Next Generation Communications Blog


Small Cells Put Extra Pressure on the Evolved Packet Core

By Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

Small cells are a boon for mobile network operators, as they easily and cheaply expand wireless network connectivity. However, they also can strain an operator’s evolved packet core (EPC).

“The EPC may be called upon to deliver a significant increase in scale, capacity, and performance beyond that which was required initially to support the macro-cellular network,” noted David Nowoswiat, Sr. Product and Solutions Marketing Manager, Alcatel-Lucent in a recent TechZine posting, Is your EPC ready for the small cells onslaught? He suggests that operators look at three areas when examining if their EPC is up for the challenge.

How Popular Applications Can Impact Mobile Carrier Networks

By: Paula Bernier, TMC Executive Editor

Carriers’ mobile networks are extremely vulnerable to sudden changes in the signaling behavior of popular applications. In fact, Patrick McCabe, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Alcatel-Lucent, devolves into this subject in some detail in a recent blog, Google’s power to impact network signaling.  In fact, while Google Cloud Messages provide an example in the blog, the companies recent Mobile Device Report goes into the topic regarding the impact of the top mobile apps on signaling in greater detail.

SurePay Helps U.S. Mobile Operators Overcome Challenges with Flexible Prepaid Charging Options

By: Peter Bernstein, TMCnet Senior Editor

There a few things more confounding to mobile service providers in hotly contested markets than missing out on opportunities to generate more revenues and profits from what have been lightly used services.  This is particularly the case in the United States where unlike much of the world where prepaid services are the norm, it is estimated that roughly 19 percent of U.S. subscribers avail themselves of these services.

That said, and despite some cultural and addressable market challenges, U.S. mobile services providers can change the game in their favor as prepaid is already experiencing significant growth due to a variety of factors, and if done correctly is poised according to research firm Yankee Group is to grow over the next few years faster than the overall telecommunications.

Private LTE Networks Boost Mining Efficiency

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

The mining industry is booming thanks not only to natural resource demands in China, but also because every electronic device, including smartphones a lot of the precious materials that miners pull from the earth. For example, an iPhone contains gold, silver, platinum, copper and many rare earth elements like Yttrium, Lanthanum, Neodymium, Gadolinium and Europium.

Keeping these bustling mines efficient requires a highly reliable, accessible, secure and high-performance communications network. The reason is the mines tend to be operational 24/7/365. It is a major factor in why many mines are in the process of or evaluating upgrading their communications networks, since the existing Wi-Fi, 2G, 3G, proprietary VHF and PMR options are not keeping pace with mining information interchange demands of all types.

Sponsored Data Plans Can Help Keep Mobile Subscribers Connected

By: Paula Bernier, TMC Executive Editor 

It’s no secret that many of us these days are very attached to our smartphones and tablets. Yet for all the entertainment and value these devices – and the applications, information, and people they can access – provide, nobody likes getting bills from their wireless carriers. That’s especially true when the dollar figure at the bottom of those bills increase.

But there are some options mobile carriers might want to consider to help keep their subscribers’ data plan bills more manageable, and keep their customers happier. One way to allow for that is by introducing sponsored data charging programs.

Sponsored data charging programs are an effective way mobile carriers can help their subscribers justify the cost of connectivity, while growing their own user bases and expanding their ecosystems to include more application providers and marketers. That’s the word from Barbara Sampson, senior marketing manager for policy and charging PLM marketing, and Thomas King, manager of the policy and charging portfolio, at Alcatel-Lucent. The two wrote a recent TechZine posting, Operators benefit from sponsored data charging, that details how mobile operators can prosper with these types of programs.

Next Gen Wireless is Fueling African Developing Nation Growth

By: Paula Bernier, TMC Executive Editor

There tends to be a prejudice in the press for covering the latest and greatest technology and how it is being used in the developed world. The reality is that especially when it comes to wireless, the impact of having ubiquitous and affordable access to communications, not just for voice but for data (aka the Internet), is busy transforming the developed world in ways that may be even more profound.

In fact, in the developing world, connectivity is the lifeblood of economic progress improving not just commerce itself but also the delivery of healthcare and as a tool for rapidly improving the education of young and old alike.  Data is where it is at, and 4G has become as important in the developing world as in the developed. 

A great example of this is in the work Alcatel-Lucent has done with aggressive mobile services provider Smile in Tanzania and the Ivory Coast.  One interesting factoid is that in Tanzania, for every 1 landline subscriber there are 166 mobile phone subscribers.  In short, the age old problem of increasing tele-density in the developing world as the engine for progress is being conquered and with impressive speed that has opened the eyes of man

Small Cells Fill the Gap in Mobile Network Infrastructure

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

There will be 70 billion connected devices globally by 2020, according to a recent Alcatel-Lucent posting. That’s a lot of demand on operator networks.

“We know that there’s a new market and new problem here to solve,” said Mike Schabel, senior vice-president of small cells for the wireless division at Alcatel-Lucent. “To handle the expected volume, we would need to significantly increase the number of cell towers used in the network. So we made [base stations] smaller.”

Small cells represent the future of the network for operators. They are cheap, easy to deploy, and can be adapted to deliver the right amount of coverage for an area of heavy use.

For In-Building Cellular Small Cells Have You Covered

By: Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor

Large office buildings sometimes encounter a troubling problem in the form of poor cellular reception for employees. With atriums, business space in basements, internal walls and glass windows, more than one “modern architectural masterpiece” has discovered that workers lose cell coverage when they enter the building.

Of course, there are steps that can fix such problems even after a building is constructed. One of the best options is small cells technology for good in-building cellular coverage.

Analyzing the mobile devices connected to today's network

By: Patrick McCabe, Senior Marketing Manager, Alcatel-Lucent

We know from our own experience and from anecdotal evidence that mobile devices are proliferating and that mobile data usage is growing rapidly. This tremendous change necessitates change to the underlying network, too. But in order to make the best choices in terms of infrastructure investment, mobile service providers must have accurate data showing what devices are being used and which consume the most data and signaling resources. 

VoLTE Challenges: The Case for Integrated Policy, Charging and Diameter Signaling

By: Peter Bernstein, TMCnet Senior Editor

VoLTE Challenges: The Case for Integrated Policy, Charging and Diameter Signaling

Hopefully, Voice over LTE (VoLTE) has arrived or is coming to your preferred mobile service provider.  As mobile networks transform into end-to-end IP ones, the business case for VoLTE as a means for mobile operators to provide differentiated services, including high definition voice and multiple media ones, has become compelling and taken on a sense of urgency. 

Indeed, it is being viewed strategically as a way for service providers to distinguish their services on the basis of Quality of Experience (QoE) from 3G and OTT voice apps. It is also seen as providing competitive advantage because of its ability to enable end users to seamlessly move from a voice call to a video call, or shift from one device to another in the midst of the conversation.  It is why interest in accelerating VoLTE deployments is so high. 

However, network transformations are not easy.  VoLTE deployment and operations is an interesting case in point.  It brings unique challenges for service providers related to policy control, charging and Diameter signaling control.  Steffen Paulus, Director of Product Marketing, Alcatel-Lucent has some interesting insights worth sharing on the need for integrated policy, charging and Diameter signaling in a virtualized solution, as the path forward for VoLTE success.  This is particularly relevant in light of Alcatel-Lucent’s recent launch of its End-to-End Voice over LTE (E2E VoLTE) solution that is an integral part of the Rapport multimedia real-time communications platform which has been architected specifically to me service provider and enterprise needs.

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