Telus nearing 80% LTE coverage

Canada’s Telus has expanded 4G LTE mobile broadband services to new markets this week including Orillia in Ontario and Labrador City in Newfoundland, and it announced that its LTE network now reaches more than 27 million Canadians, or nearly 80% of the country’s population. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that the coverage figure is up from 24.7 million inhabitants covered in June this year. Darryl Hutton, director of sales, said: ‘We continue to invest in expanding and improving our network service, community by community across Ontario.’

Thanks to TeleGeography for the article.

Telus approach for Mobilicity blocked for a second time

Industry Canada, the federal ministry responsible for telecoms, has rejected Telus’ second attempt to purchase indebted cellco Mobilicity, the Globe and Mail reports. The newspaper says that a government spokesperson confirmed that it ‘provided a confidential answer to Mobilicity about a potential transaction’ that the financially struggling company was trying to complete while under court protection from its creditors. Although Industry Canada would not comment on the details of the response, other sources were quoted as confirming that the proposed transaction was overruled. A previous attempt by Telus to take over Mobilicity was blocked by the ministry under a frequency transfer policy which aims to prevent national incumbents gaining the 2100MHz/1700MHz wireless spectrum which new entrants obtained in the country’s 2008 AWS licence auction. In Mobilicity’s case, an embargo on purchasing this spectrum technically expires in February, although this does not guarantee it can be acquired by Telus or major rivals Rogers or Bell as the federal policy states that each proposed spectrum transfer must be examined individually. Meanwhile, Mobilicity’s ‘stay period’ during which it is shielded from legal action from creditors runs out on 20 December 2013.

‘Mobilicity sought views from Industry Canada on a potential spectrum licence transfer. Industry Canada considered this request under the Spectrum License Transfer Framework and provided a response in confidence,’ Industry Canada said in an e-mailed statement. Mobilicity’s outgoing president Stewart Lyons declined to comment, noting that ‘conversations with Industry Canada are private and ongoing,’ the Globe & Mail added.

Thanks to TeleGeography for the article. 

Protect Your Standards

InterComms talks to Infosim’s NCCM Product Manager about their new ground breaking StableNet® Extension

Q: We have talked a lot in the past about StableNet® and its use by Operators globally but we haven’t touched on the company behind it. Could you summarize the growth and expansion of Infosim?

A: Infosim was founded in Germany in 2003 where it is headquartered and is a privately owned company. We currently have regional offices in Singapore and the United States. Infosim markets and supports the StableNet® solutions through these offices via global channels and Infosim Certified Partner (ICP) companies.
Infosim has worked closely with a number of partners and clients in different countries to target its business and product development around a sustainable growth strategy. As a result, Infosim has had a revenue growth rate of over 30% annually for the past 4 years and has had a positive cash-flow for over 7 years.

Q: Could you explain the new Network Change and Configuration Management (NCCM) component of StableNet®, its benefit to CTO’s and its key differences to what is in the market at the moment?

A: It is rare for an enterprise to buy network hardware from just a single manufacturer and so IT teams have had to learn many different management methods and command languages. Under the pretence of making life easier, each manufacturer produces their own management suite which, by its very nature, only supports their devices. That means capital costs, training and support for a growing number of different management products.

Infosim StableNet® NCCM, on the other hand, is a truly vendor independent solution which brings together a common user interface and the ability to understand devices in-depth regardless of manufacturer. It has been designed from the very outset to be a “best of breed” product by listening to and working closely with clients to develop a solution that meets the operational and management function needs of network management. Looking simply at data capture, we are able to quickly answer the “Who did What, Where and When” questions.

As each change that happens on the network can be automatically captured, Infosim StableNet® NCCM becomes the source of record for all events relating to configuration issues within an estate.

Whereas fault and performance management can be seen to be reactive, change management becomes a pro-active solution. When there is service impact, Infosim StableNet® NCCM can quickly identify if any configurations have changed that may have caused the issue and provide, among other things, a simple to use roll-back functionality to restore the network to a known good state.

Other players in the NCCM space have evolved through a number of iterations as the nascent market grew. Infosim StableNet® NCCM is different, because it was created in a single end-to-end design process and did not evolve organically. Every component of the product has been designed to meet our customer requirements from the very outset.

Q: Many enterprises have to ensure adherence to various different standards and regulations. How can Infosim StableNet® NCCM help?

A: I think we are all aware that ensuring compliance to corporate standards is a never-ending process and can be a black-hole for man-hours. The key to the initial design of StableNet® NCCM was the ability to automate as many repetitive network management processes as possible, and one of the most critical processes is configuration compliance checking.

Infosim StableNet® NCCM has a rapid real-time compliance checking engine which can ensure that all your devices meet those internal or external configuration standards. Where once it took engineers days, if not weeks, to ensure compliance prior to an audit, Infosim StableNet® NCCM can run the same checks in a matter of minutes. Devices requiring remediation can be quickly identified and then restored to the corporate standard either manually or by using Infosim StableNet® NCCM change management processes.

Most of the industry standard regulations include assurance that device vulnerabilities are mitigated. Infosim StableNet® NCCM has a vulnerability checking engine that enables announcements from device manufacturers to be checked against the complete database of devices. Due to the very nature of vulnerabilities, Infosim StableNet® NCCM will not only check device models and software versions, but it is aware that some devices will only be vulnerable if certain commands are in use. This reduces the time wasted remediating devices that are not vulnerable in those cases.

StableNet Network Management Solutions

Q: Obviously standards and regulations change. How have Infosim future proofed the product?

A: The key ingredient of the StableNet® NCCM compliance checking engine is the ability to capture any information necessary to make those checks. As manufacturers develop new devices with new command structures, NCCM has been designed to keep pace, with the ability to enhance the device interaction methods.

Once the information is captured, the compliance checking engine is completely flexible and able to search across simple text strings, regular expressions and even complex scripts. The idea is to create a solution that could fulfill every task asked of it under today’s requirements while looking as far into the future as possible.

Q: One of the key words for this product is interconnectivity and its ability to analyze hardware from different manufacturers. This is getting more critical in the marketplace, could you expand on this?

A: In the fault and performance area, they have standardized certain methods to access that information – SNMP, Netflow etc. – but in the configuration and change management space, there is no agreed standard. There are diverse methods – Command line, web interface etc. – using a multitude of different protocols – Telnet, SSH, HTTP, FTP etc. Infosim StableNet® NCCM was designed to be not only manufacturer neutral, but also protocol neutral. If a new device is developed with a new access method, then StableNet® NCCM will be able to access that device (if the device can be remote managed!).

It was believed that at some point the manufacturers would agree on a single management method, language and interface, but this didn’t come to pass. They are all very protective of their revenue streams and not forget that training and qualifications are also a steady source of income! As a result, engineers have t t The complete Infosim StableNet® Service Assurance and Fulfilment Solution first published in InterComms to be conversant in many different methods. Using Infosim StableNet® NCCM allows companies to access key information without diverting highly-skilled engineers from other business critical tasks.

Q: So from what you have said, StableNet® NCCM isn’t just another tool for the engineers?

A: No, it is more than that. It meets the requirements of not only the engineering teams but also planning, auditing and management teams who require different information about the network infrastructure.

By looking at how changes impact performance, management can start to look for trends that indicate that employee training may be required, or that unauthorized changes are taking place from inside or outside the company. Infosim StableNet® NCCM is ideally suited for use across all teams within an IT department, whether it be Network Operations, planning, security or senior management.

Q: It seems like there may be a significant manual process to keep the solution up-to-date. Is this true?

A: Any solution is only as powerful as the information within it. To help reduce the time taken keeping Infosim StableNet® NCCM at the latest level, Infosim offer two annual subscription services. The first is for vulnerability announcements. This supplies the client with a simple update service to ensure their vulnerability checking database is at the latest version. The second service is for End-of-life/End-of-service announcements to ensure devices are not being used that are no longer under support for bugs, vulnerabilities or hardware faults by the manufacturer.

Q: It all sounds interesting but in the current economic climate the first question will always be cost savings. How do you help a CFO keep an infrastructure budget under control?

A: Corporate assets such as PCs and printers are quite visible items. Networking hardware tends to be out of sight and, hence, out of mind. Infosim StableNet® NCCM keeps a full record of all network assets including the sub-components under management. As End-of-life notices are issued by device manufacturers, clients can receive automated reports of the devices that will be End-of-life in 36, 24 or 12 months. A simple report enables future financial planning for capital costs.

Similarly, it has been shown that most service contracts contain outdated information – the wrong devices, serial number, locations etc. Infosim StableNet® NCCM can help maintain a record of devices allowing correct maintenance contracts to be put in place. By careful analysis of the hardware involved, it has been proven that maintenance contracts can be reduced by, in some cases, double-digit percentages.

StableNet motherboard

Thanks to Infosim for the article.

Net Optics Flex Tap Solves Service Loss Issues With a Unique Solution for Superior Network Visibility

Advanced Tap technology delivers seamless consistency and lower error rates, while raising signal-to-noise ratio—all in a compact 1U form factor

flex tap

Santa Clara, Calif. – October 2, 2013 – Net Optics, Inc., the leading provider of Total Application and Network Visibility solutions, today announced a spectrum of advanced new features and capabilities in its popular Flex Tap™ product line. Net Optics will demonstrate the upgraded Flex Tap at Interop (Booth #519) in New York.

The Flex Tap resolves system-wide signal loss issues for Service Providers and other organizations as network volumes increase and optical networks migrate to 10G, 40G and 100G. These signal loss issues arise from the fact that as optical network speeds increase, even the smallest imperfections in optical couplers, cable, or access Taps can introduce enough modal distortion to quickly make bit error rates unacceptable. The Flex Tap’s patented leading-edge design provides network operators the means to deliver visibility to these high-speed networks without the risk of injecting errors. This breakthrough product supports deployment with any multimode transceiver, eliminating the signal loss that arises from data errors in high-speed networks.

Key Features and Benefits:

  • Substantially lowers error rates and enables the high signal-to-noise ratios that make for excellent clarity and fulfillment of service level agreements.
  • Passes a wider light spectrum, which accommodates small imperfections without degrading the quality of the signal
  • Requires no power or IP address for transparent, 24/7 monitoring that’s totally isolated from the network
  • Compatible with all major manufacturers’ monitoring devices.

The Flex Tap allows any connected monitoring device to deliver total visibility of full duplex traffic as if it were in-line, instantly identifying Layer 1 and Layer 2 errors. With rack space increasingly expensive, the Flex Tap deploys in an extremely compact space; fitting up to 24 taps in a 1U panel, and supporting 1G, 10G, 40G and 100G implementations—a leap forward in value and cost-savings. This unrivaled density optimizes rack “real estate” for unprecedented cost-efficiency that offers substantial business and productivity advantages.

The Flex Tap lives up to its name in flexibility, allowing for a spectrum of design options such as a “mix-and-match” approach of speeds and connectors within a single deployment, as well as all fiber variations, multimode or single mode, and a simple upgrade path.

“While it is critical for operators to maintain total visibility to manage their networks, applications and services, if that data access actually introduces error, the cure can be worse than the disease,” says Lee House, Net Optics VP of Products. “But with a breakthrough product like the Flex Tap, operators can have total visibility into their modern networks while ensuring highly reliable transport.”

Net Optics is known industry-wide as an originator of Fiber Tap technology and has pushed the envelope in Tap functionality for more than 16 years, growing into a major provider of access solutions while continuing to lead and dominate the Tap market.

Thanks to Net Optics for the article

SaskTel introduces new generation PoC

Canadian provincial operator SaskTel has unveiled a new push-to-talk-over-cellular (PoC) service running on 3G/4G networks, aimed at business users, which will eventually replace the existing ’10-4’ PoC service operating on its CDMA network. The Regina Leader-Post reports that SaskTel’s new PoC service will be available across its HSPA-based network covering approximately 98% of the population of Saskatchewan province. The service is based on Kodiak Network’s InstaPoC technology platform, offering enhanced capabilities compared to 10-4, SaskTel announced. For instance the older system has a limit of 200 mobile devices in a PoC work group, whereas the new generation version allows users to communicate with up to 1,000 individuals within a group and also create groups that can be accessed separately. To encourage migration to the new system, SaskTel is waiving device upgrade fees for current 10-4 customers making the switch.

Thanks to TeleGeography for the article.

Shaw posts 3% increase in twelve-month revenue, net profit

Canadian cableco Shaw Communications has announced its financial and operating results for its fiscal fourth quarter and year ended 31 August 2013. Consolidated revenue for the three- and twelve-month periods of CAD1.25 billion (USD1.21 billion) and CAD5.14 billion, respectively, were each up 3% over the comparable periods last year. Quarterly total operating income before amortisation of CAD496 million was down from CAD501 million in the corresponding quarter of the previous year, while full-year operating income was up by over 4% to CAD2.22 billion. Net income was CAD117 million for the quarter, down from CAD133 million a year earlier, while on an annual basis net income increased 3% over the previous fiscal year to CAD784 million.

Revenue in the Cable division (excludes satellite operations) of CAD818 million and CAD3.27 billion for the three- and twelve-month periods, respectively, each improved 2% over the year-ago periods, while cable-only operating income before amortisation for the quarter of CAD396 million was virtually flat compared with the same quarter last year, while in the twelve-month period the figure improved 5% to CAD1.58 billion. Cable TV customers shrank by 109,500 in twelve months to 2.04 million at 31 August 2013, while in the same period cable broadband internet subscribers increased by 28,000 to 1.89 million and cable fixed telephony lines in service grew by 52,000 to 1.36 million.

The company highlighted its continued investments in various technologies, including expansion of the ‘Shaw Go’ Wi-Fi network – now with over 20,000 locations; additional apps supporting its ‘TV everywhere’ multi-platform service with the launch of ‘Global Go’; and the Anik G1 satellite launch plus the addition of over 140 new channels at its satellite TV division Shaw Direct. As at 31 August 2013 direct-to-home (DTH) customers totalled 903,500, down by 6,500 year-on-year.

Thanks to TeleGeography for the article. 

EMA Radar for Enterprise Network Management Systems – Q4 2012

The term “network management” encompasses a broad range of solutions from single point products to element managers to large enterprise-class solutions. For the purpose of this ENTERPRISE MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATES® (EMA™) report, the term Enterprise Network Management Systems (ENMS) includes network-centric management solutions that are used by large organizations’ operations and engineering teams to discover, monitor, assess, troubleshoot, and generally maintain highly distributed enterprise networks.

For this EMA™ Radar, the focus was put specifically on core capabilities and features primarily associated with network operations’ need to ensure health and availability of the network. Supporting functional capabilities such as performance monitoring, configuration management, asset management, as well as integrated management of connected non-network devices were also considered, but as non-critical (albeit helpful/valuable) extensions.

In this EMA Radar, 16 current ENMS solutions coming from 15 vendor providers are reviewed and compared according to a broad range of measures regarding both product strength and overall cost efficiency, as well as in terms of the overall strength of the vendors themselves.

Value Leader: Infosim EMA Radar

Infosim is not as well known in the U.S. market as many of the other solution providers here, but the company has been in business for almost ten years and is based out of Würzberg, Germany. Infosim puts strong emphasis on its discovery capabilities and this was confirmed in both our findings and conversations with its customers. One StableNet® customer purchased the product just for the discovery engine. Infosim StableNet® also did well in ease of administration and IT cross-domain dashboard integration.

Scalability was another area of strength, both with our weighted scoring as well among reference customers. Infosim StableNet® was one of the few solutions that can scale to very large managed environments while still running the monitoring component on a single server.

Best Virtual Networking Management: Infosim StableNet® EMA Stablenet

While most every solution reviewed in this study has made some adaptations to support integrated management of virtual network components within virtual server environments, Infosim has gone the furthest, with the most detailed support capabilities, the most environments supported, and the broadest set of means for collecting and updating managed entity information as well as the dynamic connectivity they enable.

Source: EMA Radar for Enterprise Network Management Systems – Q4 2012

Read the full report here.

Thanks to Infosim for the article.

14 bidders provisionally qualified for 700MHz auction

Industry Canada has published the list of provisionally qualified bidders for the country’s upcoming 700MHz 4G mobile licence auction scheduled for January 2014. However, a deadline for receipt of the remaining 95% of pre-auction financial deposits is on 29 October, and the publication of the final list of qualified bidders will be on 8 November. Auction bidding opens on 14 January.

TeleGeography notes the provisionally qualified 14 are: Rogers, Telus and Bell Mobility (the three nationwide mobile incumbents); provincial operators MTS and SaskTel; cablecos (with regional mobile divisions) Videotron and Eastlink (registered as Bragg Communications); cellco Wind Mobile (registered as Globalive Wireless Management Corp); TBayTel (a local full-service telecoms operator in Thunder Bay, Ontario); Novus Wireless (an associate of British Columbian fibre triple-play operator Novus Entertainment); communications equipment vendor Vecima Networks (parent of Saskatchewan fixed-wireless internet provider YourLink); 1770129 Alberta Inc (owner of Corridor Communication, a minority shareholder in Albertan rural internet provider Forty Mile Gas Co-op under the CCI Wireless brand); Feenix Wireless (100%-owned by Mobilicity’s chairman John Bitove, whose Obelysk investment firm owns a majority voting share and minority equity share in the financially stricken cellco); and private equity firm Catalyst Capital Group (owner of roughly 30% of Mobilicity’s senior secured debt).

Thanks to TeleGeography for the article.

Telus can acquire Public Mobile, Industry Canada decides

Telus has entered into an agreement with smaller cellco Public Mobile to obtain 100% ownership of the company. Pending approval from the Competition Bureau, Telus announced that the transaction will ensure ‘continuity of service and enhanced functionality’ for Public Mobile’s 280,000 wireless customers. Industry Canada yesterday approved the transfer of 1900MHz ‘G-block’ mobile frequency licences from CDMA network operator Public Mobile to nationwide provider Telus, paving the way for a takeover. James Moore, Minister of Industry, issued the following statement explaining the government’s reasons for the decision: ‘Industry Canada approved the proposed G-block spectrum licence transfer from Public Mobile to Telus Communications Inc. G-block spectrum licences were acquired in the 2008 spectrum auction but were not part of the 2008 Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) set-aside [aimed at encouraging new entrants and subject to stricter controls on spectrum transfers]. G-block spectrum is not used for the latest data plans and smartphones in Canada and is of a significantly lesser value than other types of spectrum. This transaction does not materially change the spectrum concentration of incumbents in this country and therefore will not diminish competition in our wireless sector. Canadians have been clear that they want more choice, better service and lower prices in our wireless sector. Our government will continue to enforce the moratorium on the transfer of set-aside AWS spectrum to incumbents. We will not approve any spectrum transfer request that decreases competition in our wireless sector to the detriment of consumers.’

TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database says that Public Mobile (the trading name of BMV Holdings) spent CAD52 million (USD51 million) on four 10MHz blocks of G-block PCS 1900MHz band frequencies in Canada’s July 2008 spectrum auction – covering southern Ontario and southern Quebec with a population of around 18 million. Public Mobile launched ‘no-frills’ mobile services over a CDMA-based network in Toronto and Montreal in Q2 2010, and in Q4 2011 rolled out a 3G CDMA2000 1xEV-DO network upgrade. By mid-2013 over nine million people could access Public’s on-net services in Ontario (where its network covers Toronto and cities in its environs from Hamilton up to Oshawa) and Quebec. Meanwhile, Public Mobile’s plans were given an additional boost by the news that US cellco Sprint would be utilising the same 1900MHz frequency block in its LTE rollout, with the Canadian minnow claiming that a major US provider developing 4G in the G-Block band would lead to much broader selection of available LTE devices. Public Mobile also underlined that its wireless network was based on software defined radio (SDR) technology, making it easier to upgrade existing equipment to support LTE. Public Mobile was sold in June 2013 to Canadian investment firm Thomvest Seed Capital and US private equity firm Cartesian Capital for an undisclosed price by a large consortium of US/Canadian private equity firms. Thomvest, which took the position of controlling shareholder of Public Mobile, is backed by Peter Thomson, chairman of Woodbridge Co – the Thomson family investment company which has a 55% stake in New York-based news group Thomson Reuters.

GlobalComms adds that in June 2013 Industry Canada published its new wireless spectrum licence transfer framework, aimed at improving competition by promoting at least four mobile network operators in every region of the country. Under the rules, all spectrum transfer requests will be reviewed, and those that would result in ‘undue spectrum concentration, and therefore diminish competition’ will not be permitted – this policy was applied by the ministry earlier that month to block an attempted takeover of cellco Mobilicity by Telus. Decisions on transfer requests will be made on a case-by-case basis under the policy. Full details of the spectrum licence transfer framework can be found at:

Thanks to TeleGeography for the article.

Putting the Customer First: Using Real-Time Contact Center Metrics to Achieve Your Goals

Almost every contact center leader analyzes the rich data coming from their Avaya Aura system in order to improve the effectiveness of their agents, better determine trends, accurately schedule their workforce, lower costs and drive additional revenues. A good deal of the information used is based on historical data from previous intervals (ex. day/month/year) for planning purposes, and in terms of their ability to predict things like agent shrinkage and call volumes. However, that data doesn’t necessarily translate well when it comes to identifying and addressing the issues that arise during the course of a day in a contact center.

Today, best-in-class contact centers understand that delivering a consistently satisfying experience for their customers is a key differentiator. To help achieve their customer satisfaction goals they are complimenting their historical data with real-time metrics, which allows them to quickly identify and address potential problems before they lead to negative customer experiences.

Integrating real-time metrics into your performance management processes takes planning and a solid understanding of your organization’s goals. Using the wrong performance metrics can not only conflict with your goals, but actually drive unwanted behavior. To ensure the desired results are achieved Inova Solutions recommends the following process when implementing a real-time performance management solution:

  • First, determine what results you’re trying to achieve: improved customer service levels, or increase sales or conversion rates, or lower cost per call.
  • Next, determine what metrics are available and how they align to those goals. Common metrics from an ACD or reporting applications, such as Avaya Aura Contact Center or the Avaya Call Management System are good places to start. Inova Solutions can aggregate those metrics across multiple platforms and sites and customize the out-of-the box options to best meet your needs. With an Inova real-time solution you can also pull in and manipulate data from other non-contact center sources, such as sales databases, or operational systems. Whatever platforms you use, give careful consideration to leveraging more customer centric metrics such as CSAT, Calls Waiting or Schedule Adherence versus Average Handle Time (AHT) or Average Speed of Answer (ASA).
  • When determining what metrics are available, you’ll also want to consider who you’ll be sharing them with. Inova will help you determine what metrics are most impactful for managers, supervisors, individual agents, or groups of agents and how best to present them. Inova supports each audience with presentation choices ranging from customizable mobile dashboards, multimedia digital signage and desktop applications.
  • Finally, once you’ve determined what metrics you’ll be sharing with whom, you’ll want to establish threshold levels and response strategies. Inova Solutions can help you determine when you should react to an out-of-compliance metric, create instructional messaging and determine follow-up strategies.

With the right real-time metrics and tools, your contact center team will be aware of ‘in-moment’ customer service issues and be able to respond to them more appropriately, accurately and quickly – ensuring you meet your customer service goals. Inova Solutions offers a Real-Time Performance Analysis Service to help you identify the right metrics and show you how to transform the data into usable, actionable information to improve the performance of your contact center and staff.

Thanks to Inova Solutions for the article.