Home EuropeEurope II 2007 Digital technology – changing the world of media

Digital technology – changing the world of media

by david.nunes
Jacques Dunogué Issue: Europe II 2007
Article no.: 5
Topic: Digital technology – changing the world of media
Author: Jacques Dunogué
Title: Senior Executive Vice President, and Head of Systems Division
Organisation: Thomson
PDF size: 240KB

About author

Jacques Dunogué is the Senior Executive Vice President of Thomson. He heads one of the Groupís three operational divisions, the Systems Division, which provides video solutions, systems and products for cable, satellite, terrestrial broadcasters, telecommunications operators and the content industry. Previously, Mr Dunogué served as Executive Vice President of Alcatel and President Europe and South, in charge of sales and local operations in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, India and Latin America. At Alcatel, Mr Dunogué served as CEO of Alcatel Data Networks and President of the Business Systems Division. As Alcatelís Secretary General, he helped structure the Alcatel Shanghai Bell joint venture in China. He contributed to the founding of the EICTA, the European Information and Communications Technology Industry Association, and served as its President for two years. Before Alcatel, Mr Dunogué worked in various positions within the telecom industry, including R&D at the CNET, France Telecomís research centre, and in Latin America and the United States for a start-up operator (Argo). Jacques Dunogué is a graduate of Ecole Polytechnique and SupíTelecom, both in Paris.

Article abstract

Although there have been many technical and marketing challenges, fixed and mobile services are increasingly converging. Home broadband IP gateways for triple- and quadruple-play services, IPTV, VoIP, Internet and mobile TV now play an increasing part in the market. Hosted business telephony services give users a single phone number and voicemail box for both their cellular and broadband IP phones so, through convergence, mobile phones can perform such PBX functions as short dialling, call transfer and call conferencing.

Full Article

High definition, broadband Internet and mobility are opening vast areas of new services for customers, but at the same time strongly impact the business models of media and entertainment industries. To make things even more complex, as networks available to distribute content become more diverse, the userís need for simplicity increasingly calls for convergence. In this evolving world, the actors of these new value chains need to rely on technologies, solutions and services, helping them create, format and distribute video and other contents. Home broadband IP gateways for triple, and quadruple, play services, software platforms for IPTV and Voice over IP, VoIP, high performance head ends for encoding and processing video signals over fixed and mobile networks, broadcast server software allowing programme play out to the Internet, and Mobile TV networks, are now playing an increasing part in the market. In many parts of the world, because of the development of triple-play, fixed-mobile convergence, and mobile TV services, broadcasters and network operators need new solutions to help them inter-work more efficiently. Fixed-mobile convergence With raised user expectations for bundled services with follow-me powerful features and simplified billing, fixed and mobile operators alike are turning to fixed-mobile convergence, FMC, solutions. The idea is not new, but the road has been long. However, 2006 saw the first concrete deployments in Europe in particular. This has been made possible by the development of new standards, in particular UMA, Unlicensed Mobile Access, by the commitment of handset vendors to include WiFi in the telephone sets, and by the deployment of broadband gateways that also support WiFi connections. Strangely enough, the push for convergence, first started by fixed operators anxious to tap into the higher mobile ARPUs, average revenues per user, has now been extended to mobile operators, who are seeing their revenue grow at a lower pace than in previous years. The advantage of the UMA standard is the simplicity of its architecture: in essence, it emulates the functioning of a GSM mobile network on a broadband fixed access network. In this context, the home gateway becomes the equivalent of an individual GSM base station. There were a number of technical and marketing challenges, but this now makes transparent call handovers possible when the user leaves or enters home. The handset presented the first technical challenges. WiFi technology is power hungry; it uses often crowded, unlicensed frequencies and is prone to interference, and – to complicate matters – it had to be added at the same time as 3G was introduced. On the network side, emulating the GSM protocols over IP required a number of timing and security precautions. The gateway was equally challenging since it had to ensure access control, bandwidth management, security and quality of service over the radio link, as well as the seamless introduction of the service on existing equipment by software upgrade, especially for large installed bases as in the case of Orangeís ëLiveboxí. The major marketing challenge was, perhaps, to convey the simplicity of the service to users who had been accustomed to see mobile and fixed as two separate worlds, and then to offer simple and fair billing practices – would a call initiated at home be billed as fixed or mobile, and what about hotspots? – that made sense to the user. These problems are now behind us, as testified by the successful launch of services such as BTís ëFusioní or Orangeís ëUnikí. From UMA to 3G and wireless VoIP From a network architectural evolution standpoint, one of the most powerful innovations of these first converged services has probably been the use of the broadband access gateway as the homeís base station, thus playing an integral part in the quadruple play service offerings. This function becomes particularly attractive in the third generation UMTS, Universal Mobile Telecommunications System, services, for which deep indoor penetration is a real challenge. Of course, a solution similar to UMA applied to 3G could always be used to resolve this problem. With a new range of residential gateways equipped with 3G femtocell coverage, mobile operators will have a choice of solutions that may prove especially attractive. The main advantage is, of course, to use a regular handset, not necessarily equipped with WiFi, and to provide connexions over licensed 3G spectrum, thus providing a guaranteed level of radio quality and security. This solution could also prove economically attractive in business environments, especially for smaller enterprises. Coming from the other end of the spectrum, new generation, mostly fixed based operators have had a natural tendency to approach convergence by using WiFi, wherever available, as an extension of their fixed footprint. This is the case of Free (Iliad Group) in France, which is leveraging its infrastructure of WiFi home gateways to allow roaming of dual mode WiFi/GSM devices to any of its subscribersí hotspots. The launch of this service was made possible by extending the softswitch platforms, which already carry its fixed telephony services to more than two million subscribers, to include roaming functionalities. Users are now automatically authenticated by the platform to give them access immediately to their full home phone services wherever they are. This is an excellent illustration of how to use IP-based architecture to offer in a simple way services that are currently supported by the mobile networks. In addition, the principle is that users actually carry their fixed-line services whilst on the move. When in a hotel lobby or an airport, using a GSM/WiFi phone or a laptop, they can receive all their inbound calls and place outbound calls as if they were at home. As a wide range of dual mode WiFi/GSM phones are now hitting the market, this wireless VoIP solution allows operators to extend the service to all family members by offering multi-phone, multi-line service. The softswitch can handle this service in conjunction with the home gateway to provide unique features for each family member, e.g. ringing all WiFi phones on incoming calls to the fixed line, call transfer, call pick-up to answer incoming calls to any group memberís WiFi phone, three-way conferencing, etc. While different implementations of fixed-mobile convergence, FMC, are now somewhat in competition, these different technical implementations will become appealing to all fixed, mobile and converged operators as network architectures evolve toward IMS. FMC for business The penetration of WiFi and mobile voice is rapidly increasing in the business world, but attempts to converge fixed and mobile services have had limited success. This may well represent the next wave of development. Circumstances are now more favourable than ever as the market evolves towards VoIP, voice over IP, by the technological evolution of PABXs to their IP-driven software server equivalents. SFR, the second French mobile operator – a Vodafone affiliate – announced such a service at the last 3GSM congress. Made possible by softswitches, the service is a hosted business telephony service, where users have a single phone number and voicemail box shared by their cellular and broadband IP phones. Mobile phones can thus perform all the PBX-type functions such as short dialling, call transfer and call conferencing. Adding these new capabilities to the existing mobile infrastructure has been done quite seamlessly without the need for replacing any of the legacy GSM phones being used – an important consideration for potential enterprise users. The path to FMC In a few years, fixed-mobile convergence has evolved from dream to reality. It has also taken a much more pragmatic approach in order to bring faster services that make sense to the user and the operator. Solutions, accordingly, have been based on extending current network architectures, also making use of the existence of broadband gateways to extend the coverage. At the same time, some practical examples show how an IP-based approach can bring alternative attractive solutions. There is no doubt that, while pragmatic approaches will continue to prove the best path in the near future, they will progressively include more and more pre-IMS, IP Multimedia Subsystem, components, thus paving the way for a smooth evolution toward a full-blown IMS architecture that will be necessary when demand increases.

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