Interview: Executive vice president and president of the Networks operating segment, Alcatel-Lucent: “A dramatic societal shift is taking place in which the customer experience really matters.“

Phlippe Keryer is executive vice president of Alcatel-Lucent and president of the Networks operating segment. He is also a member of the Alcatel-Lucent Management Committee.

What are the challenges currently facing Alcatel Lucent’s customers?

The telecom market is undergoing profound change as users are using several friendly devices, always consuming more computing, storing, streaming, gaming and communicating type of applications. More than 55 per cent of all Internet traffic is forecasted to be video in just three years and more than 80 per cent of all new software will be available as cloud services in the next two years. These types of emerging trends apply enormous pressure to service provider networks and drive an unrelenting demand for increased bandwidth and efficient delivery.

Another major trend is that users are now in command, connecting anywhere work and home, at anytime, jumping from smartphone to tablet or any other device, deciding what they are paying for and how. They expect their experience to adapt to their demands and their usage. A dramatic societal shift is taking place in which the customer experience really matters.

The tablet is likely to become the predominant handled device, and it needs the cloud to provide the necessary processing power and storage capacity to support user applications and content. The network is therefore the essential bridge between the device in the user’s hand and applications and content in the cloud.

These new trends create also some economic challenges for the service providers. The reality is that average consumer revenue per user from fixed data and fixed and mobile voice has been declining for some time, while the revenue from mobile data has not increased commensurate with the increase in the amount of mobile data traffic in the network.

We strongly believe that service providers have a great role to play to offer users the quality of service and the experience they are expecting when enjoying their smart devices. The service provider challenge is to balance the rapid network transformation required to process the increasing amount of data, while minimizing the cost of carrying this traffic growth and looking for new way of monetising their assets.

How is Alcatel Lucent addressing these challenges?

To face this continuous and increasing demand for data connectivity and better experience, a bigger, faster and more intelligent network is the key—a network that is the vital link between the users and all of their devices, and the applications in the cloud: a network providing the right level of bandwidth, latency, security and reliability to serve a video-intensive and cloud enabled world, while delivering the ultimate customer experience.

With its High Leverage Network (HLN), Alcatel-Lucent offers service providers a strategy for continuous network, software and service innovation and business success. HLN is the vision of a converged, scalable, intelligent, efficient all-IP network that delivers bandwidth at the lowest CAPEX per bit, while also enabling applications to leverage the intelligence and capabilities built into the network. The intelligent all-IP infrastructure is spanning the access, transport, edge and core of the network. It is complemented by a control layer, and finally the optimisation and decision layers that maximise the business value of the network and enhance the customer experience.

HLN gives service providers a platform to leverage their networks “from hand to cloud” and realise their full business potential. HLN enables personalised services and compelling apps that give users a better customer experience – to the gamer, to someone watching a movie on their tablet, and to people on the move who need their business services to follow them seamlessly. HLN is both innovative and practical—now and in future. When applied, it yields new services faster and delivers a better customer experience.

What new platforms or products is Alcatel Lucent adding to its portfolio to support its vision?

Alcatel-Lucent has a broad and integrated portfolio of products, solutions and services to support the HLN vision and to drive innovations for an enhanced customer experience. Our progression of innovation is vital to our future vision and we are continuously enriching our products with breakthrough technologies. For instance, this year we unveiled two major breakthroughs in our portfolio: the 7950 XRS IP core router, which is the most powerful and capable core router ever built, and in optical domain the 400G coherent Photonic Service Engine. Both rely on our home-grown innovation.

We have also extended our groundbreaking lightRadio portfolio with lightRadio Wi-Fi and lightRadio Metro cell express, enabling service providers to always offer the best mobile experience to their users.

At BBWF we are now taking the opportunity to showcase two new innovations. The first one, Zero Touch Vectoring, enables service providers to introduce VDSL2 Vectoring technology to accelerate broadband speeds without the need to upgrade every VDSL2 modem on their network . This enables much faster and cost-effective service introduction. The second one, Optical Embedded Time Domain Reflectometry (OTDR) gives service providers powerful tools for reducing OPEX by making the monitoring and troubleshooting of fibre networks quick, simple and cost effective.

How important are small cells to Alcatel Lucent’s network roll outs?

Small cells are a fundamental component of Alcatel-Lucent’s lightRadio network architecture, and for the industry at large. There are only three ways to add capacity to a network—more spectrum, more spectral efficiency, and sectorisation through small cells. Given limited spectrum availability and spectral efficiency is running out of runway. As such the lion share of the capacity growth will come through introducing small cells to wireless networks in the next five years, and these metro cells are required right now!

What we have learned however, is that small cells bring with them a lot of operational complexity in areas where Alcatel-Lucent has a huge amount of end-to-end experience: backhaul; power management; trenching fibre; microwave; professional services for site selection, commissioning and integration; regulatory and more. Our expertise in all these areas has made us confident that we can deliver more than the lightRadio Metro Cell, which won all the industry awards this year, but that we can also deliver these networks for the operator.

To do this we’ve launched a new solution called Metro Cell Express, which is a Build Operate Transfer managed service to help operators deploy metro networks quickly, simply and at scale.

What is Alcatel Lucent’s strategy around backhaul?

As data traffic is booming on the 3G/4G wireless access, existing backhaul networks based on leased lines are strained to cost-effectively deliver increased capacity. As a result, service providers are challenged to evolve mobile transport networks to accommodate new packet-based services, while simultaneously supporting traditional services.

With mobile backhaul network deployments in several tier 1 mobile network operators worldwide, we are well positioned to understand how the evolution to LTE, the addition of Wi-Fi access, and the introduction of small cells will drive future evolution in mobile backhaul networks. With a comprehensive HLN backhaul portfolio offer that spans IP/MPLS, carrier ethernet, microwave, optic, and fixed access, we are uniquely positioned to deliver flexible, scalable and simplified mobile backhaul solutions to market. Indeed, Alcatel-Lucent is a leader in mobile backhaul having been ranked as the #1 vendor by industry analysts such as Infonetics and ABI Research .

Alcatel Lucent has made significant moves into mobile networking as well as cloud. How does Alcatel Lucent’s strategy help deliver better experiences for your customers and your customers’ customers?

We see cloud having a significant impact on our customers and their customers in two ways. First, we see a clear near term opportunity for our customers to offer a unique set of cloud services to their enterprise customers through leveraging the capabilities of the network. This is a concept called carrier cloud. The focus is on increasing the performance and data security of cloud services today by leveraging the strength of their networks. There is still a very large, untapped market of companies not running a substantial amount of their business on the cloud. Much of this has to do with concerns on performance and data security. We see a large opportunity for our customers to take advantage and we are helping them get there through our Cloudband Solutions.

Second, looking longer term, we sell cloud as a transformation agent for how our customers operate and maintain their networks and bring new services to market. By harnessing cloud technologies within telecommunications our industry can move from dedicated over-provisioned networks, heavy operational complexity and slow to market to an industry that is more agile, dynamic, and can launch new services quickly and cost effectively. In fact for our customers to be competitive in markets beyond selling broadband they will need to re-invent themselves to be competitive. We see cloud technologies as the key driver to making this possible.

In the cloud era, applications need to rely on networking infrastructure that can rapidly adapt to their service requirements. The goal of a Software Defined Network (SDN) is to bridge the gap between applications and networks, enabling more efficient provisioning and consumption of network resources. An SDN framework provides greater visibility and control to applications, enabling their requirements to be abstracted to networking technologies and topologies that can serve their needs.

The drivers for SDN are well aligned with our overall strategy, going back to the concepts of Application Enablement within a High Leverage Network (HLN). We are concerned about building the most powerful and dynamic networks for the cloud era, in which the driver for SDN is to unlock creativity, increase resource efficiency and accelerate dynamic provisioning. In SDN frameworks, that is done by exposing an abstraction layer that bridges the gap between an application’s requirements and network capabilities. This increases network programmability and application responsiveness. Networks must continually be more cost-effective, but SDN is far from commoditisation.

Amidst much hype about SDN today, we are actively involved in identifying viable near-term use cases for this promising technology. We are a member of the ONF and we will continue to support open initiatives that expand the scope and reach of cloud service delivery networks.

What is Alcatel Lucent hoping to get out of the Broadband World Forum?

BBWF is a great opportunity for us to meet service providers, to listen and understand their needs. We will share our vision to help them to realise the potential of the networks upon which they build their businesses. Service providers will learn about immediate opportunities and how to implement the required network capabilities to improve, optimise, monetise and create the ultimate customer experience.

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