutting it when it comes to delivering a stellar – or even an adequate – customer experience. This weakened Quality of Experience (QoE) tendency is forcing tech-savvy consumers to side with the company that is most responsive to their communications needs and not necessarily the one that offers a specific kind of service.

Typically consumers base their requirements on the strength, speed and coverage of their network, the depth and breadth of their product and services portfolio and, least of all, price. But this is the case no longer.

A recent study conducted in EMEA by European Communications – the results of which appear in a recent special edition, “Customer Experience” – found overwhelmingly that telecom operators are losing their edge when it comes to QoE. Alarmingly, only17 percent of operators say they have a 360-degree view of their customers.

Coherent Technology Enables the Seamless Upgrade to 100 Gb/s

Susan J. Campbell

The demand for data consumption and rich multimedia interactions is driving the call for 100 Gb/s. Fortunately, coherent technology in high-performance electro-optics engines enable the cost and performance benefits of such transmissions to be viable commercially. 

A recent Alcatel-Lucent TechZine article by Sam Bucci, Vice President and General Manager, Terrestrial Optics, entitled, Coherent Technology: Making 100 Gb/s Viable, focused on how fiber impairments can decrease the performance and quality of the data transmission as speeds increase. It made a compelling case that such impairment can be overcome with coherent technology which ensures performance and cost benefits are optimized.

Optimizing Networks in a Demand for Video Everywhere Era

By Mae Kowalke 

In my blog last week, I focused on some of the changes and challenges in digital media delivery that vendors likeVelocix (an Alcatel-Lucent company) are developing to help service providers maximize the quality of end user experiences while minimizing network traffic.  In that piece I cited the first article in a two part series by Richard Gibbs, Vice President Worldwide Technical and Business Consulting at Velocix’s article in the Alcatel-Lucent e-zine TechZine, “A New Approach to Publishing and Caching Video.”  It focused on the architecture and design considerations for a Content Delivery Network (CDN).  This post picks up the story with the second Gibbs post, “Optimize Delivery to Meet Demand for “Video Everywhere,” which looks in detail at the delivery, management and control functions needed for efficient CDN operation.

Consumer Demand Drives LTE and Creates Wireless Carrier Success

By Mae Kowalke

In the U.S., it is no secret that there is a substantial customer as well political interest in seeing that under-served areas have access to state-of-the art communications networks.  In fact, it can be argued that the data needs of such critical parts of the economy as agriculture and oil and gas exploration are as intense if not more so than those of industries in densely populated areas.  Plus, the desires and expectations of families in the areas are no less important than they are to families in other areas of the country.

What all of this translates into is that while fiber optics and WiFi have allowed most Americans broadband access vast parts of the U.S. have remained under-served for broadband.  All of that is changing.  As the major wired carriers continue to fiber their franchise areas and the national wireless carriers rush to deploy 4G LTE networks, WiFi hotspots, femtocells, etc.  Alcatel-Lucent has been leveraging the capabilities of its lightRadio™ portfolio of solutions to help mobile operators who serve less populous areas provide high-seed services to their customers at price points and performance capabilities that enable customers to enjoy the advantages of next generation devices and all the Internet has to offer in terms of content and applications. And, it allows the operators to do so at competitive prices and at a profit.     

A Holistic Approach is Necessary for Quality Customer Experiences

By Mae Kowalke

For the hotly competitive world of mobile communications service providers, it’s no longer enough simply to provide fast, reliable connections for a variety of devices at competitive rates.  

A recent article in the Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) e-zine Enriching Communications titled, “Taking Care of the Customer Experience,” co-authored by ALU’s Ben Geller, Senior Director of Marketing and Oliver Krahn, Customer Experience Transformation Growth Program Leader, on this subject is worth a read. They explain how, “Service providers are learning that they cannot differentiate with devices, services or pricing.”  This is clearly a dramatic change from the past.   

Digital Media Delivery Innovations Maximize Video QoE and Minimize Network Traffic

Mae Kowalke

As the consumer appetite for online video content grows, communication service providers (CSPs) find themselves increasingly marginalized in the market. Video content is usually delivered by third-party providers (e.g. companies such as BBC, Hulu, Netflix, CANAL+), which have their own relationships with end users and therefore earn any resulting incremental revenue.

Given marketplace realities, CSPs need to broaden their core businesses beyond merely providing connectivity. They must also offer enhanced digital media delivery. Doing this successfully requires innovative new methods of publishing/storage and caching using next generation content delivery networks (CDNs). These networks enable CSPs to transform themselves into entertainment providers and also allow them to leverage their networks without creating traffic bottlenecks near servers.

LTE is Changing Public Transportation Operational Security

By Erin Harrison

Long-term evolution (LTE) is driving many changes in the IT landscape, not the least of which is operational security in mass transit. Railway operators and law enforcement agencies are using a range of CCTV technologies in a variety of situations to improve public safety.  Alcatel-Lucent’s TrackTalk e-zine is a great source for information and insights on what LTE can do for enabling a host of capabilities including significantly upgrading in a cost-effective manner video surveillance, IP camera monitoring and what the future of CCTV and surveillance will look like.

In a recent article that takes an expert view perspective, aptly titled, The Changing Face of Operational Security, Jeremy Haskey, Transportation System Integration Division, Alcatel-Lucent notes that, “The hype surrounding the development of LTE is justified…With greater capacity, it has the potential to revolutionize video surveillance by carrying live high-definition video to individual handheld devices carried by security personnel, staff in control centers or directly to the emergency services. The HD images will improve zoom quality making grainy images associated with current CCTV applications a thing of the past.”

The Five "Ps" for Service Provider M2M Success: Prioritize, Placement, Participate, Partners and Persona

By Erin Harrison

The burgeoning of machine-to-machine (M2M) applications in our increasingly connected world — partly characterized as consisting of an “Internet of Things” — has made telecommunication companies look to diversify their M2M offerings beyond what can easily become ones based primarily on commoditized connectivity.

A recent Alcatel-Lucent Enriching Communications article, “The 5-Ps of M2M Key to Service Provider Success,” describes the five “P’s” as: 

  • Prioritize opportunities
  • Properly place their teams
  • Participate knowledgeably in the supply chain
  • Partner effectively
  • Establish a credible persona

They are based on findings of research firm Analysys Mason’s recently published, “M2M Communication Service Provider Scorecard: 2011.”

Taking Public Safety to the Next Level with Video Surveillance Using 4G LTE Wireless Broadband

By Mae Kowalke

Situational awareness is the perception of what is happening in one’s vicinity and understanding how information, events and actions will impact outcomes immediately and in the future. For public safety officials, situational awareness is achieved both through direct observations and through information conveyed by technology, often voice communications.

Voice communications is so ubiquitous in public safety, in fact, that one might think it’s the only means by which situational information is conveyed.

In a LifeTalk article, “Video is the Game Changer for Public Safety,” Philippe Agard, Vice President of Business Development at Alcatel-Lucent’s public safety division states that, “With the emphasis on voice radio, it’s easy to forget that voice is only one medium we use to communicate with one another, and not even the primary channel in face-to-face communications.”  He adds that, “Most experts will tell you that a relatively small portion of our message comes through in words, the remainder transmitted by tone, inflection, volume and body language.”

Together We Can Go Far: Alcatel-Lucent's ng Connect Program Drives Innovation for New Communications Technology Concepts

By Mae Kowlke

Thanks to significant advances in broadband communication technology in the past few years, people from many industries and disciplines are coming up with some pretty innovative ways to work, play and do business. These often-disparate innovations represent growing opportunity for even greater changes, and greater rewards, if devices, applications and infrastructures were more effectively brought together.

With that vision in mind, Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) founded the ng Connect Program, intended to create an end-to-end ecosystem for rapidly delivering next generation services and applications, by combining the resources of industry, business and academic leaders. Enterprises, consumers and service providers all stand to benefit.

The ng Connect Program rightly claims that, “The opportunity is unprecedented. “  It has eight main goals:

Leveraging the Power of the Cloud to Deliver Teleworking, Social Networking Services

By Beecher Tuttle

The idea that a company exists within the four walls of an office is quickly becoming antiquated. Today's enterprises are increasingly relying on remote workers – aka, “teleworkers” – to contribute to their core business.

The newfound prevalence of teleworking is due to a variety of factors, including recent advancements in technology, social trends and the sheer number of benefits that it can provide to both enterprises and their employees. These factors were recently referenced in a recent Enriching Communications posting, The Office is Not Always the Premises, by Bryan Davies, Director of Advanced Communications Solutions at Alcatel-Lucent (ALU).

Companies have begun to accept teleworking as a viable option because of its proven ability to help reduce costs. By hiring remote workers, enterprises can continue to grow in their current facility without needing to add office space or absorb an uptick in energy consumption. In addition, companies can reduce absenteeism by creating fewer impediments to an employee coming to work, says Davies.

Alcatel-Lucent 7705 SAR Solutions are Revolutionizing the IP/MPLS Backhaul Market

By Beecher Tuttle

Compensating for the ever-increasing demand for high-bandwidth connectivity is every service provider's number one concern.  This is for good reason. Next generation services can help mobile operators limit churn and enable them to tap into new revenue streams and improve their bottom lines.

Unfortunately, completely rebuilding a network is cost-prohibitive for most service providers.  This creates a quandary over what to do. One viable option for forward-thinking service providers is IP/MPLS backhaul solutions.  These enable carriers to leverage their existing broadband access infrastructure – whether it be microwave, copper (DSL) or fiber-based (GPON).  In the process they serve as the foundation for a flexible high-performance network, all without major capital expenditures or increased operating expenses.

Several broadband access solutions currently exist, but most all of them fail to successfully address broadband infrastructure backhaul requirements while leveraging DSL or GPON.

Cloud-Based Video Provides New Immersive Communications Capabilities

By Erin Harrison

Today’s end user is looking for a richer conversation experience when using a variety of network-connected devices.

For example, new technologies are emerging that allow people to use any video-enabled device to enter a shared virtual space, and discuss and share information in a way that is almost like being together in the same physical space. As a result, these advances in video communications have provided a new opportunity for service providers to bring interactive video conversations to any device, from anywhere.

According to an article in Alcatel-Lucent’s Enriching Communications, Immersive Communications: A New Video Conversation Experience, with these new technologies users will no longer be limited to the confines of telepresence rooms to experience an immersive conversation at long distance. They will be able to experience this at work, at home and on the move – holding video meetings and sharing documents over PCs, tablets and smartphones.

Achieving Network Optimization, Cost Savings with IP/MPLS Backhaul Solutions from Alcatel-Lucent

By Beecher Tuttle

Delivering high-quality, high-bandwidth business service connectivity at an economical price point is critical for today's service providers, who are being challenged by unremitting competition and ever-increasing subscriber traffic growth.

With this in mind, many forward-thinking operators have turned to Digital Subscriber Link (DSL) and Gigabit Passive Optical Networks (GPON) as access technologies for mobile backhaul (MBH) and business service delivery. These networks have been proven to provide high reliability and availability at a cost-effective price point using IP/MPLS backhaul.

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