Next Generation Communications Blog

Wireless

The Cat Video Index: A Simple View of Data Costs

By: Andy Porter, Product Manager in the Payment, Policy and Charging department at Alcatel-Lucent

The Economist has its famous Big Mac index for comparing buying power across countries. But I wanted an index that focuses on the cost of mobile data usage. That meant I had to find a data-charging equivalent of the Big Mac. I needed an item that crosses cultural boundaries, is universally understood and is available worldwide.

I considered many possibilities. But the answer arrived when I saw my daughter laughing at a video of a cat playing a piano. Obviously, the mobile data equivalent of the Big Mac is the YouTube video. It’s a universally available service that is easily measured in quantitative terms, making it ideal for comparing mobile data costs.

In honor of my daughter, I chose the classic “piano-playing cat” as the baseline video. And by the way, this cat video has been viewed over 34 million times, proving its suitability as a baseline.

The proof is in: Measuring VoLTE, 3G and Skype in the Live Network

By: Ed Elkin, Director, IP Platforms Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent 

There’s been a lot of debate within the industry about VoLTE’s readiness and how it stacks up against 3G voice and applications like Skype.

Now Signals Research Group (SRG), a leading field research and consulting services leader covering the wireless telecommunications industry, has closely studied the performance of VoLTE, 3G and Skype in AT&T’s commercial network and issued their report.  As we noted last week, SRG conducted that independent network benchmark study in Minneapolis-St. Paul, in collaboration with Spirent Communications. This is a market where Alcatel-Lucent provides the infrastructure, so I’m particularly glad to share this report with my friends and colleagues who’ve helped design, deploy and optimize VoLTE. 

During June and July, SRG tested VoLTE, 3G and Skype for everyday conditions, including stationary and mobile locations, strong and weak radio coverage, and under a variety of network loading and multi-tasking conditions. The tests evaluated voice quality, call setup time, call reliability, eSRVCC handovers, network resource utilization, and battery life.

Who's Afraid of Interoperability?

By: Mike Schabel, VP, Small Cells, Alcatel-Lucent

In our never ending quest to deliver higher capacity networks and more effectively deliver a true broadband experience to wireless consumers, our industry continuously engages in vigorous debates about new technology, architecture, and processes followed by rapid acceptance and adoption.

I only look to small cells as an example, where the industry has quickly evolved from a macro-centric view that small cells were an unnecessary nuisance, to the current view where they are accepted as necessary for scaling the network and create compelling new opportunities for network optimization, efficiency and applications. With the small cell debate behind us, we have turned to new ones: How should we use unlicensed or shared spectrum? How do we enable a centralized SON layer in the field that works across multiple vendors?

Is the Connected Car Going to Replace your Smartphone?

By: Anthony Trinh (@Trinh_Anthony), Integrated Marketing Assistant, Alcatel-Lucent 

What if you didn’t need to have your phone beside you at all times? What if instead, you can use your own car to connect with you, direct you and protect you wherever you go?

Well, by 2022, a Telefónica Industry Report (PDF) predicts that there will be 1.8 billion automotive Machine-to-Machine (M2M) connections that can do just that. This will comprise 700 million Connected Cars and 1.1 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices for services such as navigation, insurance, stolen vehicle recovery (SVR) and infotainment. In fact, Machina Research predicts that by 2020, 90% of new cars will feature built-in connectivity platforms, growing from less than 10% today.

Connected Cars will not replace smartphones - merely it’s a way to extend the IoT connectivity and bring the everyday lifestyle right to the car. Ellis Lindsay’s blog on Connected Cars as an everyday lifestyle does a great job of explaining this concept. He goes into detail about connected cars giving us the ability to link our life experiences – whether it’s our deadlines, travel plans, monthly payments or Facebook notifications – to wherever we are and wherever we go.

How to Speed Small Cell Site Acquisition on a Large Scale

By: Jean Jones, Director, Wireless Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent

Outdoor small cells are now widely recognized as a great solution for expanding mobile capacity and coverage. And their use is expected to grow sevenfold by 2018.[1] So here’s the next big question: How can you put these cells where they’re needed, faster and at lower cost?

Maybe you’ve already encountered deployment issues, including difficulties with small cell site acquisition. According to an Informa Telecoms & Media survey, nearly 60% of mobile operators say that deployment problems are their biggest small cell challenge.[2] In other words, operators’ top concerns are not about small cell technologies or products. Instead, they’re about the practical aspects of getting these cells up and running on light posts, utility poles, bus stops, buildings and other street locations.

This blog looks at a collaborative approach that makes these deployment processes faster and easier. Alcatel-Lucent adopted these methods for our Metro Cell Express Site Certification Program. And we’re discussing them here, because this business model earned a top award in the small cell innovation leadership category.

Connected Cars as an Everyday Lifestyle

By: Ellis Lindsay, General Manager, Customer Experience Solutions, Alcatel-Lucent 

I drive to work and back home in my car every day. I tune in to a radio station for traffic news and upcoming events nearby. Like many of you I’m sure, this is a typical everyday activity. And like never before, we are connected to our home, our families, our phones, our work and our friends in a network that seems to be always on. Shouldn’t we be in a lifestyle where we are consistently connected to the everyday activities in our lives? Well, let me introduce you to the world of Connected Cars.

Enterprise Service Gateways Help Operators Extend Their Mobile VPN Offerings

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

The emergence of cloud computing and mobility, not to mention bring-your-own-device trend (BYOD), has introduced a strong need for mobile virtual private networks (VPNs). Yet, most operators are only able to offer mobile VPNs to larger customers since their fixed-line VPN infrastructure is often separate from their cellular infrastructure.

One solution to this problem, outlined in a recent TechZine article, Mobile VPNs for Enterprises of All Sizes, by Jan Vandehoudt, Principal Consulting Engineer and Patrick McCabe, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Alcatel-Lucent, is for mobile network operators to use an enterprise services gateway (ESG).

We ask the experts: How can exceptional QoE be achieved in VoLTE networks?

By: Jean Jones, Director, Wireless Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent

What does voice over LTE (VoLTE) offer your subscribers? Better voice quality, including HD voice. Rich communications with messaging and video. And whatever inventive applications you choose to introduce. In other words, VoLTE can provide a superior quality of experience (QoE) for subscribers and give you a competitive edge — particularly when your service operates at its best. 

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In my last blog[CCE1] , our experts explained why an end-to-end strategy is the key to maintaining peak VoLTE performance. Now we’ll look at how this strategy gets put into practice to optimize real-world service offerings. The information here is based on interviews with Luis Venerio who works with our VoLTE Readiness Services team. And his observations come straight from his experience on VoLTE deployments that serve millions of subscribers.

Third Party Pays Mobile Data Plans Hit the Market

Alcatel-Lucent’s Rich Crowe continues the dialogue on the Six Degrees of Mobile Data Plan Innovation by examining recent market developments in third party pays mobile data.

Syntonic Wireless™ is bringing sponsored data to AT&T customers. The Seattle-based mobile services company’s new Syntonic Sponsored Content StoreSM, creates an open marketplace where AT&T’s iOS and Android customers can find and consume free or premium content without consuming their data plans. Integrated with AT&T’s Sponsored DataSM service, the Syntonic Sponsored Content Store operates on the third party pays concept, one of the six degrees of mobile data plan innovation.

When it announced Sponsored Data in January 2014, AT&T offered a vision for a service that would give sponsors new ways to engage with customers and employees. Sponsors could come from industries as diverse as healthcare, retail, media and entertainment, and financial services. They could use sponsored data in a variety of different ways, including:

How signaling spikes affect networks: 3 real-world examples

By: Josee Loudiadis, Director of Network Intelligence, Alcatel-Lucent

Data and signaling growth are usually good news for network operators, since growth often translates into higher revenues. But when growth is averaged over a month or quarter, the daily highs and lows of network activity are smoothed out. And signaling spikes remain hidden within the averages. These spikes can overwhelm available signaling capacity, which impairs the customer experience, as well as the operator’s reputation.

What happens when a spike occurs? Typically, a CPU Overload alarm appears on various mobile nodes. And the Network Operations Center (NOC) immediately starts praying that the burst is short-lived and doesn’t go over maximum peak-rate capacity. Because when that happens, all consumers are denied service access. Then, the process of identifying the source of the problem begins. This can be arduous, because it often involves applications completely out of NOC control. And the issue can’t be resolved easily without solid network analytics that enables engagement with application and device developers.

That’s the reason signaling information is a crucial part of the Alcatel-Lucent Mobile Apps Rankings report and why LTE World 2014 devotes an entire pre-conference day to the topic. It’s also why this blog offers a closer look at how some real-world disruptive signaling spikes got started — and were finally resolved.

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