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Alcatel-Lucent today announced it has signed a major five-year agreement with BT for an evolution of its 21st Century Network (21CN), the foundation of BT's IP transformation to enhance customer experience and accelerate time-to-market for next generation services.

Using Alcatel-Lucent's High Leverage NetworkTM (HLN) architecture and transformational services, the project, says A-L, will further evolve BT's infrastructure, enabling the company to expedite network convergence, increase capacity and deliver content cost effectively as it prepares to introduce new video-rich services to an expanded base of wholesale and retail subscribers.

While allowing its customers in more than 170 countries to benefit from the development of 21CN, the contract will specifically help BT to build up its infrastructure to continue to play a leading role in strengthening the UK's leadership in communications by increasing performance, capacity and bandwidth to a broader customer base, says A-L.

"21CN is a huge transformational programme. It's about providing a network for the future which requires a game-changing approach." said George Nazi, managing director, BT 21CN Core Convergence. "Alcatel-Lucent came up with an innovative solution that will help us keep 21CN at the forefront of innovation and radical change."

With video-rich content consumption booming, it has become critical to accelerate the transition to a unified smart IP network and to an open application environment that enables new business models. With this network evolution, BT is striving to increase revenues and reduce costs while migrating to new and more profitable business models.

"BT's 21CN is one of the most complete, exciting and ambitious business transformation programmes anywhere in the global telecommunications industry," said Lakh Jemmett, Vice President, Alcatel-Lucent North Europe. "We are proud that our High Leverage Network architecture is enabling BT to transform their business, transform their networks, and deliver powerful new services in a scalable, cost-effective way."

In support of its HLN vision, and in alignment with BT's business drivers, Alcatel-Lucent will provide an end-to-end transport solution which tightly integrates IP and optical transport resources along with professional services such as project management, design, installation and commissioning, repair and return and software updates which will help BT manage the rapid growth in network traffic, while substantially cutting operational and maintenance costs.

As BT's residential subscriber base and associated bandwidth demands continue to grow, and in preparation for new rich-media services, BT is also evolving its residential IP service delivery architecture. Broadband Network Gateways (BNGs), previously centralized and becoming an increasing bottleneck in the network, will be distributed closer to subscribers using next generation service routers. This will result in an increase in capacity and performance creating a better end-user experience. Additionally, as the BNG function runs on the same routing platform as BT's business services, operations are streamlined and simplified for the operator.

Aeroflex Test Solutions and 7 layers have signed an agreement to provide LTE (long term evolution) testing services in support of the commercialization of LTE mobile phone networks in Japan. Aeroflex will install its 7100 Digital Radio Test Set in 7 layers' laboratory in Yokohama, Japan, greatly expanding 7 layers' LTE regulatory compliance testing services.

With advanced LTE test equipment and services conveniently located, Japanese UE (user equipment) manufacturers and network operators can speed up testing in advance of LTE rollout. Starting next month, 7 layers will offer LTE testing services in three areas: regulatory compliance, certification, and operator-specific test cases.

The first Japanese LTE networks are scheduled to launch later in 2010. Prior to LTE rollout, both operators and handset manufacturers must ensure that LTE devices meet regulatory requirements and work reliably. 7 layers, using the proven Aeroflex 7100 LTE Digital Radio Test Set, will provide equipment and services to aid developers in proving that their devices are ready for commercial launch. The Aeroflex 7100 LTE Digital Radio Test Set simulates an entire LTE network. It allows a range of RF, protocol, and performance measurements to be made on User Equipments.

"The combination of Aeroflex' advanced roadmap, versatile test capability, and pricing allows us to offer a range of services to the industry that will help accelerate the successful rollout of LTE," said Tadatsune Takei, representative director, 7 layers Japan. "7 layers extensive LTE experience includes LTE testing in a number of our laboratories as well as LTE test case validation."

"Handset manufacturers have a legal obligation to perform regulatory testing. They also need to prove to operators that they fully comply with LTE specifications and meet the demanding data throughput requirements that are crucial to the success of LTE," said Masahiro Okabe, country manager, Aeroflex Test Solutions, Japan. "Our agreement with 7 layers can help speed up LTE commercialization in Japan by providing local access to the most advanced LTE test equipment."

The Aeroflex 7100 LTE Digital Radio Test Set provides key tools required during the design, development, and test stages of UE chip sets and terminals. Measurements are provided for the characterization of the performance of LTE mobile devices, both at the radio interface, and throughout the protocol stack, including PCDP and IMS layers. End-to-end performance can be accurately accessed, along with correct idle mode and connected mode behavior with the 7100's Network Simulation mode.

Typical users of the 7100 LTE Digital Radio Test Set include RF developers, protocol stack teams, integration test groups, and pre-conformance labs that are developing sub-systems and integrated designs that meet the requirements of LTE standards. The 7100 Digital Radio Test Set offers ease of use, comprehensive test capability, speed, and low cost of ownership relative to other competing solutions.

Draka Communications, a global specialist in cabling and optical fibre, today announced a major contract for CATV copper and fibre backbone infrastructure in Turkey. In an agreement initiated through Draka's local distributor Focabex , the company will deliver around 600 km of low attenuation copper trunk cable for underground and aerial use in addition to 150km of high fibre count fibre cable throughout 2010.

"Draka has a long-term, close relationship with the telecommunications industry in Turkey, so we are pleased to announce this significant contract through our local partner, a direct result of increased backbone infrastructure demands, " said Thilo Hamm,  EMEA Product Manager, CATV & RF Products, Draka Communications. "This agreement reinforces a trend in all of our markets where broadcast networks are undergoing extensive technical upgrading and expansion processes."

"We appreciate Draka as a reliable partner providing the highest cable quality, dependable stock availability and a diverse copper and fibre cable portfolio aligned with the requirements of the Turkish marketplace, " said Murat Ayvaz, Managing director of Focabex, Draka's partner based in Istanbul.

Draka is an approved supplier for CATV projects in Turkey, which with its 73 million population is an expanding market for telecommunications services. Faster Internet requirements of both private and business sectors, the introduction of CDMA and 3G technologies in the cellular market, distance education development, digital TV broadcasting and new business and marketing services are important factors for the evolution of this sector. The primary Turkish cable TV company broadcasts around 180 TV Channels, received through satellite earth stations located in Ankara, Istanbul, Izmir and in other major urban centres. These satellite earth stations, including three satellites, are owned and operated by Turksat.  

Mimecast, a unified email management company offering SaaS-based email security, continuity, policy control and archiving, has today revealed research findings showing that business continuity plans have not extended to cover the BlackBerry service, despite the mobile email service's growing importance in UK businesses. 

The research, among IT managers and users on the first day of the Infosecurity conference in London, reveals that while 48% of IT managers report BlackBerry downtime at least once a quarter, only 44% of those who have a BlackBerry Enterprise Server have any continuity strategy for the service.  This compares to 75% of all respondents having email continuity - arguably also a low figure considering the importance of the technology to business productivity.

Both IT managers and IT users polled at the show dreaded email downtime; 55% of IT managers said it causes the most vocal complaints and 47.5% of IT users complained that it causes the most disruption to their day.  BlackBerry downtime falls into the top three most vocal complaints directed at IT managers (33%) and 31% of IT users agree that BlackBerry downtime is one of the top three technology disruptors to their day.  Other options were internet access, file servers, databases and phones.

Peter Bauer, founder and CEO of Mimecast, said: "Despite being a relatively new-kid-on-the-block in the enterprise IT department, the BlackBerry Enterprise Server is becoming ever more critical to smooth business operations because of the proven productivity gains that BlackBerry brings.  In light of this, it's a concern that half of the organisations that are coming to depend on the mobile solution have no continuity system to ensure downtime doesn't impact on the business.  With 25% of the organisations we spoke to not having an email continuity service at all, it is probably fair to say that for many BlackBerry should be a key consideration in a wider requirement for full email continuity."

A new report says IPTV accounts for just 5% of the global multichannel TV market, with France the  most dominant country in terms of total subscribers. Operators such as France Telecom continue to see TV and video services as core elements of their broadband service strategies, but competition from existing cable, terrestrial and satellite TV services remains fierce in many markets.

The fact that IPTV services are now a core element of network operator strategies is not in doubt, but given that fact it sometimes comes as a surprise that the global operator IPTV market is still extremely small.

A new report from Informa Telecoms & Media estimates that total subscriptions to IPTV services globally stood at 29.7 million by the end of 2009, up from 19.4 million a year earlier. Although the number of net new subscriptions reached a record high of 3.2 million in the last three quarters of the year, IPTV has just 5% of the multichannel TV market and less than 2% penetration of the world's households - even though services are now available in 50 countries. Infonetics Research said there were 417 million cable video subscribers worldwide in 2009.

According to the report, IPTV Perspectives, just four countries account for nearly two-thirds of all IPTV subscriptions: France, the US, China and South Korea. Essentially, the services still struggle to compete with conventional TV services. But Informa noted that IPTV is gaining multichannel TV market share where conventional TV is less developed, particularly in small or less developed markets such as Iceland (81%), Qatar (80%), Cyprus (67%), Slovenia (35%), Croatia (25%), Estonia (25%), Montenegro (23.5%) and Greece (23.5%).

France as the largest IPTV country has benefited from the fact that pay-TV is relatively undeveloped there, unlike in the UK, for example, which has strong satellite and cable TV players. According to Informa, by the end of 2009 France had 9,011,000 IPTV subscribers - almost double the number of users in the next-largest market, the US, which had 4,948,000 subscribers.

French operator Free is the world's largest IPTV operator by subscribers, with 3,550,000 by the end of 2010. Orange/France Telecom is in third place after Verizon with 2,761,000 users by the end of last year.

Meanwhile on Thursday, France Telecom/Orange issued its results for Q1 2010 that indicated a further increase in its digital TV subscribers in France.

"Digital TV services (ADSL and satellite TV) remained very buoyant: the number of digital TV customers rose 34% year on year to 2.894 million at March 31, 2010," the company said in a statement. "The Orange sports and Orange cinema series channels had a total of 713,000 subscribers at 31 March 2010, compared with 363,000 a year earlier. Video on demand (VOD) generated 2.7 million pay-per-view uses in the first quarter of 2010, up 53% compared with the first quarter of 2009."

Total pay-TV customers in France increased to 1.619 million in Q1, up from 1.136 million a year ago. In Poland, Orange's digital TV subscribers more than doubled over the year to reach 417,000 by the end of March.

Operators such as Orange place a large emphasis on TV services as a way to make extra revenue on top of broadband access, particularly as the operator continues its FTTH rollout in France. Indeed, in 2010 it plans to resume investment in fibre optics of around €100 million. A total of €2 billion will be invested in the fibre network in France by 2015.

The company said broadband monthly ARPU increased year-on-year by 4.2% €36.2, and attributed this to a positive mix of pay-TV packages. Nevertheless, in an ARPU breakdown, access accounted for a lower share of 50% (Q12009: 55%) while naked DSL access accounted for a higher share of 28% (23%). Services, meanwhile, generated an unchanged 22% of ARPU.

Orange has not been able to penetrate many markets with IPTV services, however, as local competition and existing services can often make this a difficult proposition. In the UK the company has to take on the might of Sky and Virgin Media, both of which are also increasingly offering HD services. Indeed, Virgin Media reported its fastest customer growth ever in Q1 2010 on the back of strong demand for broadband and pay-TV services.

Virgin Media added 232,300 "net product additions" in the three months ended 31 March 2010, ending the period with 3.73 million television subscribers, 3.91 million broadband cable subscribers and 1.03 million contract mobile customers. Average revenue per cable user climbed 5.3% to £45.01 a month. Quad-play subscribers (which take TV, broadband, fixed voice and mobile services) now account for 11% of subscribers, while triple-play subscribers account for 61.9%.

The competition is fierce for operators in the TV market, but they are stepping up to the challenge with continued investments in both video-on-demand and streamed content service capacity, according to Infonetics Research. The research company said that global video infrastructure revenue remained steady at US$625 million in Q4 2009 compared to Q3.

For the full year 2009, video infrastructure revenue decreased 11% to $2.5 billion, but global video on-demand and streaming content server revenue increased 60% from 2008 to 2009, and is expected to increase rapidly over the next four quarters, the research company added.

TM Forum's Catalyst rapid-development program will showcase a record 15 projects at Management World 2010 in Nice, France next month.  The Catalyst program, which converts service provider challenges into prototype solutions in less than six months, will present 15 collaboratively developed solutions covering a range of key topics including managing cloud services, customer experience, analytics, mCommerce, and digital service delivery.

Communications Service Providers participating in these projects span the globe, including BT, Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone, Swisscom, Qwest, Telstra, China Telecom, China Unicom, Zain, and many others.  More than 40 suppliers are participating, including the biggest names in the business such as Cisco, Microsoft, IBM, Ericsson, Huawei, and Amdocs.

Each Catalyst project comprises a multi-company team of suppliers and service providers. The team works to address requirements defined by service provider project champions.  With the focus of each Catalyst driven by the service provider champion, the resulting project provides a unique view of the challenges service providers are facing, and demand innovative solutions.

Multi-company Catalyst projects typically run for 3-6 months and utilize TM Forum's Collaborative R&D methodology, enabling service providers to have prototype solutions to their requirements in a much shorter timeframe than  standard RFx and lab testing processes.

Huawei today announced the successful demonstration of LTE (Long Term Evolution) services with TMN, the mobile operator of Portugal Telecom.  The demonstration showcased real life case studies of future consumer demands on a mobile broadband, including high definition 3D television and mobile gaming.

Huawei's showcase consisted of two different demos.  The first demo showed how 3D television services, provided through an LTE network, can create an enhanced mobile user experience and open the door for new business models for both content providers and operators. During the demo, 3D content was stored in a media server connected to the core network.  The demo consisted of a real-time download of this content, showing them on a 3D screen.  In this way, the service highlights one of the most important LTE capabilities: high throughput.

The second demo focused on the possibilities for online gaming.  Two players, each with a joystick and a PC, play a race game, interacting through the LTE network.  This highlights another important LTE capability: low latency, or quick network response.  The difficulties associated with traditionally low network response in online gaming, which cause different playing speeds and synchronization problems, are overcome - thanks to LTE technology.

"The promise of LTE will touch countless industries and bring advanced technology to everyday consumers," said Xie Xinping, Managing Director of Huawei Portugal.  "In collaboration with TMN in Portugal, we are bringing innovative, next-generation technology to the 3D TV and mobile gaming industries.  These LTE capabilities will enable operators in the future to develop new business models and to meet the growing demands for mobile broadband services."

Mimecast, a unified email management company offering SaaS-based email security, continuity, policy control and archiving, has today announced the launch of Mimecast Continuity Services for the BlackBerry Wireless Solution. The new service is the first to enable enterprise IT managers to provide uninterrupted email access to BlackBerry smartphone users in the event of a Microsoft Exchange outage, a BlackBerry Enterprise Server failure and Research in Motion infrastructure downtime. 
Until now, businesses have been limited in their range of continuity choices for the BlackBerry solution, relying on SaaS services that require the availability of BlackBerry Enterprise Server or server replication solutions.

By bypassing the BlackBerry Enterprise Server and communicating directly with the handset from the cloud, Mimecast's Continuity Service ensures that critical mobile workers can remain connected; sending, receiving and deleting mail as normal, during server downtime. Whether operating in standard or continuity mode, complete integration between Mimecast's security, continuity and archiving service elements ensures continuous and consistent enforcement of email security, data loss prevention and archiving policies at all times, supporting businesses' compliance and security needs.

Peter Bauer, founder and CEO of Mimecast, said: "Our own research recently revealed that just 36 percent of UK companies had a proper email continuity strategy, despite 97 percent of written business communication being over email.  With the BlackBerry solution established in an ever growing number of IT departments, extending business critical email continuity to BlackBerry devices has become an essential requirement."

Mimecast has been providing continuity services to hundreds of thousands of email users around the world over the last seven years.  Mimecast Continuity Services for the BlackBerry Wireless Solution is the first extension of the company's existing range of email disaster recovery services to mobile devices. With Mimecast, users are able to send and receive email and access their personal archive through a variety of mail clients including Microsoft Outlook (desktop), Mimecast Personal Portal (web) and BlackBerry smartphones (mobile) in the event of scheduled or unplanned mail server outages or connectivity failures.

In response to the announcement, Tim Hyman, IT Director at prominent UK law firm Taylor Wessing, said: "The Mimecast system has already gone a long way to ensuring the 100% availability of email during times of disruption to internal systems.  The development of a genuinely robust BlackBerry solution is the final piece in the jigsaw as it means that our lawyers will be able to access their email from the device they favour, virtually eliminating the inconvenience and productivity loss of email downtime."

Stephen Drake, Program Vice President, Mobility and Telecom at analyst firm IDC, added: "Solutions such as those from Mimecast address a real issue for IT Managers with large numbers of users depending heavily on their BlackBerry smart-phones. The fact is, Exchange Servers and BlackBerry servers are invariably in the same location, so in the event of a disaster the chances are both will go down. The Mimecast service also ensures users remain connected in the event of a RIM NOC failure, uniquely removing an additional potential point of failure."

The Now Factory announced today that it has extended the NETRO performance management solution, which optimises IP service and network performance in real-time across both fixed line and mobile networks. Consisting of both the NETRO Conductor and NETRO Inspector product lines, NETRO enables service providers manage and troubleshoot IP services from one central platform, increasing operational efficiencies and enhancing subscriber satisfaction.

As service providers see increasing use of IP services across their data networks driven by the large uptake in smart devices, they face the challenge of having a real-time view of how subscribers are actually using these services so they can maximise operational efficiencies and optimise subscriber satisfaction. NETRO addresses this challenge by empowering service providers with the tools to effectively dig deep within their IP networks and fine-tune in real-time, the delivery and performance of IP services while at the same time providing deep and meaningful insights into critical subscriber support issues that lead to quicker resolution times and maximum service usage.

Commenting on the launch of the NETRO solution, Tom Morrisroe, CEO, The Now Factory said, " We recognised a tremendous need among service providers to avail of one solution for optimising network performance and subscriber usage across all IP services. NETRO draws on our cumulative experience from working in both the telecoms and mobile industries in delivering a centralised, real-time, performance management solution that helps service providers fully capitalise on the investment they make in delivering new IP services."

The NETRO solution consists of the NETRO Conductor and NETRO Inspector products. NETRO Conductor combines control and user plane information in a single place providing real-time visibility into the historical performance and utilisation of IP services including broadband, VoIP and IPTV services across multiple correlations of network elements, applications and services. NETRO Inspector drills deep down into the network and instantly gathers and stores historical information related to individual subscriber IP services in a matter of seconds, which can then be used to quickly resolve critical support issues that may arise ensuring the disruption caused to subscribers is minimised.

With competition intensifying all the time, service providers need to ensure they are delivering the highest level of service quality across all subscribers so the level of churn is minimised. All it takes is one unacceptable user experience for a subscriber to switch to a competitor given the increasing focus and expectation on quality of service. Consequently, service providers need to be constantly proactive in monitoring service and network performance and identifying any issues before they have the potential to escalate into a negative subscriber experience and a possible loss of revenue.

NETRO addresses these concerns by providing an integrated solution that focuses on managing the real-time performance of services across the network and troubleshooting service and network issues with context leading to greatly accelerated resolution times, increasing operational efficiencies and enhancing the quality of service.

Anritsu has today announced that it is the first test equipment vendor in the world to achieve GCF-approved test case validations for both LTE RF and protocol conformance testing.

LTE (Long Term Evolution) is the next-generation wireless communications service supporting 100-Mbps downlink and 50-Mbps uplink data communications, which is 5 to 10 times faster than current 3G services. Leading carriers such as Verizon Wireless and NTT Docomo will roll-out LTE services later this year.

Mobile terminal manufacturers must gain GCF approval to prove that their LTE terminals satisfy the 3GPP standards, meaning that there is increasing demand for an approved conformance test environment.

At the GCF CAG#22 meeting this month Anritsu successfully gained GCF approval for the industry-leading 12 number of RF test cases for its ME7873L RF Conformance Test System together with additional test cases for its ME7832L Protocol Conformance Test System.

Anritsu Measurement Group President Mr. Kenji Tanaka said, "In the last year, there has been a rapidly growing trend towards actual applications and services using the key new technology called LTE. Anritsu is pleased to be able to play a major role in LTE conformance testing and helping to build a richer and more comfortable society."

Anritsu has been supplier of GCF-approved test cases for W-CDMA conformance tests since the start of 3G services. With the targeted October 2010 roll-out of LTE services, Anritsu says it is on track to deliver the required 80% of approved Priority 1 and 2 test cases, and is expecting to accelerate its number of both GCF and PTCRB approved test cases to assure the early success of high-quality LTE services.

Interxion, a European provider of carrier-neutral colocation data centre services, today announced that China Telecom (Europe) Limited, the EMEA division of China Telecom, said to be the world's largest wireline telecommunications and broadband services provider, has chosen Interxion's PAR 5 data centre in Paris as part of its operation to expand its network across Europe.

Established in 2006 and based in London, China Telecom (Europe) is committed to establishing an ‘Information Silk Road' that not only links Europe and China but also extends across the entire EMEA region and the globe. Along with its strategic partners, CTE provides customers throughout the EMEA region with global business communication solutions and enhanced European market services.

Interxion's PAR 5 data centre provides the latest secure, scalable infrastructure for mission-critical IT systems with a wide range of connectivity solutions including dual-fibre entry and direct access to more than 50 carriers and ISPs, including the PaNAP, FreeIX, PARIX and SFINX Internet exchanges. The facility has a 16 MVA/20 kV redundant grid supply, enabling high-density power configurations, with industry-leading service levels and availability as well as 24x7 secure access to equipment.

David Chen, Deputy Managing Director and Head of Network Department at China Telecom (Europe) Limited, said, "We chose Interxion because of its ability to provide a highly resilient infrastructure and unrivalled data centre expertise. The facts that it also has 27 data centres in 11 countries throughout Europe and that we had previously completed a successful project at its Frankfurt data centre made Interxion an ideal proposition for us." 

Kevin Dean, Chief Marketing Officer Interxion said, "This partnership is further evidence of Interxion's expertise in supporting companies as they expand their reach across Europe. Our PAR 5 data centre offers some of the best connectivity options in Europe and houses the four leading French Internet exchanges, making it an ideal location to support China Telecom's initial expansion across the region."

NEC announced today that it has successfully carried out LTE laboratory trials with Telefonica, one of Europe's largest telecom carriers with operations in more than 20 countries worldwide.

The trial took place between February and March 2010, at Telefonica de Argentina, member of the Telefonica group. NEC provided Telefonica de Argentina labs with a total LTE network system that consisted of core network systems and wireless base stations. Approximately 100 test items requested by Telefonica were achieved while under a 20MHz bandwidth, including a maximum throughput of 145Mbps while connecting with a simulator device. The trials are also said to have achieved a maximum throughput of 95Mbps using an actual LTE terminal.

As a result of the trials, NEC is also planning to participate in future Telefonica field trials, and NEC says it is aiming to increase performance and enhance the functionality of LTE systems that support next generation communications systems.