Alcatel-Lucent unveils a mobile magnifying glass

Alcatel-Lucent introduced a tool for seeing how each application affects a mobile network

Mobile applications are evolving even faster than the networks on which they run, and they could create new demands on infrastructure that hurt overall network performance.

Legendary research center Bell Labs has joined with corporate incubator Alcatel-Lucent Ventures in creating a system for mobile operators to track traffic and see how each application affects the network. They claim the Alcatel-Lucent 9900 Wireless Network Guardian (WNG), introduced Monday, is the first platform of its kind.

Because the applications now coming to mobile phones are more complex, they can have an impact on networks that goes beyond simple consumption of bandwidth, according to IDC analyst Godfrey Chua. For example, push-to-talk applications don't require a fat pipe but do hang on to part of the carrier's radio spectrum continuously so users can exchange presence information. Applications that act on information about a subscriber's location, including targeted advertising, also introduce new demands on the network, he said.

The variety of mobile applications could explode in the coming years as a result of initiatives such as Google's Android OS and Apple's SDK (software development kit) for the popular iPhone. The ongoing 700MHz spectrum auction by the US Federal Communications Commission also requires part of that prized band be open to any device and any application. Perhaps in preparation for that rule, Verizon Wireless plans to offer a service plan that allows "any device, any application" access to its network.

Whether the WNG is a first or not, it's an interesting product, Chua said. Mobile operators might use systems like it for a variety of purposes, including some that subscribers might not like, he said.

"There could be new and novel ways of charging people," Chua said. Applications that tax networks heavily, such as file-sharing, might be detected and blocked, he added.

The WNG can track all types of IP (Internet Protocol) traffic and determine how much of the network's resources each session is consuming. Using that information, carriers can modify or expand their networks to better accommodate new applications and block certain kinds of attacks, said Mike Schabel, general manager for the WNG at Alcatel-Lucent Ventures.

The system consists of two devices: a detector in each network node that collects information about the traffic and its impact, and a central management device in a network operations center that stores and analyzes that information, plus provides an interface for network administrators. Based on information it collects about patterns, the WNG can detect anomalies, including attacks and new application types. Administrators can change settings in the network or bring in other devices from Alcatel-Lucent or third parties, such as firewalls and intrusion prevention gear, to tackle problems they learn about through the WNG, Schabel said.

The WNG is available now. Alcatel will sell it to carriers and offer a managed service in which it installs the gear on a carrier's network and monitors it.

Alcatel hopes eventually to offer tools that automatically optimize networks based on data from the WNG, he added. This technology is already working in the lab, but it will take time to reduce false positives and make it work well enough for commercial networks, Schabel said.

The ultimate goal is to make mobile networks operate predictably well, he said.

"The whole premise of open access is getting to the point of offering all possible applications with the best possible experience," Schabel said.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?