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Wants to compete in "larger TOMS solutions space"

NEC subsidiary NetCracker has outlined ambitious plans to become a major player right across the OSS-BSS and service delivery markets.

NEC is taking all its element management, network management, service delivery platform, CRM, billing and SaaS provision capability, and merging it with Netcracker's OSS capabilities to create one telecoms software entity.

The aim is that the new unit will compete with the major OSS and service platform players such as HP, Oracle and Amdocs, across a portfolio that NetCracker CEO Andrew Feinberg said would include customer management, product management, revenue management, device management, service fulfillment and assurance, IT platforms, resource management and network management.

Feinberg said the elements "have been, or will be, productised, and natively integrated into the NetCracker platform."

"We are not about to bring slideware to the market," Feinberg said. "We will provide true end to end solutions, not a bunch of acquisitions bunched together at the last minute."

Feinberg will head up the new unit which will be an autonomous P&L unit with NEC, and although he was unable to say how many people would staff the new unit, he said that it "tap very heavily" into NEC's global workforce of 150,000.

Feinberg said the move is a response to customer demands for an end to end provider that can help service providers manage and introduce new services more quickly, and then monitor and manage users and services more efficiently.

He added that there would be further M&A activity driven by NEC, as gaps in the portfolio emerge.

So is NetCracker ready to take on the other players in this market? One area of focus will be its ability to compete in the service delivery and management space - a strategically crucial area for operators who need to be able to compete with over the top providers, and meet growing demands for cloud-based services and SaaS..

Feinberg said that NEC's existing SDP is proven by its deployment with NTT DoCoMo, where it has been "battle-tested" and is one of the "biggest implementations"of an SDP in the world.

He also said that NEC's billing capabilities were well advanced, and currently support 50k transactions a second in its Japanese implementation.

NEPs have increasingly attempted to move more into the OSS and service delivery space, as the equipment market becomes ever more competitive. NEC is hoping to use its Japanese experience as a proof point of its capability to become a service enabler and operations partner for operators and service providers.

NEC told Mobile Europe in a private briefing at Mobile World Congress that it wanted to be able to act in an end to end manner, helping service providers become providers of cloud services and SaaS. This NetCracker announcement appears to be a critical element of that, bundling up the vendor's TOMS (Telecoms Operations and Management Software) capabilities into one place.

 

Juniper Networks today announced the Junos Innovation Fund, a new corporate venture capital initiative that will invest in groundbreaking companies focused on improving the experience and economics of networking. The $50 million fund expands Juniper's efforts to create and deliver an ecosystem of technologies, software and applications built on the open and secure Junos software platform, which allows companies to directly program multiple layers of their networks and quickly and efficiently create new services while enabling rich user experiences, revolutionary economics and fast time to market.

Primarily targeting early- and growth-stage venture backed companies, the Junos Innovation Fund will invest in companies over the next two years that complement Juniper's growth strategy. Key investment areas will include networking technologies, applications, and services that foster the development and deployment of security infrastructure, advanced mobility and video solutions, virtualization, network automation, optical technology, and green networking.

'Junos already offers our customers, partners and developers a powerful platform to drive innovation for the network, from the core to the client, without having to build from scratch. With the Junos Innovation Fund, we'll expand that ecosystem with capital resources in addition to SDKs and support services that will accelerate the velocity and variety of 'new network' solutions reaching our customers,' said Kevin Johnson, CEO of Juniper Networks. 'These investments will also enhance Juniper's R&D roadmap and ensure that the company is continuing to lead in bringing transformational technologies to market.'

Juniper has a history of backing innovative technology companies and currently has investments in 11 companies, including Ankeena Networks, Blade Network Technologies, Cyan Optics, FireEye and Packet Design.

Andrew Solutions, a specialist in wireless communication systems and products, has teamed up with Turkey's three mobile operators to ensure reliable wireless signals reach 2G and 3G subscribers throughout Istanbul's new Sabiha Gokcen Airport.

The three operators-AVEA, Turkcell and Vodafone-led the project, Andrew supplied its ION-M optical distributed antenna system (DAS), and Mikom Microwave, Andrew's business partner in Turkey, assisted with system design and commissioning. Andrew's ION-M is a multi-operator coverage and capacity solution, supporting the operators' 2G and 3G subscribers in the airport. ION-M transmits wireless signals across both fiber optic and coaxial cables to remote antennas from a master unit. The result is clear wireless coverage for travelers and employees throughout the Sabiha Gokcen Airport campus.

"Andrew's DAS solution is the first Turkish installation to support three frequency bands and three wireless operators with one dynamic system," said Andrea Casini, Andrew's vice president of sales and marketing, Europe, Middle East, North Africa. "We are pleased to bring the coverage and capacity solution deployed in airports, subway systems, sports stadiums, and other large structures around the globe to Turkey's new airport."

Andrew's ION-M system supports both GSM and UMTS frequency bands in the Sabiha Gokcen Airport, and plans are underway to install a similar wireless coverage solution in Istanbul's Ataturk Airport, as well. Because the ION-M supports multiple operators with one network infrastructure, installation time and aesthetic impact inside the airport are limited

"Andrew's ION system was chosen by the mobile operators because its superior performance for providing multi-operator, multi-band mobile indoor networks has been proven in many demanding projects in the field," said Engin Arikan, chief executive officer of Mikom. "Andrew's extensive experience with such projects also made the entire process run smoothly."

Research published by Avaya today shows that the level and quality of communication within European businesses, and between them and their customers, partners and suppliers, have worsened significantly during the global economic downturn. Seventy percent of all companies which have been impacted by the downturn confirmed that at least some aspect of communications had been negatively affected, with the trend set to influence the European economy further if no action is taken.

The communication downturn can be seen on all sides. 55% said internal communications have deteriorated, 52% that communications with their own customers have suffered, and 41% that communications from suppliers have worsened. In contrast, of the European companies that claimed to be unaffected by the downturn, only 29% have experienced some form of decline in communications capabilities.

"It's clear that the downturn has exacerbated existing communications issues for businesses and, with the recession prompting customers to switch loyalties more quickly based on price considerations, customer service and communications are vital to regain confidence and market share," said Michael Bayer, President, Avaya EMEA. "This report shows that companies should reassess the effect of the downturn on their internal and external comms, invest in the areas which will have most impact on the bottom line, and develop appropriate policies and procedures."

The positive side is that the downturn has increased awareness of the need to incorporate social media technologies into the customer communications mix. The survey shows that among senior managers in Europe 55% are making more use of technologies like smart phones and instant messaging, and of social networking tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin than they did 18 months ago. Interestingly, they also seem to have adopted these new communications media more readily than more junior employees (34%), who are normally portrayed in the media as the early adopters.

"It seems that in Europe, management is making a leap to embrace these new technologies, which is an encouraging sign for the prospect of better ‘full-circle' communications across employees, customers and partners," continued Bayer. "We're seeing a lot of requests for integration of these social tools into the communications infrastructure, particularly in contact centres, and it's not surprising. Our flagship Avaya Aura and Avaya Aura midsize solutions, for example, allow our clients to integrate communications across all of these stakeholders more efficiently and more effectively with a far faster time to investment return than traditional communications technologies."

Other findings of the research include:

  a.. Italian business has been hardest hit by the downturn, with 79% claiming to have suffered as a direct result; German business is least affected, though still at two-thirds (66%)
  b.. Italy has experienced the biggest decline in communications, with 41% of all businesses reporting a worsening in communications from suppliers since the start of the downturn, 51% from colleagues, and 50% in their own communications to customers
  c.. However, Italian businesses have also been the quickest to embrace new communications technologies and media since the beginning of the downturn, with 54% having begun more regularly using one or more of Twitter, LinkedIn (or similar), Facebook (or similar), instant messaging, home (tele-) working and smart phones; in Germany, only 32% of respondents could say the same
  d.. French employees believe most strongly that the downturn has made no difference to the degree of openness of and accessibility to senior staff (63%)

Mobilkom Austria Group, a mobile operator in Central and Eastern Europe, has selected Openmind Networks as the Group's preferred provider for next generation messaging platforms.

The move is said to signal a new trend that is gaining ground with mobile operators globally, namely the replacement of legacy SMSC systems with a new breed of technologies that address three critical business issues with one fully integrated messaging platform.

"Today, mobile operators across the world are faced with similar challenges in the SMS market", explains Wolfgang Fleischer, Group Director, Core Service Network at Mobilkom Austria Group.  "In a nutshell, as margins continue to be squeezed on SMS traffic, we need to find more cost effective ways to route our messages while still delivering high levels of service to our subscribers.  Secondly, we need to replace the revenue that is being eroded  in the SMS market with  new sources and to do that we need to be able to design, build and launch new messaging services quickly and easily - simple in theory but complex in reality".

Unlike many legacy SMSC systems, says Openmind, which tend to be closed and proprietary, the Openmind messaging platform is open, flexible and fully integrated.  Using one platform Mobilkom Austria Group can address three critical issues: reduce the cost of routing their SMS traffic with no impact on subscribers' service levels; access a wide range of new message personalization services - pre built and out of the box - that they can launch quickly to subscribers; and design  build and launch new messaging services, unique to their subscribers, that will positively impact both revenue and customer churn.

"What really convinced us to select Openmind as our preferred supplier was the fact that they have one fully integrated messaging platform - we can route all our messages and launch and create new services for our subscribers - quickly and easily", adds Fleischer. "Historically we would have needed several systems coupled with significant IT development, and long lead times, to do this. That drives up hardware costs, support and maintenance costs and operational costs. Extrapolate the impact across eight operators and very soon you have a hefty impact on the balance sheet".

Mobilkom Austria Group have deployed Openmind's messaging platform across six of its operators which include mobilkom austria, Mobiltel Bulgaria, SiMobil Slovenia , Velcom Belarus ,  VIP Macedonia and VIP Serbia.

Commenting on the deal Alex Duncan, CEO of Openmind Networks explains, "Naturally we are delighted with our group deal with Mobilkom.  It is good to genuinely be able to help solve some of our clients' challenges.  We are able to do this because we designed our platform differently; we focused on the future needs of mobile operators and made it open and flexible to accommodate changes in market dynamics.  We are seeing the reality of that play out in the market today - the SMS market dynamics have changed but some of the legacy SMS platforms are hindering operators from reacting to those changes.  We are glad we have a solution to that."

UK based Horsebridge Network Systems has announced the release of the industry's first, Sub 6-GHz Microwave PDH System from Radwin.

Designed specifically to meet the cellular backhaul needs of carriers, by offering up to 16 x E1s/T1s and Ethernet, this latest system is capable of delivering high-end performance and capacity to even the most challenging of urban and rural environments.

The new PDH system incorporates technologies such as MIMO, OFDM and Diversity; this, combined with unique proprietary protocols, ensures high resilience within sub-6 GHz bands.

Radwin's 2000 PDH System comes with a flexible combination of native TDM and Ethernet, and 1+1 Monitored Hot Standby support. It also incorporates Spectrum View for locating the cleanest channel for operation.

"Radwin 2000 PDH is the natural choice for carriers" says Geoff Smith of Horsebridge "It delivers unparalleled performance and we can offer it at a price that is more competitive than any other solution on the market today. Radwin 2000 PDH was designed with carriers' needs in mind, allowing them to relieve backhaul capacity bottlenecks and extend their network reach".

The combination of smartphone proliferation, a surge in application storefront launches and new developments in hybrid positioning technologies are expected to help drive revenues from mobile location-based services (MLBS) to more than $12.7 billion by 2014, according to a new report from Juniper Research.

The Mobile Location Based Services report found that while MLBS had experienced in number of false dawns over the 2000-2007 period, improvements in handset user interfaces - exemplified by the iPhone - together with easier consumer access to an array of app distribution channels had led to greater interest from service providers in providing MLBS applications. In addition, growth was being further facilitated by the deployment of high capacity network infrastructure and attendant increases in mobile Internet adoption, providing greater opportunities for browser-based services.

Furthermore, the Juniper report noted that advertising was likely to form an increasing share of MLBS-related revenues over the next five years. According to report co-author Dr Windsor Holden, "Location-based applications are extremely interesting for brands and retailers in that they allow those companies to direct consumers to outlets in their vicinity while simultaneously providing information about the products on offer. When these are allied to measures such as mobile coupons and vouchers, you have the combination of information and financial incentive which can be compelling for consumers."

Other findings from the Mobile Location Based Services Research include:

  • Improving the user experience of MLBS on feature phones will be key in driving usage beyond the core smartphone base
  • Despite the confluence of factors driving growth, deployments may still be affected by constraints including privacy and information security
  • While service usage will be highest in Far East & China over the next five years, greatest revenues will come from Western Europe

TM Forum today announced its support for the Wholesale Applications Community initiative announced at GSMA's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last week.

"The TM Forum has been calling for industry collaboration in this area for some time, and we strongly support the Wholesale Applications Community and its goals," said Keith Willetts, CEO and Chairman of the Board, TM Forum. "The majority of operators in the new Community are already active members of the Forum, and we plan to work closely with the new group to ensure its success."

Many challenges exist in managing the underlying business process and data for ‘long tail' content and applications, including digital fulfillment, customer care, revenue and settlements. The Forum, which delivers business-critical standards to address the complex IT challenges communications service providers face, has been leading pioneering work in the area of content distribution and service delivery management since 2007.

"It's critical that operators move quickly to establish value in the app market, while avoiding the mistakes of the past," commented Willetts. "In the past, we've seen the market take a siloed approach to developing and delivering applications, only to be faced with significant integration and scalability challenges.  It's important for operators to adopt a common approach going forward, and this will inevitably depend on them also aligning with a standard IT architecture. TM Forum delivers the IT architecture standards and best practices that enable this kind of agility and which will be a critical success factor for a wholesale applications environment."

Reliance Globalcom, a global provider of connectivity, hosting and managed services for multinational enterprises and carriers, is now able to offer 10G LAN PHY, a dedicated Ethernet point-to-point service, with a 'market leading' data rate capacity of 10.31 Gbps as a standard service offering on its FA-1 Network. This delivers increased transport efficiencies and capacity over the existing wavelengths deployed on the Reliance Globalcom service, improving Gigabit Ethernet customer application speeds with ten times the bandwidth availability. 

With global carriers looking to migrate their services from standard 10G to 10G LAN PHY by 2010, the new offering from Reliance Globalcom claims to meet the demand for additional wavelength and high speed interconnectivity requirements, in a more cost effective way than previously possible with traditional standard 10G services. This service is now available on both north and south FA-1 network routes as well as within New York, London and Paris metros.

"We successfully upgraded our sub-sea and backhaul capacity to 160 GB on FA-1 in Sept '09," explained Punit Garg, President & CEO, Reliance Globalcom, "In addition, we have also invested in 160 GB of additional capacity on the FA-1 north route."

The 10G LAN PHY service from Reliance Globalcom provides its customers with the freedom and flexibility to manage their own data networks, with its plug-and-play Ethernet interface. LAN PHY, as a service extension, can be plugged directly to the corporate LAN, making it a significantly lower cost alternative to the traditional interfaces. LAN-PHY provides higher data speed connectivity at a line rate of 10.31 Gbps against 9.95 Gbps on standard 10G.

"With 10G LAN PHY services, carriers and large enterprises can now leverage this cost-effective Ethernet-compatible technology to build and grow large IP backbones and storage networks to address increasing capacity demand from bandwidth intensive customer applications," says Punit Garg, President & CEO at Reliance Globalcom, "We are confident this service upgrade will broaden the scope of our services and enhancements to further facilitate our customers' growth."

Russian telecoms operator TTK today announced the start of a large-scale project to double the capacity of its backbone DWDM network, the EurasiaHighway, which crosses the entire breadth of the Russian Federation, by mid-2010.  The network upgrade will allow TTK to increase its overall protected capacity to up to 1.6Tbps, and its total unreserved capacity to 3.2Tbps.

The EurasiaHighway, equipped with OptiX BWS1600G, is to be upgraded with 40Gbps solutions supplied and installed by Huawei.  TTK has pledged that the capacity upgrade will be carried out without major interruption to service on currently-lit fibres despite an aggressive project timeline that aims for completion by the end of the first half of the year.

This will be accomplished by installing new 40Gbps network transponders throughout the existing network to allow the addition of further optical wavelength channels.  Different backbone segments will then receive 1-8 additional wavelength channels, each of 40Gbps capacity, depending on current and forecast capacity utilisation.  With these in place, TTK will be able to switch current traffic to the new channels while it replaces the 10Gbs transponders operating on the current network with new 40Gbps ones.

As a result, TTK's backbone network capacity will be doubled on average by mid-2010, while its international capacity on the EurasiaHighway will be increased by an average of 2.3 times.  In absolute terms, this means the network's most utilised sections will have a fully protected capacity of 530Gbps, and even the least utilised sections will have a minimum 80Gbps.

"We understand the importance of providing the backbone operators with innovative solutions to upgrade their networks, so Huawei pays special attention to the development of next-generation 40G and 100G technologies," said Huawei CIS President Mr. Wang Kexiang.  "We are proud TTK - one of the largest network operators in Russia - is implementing our advanced solutions to help strengthen its leading position in the region and continue its enviable record of commercial successes in the age of high definition video and next-generation mobile communications."

"Over the last three years, we have seen the levels of data transmitted via our network grow rapidly due to both increasing broadband penetration in the Russian regions and international demand for a secure, reliable and fast alternative to subsea data transit between Asia and Europe," explained Mr. Andrey Pavlov, SVP and director of technical development at TTK.  "By 2008, it became clear that our existing technology would not be able to keep pace with demand for more than three years, despite several times adding new 10Gbps optical wavelength channels to the most popular backbone segments." 

He concluded: "With Huawei's help, we can continue to meet capacity requirements while preserving our existing infrastructure and investments to satisfy and anticipate our customers' and partners' requirements for high-speed data exchange solutions."

Commencement of the project announced today follows a large-scale pilot in which TTK and Huawei ran  tests on the 1,140km Moscow-St. Petersburg section of TTK's network between February and March 2008.  These tests confirmed that OptiX BWS1600G allows the set-up of additional 40Gbps optical wavelength channels on the EurasiaHighway without major overhaul of the backbone core or interruption of services already deployed.

7 layers has developed a new small and affordable InterLab R&D Multi-Tool. It is ideal for creating an over-the-air test environment for mobile phones without the need for an RF wired connection. The system supports tests such as battery lifetime, data throughput as well as RF- and acoustic parameter measurements. 

The R&D Multi Tool has been designed especially for developers who are in need of an easy to handle but reliable system that can be adapted effortlessly to serve a large variety of test purposes.

The Multi-Tool is based on a shielded test cabin (STS-75 from Albatross), large enough to contain standard sized pyramid absorbers for the optimized suppression of standing waves, but small enough to easily pass any laboratory door. 7 layers equips the Multi-Tool with a specially designed, but adaptable construction which ensures keeping the mobile device in a reproducible position. A well thought out multi antenna system, comprising a number of sophisticated multi band antennas, allows for rigorous over-the-air device verification with high accuracy levels. 
 
Possible applications of the Interlab® R&D Multi-Tool from 7 layers are for example: 

- RF tests in mass production (reproducible results due to reduction of standing waves)

- Battery life time testing (easy, lifelike call set-up)

- Temperature measurements (enough room for additional equipment like an IR camera!)

- Acoustic testing and buzzing noise analysis (pyramid absorbers act like acoustic chamber)

- Functional testing for all kinds of wireless applications (e.g. large enough for 300 MHz with ferrite version)

Developers today not only have to deal with ever more complex products but they also have to cope with growing time and cost restrictions. The Multi-Tool from 7 layers is a simple, reliable tool which can be adapted and easily extended to serve many purposes and products.
 

    

@eurocomms