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Enterprises Need a Converged Network to Meet Current and Future Requirements

Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

Bring-your-own-device, mobile video, virtualization and a greater need for quality of service have prompted the need to rethink the network. In fact, the exponential increase in traffic has added a sense of urgency on the part of enterprises to upgrade their networks.

What’s needed is a converged network, according to a recent paper by Alcatel-Lucent (ALU). Enterprise Converged Network Solution, which carries the subtitle, Deliver a Consistent and Quality User Experience, Streamline Operations and Reduce Costs.  With a long and deep history of providing state-of-the-art enterprise networks, ALY is advocating a converted, application-aware network that accounts for the latest evolutions in computing, yet is a resilient enough to meet both today’s needs and those of tomorrow.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.   

Mobile Application Assurance: The Ideal Business Engine


By Susan Campbell

Many mobile services available to consumers today are perceived as commodity services. The assumption is that every provider offers the same thing at the same level of quality. The result is that those willing to go the extra mile in terms of customer service are often those deemed worthy of customer business.

This perception is driving a new focus in this space as providers seek methods for:

  • Improving monitoring
  • Personalizing the experience
  • Optimizing the network resources
  • Enriching the customer experience to drive loyalty

As captured in this Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) TechZine article, Mobile Application Assurance, the main focus for any service provider should be on advanced deep packet inspection (DPI) for doing the above.

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