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Dialogic - ContactCenterWorld.com Blog Page 6

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Facebook Looks At Telco Infrastructure From the Ground Up

Facebook is at it again. Back in 2011, Facebook formally kicked off the Open Compute Project (OCP) along with companies like Rackspace, Intel, and Goldman Sachs. The intent was to share ideas and figure out ways to build the most efficient computing infrastructure at the lowest possible cost. The various projects were set up in an open source model to help hardware with more efficient, more scalable and more flexible platforms for computing, storage, and networking.  There are now more than 150 member companies such as Apple, Google, and Microsoft, and recently this year service providers AT&T, Deutsche Telekom AG., EE, and Verizon all joined the project as well.

At the recent BCE event in Austin, Facebook was pushing something relatively new: the Telecom Infra Project, or TIP.The stated goal of this project was to “reimagine the traditional approach to building and deploying telecom network infrastructure.” TIP is building on the open, community-led OCP as a model to drive innovation into the traditional telecommunications infrastructure, and has established inaugural projects in three basic areas:

  • Access – The focus here is on system integration and site optimization, access unbundling and media friendly solutions to more cost effectively serve difficult-to-access rural and urban areas and identify methods to improve throughput and the user experience by moving compute and storage resources closer to the network edge
  • Backhaul – Open Optical Packet Transport and high frequency autonomic access activities are the focus of this project that aims to define a Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing (DWDM) open packet transport architecture that avoids implementation lock-ins and a lightweight and extensible software stack for routing, addressing, and security in packet switched IP networks
  • Core and Management – Core network optimization and greenfield network solutions are addressed here by deconstructing and disaggregating traditional core network bundled components and evolving telecom networks from the ground-up to be more efficient and IT-oriented.

I spoke with Hans-Juergen Schmidtke, Director of Engineering Infrastructure Foundation at Facebook, who gave a keynote at BCE in which he emphasized that Facebook did not want to be viewed as a telco. He added that that TIP was started in order to reimagine telco infrastructure, and one of the goals of the project would be to build infrastructure - hardware and software - for the telecom industry and change the concept of innovation in a telco environment.

The Facebook initiated Telecom Infra Project is modeled on the successful OCP to drive innovation and openness into telecom hardware and software infrastructure

Service Providers and equipment vendors have started to jump on board. EE, SK Telecom, Deutsch Telekom, Globe Telecom, Intel, and Nokia are all initial members. So it seems that the same disruptive approach to the computing and data center architecture is being applied to telecom infrastructure. How will this align with what is going on in the ETSI NFV, OpenStack, 3GPP and other SDOs and open source activities that impact infrastructure functionality and end-to-end service orchestration? Does it even affect them? What innovation is lacking at the communications infrastructure and application layer that this project thinks it needs to address for hyperscale data center environments? The fact that operators are jumping on board along with major players from the vendor community tends to lend credence to this movement. What do you think? Tweet us at @Dialogic and let us know.

Source: http://blog.dialogic.com/blog/facebook-looks-at-telco-infrastructure-from-the-ground-up

Publish Date: June 9, 2016 5:00 AM


Most Forgotten App Development Best Practice

On April 19, Dialogic’s Alan Percy hosted a webinar on “Application Development Best Practices.”  To listen to the webinar, please click here.  While I was listening to that webinar, I had my Product Management hat on.  In my blogs, I typically write about what’s going on in the market, but today will be different. I’m going to get into my product management persona for a bit.

Everything they talked about in the webinar, such as using an Open Architecture, looking towards the future, and having mobile in mind is excellent advice.  However, no matter how you cut it, one big item is understanding the requirements before you start.  Even in an agile development method, one needs to understand the requirements.  Agile doesn’t mean you just go for it but the team discusses the requirements and prepares for what they need to do.  That is going to save you time and money in the long run.

At any rate, go forth and develop.  Just remember to think a little bit about the requirements before you start.

Source: http://blog.dialogic.com/blog/most-forgotten-app-development-best-practice

Publish Date: June 7, 2016 5:00 AM


The Rise of HD Voice

With the Global Mobile Suppliers Association reporting a total of 494 LTE-based mobile data networks commercially deployed across 162 countries, it is reasonable to expect that rollout of closely associated voice-over-LTE (VoLTE) services will accelerate within the next few years.  And as these VoLTE deployments accelerate, increasing numbers of end users will experience first-hand a remarkable improvement in the clarity of voice conversations along with an improvement in the ability to understand highly accented speech.  These advantages are a direct result of VoLTE’s use of High Definition Voice (HD Voice) digital media formats. 

In the near future, HD Voice will likely become a significant differentiator for mobile service providers, especially as market competition intensifies.  In fact, voice quality plays such a critical role in mobile networks that the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) organization has standardized a newer Enhanced Voice Services (EVS) media format that offers full compatibility with existing HD Voice formats while providing an even greater sense of conversation “naturalness.”  Accordingly, with time-to-market and innovation as two keys to business success, it is not unreasonable to forecast that cutting-edge LTE service providers will likely deploy this new “being there” EVS voice technology in the not too distant future. 

In the immediate term, the global rollout of VoLTE services will force mobile operators to reevaluate their end-to-end connectivity strategies, and to scrutinize the capabilities of their interconnect partners, both nationally and internationally.  When HD Voice calls are placed wholly within a single IMS VoLTE network (between two HD Voice capable handsets), both parties on the call experience a “High Definition Voice” conversation.  However, if an HD Voice call originates in one VoLTE network and terminates in a different VoLTE network, then whether or not this conversation takes place in HD Voice depends on the capabilities of any associated interconnect network operators, and more specifically, on their ability to support end-to-end HD Voice sessions.  For this reason, the coming deployments of HD Voice service by mobile operators will create new interconnect opportunities.  By differentiating with end-to-end HD Voice connectivity and transcoding services, interconnect carriers will be able to meet the needs of VoLTE users for both HD Voice connectivity and seamless interworking with disparate user devices such as webRTC soft clients.

Quoting from a May 2016 i3forum report, “60% of interconnect carriers still have over half of their international interconnect using TDM.”  Over the next few years, as more mobile operators require end-to-end connectivity for their VoLTE HD Voice services, interconnect carriers should anticipate decreased demand for lower cost TDM links and increased demand for all-IP end-to-end HD Voice interconnect solutions.  The conclusion here is that a compelling growth opportunity exists for agile network operators that support carrier grade IP interconnect solutions and enable HD Voice conversations.

As a key network element providing secure real-time communication sessions and IP-to-IP transcoding at interconnect borders, Session Border Controllers will remain critically important to every network operator’s success, both today and in the coming future.  To learn how Dialogic Session Border Controllers bridge the gap between COTS and cloud with both appliance-based and fully virtualized solutions, simply click below and download a Dialogic BorderNet Session Border Controller Solution Brief. 

Source: http://blog.dialogic.com/blog/the-rise-of-hd-voice

Publish Date: June 6, 2016 5:00 AM


Cisco VNI Report on Mobile Video

The past few weeks, I have mentioned the February 2016 Cisco VNI report to make some points about WiFi.  However, the Cisco VNI report also has some other very interesting information that I wanted to point out in the next few blogs. 

Today, I want to make some points about mobile video. As readers of this blog know, I have been very bullish about the potential of mobile video.  3G was the technology that enabled mobile video, but there were clearly limitations (the spinning circle became pretty ubiquitous to those of us that tried mobile video on 3G) and people used it only if they were committed to it.  But with WiFi and 4G, bandwidth availability and improved speeds have enabled video to be similar to a wired home experience.  And with larger screens, the viewing experience is also better.  As such, it’s no surprise that the Cisco VNI reports that mobile video traffic accounted for 55 percent of total mobile data traffic in 2015, and that by 2020 video will account for 75 percent of total mobile data traffic.

What video are people watching?  By all accounts, streaming in one form or another, ranging from YouTube and Netflix, accounts for most of the video.  And we’re seeing more and more video advertisements as well, which isn’t surprising considering we see advertisements all the time if we go online from our wired home computer.  That model is tried and true.  And while streaming will ultimately continue to dominate the mobile video space, video value-added services are becoming more and more prevalent.  Services like video chatting, video messaging, making video conference calls / having video collaboration calls, and video IVRs are finding their way.

Source: http://blog.dialogic.com/blog/cisco-vni-report-on-mobile-video

Publish Date: May 31, 2016 5:00 AM


The Mobile Network Operator’s Cry for LTE Services is Answered by Visual IVR

Services, Services, Services…  you can practically hear the cry of Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) all over the world pleading for new (or even old) services that can run on their shiny new LTE networks.  Of course, this is nothing new, as this repeated cry for services is generated with the roll-out of every new generation of network (e.g. 2G, 3G), because MNOs are well aware that the serious payoff comes primarily from running  new services, which in turn can justify their investment. 

FYI, in this blog I won’t address what over-the-top (OTT) services are doing to the bottom line of MNOs, which goes without saying is why new services offered by the MNOs are so critical.

One service that is ideal for LTE is Visual IVR, or Visual Interactive Voice Response (different than Video IVR).  At this point I know what a lot of you are thinking…IVR is dead, so why resuscitate it for a new network?  My short answer is that Visual IVR is not your parent’s IVR.

FYI, in this blog I also won’t address the fact that IVR is not dead, but rather it is one of those unique applications that is continuously morphing itself into new services.  For example, Visual IVR extends the capabilities of the IVR by transforming it into a collaborative web-based voice and visual mobile application for smartphones, tablets, and computers.

As the name clearly implies, Visual IVR adds a visual interface to the audio-only IVR by visually representing an IVR menu on the caller’s smartphone or computer.  What makes Visual IVR ideal for LTE is the need for speed since the visual content is web-based (unlike Video IVR where the content is streaming together with the audio).  In many cases, LTE also provides the added ability to simultaneously manage a voice call and data to a network.  In short, Visual IVR enables the caller to make choices both visually and audibly by syncing the audio and visual portions of the call, and LTE’s rollout helps make this happen.  In fact, Visual IVR not only visually represents the menu, but also allows for more content to be pushed out to the caller. Content such as documents and visual media.

Visual IVR brings with it a lot of benefits…

  • Increased selection accuracy lowers average handling times/call duration (visual navigation is faster than listening to audio prompts).
  • Intuitive visual navigation improves first call self-service resolution rates better than speech recognition.
  • Information rich input allows for the easy collection of complex alpha-numeric data better than speech recognition.
  • Simultaneous interactive two-way voice and data interaction reduces the need for agent involvement.
  • Omni-channel experience enables the caller to start a chat or text session, send an e-mail, request a callback, or transfer to an agent.
  • Secure communication channel for data exchange to and from the IVR eliminates data theft.
  • Sharing visual content during conversations can boost comprehension and recall up to 600% (John Medina, Brain Rules).

As you can see, Visual IVR is an ideal service for MNOs to run on their new LTE networks.  It is simple to use yet offers callers great benefits, especially when it comes to Contact Center services such as self-service customer care.  That said, as is always the case, the success of any service, including Visual IVR, comes through the MNO’s knowledge of their subscribers and how they best want their information delivered on this new and shiny network.

Source: http://blog.dialogic.com/blog/the-mobile-network-operators-cry-for-lte-services-is-answered-by-visual-ivr

Publish Date: May 27, 2016 5:00 AM


Making the Connection Between the Brand and NFV Network Transformation - Part 2

In my previous blog, I spoke about AT&T’s thought leadership session at the recent ETSI NFV ISG. They explored a wide ranging of topics including; revenue opportunities from the cloud, NFV, SDN, 5G and reimagining the central office. You can read that blog by clicking here. While I was expecting more insights into NFV, on-going proof of concepts, and updates on new SDN-based services, I was pleasantly surprised to hear AT&T’s VP of Brand Identity Gregg Heard give one of the more attention-getting presentations on something you wouldn’t hear every day at a technical specifications conference; the AT&T brand strategy. But when you think about it, this makes a lot of sense. Service providers should be very cognizant of how consumers perceive their brand as they try to evolve themselves from voice, data and pipes to applications, entertainment, and IoT services like smart home automation.

Clearly there’s this divide between what people think about their mobile carrier and what they think about their super cool smartphone, tablet, or wearable device, so how should a mobile operator position itself to get its more than fair share of recognition with subscribers as the app and device developers? Gregg indicated that they’re making sure that at AT&T, its brand is in the center of all considerations when it comes to presenting the company. This attention to branding is having an impact on everything from vehicles to uniforms, their cool looking hardhats, and even the legal language they use on customer facing documents. Gregg also talked about the emphasis AT&T is putting on its sonic branding (second most recognized of AT&T’s brands). But what I thought was missing from the discussion was what AT&T is doing from an employer branding perspective especially in light of their massive undertaking to retool its employees when it comes to next generation cloud technologies, NFV and SDN.

In an earlier post, I talked about AT&T’s nanodegree program that the service provider has made available to its work force to bring them up to speed on the new software-centric technologies. In addition, many tech companies are starting to see that job seekers are also eventual consumers, and if potential employee candidates deem that a company is not good enough to work for, they sure as hell aren’t good enough to buy from either.  Brand identification has a lot to do with treating “job candidates as eventual customers” conceptually. Somehow, their efforts should get them some improved marks the area of employer branding.

So in summary, service providers are going through transformational activities internally and externally as they change their emphasis to a cloud-centric delivery model. Not only is there impact to the People, Processes, and Products of these companies, there’s a fourth “P” undergoing change, and that is the Perception of the brand. In order to pivot into this technology turn, should service providers try to change the way their contribution to the value chain is being perceived by consumers of their brand?  It definitely wouldn’t hurt. Let us know what you think by tweeting us at @Dialogic. Also, let me know how many acronyms you think I used in these past two blogs – I may send the first person who gets it right a prize.

 

Source: http://blog.dialogic.com/blog/making-the-connection-between-the-brand-and-nfv-network-transformation-part-2

Publish Date: May 25, 2016 5:00 AM


ITW and the Importance of Services

As many of you know, ITW has historically been about wholesale voice minutes exchange.  But as voice minutes exchange has lessened in importance in the industry (due to OTT Peer to Peer offerings such as Skype, etc.), this show has been more about what these minutes exchangers should do to grow.  As an example, a couple of years ago, I created a marketing piece specifically for this show about HD Voice due to the coming VoLTE offerings or WebRTC offerings, and transcoding this to other formats so that HD voice minutes could be part of an offering.  People looked at me askew those few years ago. But now, everyone knows about HD Voice so the concept of additional services is clearly taking root.

The i3Forum is looking at these issues as well.  There are many working groups devoted to various service improvement offerings, with both vendors and service providers participating on these working groups.  The fact that there are working groups devoted to these service offerings is a big step towards trying to work out a growth strategy.

During 2016 ITW, NFV also took a more prominent role.  One reason, obviously, is because this is a very good vehicle for cost reduction.  But really, the concept of service agility and adding services quickly is another great reason this was a topic for ITW. 

As always, ITW was a great show for Dialogic because of all the meetings we had, and I look forward to continuing to come to this show as the whole audience pivots to a service oriented growth strategy.

Source: http://blog.dialogic.com/blog/itw-and-the-importance-of-services

Publish Date: May 24, 2016 5:00 AM


Making the Connection Between the Brand and NFV Network Transformation – Part 1

AT&T hosted the recent ETSI NFV ISG conference in Atlanta and kicked things off with a thought leadership session that spanned several network transformation topics including cloud-centric revenue opportunities, NFV, SDN, 5G, and branding – yes, branding.

Bala Thekkedath, Director of Marketing, and Dossevi Trenou, Chief Technologist for Hewlett Packard Enterprise kicked things off with a discussion on something we all like to hear about – new revenue opportunities. The omnipresent OTT threat of course came up, and they suggested to the crowd (made up of service providers and vendors) to proceed down the peaceful coexistence route and focus on each of the respective core strengths of these seemingly contraposed parties. Probably the most interesting aspect of the discussion was around the concept of the enterprise as a Virtual Mobile Network Operator or VMNO which in the future could be supported by network slicing  techniques (keep reading).

Tom Anschutz got the audience up to speed on AT&T’s CORD initiative. CORD is not just any old four letter word, it’s an acronym for Central Office Re-architected Datacenter. CORD​, a collaborative effort between AT&T and ON.Lab, combines NFV, SDN and cloud concepts along with commodity hardware in order to build out an agile and programmable central office infrastructure designed for rapid deployment of services. Virtualized network functions such as firewalls, parental control applications and caching along with OLT, CPE and broadband network gateways run on commodity servers managed by an open VNF manager that leverages OpenStack. You can download an informative whitepaper on the architecture here.

Hank Kafka, VP of Access Architecture and Analytics, provided insight into AT&T’s vision for its 5G architecture and direction on virtualization. 5G is not only really fast connectivity (mobile broadband speeds over 56 Gbps) and but also improved connection densities both of which are needed to support the massive amounts of IoT/connected devices and near real-time applications that we know are coming.  The low latency characteristics of 5G are important for real-time remote manipulation of devices, industrial controls, and applications such auto collision detection. Hank indicated we’ll start to see pre-5G with the coming of the 2018 Korean Winter Olympics. So we’ll get a taste of what’s in store when the time comes for 5G to start rolling out in areas outside Asia Pacific.

But one of the key takeaways I noted was the call for the core network to be reinvented when it comes to 5G. 5G use cases will definitely have an impact on core network design, and while there will be the same radio resources basically, they will be used in different ways. In a 5G world, the various devices will have a wide range of speed demands, a wide range of latency requirements and wide range of mobility needs. The “one size fits all network” that we have today is not in tune with new device and use case trends. The networks deployed were originally optimized for voice, but Internet demand has driven new generations of RAN and core technology and the new array of connected devices for vehicles, and wearables, and remote sensors –all of which will have different mobility needs.

This observation was a natural lead-in to the next concept Hank brought up, which was network slicing. You can read about this very cool concept in a blog that I wrote a few weeks back. With network slicing there could be multiple instances of virtualized network functions that could exist - each allocated to a specific network slice. Each different network slice would be optimized, orchestrated and functionally equipped for a specific use case, device or group of subscribers. This would enable the dynamic and automatic orchestration, addition or removal of network functions that provide the services in that network slice.  One of the obvious demands going forward would be the need for new array of key functional richness obviously tailored to the requirements of the various slices. The main point I came away with was Hank’s comment that network slicing is a concept that is only possible with the use of NFV technologies.

Alan Blackburn, VP of Architecture and Planning, reiterated A&T’s goal to virtualize and - more importantly - control 75% of its network using cloud infrastructure and SDN by 2020. The “why” to this “what” was because of the exploding traffic volumes and the realization that they can’t build networks any more in the traditional manner due to the sheer tonnage of video traffic and massive amount of IoT sessions that they are experiencing. The range of traffic that networks have to carry will be vastly different.

AT&T recently released a white paper on its virtualization and NFV architecture framework that talks about their ECOMP (Enhanced Control, Orchestration, Management and Policy) software platform. ECOMP is one of the three pillars - in addition to NFV and SDN - of its Domain 2.0 (D2) initiative. Together, these three frameworks are expected to enable AT&T to realize improved efficiency, reduced cycle times, and the ability to rollout innovative services at a faster rate.

ECOMP is a critical component in achieving AT&T’s D2 imperatives and it’s basically the brains of their D2 strategy. It provides closed loop automation and service instantiation to help rapidly on-board new services created either by AT&T or third party providers. While it’s designed to help reduce CAPEX and OPEX, D2 is a transformative initiative that will enable AT&T network services and infrastructure to be used, provisioned and orchestrated in a manner as is typical of cloud services in data centers. The challenge with a framework like Domain 2.0 is that there naturally has to be a “3.0” version, but AT&T is already starting to think about what that will look like.

All in all, the AT&T thought leadership session was a whirlwind of concepts that covered more than NFV, SDN, 5G, revenue opportunities, the “reimagining of the central office” and a healthy dose of acronyms. But what about branding? How does a company’s branding activity intersect with all the cloud technology initiatives discussed? That was one of the more interesting topics which I’ll talk about in my next blog. Stay tuned!

Source: http://blog.dialogic.com/blog/making-the-connection-between-the-brand-and-nfv-network-transformation-part-1

Publish Date: May 20, 2016 5:00 AM


Scaling and Reliability of Real-Time Communications Applications - It’s All About the Foundation

These last few months we’ve increasingly found ourselves talking with customers about scaling application deployments.  A pair of issues seems to come up over and over again:  scaling and reliability.   Once the proof-of-concept version of an application is done, it’s time to start thinking about how to deploy the application in large-scale.  Like building a large office building, it all starts with a solid foundation.  Not any foundation – one that is designed for the specific structure it will eventually support.

Let’s step back and look at the challenge.

To properly scale an application, you have to assume that no one server can support all the traffic and computational resources needed to meet large customer demand.  Spreading the effort over multiple servers also gives a reliability gain. But users don’t want or need to keep track of multiple server addresses – they want one URL to access the application, even though that request will be handled by any one of a number of servers.  In the web world, this is accomplished with an Application Delivery Controller (ADC), essentially a load balancer providing a front-end to an array of application servers that serve web pages to users.

As communications applications have moved to use more web-based technologies, they too can use a similar architecture, using a common point of entry that will distribute workload across an array of application servers.  However, real-time communications applications have a number of unique needs that are often overlooked, making ADCs a poor fit for the job at-hand, spawning the need for a purpose-built Load Balancer for Real-Time Communications:

Latency Sensitivity – voice and video conversations and protocols are much more sensitive to delays that would not be noticed during a web session.

Carrier-Grade Reliability – with real-time communications being adopted in Emergency Services and other critical infrastructure applications, reliability is far greater of an issue when compared to an e-commerce site.

Service Affinity – collaboration applications benefit tremendously by bringing all the parties together on a single application server.  Doing so requires that session routing has the ability bring multiple users together.

Cloud-Ready Software – with many communications applications destined for the cloud in a software-only deployment model, the associated load balancing function must also be a software-only solution that can be deployed in a virtual environment.

Deployment Simplicity – SIP, WebRTC and other protocols are the staple of communications applications.  Support for these protocols should be native.

Next week, James Rafferty, Product Line Manager at Dialogic and I will be hosting a webinar titled “Scaling Real-Time Communications Applications with Load Balancers”.  During the event we’ll be exploring these unique requirements, discuss techniques to address those needs, and provide an overview of the Dialogic PowerVille LB – Load Balancer for Real-Time Communications.  We’d love to have you join us for the live event on Thursday, May 26th at 2:00 PM ET for a deep dive into the world of large-scale deployments of applications with Load Balancers.  Register Now.

Source: http://blog.dialogic.com/blog/scaling-and-reliability-of-real-time-communications-applications-its-all-about-the-foundation

Publish Date: May 19, 2016 5:00 AM


Cool Apps on Agenda at SpeechTek 2016

I am planning my attendance to SpeechTek 2016 next week.  After reviewing the agenda, and having attended the event off and on over many, many years, I’m finding it really interesting to see how much the show has matured consistently with what is happening in the industry.  Many years ago, it was all about if, how, and when speech might take root – there were lots of fundamental technology discussions.  There has always been a lot of talk about the vision of speech applications. I think that vision has arrived….and there’s still a long way to go. But in looking at the agenda, there will be key sessions on advanced uses of speech in applications such as intelligent assistants, voices biometric, tuning and analytics, and the Internet of Things. These are really cool topics – all very focused on solving problems in new and interesting ways. 

With all these applications of speech, it’s important to remember how they get developed, deployed, and tuned.  Here at Dialogic we are very focused on real time communications applications, including speech-based ones that solve problems for customers around the world.  To that end, some applications such as our visual IVR application and many others are deployed around the world.  We are very confident that our approach to supporting developers through real-time media platforms and app development tools advance delivery of new and cool applications to support business goals.

 I’m expecting a very energetic and stimulating event.  I’ll blog back.

Source: http://blog.dialogic.com/blog/cool-apps-on-agenda-at-speechtek-2016

Publish Date: May 18, 2016 5:00 AM


The Growing Importance of VoWiFi Beyond VoLTE

Last week, I wrote about the importance of VoWiFi as an extension to the VoLTE strategy.  When you look at the chart in this blog from the February 2016 Cisco VNI, and you see the explosion of VoWiFi, it may be tempting to say “wow, who needs VoLTE?” But remember that many of those VoWifi minutes will be generated  because it will be a part of the whole service provider VoLTE strategy, utilizing the phone number to take the call, and minimizing the minutes.

But VoWiFi is not simply an expansion of VoLTE.  While some of those minutes in the chart above will be coming from VoLTE, some will be coming from another phone number source: “roaming.”  Land line service providers or MVNOs can expand their footprint to allow roaming wherever there is a WiFi hotspot.

This enables greater and very interesting competition coming up.  VoWiFi is in a position to play a large role in the future of the service provider.

Source: http://blog.dialogic.com/blog/the-growing-importance-of-vowifi-beyond-volte

Publish Date: May 17, 2016 5:00 AM


The Growing Importance of VoWiFi

VoWiFi is not new.  Many of us have been using VoIP through the likes of Skype or Lync for many years and VoWiFi through the mobile versions of these VoIP offerings.  In the context of this blog though, VoWiFi is about getting calls on your mobile phone number.  Since VoLTE is IP-based, using VoWiFi as an extension of VoLTE makes sense.   

From an architecture standpoint, the VoWiFi solution can be an extension of the 3GPP Evolved Packet Core (EPC) as described in 3GPP Technical Specification 23.402 and allows any WiFi network to be used to access the EPC.  Obviously there is some infrastructure work to add such as an Evolved Packet Data Gateway or ePDG and VoWiFi-enabled TAS. The phones also need to be VoWiFi enabled, which is happening (iPhone6, Samsung Galaxy S6, LG Spirit LTE, LG G4 Stylus to name a few).

This enables switchover to VoWiFi when indoors, saving you or your small business on your data plan (which is increasingly becoming more important especially as video is becoming more important, which chews up data quite a bit), enables international phone calls to your mobile number, also saving you on your service provider plan, and enables phone number reach to wherever there is WiFi service. 

This last point about WiFi service is critical.  According to the February 2016 Cisco VNI report, total public WiFi hotspots will grow sevenfold from 2015 to 2020, from 64.2 million to 432.5 million with commercial hotspots growing from 7.5 million to 9.3 million.  And it’s expected that VoWiFi is going to surpass VoLTE very soon.  VoWiFi as an extension to VoLTE is a very important strategy.

I actually utilized that strategy when I was at Mobile World Congress.  Rodgers has VoWiFi and I took a call from one of my Canadian colleagues who was using VoWiFi.  It was on a hotel WiFi connection so the price was right!  It also sounded very good.  Obviously, using a HD Voice codec makes a world of difference.

Source: http://blog.dialogic.com/blog/the-growing-importance-of-vowifi

Publish Date: May 10, 2016 5:00 AM


Rich Communications Services (RCS) – SMS/MMS 2.0

I recently heard from a colleague who was at Mobile World Congress this year that he actually saw a resurgence of Rich Communications Services (RCS)“Resurgence” is the right word, as RCS is not new, especially after the February 22nd press release from GSMA announcing that Google and some of the world’s largest and leading network operators are aligning behind RCS.

This is good news for network operators as it enables them to better compete with over-the-top (OTT) messaging apps like Viber, WhatsApp, Skype, and Facebook Messenger.  At a very high level, RCS is essentially SMS/MMS that can work over IP networks and can enable presence and location, and sharing of media.  RCS brings to operators the next-generation messaging features they have been lacking due to the fact that current operator messaging is based on the old SMS protocol dating back to before networks could carry internet data.

Why is it so important for network operators to have you use SMS (text messaging) instead of OTT apps, since you are, after all, still using their data?  In short, it’s because they don’t want to lose the main interface with the customer and become a “dumb pipe.”  Once they lose the main interface, they lose a lot of revenue opportunities from value added services.  SMS is also one of the most highly utilized and essential feature to the customer.  According to 2012 forecasts from Forrester Research, they reported that more than 2 trillion SMS messages were sent in the US in 2011, which equates to more than 6 billion SMS messages sent per day, with text messaging users sending or receiving an average of 35 messages per day.  These numbers were a 14% increase compared with 2010.  You can imagine where the numbers are today.

When RCS was first introduced, a lot of pundits said it was pointless as OTT messaging apps already did everything RCS said it could and would do.  That may be true.  However, as a user, the big benefit of RCS is that it is tied to the phone number, not an app.  In other words, there’s no need to download or register another app and tying your identity to it.  Also, RCS offers cross-operator interoperability.  For the Network Operator, it is a way to get back into the messaging market and be a serious competitor to the OTT apps and make some money.

In fact, RCS is doing just that according to a recent study by ABI Research: “While RCS currently constitutes 32% of the total messaging revenue generated worldwide, ABI Research, the leader in transformative technology innovation market intelligence, expects its share to increase to 72% by 2021.”

RCS brings many of the features that people expect from mobile messaging today, such as group chats, high resolution photos, location sharing, and more.  Bottom line…  messaging capabilities are expanding and delivering content that is contextual and immediate, and if network operators want to keep messaging a part of the communications mix they offer (which they should), they need RCS.

Source: http://blog.dialogic.com/blog/rich-communications-services-rcs-sms/mms-2.0

Publish Date: May 6, 2016 5:00 AM


Pivoting to the Evolved IPX

IPX operators and wholesalers are starting to pivot in their approach to providing value to mobile and fixed network operators. Their dominant customers now, mobile network operators (MNOs), are seeing significant challenges in the market place. Asset monetization has always been a concern for MNOs as they see shrinking ARPU even with increases in investment. They’re actively seeking ways to increase ARPU and figure out how to better monetize their huge investment in LTE technology and support the large amount of data being consumed over their networks. So they are looking for ways to improve their cost/revenue curves and still roll out services more quickly. IPX operators have an opportunity to help.

Hot Telecom analyst Isabelle Paradis and Steve Heap indicated in their report, Above and Beyond Connectivity – The Future of International Carriers, that International voice traffic volume will see moderate growth of about 2.1% (6 year Compound Annual Growth Rate through 2020), and rather stagnant revenue growth of only 0.3% over that same time frame. IPX operators and wholesalers will have to pivot, as they point out, in how they are providing value and move that proposition above and beyond terminating minutes. Many are doing that already.

So what and where are the opportunities for current IPX operators, wholesalers, and international carriers? Let’s look at what they are doing with innovative valued added services that take them beyond the minutes termination model. 

  • Hutch-IPX is leveraging its extensive and secure network as a means for OTT players to gain access to MNOs. Its open platform allows OTT players and Application and Content Providers to access other connected mobile, fixed, and cable operators to exchange IP content and application traffic.
  • Syniverse has designed a set of enterprise solutions tailored towards specific enterprise verticals including finance, retail, travel, and hospitality to help them improve customer conversion, increase customer loyalty, and enhance customer service.
  • PCCW Global’s MediaFlex Video Platform helps service providers rapidly roll out OTT multiscreen video services that can be customized for region specific applications. Solutions in this platform include media transport, media transcoding, CDN, video management and business consulting.
  • Not only is TATA Communications providing services to help MVNOs with their business and connectivity needs, but they also have a cloud based, full managed OTT video platform that allows operators to deliver video-on-demand and linear content to a wide variety of devices.

So we see IPX operators expanding their addressable market by supporting fixed and mobile service providers as well as multinational enterprises with value added services. They’re seeing that they can leverage their ability to provide secure, end-to-end connectivity and their position in the network as a trusted intermediary to deliver value-added services. This can help connected customers accelerate into new markets and new offerings with lower CAPEX and less complexity. These value added services include offerings like video content, Unified Communications, VoWiFi enablement and IP voice and data roaming. Mobile group operators are also taking note and starting to adopt and deploy IPX functionality between member companies to help improve the user experience of their subscribers and brand stickiness across their various properties.

So while it’s apparent that voice is definitely not dead, IPX operators need to evolve their core Voice-over-IPX exchange by layering in additional capabilities to deliver these value added services. While an IP Proxy forms the basis of IPX IMS exchange providing service-aware bilateral and multilateral routing, it can also be used to break out calls to networks that still use TDM interfaces. With this same platform, an IPX can help connected service providers reduce complexity and improve end-to-end quality for inter-network calls by making sure HD Voice calls that can be terminated to a VoLTE enabled subscriber in another network can actually do so. They can also perform the signaling mediation, signaling conversion, MNP lookups, fraud detection, and media transcoding that are really important for seamless bilateral and multilateral connectivity.

The same platform can be evolved further to help operators speed up support for VoLTE roaming. There are basically three VoLTE roaming architectures approved by the GSMA, and the IPX can provide a roaming hub that can help connected carriers accelerate support for inbound VoLTE roamers by providing capabilities, like the Transit Routing Function (TRF), that they may be lacking. So when it comes to VoLTE interworking and VoLTE roaming, mobile operators will be turning to IPX operators for help interworking between the different implementations. Ovum analyst Catherine Haslam estimates that over 75% of the carriers rolling out LTE will turn to a third-party IPX provider to facilitate their roaming services.  This includes not only routing the various call flows, but also providing value added services like ENUM and Mobile Number Portability (MNP) lookups, fraud and also Diameter hubbing authentication and authorization of inbound roamers.

In addition, IPX operators can layer value added hosted UC and contextual voice and video services and leverage information from the signaling path as well as the media to enhance a subscriber’s roaming experience, reduce fraud. These types of services also appeal to connected MVNOs as well as enterprise customers. We’ve created an infographic that visually steps you through this journey to get to the evolved IPX. You can download it by clicking here. How are you seeing the international carrier and IPX market pivot? Tweet us at @Dialogic, and if you are in Chicago for ITW, please stop by – we’d like to talk to you first-hand about mapping out the IPX opportunity.

 

Source: http://blog.dialogic.com/blog/pivoting-to-the-evolved-ipx

Publish Date: May 5, 2016 5:00 AM


5G Market Status

Last week, I wrote about the status and projections of LTE subscriptions. So I figured I should do a brief update on 5G this week.  First of all, as I’ve written before, 5G is clearly in its hype phase.  It was all over MWC a couple of months ago.  Although there are no specs yet, nor even any official 5G icon, there has been a lot of work done which justifies some air time here.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that 5G will be where the NFV/SDN world intersect.  There has been a lot of work done on NFV, with still much more to do, and there will be NFV/SDN deployments before 5G ever hits the streets. But 5G will most likely be built on NFV, so it won’t be a “choice” anymore. It will be the way you implement it.  5G needs to support many more use cases than networks have in the past, given that networks aren’t just designed for voice or for high speed web access this time around – they’ll incorporate  IoT connectivity, which comes with a huge variety of use cases such as connected cars, remote health care, and robotic (including drones) control.  Of course, they’ll also be designed for very high speed mobile broadband access as well.

One interesting concept coming forth is known as “network slicing” where the physical network architecture (built on NFV/SDN), is “sliced” into virtual networks that are tailored to specific vertical industries or use cases (i.e. the connected car use case, connected sensor use case).  The infrastructure therefore can be optimized for that service slice, as the needs of the service slice would be different.  The programmability / elasticity / etc. of the NFV networks would therefore enable this concept to actually occur.

5G will introduce a new lifestyle to the masses by accommodating many more use cases. The questions is when all of this will happen.

Source: http://blog.dialogic.com/blog/5g-market-status

Publish Date: May 3, 2016 5:00 AM

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