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COLT selects Comverse

Comverse, a  leading supplier of software and systems enabling network-based multimedia enhanced communication and billing services, has announced that COLT, a leading European provider of business communications, has selected Comverse Kenan FX to support its postpaid billing for data, voice and managed services for its European customers. COLT services are based on its advanced European infrastructure, which includes 32 city networks across 13 countries with last-mile fiber to over 10,000 buildings and 15 COLT owned data centres.

“The new Comverse billing system is a key part of our strategy to standardize our business processes and operate more efficiently,” said Tony Bates, Chief Administrative and Financial Officer at COLT. “It will enable us to bring new products and services to market more quickly and ultimately, enhance the COLT customer experience.”
“With this major step in our overall systems strategy, we will save significant operating expenses by streamlining and consolidating our back-office systems,” added Rob Wharton, COLT’s Chief Information Officer. Kenan FX combines world-class billing with order fulfillment and customer management applications for efficient customer lifecycle management. New advanced technology, such as advanced rating and collection applications, improves the efficiency of billing operations while decreasing the development and integration costs of new services. Kenan FX is part of Comverse’s billing portfolio, which enables service providers and e-businesses worldwide to increase market agility and improve operational efficiency. Comverse's converged, real-time and postpaid billing solutions support multiple services, networks and payment types, allowing businesses to build revenues and loyalty by providing customers with choice, convenience and control.
“We are excited to help COLT enhance its customer experience,” said Gadi Bahat, President, Comverse EMEA. “Comverse’s Kenan FX is well-suited for the enterprise market, particularly multinationals, with its advanced features for multi-currencies, multi-languages and multi-taxation issues. Together with the Comverse professional services team, COLT will be able to rapidly launch bundled offerings and optimize its services, billing and customer management capabilities quickly and effectively throughout its numerous networks across Europe.”

Aircom selected by mobilkom austria group for OPTIMA network performance solution

Aircom International has announced that the mobilkom austria group has selected its software solution OPTIMA. The deployment consists of the GERAN and UTRAN performance management solution for Austria as well as the performance data-warehouse solution for the companies of the mobilkom austria group – mobilkom austria (Austria), Mobiltel (Bulgaria), Vipnet (Croatia) and Si.mobil (Slovenia).

OPTIMA is part of Aircom’s ENTERPRISE suite, a single platform software solution for Network OSS, Planning & Optimisation. Consisting of 12 integrated software modules covering Radio Planning & Design Optimisation, Transmission & Core Planning, Configuration & Performance Management and Service Assurance, it is the most complete solution available to the telecoms industry.

mobilkom austria uses OPTIMA as an advanced network performance management and monitoring tool, providing a fully integrated application with the ability to provide network performance data for multi vendor and multi technology networks. The performance data-warehouse solution allows the mobilkom austria group to do group-wide network reporting and facilitates technical benchmarking of the networks. OPTIMA presents raw and aggregated date with an intuitive GUI, tracks element performance at every level near real-time, automatically alerts engineers to network anomalies or network degradations and offers a reporting engine for rapid distribution of key data to key players.

 “One of the key challenges for today's mobile network engineers is ensuring performance on networks that are constantly evolving as they expand and as new technologies are deployed”, Georg Löffelmann, Project Manager of mobilkom austria group services, explains. “OPTIMA was chosen for reasons of flexibility and interoperability with our existing heterogeneous Mobile Network Equipment and Operations Support Systems. With OPTIMA we are convinced that we can maintain the network’s integrity and performance to ensure constant end-user satisfaction.”

GTS Datanet is third GTS Central Europe subsidiary to select Thomson

Thomson’s Cirpack Softswitches used by Hungary’s leading alternative operator for new double play and IP Centrex services

Thomson today announced that GTS Datanet has chosen its Cirpack VoIP switching platforms for the launch of new double play and IP Centrex services. GTS Datanet is the largest alternative operator in Hungary and a subsidiary of GTS Central Europe, the biggest alternative operator in the region. GTS Datanet is the third member of the GTS Central Europe group to select Thomson’s Cirpack solutions, following announcements by GTS Telecom in Romania and GTS Nextra in Slovakia in 2004 and 2005.

GTS Central Europe is a provider of integrated telecommunications solutions with its own fibre based network in Central Europe. Its Hungarian subsidiary is preparing to launch a range of double play and IP Centrex packages for its operator and business clients with the intention of attracting 20,000 new customers within 12 months of launch. To fulfil these requirements, GTS Datanet needed a carrier grade platform capable of offering full class 5 voice features.
 
Geza Szathmari, CEO of GTS Datanet explained “Our strategy is to increase market share with all customers - residential, business and carrier clients, by offering attractively priced advanced telephony solutions. We needed a softswitch able to provide all traditional TDM functions as well as new IP based services. Thomson’s Cirpack softswitches and gateways offer all the necessary services at a competitive price level. In addition, the Cirpack solution is a trusted reference for us due to its experience with GTS Telecom in Romania and GTS Nextra in Slovakia, supporting deployment of VoIP services with IP Centrex.”
 
Jean-Pierre Dumolard, General Manager of Thomson’s Network Intelligence Solutions commented “Broadband subscription in Hungary is rising rapidly, with a 60% increase registered by the Hungarian telecoms regulator the National Communications Authority (NHH) in 2005 alone.  This combined with the recent introduction of telephony unbundling legislation in 2004 means there is a high potential for Voice over Broadband services in Hungary. With GTS Datanet we are entering Hungary with the country’s largest alternative operator and are confident we can replicate the success enjoyed with GTS CE’s Slovakian and Romanian subsidiaries”.

Fixed mobile convergence message getting through to UK enterprises, claims survey

Nearly a fifth of UK businesses surveyed plan to use FMC in the next two years

According to new research conducted by Vanson Bourne on behalf of Martin Dawes Systems, awareness of fixed-mobile convergence (FMC) and its benefits is high amongst UK businesses (54%) with 10% already using the technology and another 7% planning to implement FMC in the next two years. The research surveyed telecommunication service buyers of 100 businesses with in excess of 500 UK employees.

The business respondents were asked if they were aware of FMC offerings in the market place with 54% responding positively.  This finding suggests that offerings like BT Fusion, which was launched to business customers in February 2006, appear to be capturing the imagination of the marketplace.

According to the survey cost savings (75%) are regarded as the most significant expected benefit followed by improvements in employee productivity (63%).  Other benefits identified by the survey include better cost control, enhanced mobile working and more transparent billing. 

When asked about the biggest challenges in deciding on future telecommunications services, the upfront cost to implement a new business telecom system (64%) and the need to justify return on investment (48%) were considered to be the most significant. Concern about whether the latest technology was sufficiently future-proofed was cited by 40% of respondents as an issue that would affect their consideration of new solutions like FMC.

Tom Hodgson, sales and marketing director, Martin Dawes Systems, commented, “2006 was the year FMC became a real contender in the industry with the first commercial products and services brought to market.  Whilst it is still early days for this concept, our survey suggests FMC is very much on the business agenda and developments like the latest WiFi version of BT Fusion will further stimulate the market.”

SOA will transform the way IT and the organisation interacts over the next five years, says new report

Leading European IT research and advisory organisation, Butler Group, believes that whilst Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) is exciting the imagination more than any other previous architectural strategy, there are still many aspects of the approach that need to be fully understood.

A new report – Planning and Implementing SOA - Ensuring the successful deployment of a services-based approach – identifies that, despite all the hype surrounding SOA, it is not yet the predominant operating model for more than a few organisations, but a growing number are beginning to trial the approach, especially larger organisations and enterprises in the Technology and Financial Services sectors.
 
"The adoption of SOA has significant potential to improve the value organisations derive from their IT investments, in terms of increased flexibility, improved use of assets, alignment with business objectives, and reduced integration costs," says Mike Thompson, Business Process Management (BPM) Practice Director and co-author of the study. "However, there is still a considerable degree of hype and misunderstanding around the topic, with consequent confusion as to the exact definition of a SOA, and more importantly, how to begin to realise these benefits." 
 
Whilst still mainly in the proof-of-concept or pilot phase at many organisations, the adoption of SOA is continuing to gain momentum despite the challenges. A Butler Group survey of IT decision-makers identified that 8% had deployed SOA in a live environment, with a further 17% engaged in trials, and 36% in the process of evaluating the approach. The evidence suggests that organisations are most likely to first transfer internal business processes to SOA, rather than involve external stakeholders. A recent survey of 90 end users in the US and Western Europe, conducted by Datamonitor, identified that 30% of the respondents were deploying or trialling SOA, with adoption rates for larger organisations significantly higher than for smaller ones, and Technology and Financial Services being the dominant verticals.
 
Clearly, with a step change in approach there will be technical issues, with the lack of in-house expertise often being cited as one of the major barriers to the adoption of SOA. Early adopters have also encountered problems around security, service performance, reliability, and data management. Security is a particular concern, especially as the IT function has spent a large amount of time, effort, and money on tackling security issues, and there are concerns that SOA might open up new gaps within the implemented systems. Simply restricting access to authorised personnel via standard access control mechanisms becomes impracticable in a service-oriented environment, and new standards are starting to evolve.
 
"Whilst there has been a significant focus on the mechanisms and technologies directly associated with SOA, there has been less discussion on the impact that the approach will have on the wider IT environment. The IT manager must start to prepare the IT infrastructure for these changes, and in particular for the performance demands of SOA. The move to a layered, services-based environment means that flexibility becomes much more important, as does the ability to meet variable performance requirements. It is important that, in tandem with SOA adoption, the IT infrastructure is enhanced to cater for these new requirements, along with the provision of common infrastructure services."
 
SOA represents a transformation in the way the organisation operates, and executive sponsorship is therefore vital says the Butler Group, as seen from many successful SOA implementations. Internal politics is often a major contributor to difficulties with SOA, especially as services and resources are now shared. There is a need for trust to be rebuilt by the IT department with the rest of the organisation, especially as in the past IT has been perceived, wrongly in many instances, as an inhibitor of progress, and there will be scepticism about this latest initiative. Starting with a small project that addresses a particular business problem can help to get the decision makers on board, although it is important to keep in mind the ultimate goal and have a plan as to how to evolve to SOA over the next five years.
 
"The maturing of Web services standards and technology has provided a mechanism for SOA to be successfully deployed, although standards advocated by one or a small group of vendors should be avoided where possible. From a business perspective it is no longer a technology issue. It is a matter of developing an architecture and framework within which business problems can be defined, and solutions can be implemented in a coherent and repeatable way, exploiting reusable services," Thompson concludes.

AinaCom picks Nokia's business communication solution for its fixed mobile convergence offering to enterprises

Nokia and AinaCom, a Finnish regional operator, have sealed a deal to provide an operator hosted solution for convergent business voice services.  The Nokia Business Communication solution enables AinaCom to offer enterprise users the same rich voice services on any device, over any access.

"Enterprises need to solve the challenge of combining mobility with the emergence of Voice over Internet technology.  The Nokia solution provides us with a cost-effective way to meet that challenge," says Kari Tavisalo, Director of Networks and Service Production, AinaCom. 
 
"The Nokia Business Communication solution has been designed to meet the strictest requirements for business voice services," says Sakari Kotola, Director, FMC Marketing, Networks, Nokia.  "In particular, our focus lies on providing hosted business voice services that free enterprises to outsource their PBX system, either partly or completely, to AinaCom."
 
Nokia's Business Communication solution provides seamless enterprise services for SIP fixed/mobile phones, as well as for circuit switched 2G/3G mobiles.  Nokia's solution provides PBX-like call handling features for personal users and enterprise groups, including attendant services, virtual private numbering, call diversion, multiparty calls, call transfer, call hold, voicemail integration, and hunt groups.  Nokia will also provide self-administration and provisioning tools for enterprises, as well as integration with AinaCom's existing PBX solutions. 

Prime Carrier launches the first Real-Time Trading platform for Wholesale Interconnect business processes

Prime Carrier, the provider of ‘On Demand’ software products for the global telecommunications and media industries, has announced the release of a set of individual modules that comprise the industry’s first Real-Time Trading platform to support the entire Interconnect business process. The functionality covers a wide range of complex business functions including management of dial codes and rates, purchasing, sales, bilateral agreements, route optimization, margin, traffic, quality & switch management and real time management information.

The MOST Products enable organizations to cost-effectively manage interconnect trading relationships more efficiently. Using Real-time processing of actual traffic data to provide quality, cost and margin information enables the production of an ‘actual vs. forecast’ analysis. This provides the information necessary to reduce costs, improve margins and measure call and carrier quality through a range of metrics.

Subex Azure announces new brand identity for its integrated suite of revenue maximization solutions

Subex Azure, a leading vendor of revenue maximization solutions for telecom operators, today unveiled the new identity for its integrated suite of software solutions. Subex Azure has named its solution suite as Rocware. The six solutions that form the Rocware suite have also been re-branded to reinforce the global nature of the company’s business. This initiative represents a significant milestone in the company’s effort to integrate overlapping solution offerings following its acquisition of Azure Solutions Ltd. in June 2006 and aims to reinforce customer confidence in these ongoing efforts.

Sanjeev Gadre, Senior Director, Marketing, said  “This announcement comes at a time when we seek to address a robust, global marketplace for revenue maximization solutions. The new brand identity clearly articulates our compelling vision of the Revenue Operations Center”.

“The company’s sales force and business partners will undergo extensive training to understand the value and strength of the new names and our customers can expect continued expertise, stability, quality and support from Subex Azure, wherever in the world they may be” added Sanjeev.

Subex Azure recognises that telecom operators will establish, in the near future, a strategically important Revenue Operations Center (ROC). The company would like to position its solution suite as the software heart that powers the ROC. With this as the central thought, Subex Azure chose the name Rocware for its solution suite.

To reinforce the global nature of the company’s business, the names chosen for individual solutions that form the suite are terms from some of the world’s classical languages. The terms chosen reinforce individual product’s emotive functional appeal, for example, the Revenue Assurance System will now be known as Moneta which is a Latin term for money. The look and feel of the logos has been chosen to communicate 'technology and modernity'.

Huawei's core network equipment deployed into KPN's mobile network

Huawei Technologies and Netherlands operator KPN Mobile have announced that Huawei's circuit and packet switched network equipment has been successfully introduced into KPN Mobile's network.

Huawei's mobile softswitch product was selected to expand the capacity of the core network in the Circuit Switched (CS) domain, while adhering to KPN Mobile's stringent requirements. It is a key part of KPN Mobile's strategy is to deliver service to customers through shared radio and core network infrastructure.  This is the first commercial deployment of all-IP mobile softswitch network architecture in Europe.

In the Packet Switched (PS) domain, Huawei's high-capacity 2G/3G SGSN is currently carrying KPN Mobile's 2G PS traffic, and 3G traffic will be migrated to this equipment in the next few months. Huawei's Gateway GPRS Support Nodes (GGSN) will also be introduced into KPN Mobile's network in the next few months. The deployment of Huawei's PS equipment will provide KPN with an advanced, high-capacity network onto which next generation IP based services can be deployed with greater flexibility.

"We are very happy that the project to replace KPN Mobiles core network with the future proof Huawei core network is well on track. Huawei has shown their ability to supply European tier one operators and deliver in time a network with outstanding QoS performance that will benefit KPN and Telfort's end customers. We are very pleased to see that the KPN Mobile network is now ready for the future, mainly based on the efficient IP protocol."said Sietse Sijperda, CTO of KPN Mobile.

Mr. Victor Chen, General Manager of Huawei's representative office in The Netherlands, said: "The successful deployment of Huawei's CS and PS equipment into KPN's commercial network is of great significance to Huawei.  This implementation once again attests to the excellent quality of our core network products, our strong delivery capability, and leading operators such as KPN Mobile's trust in Huawei as a mobile network equipment supplier."

Huawei's mobile softswitch is renowned for its reliability and stability. Huawei is the first company that introduced the mobile softswitch solution for commercial use. To date, Huawei's mobile softswitch solution serves more than 170 million subscribers worldwide and has the largest market share in new mobile softswitch sales. Huawei also pioneered the integrated 2G/3G PS product, which is currently deployed in more than 40 countries for over 55 million subscribers.

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