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MACH, a provider of solutions for the creation and operation of the mobile communications supply chain, today unveiled a new strategy which, it says, will see the company extend its reach throughout the wireless roaming and messaging markets, and paves the way for further expansion into the mobile content and applications market.

At the GSMA BARG#74 event, which MACH is hosting in Copenhagen, the company announced its intention to play a key role in the execution and analysis of every transaction in the new "connected" world, allowing Communications Service Providers (CSP's) to build, deliver and optimise customer-centric services and applications.

"To be in every transaction in a connected world, MACH will be the leading global provider in all three areas of the mobile value chain - interconnectivity, interoperability and settlement," said Lodewijk Cornelis, MACH CMO. "We are already well-positioned within each of these areas. Our SMS services already interconnect operators. Our Link2One hub, Inter-Standard Roaming services and Data Clearing business enable interoperability, and our market-leading Financial Clearing services provide settlement solutions for operators all over the world."

MACH says its new strategy is founded on the 'industry's first' hub-based mobile communications exchange, called HUB-XC.  HUB-XC is a suite of integrated hubbing applications and managed services that connect any provider of any mobile application over any technology to build, deliver and monetise customer-centric mobile business models. It automates high volume transactions flows to accelerate time to market, to increase service reliability and to reduce operational costs. According to MACH, its hubbing applications are at the heart of the mobile value chain, providing many-to-many hub-based interconnectivity, interoperability and settlement services through a single connection, they can capture and analyse transactions data to provide real-time insight that drives business optimisation.

"The hub-based infrastructure announced by MACH today will play a key role in supporting existing business models and in advancing the pace of innovation in the mobile market," said Angela Stainthorpe, Senior Analyst, Informa Telecoms & Media. "By pulling together managed service solutions that allow diverse providers to connect, do business together and settle inter-operator liabilities, MACH is building on its core expertise to enhance both the efficiency of the market and the experience of the mobile consumer."

HUB-XC offers hubbing applications for business processes including roaming, SMS traffic, business intelligence, partner management, testing, clearing and settlement, revenue assurance, and network interconnect.

"MACH's long and deep experience enabling mobile operator businesses forms the foundation for the strategy we have announced today," said Guy Dubois, President and CEO, MACH. "For the very first time, our hub-based exchange offers providers of all kinds a conduit through which to execute innovative, customer-focused business ideas - eliminating complexity so that they can get on with delighting their customers."

"It is a conduit which unites providers so that they can build new services and bring them quickly to market," Mr Dubois went on to say. "It connects providers so that they can deliver those services to optimise the customer experience. And it empowers providers to seek out new business opportunities, to realise those opportunities, and to protect revenue and maximise profitability. Today marks the beginning of a very exciting future for MACH and for the mobile market."

Vodafone Roaming Services and United Hubbing, providers of roaming solutions for the global telecommunications industry, announced today they have entered into a Roaming Hub peering agreement to extend global roaming services.

Under the plans, network operators connected to both Roaming Hubs will be able to roam on all other network operators on the two Hubs.  The agreement is said to enable connected operators to accelerate the provision of world wide roaming services to both their pre-paid and post-paid customers.

Dave Smithwhite, Director of Vodafone Roaming Services said: "Vodafone Roaming Services aims to empower our business customers by helping them to deliver easy and worry free communications anywhere in the world. This peering relationship is a significant step forward in achieving this ambition and demonstrates that the Roaming Hubbing concept, as defined by the GSMA, can accelerate the expansion of global roaming footprints benefiting customers and leading to an increase in roaming minutes".

Sergey Rykov, CEO of United Hubbing, welcomed the agreement by saying: "This great combination will allow network operators to quickly and cost effectively gain substantial additional coverage for their subscribers by joining the Hub and is an exciting opportunity for networks to expand their global footprint. Commercially, this is a great opportunity for networks to tap into new sources of revenue, in a cost effective way".

Interxion, a  European operator of carrier-neutral data centres, and the Internet Neutral Exchange (INEX), Ireland's Internet Peering Point, today announced a partnership agreement that will extend INEX's infrastructure into Interxion's two Dublin data centres. The agreement will enable Interxion customers to reduce latency and transit costs by peering directly with the 42 IP networks currently connected to INEX.  

For existing INEX Members, this agreement also provides the opportunity to deploy resilient connections to the exchange infrastructure in the security of Interxion's existing DUB1 facility and the recently announced DUB2 data centre. Interxion's two data centres will provide over 2,000m2 of equipped space, with significant additional space available for future expansion.

The new INEX POP will go live in DUB1 this month and DUB 2 on completion of the facility in early 2010.  Locating in the Interxion facilities will give INEX access to state-of-the-art, fault-tolerant and fully redundant equipped infrastructure with an SLA of up to 99.999% and high-density power as standard. 25 leading carriers and ISPs are currently housed with Interxion Ireland.

"INEX is dedicated to delivering a world class IP peering service to its members and key to this is ensuring that the exchange infrastructure is in place in the key data centres," said Barry Rhodes, Chief Executive of INEX.  "By hosting our newest POP in Interxion, we are reaching out to new prospective members for the exchange who are already located there and also providing our existing members with an additional alternative for resilient connections to the network in a world-class, carrier-neutral data centre."

Our new, closer working relationship with INEX confirms our position as Ireland's leading connectivity hub and brings benefits to both our customers and INEX members," said Tanya Duncan, Interxion Ireland Managing Director. "At Interxion, INEX members can build out secure, serviced network and content-delivery infrastructure as and when they need it, and Interxion customers can gain improvements in quality and cost-effectiveness by peering directly at INEX."

Huawei and Aircom International today jointly announced a partnership to drive product interoperability and system integration.  The tie-up is claimed to secure future OSS (Operation Support System) and interoperability of network management products, ensuring that only minimal customisation and testing will be required by network operators implementing a Huawei/Aircom solution.

The integration technology partnership is said to be focused on network performance and configuration management. Aircom network planning tools OPTIMA and DATASAFE will be integrated with Huawei's wireless solutions via its iManager M2000 management system.  iManager M2000 is the unified platform that provides centralised management to all wireless technologies of Huawei, including GSM, UMTS, CDMA, WiMAX, LTE and more.

"As the leader in mobile networks, Huawei's robust investment in LTE research and development has accelerated the commercialisation of LTE technology.  It is essential that Aircom technology integrates with Huawei solutions as seamlessly as possible, to guarantee a positive user experience for network operators," said Ricky Watts, Chief Technology Officer, Aircom International.  "Our close working relationship with Huawei will ensure Aircom can develop and verify all technology interfaces, regardless of version." 

"The partnership presents clear advantages for both parties, enhancing our mutual customer's satisfaction," said Zheng Yelai, vice president of Huawei's Wireless Product Line.  "Huawei is proven to be committed to supporting customers worldwide with high-quality products and services that will evolve seamlessly to the technology of the future and help customers enhance its competitiveness.  Through this partnership both companies will mutually benefit from respective customer footprints and global scale."

TM Forum, the world industry group focused on business effectiveness for the communications and media sectors, revealed today that residential broadband Communications Service Providers (CSPs) are meeting rising customer expectations for rapid service delivery and fast problem resolution. The assessment of residential broadband services is made in TM Forum's Insights Business Intelligence Report, "Winning in a Shrinking World: Seizing the Opportunities," based on TM Forum Business Benchmarking studies and Analysys Mason projections.

The report finds that residential broadband is growing faster than expected, with major expansions in portions of the developing and emerging markets, and migration to double- and triple-play bundles in developed markets.

Results from the Forum's Business Benchmarking studies show that best-in-class CSP service activation performance - the time from order to availability of customer-usable service - is one hour, while the average performance is about half a day. Leading CSPs are now meeting their service delivery commitments 95% of the time. This is dramatic improvement from the time when a CSP took two weeks to deliver broadband service as highlighted in TM Forum's 2006 Broadband Business Performance Study.

Support response times and numbers of incident re-reports have also improved, with best-in-class incident resolution performance of 1 hour - a dramatic drop from over 6 hours a year ago. Average incident resolution times have shortened by 67% and problem resolution now typically takes one day.

"Subscribers now have more CSPs to choose from, making broadband subscriber churn a reality," said Martin Creaner, president and COO, TM Forum. "Increased market share will go to service providers who provide residential broadband services at an attractive price with high quality."

"With increasing sales of VoIP and IPTV bundles, it has become critical to maintain residential broadband service continuity," added Tonia Graham, TM Forum Business Benchmarking program manager. "CSPs now have heightened commitment to service continuity and are treating their residential broadband customers with the same care that they provide subscribers who have Service Level Agreements."

MYCOM, a global provider of OSS Service Assurance software solutions and ICT professional services to the telecoms industry, today announced the successful completion of an integration of its Performance Management software, NIMS-PrOptima with HP TeMIP, a highly automated fault management solution.  

The integration enables real time management of network performance issues detected by NIMS-PrOptima to be automatically managed by HP TeMIP.  This allows network performance issues to be monitored around the clock in an operator's Network Operations Center (NOC).  Any network performance degradations can be quickly identified and dealt with before they impact the quality of customer service and any potential revenue loss.

MYCOM's Mounir Ladki, General Manager, Product Business Unit said, "Following successful testing, we have brought together two market-leading products with their own powerful features and delivered an integrated solution that maintains the significant individual component capabilities. This OSS solution is a major step towards cross domain correlation and automated NOCs."  He went on to say "Our cooperation with HP both underpins and reflects our endeavour to deliver fully integrated business process automation to telecom networks.  We see this as the future of network management."

The market for protecting business laptops, desktops and mobile devices with antivirus, encryption and firewall software will reach $16.4bn by 2014 according to a new security report by Juniper Research.  By that date network-based security provision to the business "endpoint" will account for close to 20% of the market, says Juniper.

Despite the ongoing move towards so-called "endpoint solutions", where IT security staff can manage the security on a company's desktops and other devices remotely through the network, demand for business IT security products will be driven by the need for encryption products, as devices become both more mobile and more likely to carry sensitive company information.

"From desktop to the mobile device, the encryption function will play an increasingly important role as both governments and businesses realise the vulnerability of data on corporate machines and the importance of data protection," says Juniper analyst Anthony Cox.

Data protection legislation covering personal information on company phones and other office hardware will lend further support to the encryption market, particularly in the US, Europe and Japan.  Indeed, though Endpoint and Unified Threat Management (UTM) options have been successfully sold to the market it is still difficult to provide all the elements of a business security solution in one package, particularly if mobile devices are to be protected as well. 

Other findings from the report:

  • Overall business security market (excluding mobile) will be worth $15.7bn by 2014
  • Encryption is set to increase at a rate of 26% to $4.3bn in 2014, largely on the back of legislation governing data protection.

The report looks at how the mobile and desktop business IT security market will develop and in which directions. The report forecasts both the number of corporate users protected as well as revenues for six areas of security: Basic antivirus and firewall security; Encryption and advanced authorisation functions; Advanced firewalls, Intrusion detection and prevention, Virtual private networks (VPN); Security policy management, endpoint security updates and provision; Security of corporate mobile devices.

TM Forum, the world industry group focused on business effectiveness for the communications and media sectors, today revealed the findings of its latest research in to the role of customer experience in communications service providers (CSPs). The research concludes that while CSPs remain challenged by inflexible legacy systems, a raft of data management issues, and recession-driven budget constraints, there is good news ahead.

The latest TM Forum Insights report, "Customer Experience Management: Driving Loyalty & Profitability," discusses why communications service providers must view improvements in customer experience as a profitable business strategy.  The report, which includes key findings and in-depth analysis from more than 20 leading communications service providers, explains how operators can benefit from a more holistic approach, focused on improving data management, solving customer experience issues across organizations, and increasing agility around customer responsiveness.

"Given the maturity of the core services market, service providers in the report say they will increasingly focus on customer experience and especially customer retention," said Rob Rich, managing director, TM Forum Insights and editor of the report.

"Because of the importance relegated to those critical success factors, most service providers surveyed also cited top management support, strong program governance and effective customer data management as the most important success factors for improving customer experience," added Rich.

In addition to service provider input, the report delves into key market forces such as:

  • market maturity
  • customer behavior and preferences
  • economic trends
  • emerging technologies.

"In examining these forces, it becomes clear CSPs must shun the ‘one-size-fits-all' approach of the past, as customer service is no longer an act of altruism, but instead a strategic initiative that impacts your bottom line," said Rich.

The report examines how pursuing an experience-led strategy and different approach has, for example, catapulted Apple Inc. to its most successful fiscal quarter, despite the global economic downturn. It highlights the role of customer experience management in increasing customer lifetime value, and ultimately increasing profitability. "We try to show how CSPs can build the same type of brand loyalty and profitability as an Apple if they approach customer experience strategically and holistically," added Rich.

NetApp has announced it will provide the storage infrastructure to support BT's new Virtual Data Centre (VDC). BT is offering a multi-tenanted service aimed at mid-sized and larger businesses that are looking to move all or part of their IT resources onto a pay for use platform.

BT already hosts data and applications for a wide range of UK businesses. VDC aims to move customers from tailored hosting arrangements to a service where organisations can buy the exact capacity they require. BT has added the ability to configure an entire data centre from a single console with the ability to provision servers, storage and network resources with built-in resilience and business continuity.

A blade service architecture, combined with NetApp storage systems and virtualisation software, allows BT customers to have their infrastructure and Windows-based applications up and running on the VDC in just five days. Once the system is up, existing VDC customers will be able to deploy a virtual server in as little as 15 minutes.

Because the NetApp storage infrastructure takes care of so much of the basic storage management, from snap-shotting and off-site replication to de-duplication, the storage infrastructure is largely self managing, needing little in the way of day-to-day support. The core storage infrastructure for VDC is based around NetApp FAS6080c clusters.

BT is said to have chosen NetApp hardware due the strong partnership the two companies have had for several years. BT already uses NetApp equipment extensively in its existing data centres.

The partnership with NetApp allows BT to provide the storage element of VDC in a highly cost effective way, which also provides the day-to-day storage management resources needed as part of the package. This will allow BT's engineers to focus their time and energy on revenue generating activities.

Craig Parker, head of global IT services propositions at BT Global Services, said: "NetApp's involvement in the development of VDC further builds on our successful track record in working together. The scalability of NetApp hardware and its ease of use enables us to fulfil customer provisioning orders made via VDC's self-service portal in a rapid and cost effective manner."

Martin Cooper, global technical account manager for BT at NetApp said: "BT VDC will provide a reliable, resilient and lower-cost alternative to in-house data centres, conventional, single tenancy outsourcing and one-size-fits-all hosted services. BT has taken the concept of server and storage virtualisation - already proven in customer's own data centres - and applied this to a hosted environment where IT infrastructure is provided as a service. NetApp is excited to be part of this offering with BT and is committed to providing an architecture that is robust, flexible and secure."

NetApp will provide FAS6080c clusters with iSCSI connectivity utilising Fibre Channel and SATA drives. A NetApp, software suite, including ONTAP 7.3, SnapMirror, Multistore, iSCSI, Snaprestore, Snap Vault and Protection Manager has been integrated with BT's own software technology to create a management portal BT's customers can use to design, configure and upgrade the system. The initial infrastructure is based around iSCSI and SATA drives, although Fibre Channel could be introduced to support higher performing applications.

NextiraOne, a European specialist in communications services, and the IT-Directorate of the regional government of Lower Austria, have implemented a complete upgrade of the voice communications for the State Administration within a timescale of 16 months. Around 13,000 employees at 212 sites have been upgraded to new Voice over IP telephony and the latest Unified Communications system.

The new communications solution is based on a comprehensive server infrastructure built around two redundant Data Centres. The two blade centres are linked via IP and house an OmniPCX Enterprise from Alcatel-Lucent, plus fax and call servers that provide state-of-the-art Voice over IP (VoIP) technology for the 13,000 users on all sites and systems. NextiraOne provides central network management for the blade centres under a Managed Services agreement.

The communications infrastructure covers the Regional Government buildings in St. Pölten, together with retirement homes, young people's homes and care homes, road maintenance and other government offices in Lower Austria's 21 districts. All sites are now said to have systems that provide improved communications with the general public and better availability of services.

New digital telephones have been provided for staff, linked with a digital telephone directory that allows users to find colleagues' numbers simply by choosing their names.  The phones are also connected to an Alcatel-Lucent OmniTouch Unified Communications system (OTUC) so that users can access Unified Communications applications via Microsoft Outlook plug-ins, making phone calls by simple mouse click directly from Outlook.

The ability to combine telephone and desktop functions has been well received by users, as has the integration of fax options through a new e-Fax system. Fax communication continues to be one of the most important means of communication for the regional government of Lower Austria. In addition to fulfilling the legal requirements, it is also important to make communications as easy as possible for the general public. Incoming faxes are now electronically transferred into the mailbox of the relevant member of staff. The combining of the various channels of communication via the desktop has significantly improved the work environment and increased the efficiency of the communications system. The introduction of Free Desktop and Voice Navigator applications have also helped to make government employees more accessible to the general public.

Telephone numbers have been migrated to the new VoIP solution so that the existing numbers are still  in use in all districts - the citizen‘s hotline and the housing services Call Centre have both been upgraded as part of the new infrastructure and this is providing faster connections, shorter waiting times and improved accessibility so that the right person is reached more quickly through intelligent call routing and interactive queuing.

Dr. Wolfgang Nebes, Director of the Regional Administration and Representative for the Lower Austria State Government commented: "Members of the public talk to people, not to machines. Therefore the aim of the project for us was to make it easier to reach the right person, irrespective of which communications channel was being used. We have worked with NextiraOne for a long time and have had a very successful partnership. The solution developed by NextiraOne provided a flexible, creative and innovative infrastructure that meets all our needs."

"The Lower Austrian State Government implementation is the largest project that NextiraOne Austria has undertaken and connects over 13,000 government workers and 1.6 million citizens. The project has been a major success for our team and clearly demonstrates the added value the latest communications technologies can bring to organisations of any size and in any sector," said Dr. Margarete Schramböck, Vice President Germany & Austria NextiraOne.

Leading UK turkey farmer, Bernard Matthews Farms, has chosen fully managed wide area networks, hosting and internet solutions company, CI-Net, to roll out a managed ADSL Internet connectivity service to 40 farms in Norfolk, Suffolk and Lincolnshire.  The project includes delivering bandwidth to several remote sites that other service providers had been unable to connect to. 

Bernard Matthews Farms and its farmers depend on Internet connectivity to access the company's bespoke inventory management software via a Wide Area Network (WAN). The software enables accurate planning and management of supplies, including stock control and the scheduling of weekly deliveries of thousands of tonnes of turkey feed from their own feed mill.   

"Previously, we'd sourced bandwidth for the farms using individual domestic broadband contracts," explained Edwin Pearson, Information Systems Director for Bernard Matthews Farms. "But we were interested in finding a provider that could help minimize connectivity outages and successfully connect some of our very remote sites.

"Other providers had been unable to deliver broadband to several of these rural sites - in some instances it was impossible to even get a wireless Internet signal.  So we were pretty amazed when CI-Net succeeded.  It was a tough initial test that we set for them. It proved they really knew what they were doing and it helped convince us to move all our farms' Internet connectivity requirements over to them."

Graham McLean MD of CI-Net pointed out that his company's expertise in working with ‘hard to connect' sites comes from its long experience in the construction sector, where it often has to deliver bandwidth to remote or greenfield sites that are poorly supported by the telecoms infrastructure:

"We've developed a never-say-die attitude and have picked up an intimate knowledge of the ‘hoops you need to jump through' when connecting some of these tough locations.  We've been through the process so many times and got to know the ‘tricks of the trade' that you need to try.  We just keep going until we find a solution."   

Mr Pearson said Bernard Matthews Farms would benefit from having a single managed service:

"CI-Net will monitor all the lines and fix any faults so individual farmers won't have to worry about loss of connectivity any more.  And it's a lot less time consuming dealing with a single service catering for all our farms than having a series of individual contracts. "

As part of phase two of the connectivity project, CI-Net is deploying a firewall designed to optimise connectivity and boost business continuity at Bernard Matthews Farms head office site in Norwich. 

The StoneGate firewall appliance is being configured to load balance traffic along two Internet connections to help ensure traffic flows efficiently into and out of the company WAN.  The firewall incorporates an automatic failover facility so that data will be routed through the remaining line if one of the connections fails.

Birds Eye, the privately-held UK frozen foods company, has selected InTechnology's Push To Talk (PTT) mobile communications service to help the business improve both the speed and efficiency of peas processing at its plant in East Yorkshire.

With three main locations in East Yorkshire - office, processing plant and fields - processing time is crucial to the Birds Eye team.  All of the peas must be shelled, blanched and frozen within two-and-a-half hours of picking to maintain best quality freshness.

The Birds Eye plant is situated in a 30-mile radius of 800 fields where peas are grown and then transported and frozen in the shortest possible timescale.  Communication between the plant and fields is crucial to the operation.  Information about loads received must be fed back to the harvesting team and loads altered accordingly.  If the produce is not frozen quickly it cannot be used in the Birds Eye pack, criteria set by the company to maintain its high standards.

"Our plant based staff need to collaborate with the field workers to produce the optimum results, and communication is key," explains Brian Wheatley, Agricultural Manager, Birds Eye Ltd.   "This is why we have chosen InTechnology's PTT service which means that information from the factory can be broadcast to many other workers, at the push of a button, greatly reducing the time spent calling each worker separately."

The practical communications challenges that face Birds Eye include a wide and undulating geographic area to cover, meaning that it has not always been possible to know the location of harvesters if out of range.   

Furthermore, where many workers needed to be contacted with the same message, this would result in a high call volume and expensive call charges.

InTechnology's Push To Talk service works in a similar way to the ‘walkie-talkies', but uses mobile handsets instead of mobile radios, benefiting from all the advantages of mobile phone technology.

With PTT, Birds Eye staff can communicate with each other easily at the push of a button, on a one-to-one or one-to-many basis.  And by using additional PTT handsets for the summer season, Birds Eye can free up resources for the rest of the year, taking full advantage of the flexible pay monthly service from InTechnology to best suit their business requirements.

The PTT solution for Birds Eye includes: compact handsets that can be used either as a mobile phone or a walkie-talkie; coverage is extensive as PTT uses the worldwide network for mobile phones (GSM); there is no number to dial, the user simply pushes a button and talks for instant communication; information from the factory can now be broadcasted to many, and harvesting amounts can be changed to suit optimum production levels; users can have a one-to-one conversation or a wider team discussion across the site at the push of a button.

Another benefit is that Birds Eye will only pay for the data used when someone is talking, which will help to reduce costs.

"We have very high standards to maintain and PTT will help us to communicate more efficiently and save money along the way," says Brian Wheatley.