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CloudBand Delivers NFV Solution for Network Operators

Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

As you already know, the cloud is one of the megatrends of our times, and service providers are embracing the open cloud with the help of network functions virtualization (NFV).

An NFV platform enables providers to run network functions on a homogeneous, distributed cloud infrastructure. Using an NFV solution, they can port network functions such as communications and messaging applications and fixed and mobile network functions over to a virtual machine environment. Freed from proprietary, physical hardware, providers can leverage this virtualized infrastructure as the basis for their own service platforms and operations.

Seeing the opportunity inherent in NFV, as described in detail in an applications note Alcatel-Lucent has developed a purpose-built NFV platform for service providers, CloudBand. The platform supports distributed clouds and dynamic network control to meet application demands, and it optimizes network operations by automating cloud node management, application lifecycle management, smart placement and network configuration.

Keeping Up With the Modern-Day Nomads

By Philip Carden, Head of Alcatel-Lucent Consulting Services

Meet the digital nomads, a growing group of heavy mobile data users that's redefining how service providers think about connectivity.

There is a small, but growing, new class of data users amongst us. You've likely spotted one – that man hunched over a laptop at your neighborhood coffee shop, the woman swiping through a tablet in the park, or even that teen on the train whose eyes are glued to a video on his larger-than-average smartphone.

They are the digital nomads. Unlike the hunters and gatherers of the past, these nomads are always connected, regardless of where they are, and their expectations for connectivity have never been higher.

Innovation Allows Broadband to Get to Fast Faster

By Susan Campbell

Demands on broadband providers have been nothing short of intense the last few years. The predicted “data storm” has arrived and users now expect more flexibility, capability, quality performance, and access to rich applications and features. This can be a challenge for service providers trying to meet the need, but is also creating new opportunities and revenue streams when challenges are overcome to improve service delivery overall.

A recent Alcatel-Lucent blog, Connecting the World – from Innovation to Reality, highlights these opportunities. Author Dave Geary, President Alcatel-Lucent Wireline, points out the socio-economic benefits of broadband. And, while we’re aware of the increase in mobility and growing demand for access, there are also a few other stats that may be surprising for some vendors, including that wirelines still mater.

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.

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.

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.   

Demand for Connected Services Drives Need for Customer Experience Solutions

By Erin Harrison

Demand for broadband services is growing at an explosive pace as consumers look for richer and more personalized connected customer experiences. But service providers’ fast and reliable networks can’t win over every customer. In addition, competition from new brands is making it tougher to differentiate with devices, services and pricing. In short, to stay competitive, service providers (SPs) have an imperative to cater to the needs of the market that goes beyond traditional approaches.

While consumers are aware that new technologies can bring added complexity, they also expect their devices and services to keep bringing them simpler and more compelling experiences. Based on these trends, SPs need new differentiators to remain competitive. To stand out and deliver market leading customer experiences, SPs need to make their offers easier to buy, easier to use with more user-friendly options for payment.

Alcatel-Lucent’s Motive portfolio of solutions offers a four-pronged approach for SPs to step up their games.

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.”

IMS Provides Eco-Efficiency Choices, Creates New Revenue Opportunities

By Erin Harrison

Two opposing forces are driving the need for more efficient use of energy – the increased use of mobile device coupled with the power needed to sustain their use are necessitating that the telecom industry step up its efforts to improve eco-efficiency overall.

Given the trend of increased demands of today’s mobile users – and the proliferation of new and different end-user applications and devices – an IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) is a smart choice for service providers who are also looking for new revenue opportunities.

“Consumers are no longer content with a simple telephone; they want broadband and accessibility, wherever they are, on any device they choose. They want access to information, plus instant and reliable communications,” a recent whitepaper by Alcatel-Lucent (ALU), “Alcatel-Lucent IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS): Eco-efficiency Makes Economic Sense,” points out.

Rich Communications Suite -- SP Tool to Monetize the New Social Conversation Experience

By Mae Kowalke

In an increasingly competitive marketplace, service providers (SPs) are staying one step ahead by finding new and innovative ways monetize their offerings. For providers who recognize and leverage it effectively, the emerging new social conversation experience arising from the pervasive adaption and use of social media is proving to be a valuable tool in this endeavor.

Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) has been busy developing solutions for fixed and mobile SPs to help them leverage the evolution of social media. On the mobility side, much of this development has been focused on two technical projects—Rich Communication Suite (RCS) and RCS-enhanced (RCS-e)—led by the Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA).

In a recent white paper, “Building a Social Conversation Experience with RCS and RCS-E,” Alcatel-Lucent researchers explain that RCS (developed in 2008) is intended to:  “Leverage the global interoperability and ubiquity of existing voice services and Short Message Services (SMSs) and enrich them with Internet-type features more in line with user demand.”

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.

How Service Providers Can Capitalize on the Enterprise Cloud Market

By Beecher Tuttle

With the demand for cloud services expanding rapidly, service providers are in a unique position to exploit new markets and generate new revenue, in addition to benefiting from the significant capital expenditure (CAPEX) and operating expenditure (OPEX) savings associated with a cloud infrastructure.

However, to fully capitalize on this market opportunity, service providers need to develop an accurate sense of current and future market conditions as well as enterprise attitudes and perceptions of the cloud.

In an effort to provide a more granular look at these conditions and attitudes  Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) recently conducted a global study, “Soaring into the Cloud,” involving nearly 4,000 IT decision makers (ITDMs) from medium, large and multi-national companies.

ALU researchers found that 78 percent of companies are currently employing at least one cloud-based application, with organizations in tech, professional services and manufacturing/defense leading the way. Healthcare, government and education enterprises rely less on the cloud, but not by any significant margin.

It Takes a Village to Deliver Rich Communications

By Erin Harrison

As service providers (SPs) shift to all IP-networks, users expect features to become standardized.  This gives SPs an opportunity to provide their customers a new conversation experience.

A recent Alcatel-Lucent Enriching Communications article, “RCS Success Requires Community-based Ecosystem,” highlighted how the market for Rich Communications Services (RCS) has changed based on two developments that have converged — accelerating deployment of wired and wireless end-to-end IP networks and the rapid rollout and adoption of rich communications applications and services.

Living Video: A New Conversation Experience

By Erin Harrison

One of the reasons video is so pervasive today is because of the personal dynamic it brings to conversations and meetings, creating higher-level interactions. Just like a face-to-face conversation, video brings subtleties and other nuances that cannot be communicated in an email or text.

A recent article in Alcatel-Lucent’s Enriching Communications, Living Video Conversations Go Mainstream, details how “living video” gives service providers opportunities to deliver a compelling new conversation experience. It says mobile networks, devices and people are ready for enriched video conversations, and service providers’ are in a position to deliver them.  

Ready, set and go

Voice over LTE (VoLTE) -- Starting the New Mobile Conversation


By Erin Harrison

 

Most of us are familiar with the technology of Voice over IP (VoIP) – which simplistically is the use of the Internet Protocol to do voice communications over data networks that include the Internet itself.  And, while most VoIP traffic has been over wired networks, a new voice technology is evolving called Voice over LTE (VoLTE) that is shifting the communications paradigm and enabling new services beyond traditional telephony over mobile networks.

In a recent article in Alcatel-Lucent’s Enriching Communications e-zine, The New Mobile Conversation Starts with VoLTE, author Edmund Elkin states that, “It’s no longer a question of whether VoLTE is the right choice for the new mobile conversation. It’s really a matter of determining when to begin the move to VoLTE, developing a migration strategy and selecting a partner to accompany them on the journey.”

New Revenue Opportunities Possible with the New Conversation Experience


By Susan Campbell

Service provider (SP) revenues are taking significant revenue hits from application and content providers (ACPs) as the disaggregation of content from physical access shifts value generation opportunities toward third parties.  At the same time SPs are also attempting to ward off “free” offerings, such as people using things like Skype for making phone calls who are willing to put up with inferior quality, by attracting people to superior services they will pay a premium for.  The challenge, which every day gains more urgency, is how to react to both trends. 

The objective is to be relevant and central in evolving ecosystems and thereby be in a position to maximize new opportunities while minimizing risks. The vehicle for turning things around is embodied in the desirability of creating a new conversation experience with customers based on a holistic strategic approach.

A recent Alcatel-Lucent article, The Value of the New Conversation Experience highlighted the need for service providers to increase the average revenue per user and reduce churn, two of the major revenue corrosive issues. It focused on the reality that to accomplish these goals, SPs must quickly bring to market enhanced service bundles and also rapidly introduce innovative service offerings with compelling and differentiated perceivable value as critical to combating free services.

Permission-Based Mobile Marketing Strategies Hold Value for Advertisers, Operators and Consumers

By Beecher Tuttle

The influx of smartphones, tablets and next-generation networks has created a number of new ways for brands and marketing agencies to reach consumers. Unfortunately, many of today's mobile marketing techniques fail to engage consumers, who often find the advertisements to be bothersome, intrusive and unrelated to their interests.

One innovative and effective way to bridge this gap is a strategy called permission-based mobile marketing, a targeted advertising technique that changes the marketing paradigm by creating a dialogue with consumers, rather than an invasive, one-sided monologue.

The basic premise of permission-based mobile marketing is rather simple: users opt-in and give their consent for brands to send them targeted, preference-based marketing materials for products and services that they are interested in. If executed properly, a permission-based mobile marketing strategy can create value for brands, agencies, consumers and mobile network operators.

Creating The New Conversation Experience


By Susan Campbell

Humans are an increasingly mobile species, relying on technology to keep them connected to people, information, processes and more. While continued mobile technology innovation is a key in meeting the needs of a rapidly changing world, consumers are now demanding more than just technology – they want a new conversation experience. This experience is focused not solely on technology, but instead on improving the content and context of human interactions.

A recent Alcatel-Lucent (ALU) article in the company’s Enriching Communications business e-zine entitled, Needed: A New Conversation Experience, the focus was on the importance of human interactions, stressing that the new conversation experience needed to be more personal, secure, social and mobile. It detailed how network intelligence will enable the new conversation experience and as well as how open innovation helps to enhance the experience, while also encouraging service uptake and loyalty for service providers (SPs).

Driving DSL Network Performance Excellence with Motive Network Analyzer

Susan J. Campbell

Driving DSL Network Performance Excellence with Motive Network Analyzer

A dramatic rise in the performance required of digital subscriber line (DSL) networks is being caused by consumer adoption of bandwidth-demanding triple-play services. With the support of new real-time voice and high-definition video services, DSL network lines are now operating closer to their physical limits. This is straining copper and fiber capabilities and making them more vulnerable to quality and stability problems in delivering high quality experiences to individual households.  

To meet these challenges, service providers must have the right tools and processes to meet the expectations of customers on DSL networks, while also preventing the escalation of operational expenses (OPEX) in doing so even as migrations to all fiber connections are taking place.

This fall Alcatel-Lucent announced that its Motive Network Analyzer surpassed the 100 customer mark. The big draw for this solution is its ability to enable service providers to identify, diagnose and troubleshoot all DSL problems across fiber and copper that can affect the customers’ experience when leveraging broadband service.

The "Neo-Urbanization" of India -- Live Research on the Role of Information and Communications Technology (ICT)


By Erin Harrison 

Urbanization is modernizing many areas of the world that were previously without access to healthcare, education, employment – and technology. 

According to Alcatel-Lucent, 60 percent of the world’s population expected to live in cities by 2025, which means that “neo-urbanization” — the transformation of historically rural and typically impoverished areas into cities — will have far-reaching implications and impact, including improved quality of life for countries with exploding populations.

 

In literally a quest for a deeper understanding of the impacts of all this the Alcatel-Lucent Market and Consumer Insight group has teamed up with IMRB International to piece together the “neo-urbanization” puzzle. The group is traveling across areas of India to better understand the “neo-urbanization” phenomenon in the Indian context and predicting how it will unfold in the next five to 10 years.

How Service Providers Can Take On Customer Experience Challenges


By Erin Harrison

It's indisputable that improving the customer experience, the way end users interface with a company's support people and business processes, will improve the service provider's bottom line.

According to Alcatel-Lucent, customer experience challenges that service providers face include: the cost of acquiring new customers; technical support and customer support/help desk.

“For many service providers, the new path to profitability is a holistic approach focused on anticipating customers’ needs and improving their Quality of Experience (QoE),” according to an Alcatel-Lucent article that points out the customer experience has not always been a priority for service providers.

Wireless Service Providers Rely on lightRadio to Optimize MIMO Gains on LTE Networks



By Susan J. Campbell

As a service provider, what potential opportunities emerge if you were able to improve capacity, coverage and performance? With lightRadio technologies, you can gain support for current and anticipated wireless technologies that will address quality and growth changes; combine advancements in radios, antennas and baseband processing to support cloud principles, virtualization and architectural flexibility; and enable easy reprogramming and reconfiguration of network elements.

In this Alcatel-Lucent
lightRadio Technology Overview, the innovations to address service provider challenges is explored. These challenges easily include adding more radios, antennas, towers and processing capacity; increasing spectral bandwidth; supporting new technologies; and making better use of cell site capacity. The development of lightRadio by Alcatel-Lucent focuses on optimizing total network costs over time so each wireless provider can make the most of their existing assets and capabilities.

Future Scenarios of Small Cells Technology Market Opportunities

By Erin Harrison

Last week we focused on the consumer market opportunities being realized by small cells technology.  For operators, capital expenses (CAPEX) and operation expenses (OPEX) savings can be achieved by using small cells networks to deliver mobile broadband services, rather than the current macro network, according to the experts at Alcatel-Lucent.

In addition, new incremental service revenue can be generated from pre-qualified 3G and broadband subscribers. In some countries, the savings are substantial and actually outstrip potential revenue.

By increasing service quality and connection speeds indoors, small cells can improve voice calls and provide faster, more reliable data connections and coverage. Small cells are low-powered radio access points that improve indoor and outdoor coverage to increase capacity and offload traffic – as much as 80 percent during peak times.

In the whitepaper, “Small Cells Technology Fuels New Consumer Market Opportunities,” Alcatel-Lucent developed forecasts for five national markets, and analyzed results from the survey and market penetration simulations. The results found that Asia will lead, while the United States and Europe will follow in capturing the new market opportunities found in small cells technology.

Delivering a Better Mobile Broadband Customer Experience Influences the Bottom Line

By Erin Harrison

In today’s highly competitive mobile broadband market, it’s all about the customer. We all know that poor customer service not only gives a company a bad rap, but it ultimately eats away from their bottom line.

To keep customers on board and generate long-term success, service providers need to put more focus on the overall customer experience, according to the experts at Alcatel-Lucent. For many service providers, they say, the new path to profitability is a “holistic” approach focused on anticipating customers’ needs and improving their quality of experience (QoE).

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