Telecom Timeout

September 9, 2009  8:24 PM

TV Caller ID in the age of personal choice

Kate Gerwig Kate Gerwig Profile: Kate Gerwig

I was minding my own business watching television last week when suddenly the name of a friend of mine appeared on my TV screen in capital letters. She is not an actress. Then the phone rang and it was her. I was suddenly the victim of a digital age, triple-play convenience feature: TV Caller ID.

At no charge, my cable provider added the feature to my service package without my knowledge or consent. Other cable providers have been rolling TV Caller ID out in a variety of markets for a year or two. Comcast’s variety, for example, blasts the caller’s name across all possible screens (TV, computer and telephone). That’s a bit too Big Brotherish for me. Continued »

September 1, 2009  5:03 PM

Next-gen voice: The unkillable app

Kate Gerwig Kate Gerwig Profile: Kate Gerwig

If you believed everything in print, you’d think no one is talking on the phone anymore. Not true. Take my friend from the South who believes he’s rude unless the salutations and polite inquiries as to everyone’s health go on for 20 minutes before he gets to the point of the call.

Voice has been the killer app for something like 100 years, and while data and video are dominate the world buzz, voice is not dead. As Mark Twain — a man who decided not to invest in the telephone because he thought it was a fad — would have said, the reports of voice’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. But with the decline of the circuit-switched network and the rise of IP and Carrier Ethernet, carriers need to find new ways to keep voice revenue flowing.

Telecom expert Tom Nolle looks at next-generation voice services opportunities for carriers that own their own networks and can make Quality of Service (QoS) capabilities work for them. But don’t look to Mark Twain for advice; he blew it the first time around. Sadly, he was just never destined to be successful.

August 26, 2009  7:23 PM

Sony joins wireless e-reader market; yee-hah for operators

Kate Gerwig Kate Gerwig Profile: Kate Gerwig

Sony announced the Digital Edition, its wireless electronic reader that will compete directly with Amazon’s Kindle and hit the market in December. I’m thrilled to see Sony go wireless, even though technologically I’m a Kindle enthusiast and give silent thanks to Jeff Bezos every time I download a book in a matter of seconds and don’t have to pay for it.

Whatever the differences between the Sony and Amazon products – touch screen, no touch screen — the arrival of more digital reading devices is good news for wireless operators. As my e-colleague Michael Morisy pointed out, Sprint’s revenue for providing Amazon with Kindle wireless data and related support services is low on the traditional telecom ARPU scale, but high overall because Sprint’s costs per subscriber are minimal. A service provider doing business with Sony would no doubt get a similar deal.

Sony also announced a deal with the New York Public Library that will allow digital subscribers to download 29,000 loaner ebooks (read them in 21 days or they self-destruct). To me that means more digitized content to an activity-specific device, and more wireless data for operators to transport, and more for me to download. Now I have to get back to my digital version of Julia Child’s memoir.

August 25, 2009  5:59 PM

More 100 GigE edge router positioning, but why?

Kate Gerwig Kate Gerwig Profile: Kate Gerwig

The news is this: Cisco is doubling the density of its Aggregation Services Router 9000 edge router series, which puts density well above the 100 Gig mark. The new line cards, which will be available in the next few months, have 16 10-gigabit-per-second Ethernet ports.

Cisco is claiming top-dog position at the moment, but its competitors have taken turns with edge router announcements of late. Juniper expects to start trialing 100-GigE cards for the MX 960 edge router before the end of the year. Alcatel Lucent is on a similar timetable. Huawei expects to introduce a 100-GigE line card, as well. So, different day, different vendor announcement.

The bigger question is why? What’s really happening is that vendors are positioning to help service providers engineer the next generation of services, according to CIMI Corp. President Tom Nolle. The approaches equipment vendors are announcing are extremely subtle; the point is to be a player in the network edge carrier build-up.

The likely reason service providers are interested in beefing up the network edge is not to serve up video for over-the-top players more efficiently, but to get into the content delivery network (CDN) business themselves so they get a bigger cut of the revenue, Nolle said. “If a provider is going to get a piece of the action by selling CDN services, they need to provide a better user experience.”

This isn’t the end of the port wars by any means, and who wins the most carrier market share will be interesting to watch.

August 24, 2009  6:41 PM

Traditional carriers lead business Ethernet market, study shows

Kate Gerwig Kate Gerwig Profile: Kate Gerwig

Predictions about the growth of business Ethernet services in metro area networks have not been greatly exaggerated. Whether in spite of the recession or because of it, traditional telecom providers have found increased revenue in the business Ethernet market this year, according to a new report by Vertical Systems Group. The market report for the first half of 2009 showed that incumbent carriers’ business Ethernet installations are now greater than those of competitive providers and cable operators combined.

According to the consulting firm, AT&T made the biggest business Ethernet services gains, but Verizon and Qwest also gained market share in the first half of 2009. Lower-cost metro services were partially responsible for increased enterprise interest, according to Rick Malone, principal at Vertical Systems Group. The top nine business Ethernet service providers, by port share, are AT&T, Verizon, Time Warner Telecom, Cox, Qwest, Time Warner Cable, Cogent, XO and Level 3.

August 21, 2009  2:14 PM

Motorola’s LTE win: A reversal of fortune?

Kate Gerwig Kate Gerwig Profile: Kate Gerwig

Motorola’s financial struggles have been much more public than its LTE wireless broadband capabilities of late, but its first public LTE win may help reverse the headlines if handled well.

KDDI Corp., Japan’s second-largest wireless operator, chose Motorola’s Home & Network Mobility unit to be a key development partner for its 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network. The win gives Motorola’s LTE capabilities more credibility when going up against other LTE vendors, including Ericsson, which recently won the bid for Nortel’s LTE assets.

The Motorola contract may be larger than $1 billion, according to analyst reports, although KDDI previously announced it could spend about $5.3 billion for a nationwide LTE network. Questions are floating about whether Motorola’s win is tied to a low pricing strategy. Japan’s NEC also won a KDDI contract to supply LTE equipment. KDDI launched its CDMA network with Motorola as its primary vendor, so Motorola has traction with the provider.

Motorola’s role is to implement the basic LTE infrastructure and base stations. KDDI hopes to launch its LTE service by December 2012, which still puts it in a trailing second place to NTT DoCoMo, Japan’s largest wireless operator that plans to launch LTE service a full two years earlier, at the end of 2010.

Motorola is also conducting LTE trials with China Mobile Ltd.

August 4, 2009  5:17 PM

Self-organizing networks: To LTE and beyond…

Kate Gerwig Kate Gerwig Profile: Kate Gerwig

The “self-organizing network” sounds like the stuff of science fiction, or at least the futuristic utopia of The Jetsons. Just the sound of it makes me think of conveniences I would enjoy: self-organizing closets, self-organizing garages, self-organizing remote controls.

In their 2062 setting, George and Jane Jetson lived lives of incredible leisure because of their labor saving devices. Yet the concept of self-organizing networks is already being discussed as a key technology requirement for LTE networks.

The self-organized Jetsonian concept would vastly reduce network operations costs by automating process to handle high-volume, low-cost services efficiently, possibly separating OSS from BSS forever.

But why should self-organizing networks be limited to 4G? In this week’s featured article, CIMI Corp. President Tom Nolle – Jetsonesque in his futuristic visions – ponders extending the concept of self-organizing networks beyond LTE.

Read it. It will expand your mind.

August 4, 2009  3:07 PM

RIM’s Nortel interest adds more drama to ‘final’ bid

Kate Gerwig Kate Gerwig Profile: Kate Gerwig

Why on earth would RIM want Nortel? That was the question on everyone’s minds after the handset manufacturer announced it had not only tried to enter bidding for the distressed Nortel’s LTE and CDMA assets, but had been “prevented” from fairly competing for those assets due to bidding restrictions.

And while Ericsson eventually emerged victorious in bidding, industry watchers were left scratching their heads, and legislators seem to at least be considering the merits of RIM’s complaint. What if the Waterloo-based BlackBerry maker was successful in a re-auction and it won?

The company has given little indication of why they are so intent on the Nortel wireless assets, beyond the stated desire to keep Nortel Canadian, but RIM does have experience in building out some infrastructure in order to power its central NOC. Perhaps the company has seen infrastructure as a critical competitive asset, and one that will further separate it from the pack just as its e-mail advantage has in the past. Another theory is that RIM is trying to jump on the LTE bandwagon early, and it sees the Nortel opportunity as the perfect way to jump past its competitors in this area.

Whatever the motivation, with Canadian national pride and billions of dollars in local jobs at stake, the supposedly final Ericsson purchase might not be so final after all.

August 3, 2009  5:01 PM

Summer reading: The physics of fiber in optical networks

Kate Gerwig Kate Gerwig Profile: Kate Gerwig

Seismic shifts are going on in the telecom industry, so there’s no “lazy days of summer” form factor. In fact, carriers and vendors are powering straight on through to a fall that promises strategy shifts, partner realignment and M&A activity.

To honor the tone of the industry, our featured beach reading is a chapter download about fiber, which is both good for you and filled with light. The author of Opitcal Fibers from The Cable and Telecommunications Handbook, Volume 2, Third Edition, (Focal Press, 2008), says the structure of fiber optic cable is simple: a glass core and cladding around it. Easy. From there, he goes into refractive indices and pages of formulas for a thorough review on how to get the most out of your fiber.

Getup to speed on light speed by downloading the chapter, and to complete the course, have a look at these guides:

July 28, 2009  3:02 PM

Telecom Timeout: The App Store Agenda

WPeterson William Peterson Profile: WPeterson

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In this video, I speak with Lewis Ward, IDC research manager, and Arvin Chander, with Qualcomm, about the future of mobile app stores and what they mean for carriers. Is the Apple iTunes model destined for the future, giving carriers only a slim cut of revenue? Or is there are brighter future for wireless carriers? Watch the video to hear why Ward predicts carriers will eventually only get a 10% cut of this growing market.

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