Real Time Communications Week in Review: Origibot, Matrix.org, 5G

Real Time Communications Week in Review: Origibot, Matrix.org, 5G

February 28, 2015

It's a big time for real time communications, and there's plenty going on in the field. New products are landing regularly, and the sheer pace of development demands careful consideration of the wider field. That's particularly true if we want to get the most out of what we're looking at so far. Consideration, however, demands time, and now that we've got a weekend on hand, it's a great time to consider the wider field of events, which we'll do right now by means of our Week in Review coverage!

First we had a look at maintaining quality service in the face of changing technology. There are some cases—and will likely always be some cases—in which people prefer having a human being to speak to. While automating some functions is a great way to save time and money while still improving the customer experience, a completely automated experience can be a disaster. The key point here is to consider the wider market's needs, and then proceed accordingly.

Then we had a look at Origibot, a telepresence robot sufficiently simple that it could be largely powered by an Android tablet. Made largely of aluminum, the device could not only move around, allow the tablet to transmit and receive video back to its operator, but also came with an manipulator arm allowing the device to interact with objects in the room. Origibot is still in the midst of an Indiegogo campaign, but at last report was around a third of the way to its goal.

For as long as there has been 4G, there have been those wondering when 5G will kick in. The answer is now closer than some might have expected, as reports emerged that engineers are starting to pull together the basic standards and guidelines of just what makes up a 5G system. The early word is already exciting as it is: 10 Gbps user experiences, low latency, and support for applications from UltraHD telepresence to augmented reality and beyond.

Next we had a look at Matrix.org, who were looking to address one of the biggest issues with WebRTC, specifically, its use of other systems in the signaling process like XMPP or SIP. With Matrix, users get access to an interoperable instant messaging concept as well as voice over Internet protocol (VoIP), offering up a series of RESTful APIs in a bid to make it easier to hook in WebRTC to current operations. Some have even referred to it as the “missing link” for WebRTC deployments.

Finally, we looked at Mocana, who planned to bring a set of new mobile security tools to the upcoming Mobile World Congress (MWC) event. Mocana Atlas, SAP Mobile App Protection, and the Mocana Atlas Lighthouse set were all in line for exhibition, and each had a particularly noteworthy point to offer the field. Combined together, the group was set to offer serious value in mobile security, providing faster development, compliance with certain regulations, and a better level of protection overall.

That was the week that was in real time communications, and there was no shortage of news to speak of this week. Our global online community was right at the heart of it all, finding the best in news and bringing it right back here. So be sure to join us back next week for all the latest in the field, and every weekend as well for our Week in Review coverage!

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Next Generation Communications Week in Review: Telfonica, Bell Labs and Siklu

We are coming up on Mobile World Congress (MWC), hence much if not all of our news and blogs this week in the Next Generation Communications Community involves things wireless.  In fact, as can be seen in the news section it is all about wireless.

News

Maybe the best place to start is with come market context.  It was provided this week with a new report from Infonetics (News - Alert) Research which found that the global VoLTE and IMS equipment market has seen a very nice jump in 2014 and 2015 and beyond is looking good.   

As to the other wireless news, if you are going to MWC, be sure to stop by Telefonica (News - Alert)'s booth (Hall 3- Stand 3J20), to see a demonstration of end-to-end virtual networking, i.e., Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) along with a host of other capabilities in action.

On the components side of things, small cells are going to be big at MWC, and you might wish to check out Siklu (News - Alert) whose radios have been integrated with the Alcatel-Lucent 9500 MPR for small cell backhaul
And, in case you missed it, Freescale (News - Alert) Semiconductor and Bell Labs have announced a partnership that will leverage their unique skill sets to influence the creation of new networks as early as 2017.

Blogs

Once again we suffered from an almost embarrassment of riches from the bloggers.  In fact, below are the titles with some inducements as to why they are worth a click.

NFV INSIGHTS: Preparing for the future of NFV.  Contributed by Andreas Lemke, Ph.D. - Alcatel-Lucent, he looks at the recent Winter School and Hackathon event, organized by Bell Labs (News - Alert), Alcatel-Lucent’s CloudBand team and Israel’s leading Institute of Technology, Technion. The event offered a full program to get acquainted with the fundamental concepts behind cloud computing, software defined networking (SDN) and network functions virtualization (NFV). You should be interested in what transpired as six through their paces.

The Evolution of Customer Experience Management: From scoring net promoters to customer effort.  Greg Owens, Senior Director, Global Marketing, Motive CEM Solutions, Alcatel-Lucent gives his account of what he learned at the recent Customer Experience Management (CEM) event in London. The good news is he came away encouraged that: “There is no doubt: CSPs are intent on improving customer satisfaction and on making it a key focus of their businesses. Many of the CSP-led presentations showed examples of mission and vision statements that place the customer smack-dab in the crosshairs.”

Can the vEPC be deployed in the LTE consumer network?  The answer to the question posed by Keith Allan, Director IP Mobile Core Product Strategy, Alcatel-Lucent, is YES.  Again, if you are at MWC you will have a chance to see why as Alcatel-Lucent will show a live demonstration of vEPC dynamic scaling together with simplified NFV management and orchestration.

VoWiFi extends and enriches LTE services.  David E. Nowoswiat, Senior Product and Solutions Marketing Manager, IP Routing & Transport, and Ed Elkin, Head of Marketing for IP Communication, Alcatel-Lucent, weigh in with their take as to how and why the growing importance and usage of Wi-Fi is spurring rapid development in voice over Wi-Fi (VoWiFi) to complement robust VoLTE services.

Weekend reading

Whether you are going to Barcelona or not, the place to stay up to date on all next generation communications areas of interest is only a click away.  The community home page is your portal to industry news and insights which are constantly being up-dated with news, whitepapers, videos, podcasts and case studies.

Plus, the home page also links to several eZines. Recent additions of note are Alcatel-Lucent TechZine articles on NFV.

The other eZines, GRIDTalk, TRACKTALK and LIFETALK have detailed articles into key market sectors that are equally as timely and informative.

Telecom Signaling Week in Review: Oracle, Sonus and DOCOMO PACIFIC

February 28, 2015

It goes without say that with Mobile World Congress (MWC) only a few days from now that telecom signaling has emerged as a hot topic.  In fact, Diameter Signaling is grabbing a lot of attention and you can be sure that in this regard the next few weeks we are going to be hearing a lot about LTE roaming.   

A good place to start our review is with an impressive network modernization will scored by community host Oracle Communication who is helping Indonesia’s largest communications service provider, PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia Telkom), transform its network to next generation capabilities by upgrading its service delivery platform (SDP) by implementing new releases of the Oracle Communications Service Delivery Platform product family.

In other news of note, as part of the pre-MWC rolling thunder of announcements, Sonus announced it will be showcasing a new embedded Diameter Signaling Controller (eDSC) that is specifically designed to handle the needs of highly trafficked mobile networks.

  • The tiny island of Guam, located near almost nothing, may be small but it happens to make it a great place to introduce capabilities, which is something DOCOMO PACIFIC’s parent NTT DOCOMO has been doing for many years. The latest networking upgrade is the introduction of LTE roaming based of course on Diameter Signaling.  The reasons are multi-faceted in that they involve user requirements for a seamless and hopefully inexpensive customer experience (CX) along with service provider desires to provide those valuable differentiated experiences while also leveraging Diameter Signaling's capabilities for enhanced and cost-effective management and control. And, as noted Guam with a population that travels and lots of visitors from other parts of the really is the perfect place to implement an upgrade.
  • There was an interesting item on how and why Bulgerian WIMAX service provider Max is relying on Diameter Signaling from Diemetriq to enable its 4G LTE offering.
  • Max Chooses Diemetriq Diameter Solution Suite to Enable 4G LTE
    One of the major problems facing wireless operators today is the choice between WiMAX and 4G LTE networks. The systems are not compatible, so if an operator such as Max, which provided WiMAX service in Bulgeria, wants to switch, it can find a tough road ahead.
  • And, last but certain not least, if you are going to Barcelona, you may wish to make ZyXEL’s booth a destination as the company will be launching two LTE indoor routers.

Weekend Reading

Whether you are going to Barcelona or not, the place to stay current on telecom signaling is by taking full advantage of the community home page which is constantly being updated with not only news but whitepapers, data sheets, and other valuable resources.  In fact, if you have not read the LTE Diameter Signaling Index-3rd Edition, this weekend would be a great time to do so.  I also highly recommend the recent addition Manage the future now, which looks at how Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) implementation will raise interesting challenges regarding Operation Support Systems (OSS).  

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Conferencing Week in Review: Mississippi, Global Presence Alliance, West Hawaii Today

February 28, 2015


By Rory J. Thompson
Web Editor

The conferencing arena saw some intelligent movement this week, as more and more entities realized the value that video conferencing can actually deliver. We have the highlights.

For example, while most of the time this particular tool is one that is focusing on the business world, that doesn’t mean the business world is the only market that can take advantage of what it has to offer. Underlining that are the plans of the Monroe, Mississippi County Sheriff Cecil Cantrell, who has plans for a room in the county jail. If the plans are carried out the way Cantrell wants, part of this area will be turned into a place where federal inmates communicate with their attorneys. "It frees up our jailers and our transport deputies to do other things around the jail and it's just a tremendous thing and we're really, really excited," said Sheriff Cantrell, according to local television station WTVA. Monroe County has become one of three counties in Mississippi that are about to implement a new video conferencing program. Among other reasons for the excitement by the Sheriff and his deputies is it will save the department quite a bit of money. The video conferencing solution will also make it so that authorities don’t have to transport inmates from their jail to the U.S. District Court building in Aberdeen (News - Alert). 

Elsewhere, the Global Presence Alliance, a group of audiovisual, video conferencing, and managed service providers from across the globe, report that they work to improve the communications ecosystem by reducing costs and making those related products and services more efficient and effective. Its most recent announcement states that the multi-national group has reached the billion-dollar mark with its combined annual sales revenue. Meeting that mark makes the GPA the world's largest provider of audiovisual services. It has expanded on a model that, it says, mirrors what the airline industry has done for many years. While the airline industry used the collaboration of global entities to lower costs and make sure their services were compatible, the GPA has taken that format and applied it to the communications products that global enterprises use every day.

Last fall, we heard about Washington state's plans to put video conferencing systems to work in giving people in locations far away from the state capital of Olympia better access to the workings of government. Now, a new report from West Hawaii Today suggests that the Washington project isn't limited to Washington, as Hawaii is looking to put similar systems to use. The benefits of such programs are substantial enough to be worth considering; not only could more people take part in the legislative process, but such people could do so without the time and expense often required to take a trip to a state's legislative facilities. This is an issue of particular note in Hawaii, where residents could often be separated from a state capital not by miles of land but by miles of land and water as well.

As this technology continues to gain momentum, be sure to check in with us often for the latest updates.

Call Center Services Week in Review: CROWDS, Retail Gazette, inContact, Forbes

The call center marketplace was bursting with news over the past week, and we have some of the highlights here.

To start, a recent industry news brief suggests that customer service may have met its match with a new app, CROWDS, from crowdsourcing application developer Conversocial. While the past may have had its fill of unsatisfying call center experiences and forced customers to deal with those experiences in private, says the Retail Gazette news site of the U.K., the future with CROWDS promises to pull customer support into the public eye. The app allows customers to use the Web-based application to inquire about a particular brand's product or service; it then redirects that message through Twitter (News - Alert) to find other customers who can help the people in need. It brings customers together to solve problems rather than placing the entire burden on brands themselves. It brings connectivity to a whole new level. Details are HERE.

Elsewhere, a new blog post shined a spotlight on the value of data. By now most everyone in the enterprise is starting to catch on to the fact that the data you capture from calls and other interactions with your clients has some real value beyond just asking if they’re happy or not.  Once it’s finely chopped and diced, such data can reveal insights that savvy marketers can use to advance their company and get some serious ROI, especially when it comes to hiring. “The data you are capturing during the quality management process is a gold mine of insight for your business. One very underutilized connection is recruiting,” inContact’s Gavin Gustafson wrote. “Measuring the right behaviors in your quality process is critical to leveraging the data in other departments. So, first let’s talk about some of the basic soft skills that are very commonly measured during the quality process. By comparing some of your soft skills scores to customer satisfaction scores, you can identify the most impactful soft skills to customer satisfaction.” Read what else he has to say on the matter HERE.

When it comes to careers, few look first toward being a call center agent, but if Forbes has anything to say about it that might change. Forbes recently took a look at how to get good customer service, and it starts with happy agents. The Forbes look at the call center makes plenty of sense on the surface; agents who are less stressed out and happier tend to stick around longer, and agents who stick around longer bring the benefits of experience to the operation, having a better handle on how to take care of problems and address issues. But by like token, it's clear that the call center is still one of the biggest problems companies face; the work is high-stress, and turnover so rapid that companies are often dealing with minimally-experienced agents for much of the time. Still, the whole story is worth a second look.

And there’s even more news where that came from, so to see all of the past week’s call center news, we have the details.

NFV & SDN Zone Week in Review: ADVA, CENX, Ericsson, NEC

February 28, 2015

Next week is sure to be a big one for network functions virtualization and software-defined networking, given Mobile World Congress takes place the first week of March. But several suppliers went ahead this week and announced planned demonstrations, and new initiatives and product launches, of virtualized solutions for the carrier set.

NEC Corp. and its subsidiary NetCracker Technology, for example, announced they have established a new global business brand and structure to address NFV and SDN. The new NEC/NetCracker SDN/NFV Solutions will have units dedicated to delivery, sales and marketing, and research and development.

Also this week CENX revealed it has partnered with Spirent to demonstrate orchestration of voice over LTE services on virtualized network infrastructure. CENX sells a solution called the Cortx Service Orchestrator that gives service providers like the telcos visibility of network utilization, performance metrics, and service topology so they can manage quality of service. Spirent sells a product called Spirent Landslide for end-to-end testing of mobile networks.

Active Broadband Networks introduced a software-only forwarding engine for broadband edge processing. Called the Active Programmable Gateway, this virtual network function solution eliminates the need for edge routers, instead enabling broadband operators to connect customers directly to their clouds.

Meanwhile, Interop Technologies joined forces with Taqua to build out its VoWiFi and VoLTE offerings.

ADVA Optical Networking said it will stage a demonstration on virtualization in radio access backhaul networks next week at Mobile World Congress 2015. The focus here is how MNOs can use NFV technology to eliminate the restrictions of hardware-coded networks.

And Ericsson yesterday released a slew of announcements in connection with Mobile World Congress. That included news that it plans to demonstrate new Ericsson Router 6000 series solutions that couple radio and IP transport with Ericsson Radio System and Ericsson Network Management, and integrated SDN functionality. It will also demo next week the new Ericsson virtual router for NFV infrastructure.
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Net2Phone to Launch Channel Partner Program

February 27, 2015

By Casey Houser Contributing Writer

VoIP telecommunications product provider Net2Phone recently announced the launch of its new channel partner program which will offer benefits and support to partners that sell the Net2Phone Office suite.

That suite allows enterprises to make unlimited calls to anyone within the U.S. and several countries outside those borders. The partner program will launch in spring of 2015 and will provide partners with a number of incentives for being a high-quality seller including significant commission rates and “partner portal” that is available 24 hours a day for access to marketing materials, quote creation, and lead tracking. Jonah Fink, the senior vice president of Net2Phone, commented on the partner program and the small business Office suite rate it will extend through those partners.


“In the hyper-competitive market for small business telephony,” Fink said, “we are deploying an unbeatable combination for distributors – industry leading commissions and support paired with an unrivaled small business offering – a robust hosted PBX solution with unlimited calling domestically and to 22 countries for just $19.99 a month.”

While the incentive for small businesses is present in the extension of the partner program, it appears that Net2Phone is also concentrating heavily on the benefits available for partners themselves. In addition to competitive commission rates, Net2Phone also mentions performance bonuses for partners that can come in addition to commissions they may have already achieved.

The Net2Phone indicated that it will be showing off this new program at the Channel Partners Conference and Expo in March. There it will provide more details about the program to potential partners and will also display the products it has to offer businesses that are looking for a cost-effective, flexible platform for calling many local and international destinations.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

Measuring Performance on a Regular Basis Key to Having Successful Call Center

One of the most important assets of many businesses is its call center. It is often one of the front lines of contact between a business and its customers and can make the difference between a great experience and the customer switching to a competitor.

Having a call center in and of itself does not guarantee success, however. It requires a huge investment in both labor and technology and if not performing well, that investment is wasted. It is critical therefore, that companies have measurable results to insure their call center investment pays off.

According to an article in Nearshore Americas, these measurable results come in the form of key performance indicators (KPI). By keeping a meaningful set of these statistics on a regular basis, companies are better equipped to track call center performance and take corrective action if needed.

One of those who were interviewed in the article, Cheryl Flink, is a chief strategy officer for Market Force Information. She cited indicators that measured how quickly agents responded to the customer’s problem; how much time they spent with the customer; and how often these problems are solved on the first contact.

These three statistics alone will go a long way towards improving call center performance. It goes without saying that customers don’t want to wait a long time for an agent or spend a lot of time talking to one while resolving an issue. Satisfying those conditions alone is only a temporary fix if the customer has to make multiple calls to solve their problem.

The term ‘customer experience’ has been used so often that it may have already reached buzzword status, but dismissing it as such is not a good idea. Call centers need to get at the source of aggravation and frustration their customers feel when using their company’s products or services, and when they need help solving a problem.

There’s no shortage of studies showing that a better customer experience is a huge differentiator for a business otherwise lost in a crowd of competitors. Measuring how well a call center performs and responding properly to the data is one of the many things a company can do to stand out. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle

See the Savings, Literally

Today, conference call services like Web Conferencing are integral to open and collaborative communication in business. They help team members stay on the same page, and regardless of location, maintain high levels of productivity, efficiency and morale. Additional to the benefit of working when, where and how one likes - are the cost savings.

Enterprises near and far readily seek to trim the proverbial budget fat from the bottom line, and one easy way is by implementing a telecommuting policy for employees. And, by leveraging conference call services company travel expenses are greatly reduced as well.

All that said the companies experiencing tangible results are the ones putting employees first. By telecommuting, team members avoid the headache and general “crazy” of commuting but also see some serious savings—gas, tolls, car maintenance, etc. In honor of next week’s National Telework Week, Wallethub has deployed a Telework Savings Calculator on its website—Take a few minutes and take a look, the numbers may surprise you.

The calculator puts the national average at slightly below $11,000 and four tons of Carbon Dioxide. These figured are calculated by using state average prices for gas, commuting distance, vehicle consumption and days commuting to create a value for gas and car savings. The next piece to the equation, “Earnings from Extra Work” is calculated by taking the state by average hourly wage and viewing time saved as time spent working. These two values combined produce a number value equal to one’s money saved by telecommuting.

For those curious, the top five savings were found in New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York and Washington D.C. with the nation’s capital demanding the top spot noting savings of over $14,000. According to WalletHub, the total nation’s savings would be in the neighborhood of $900 billion.

It is not just the enterprise that will be participating in National Telework Week, the Federal Government is embracing it with open arms. Next week, over 100,000 federal employees will be joining the telecommuting fray.

Telecommuting provides benefits to all parties involved. The environment is cleaner, employees are happier and the enterprise sees the end result of greater productivity. It’s too early to say how many people across the nation will be participating in National Telework Week, but I would wager a guess that the number will be more then the estimated three million people that already telecommuting...only time will tell.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

Vodafone Fiji Now Supports GENBAND EXPERiUS Application Server

Vodafone Fiji Now Supports GENBAND EXPERiUS Application Server

February 27, 2015

Real-time communication software developer GENBAND recently announced that Vodafone Fiji, a division of the British telecom, has launched the GENBAND EXPERiUS Application Server which works across several communications infrastructures to bring a cost-effective platform to businesses in need of mobile and landline unification.

EXPERiUS works with SIP trunking and hosted PBX set-ups and is specifically made to operate in tandem with GENBAND media gateways and QUANTiX session border controllers. For Vodafone, this product launch allows the telecom to offers its enterprise customers a chance to get away from their traditional PBX setups and switch to either an IP-based or hosted PBX calling platform. What this means for those migrating enterprise companies is that their employees can have a single service number associated across their multiple workplace devices. Whether they are on mobile or at their desks, they can be reached at the same contact point and can share in the unified communications capabilities which come as part of EXPERiUS itself.

It is Andrew Kumar, the chief technology officer of Vodafone Fiji, who offered a statement about how the GENBAND product can enhance the enterprises to which his company offers service.

“GENBAND’s EXPERiUS Application Server allows us to advance our communications offerings with the ability to deliver new services to our customers and create new revenue streams,” Kumar said. “The global GENBAND team provided unparalleled support and delivered beyond our expectations on this important project. Vodafone Fiji is honored to have such a strategic partner and we look forward to growing our relationship in the future.”

Vodafone's insistence on moving toward an IP-based architecture is part of a broader trend in the telecommunications industry toward data, IP services, and software-based networking. The hosted communications market itself is expected to be worth $12 billion by 2018. Such services are often cheaper than on-site alternatives, and they are less complex to set up and maintain. Moreover, they allow a flexibility for enterprises to add or remove phones and UC services at will without the requirement of a complete system overhaul. Simply change a few software options and the deed is done.

It is that flexibility which should make this Vodafone/GENBAND package so attractive to potential customers. Existing Vodafone customers may have witnessed the stress involved with adding lines or the limits involved in traditional PBX. For them, at least, there could be some momentum in their frustrations that can make a hosted platform seem attractive, and there may be no better time to switch.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi

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