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Importance of innovating in emerging markets: Bell Labs

AvantiKumar | July 3, 2012
While visiting Malaysia, Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs' scientists shared how ICT is helping to enhance daily life as well as meet the challenges posed by the information explosion.

Alcatel Lucent Bell Lab scientists in Malaysia

PHOTO - (from left) Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs executive director and president, Seoul, C. Randy Giles; and Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs executive director and president, India, Viswanath (Vishy) Poosala.

The importance of innovating in emerging markets within a global context as well as speeding up research into new ICT technologies was stressed by French communications giant Alcatel-Lucent's research arm, Bell Labs, during a visit to Malaysia recently.

Themes presented by two senior scientists from Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs - executive director and president, India, Viswanath (Vishy) Poosala and executive director and president, Seoul, C. Randy Giles -   included how cutting edge technologies could help meet the demands of the information explosion as well as enhance daily life.

Speaking on 12 June 2012, Poosala said: "Bell Labs in India is innovating in emerging environments as well as finding opportunities in parallel markets with similar needs around the world. The bottom line is what we do has a potential impact on lifestyles: ICT is especially significant in emerging markets."

"For example, the 10 percent increase in mobile penetration in emerging markets is related to an increase of 0.8 percent in GDP (gross domestic product); and there has been a 10 percent increase in broadband penetration in emerging markets with 1.4 percent increase in GDP," he said.

"An example of such innovation is Teleport, which is a low cost sensor network, originally devised to help us navigate traffic jams in Bangalore to get to our offices," he said. "The sensors detect Bluetooth-enabled handset movement on roads and the analysis of this data helps to suggest optimal routes and times. Though this was developed for use in Bangalore, it has been more rapidly adopted in developed areas such as Denmark and Florida!"

Poosala said bureaucratic barriers slowed down the adoption of Teleport. "However, there is much potential in a crowd-sourcing solution such as Teleport as it is significantly cheaper than current traffic sensing methods which can cost about US$50,000 per mile. Also the basic solution could be expanded by adding camera or microphones, and this would be a basis for a smart city solution."

"Though emerging markets are expected to be leading or majority ICT markets by 2015, the inter-relation of markets means that we [in India, for example] are still innovating for the world," said Poosala.

"The use of mobile phones could also help people make money in India and other rural areas with a solution like Moneybee, which is another crowdsourcing solution," he said. "People with mobile phones could help to answer surveys, for example, and opt-in to other tasks. Participating in a mobile solution is part of the outsourcing of the future."

"Consider that half the world 'is not banked' so branch-less banking could be delivered through mobile phones," Poosala said. "Technical trials are now taking place to see whether customers are willing to wait for off-peak download sessions of high-demand content (such as videos) in South Korea; this is called 'smart loading.'"

Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs has more than 850 researchers at research centres around the world that include the United States, France, Belgium, Ireland, India and South Korea. Alcatel-Lucent spent 2.5 billion euros [RM10.06 billion], representing 16 percent of company revenues and has a total of 26,000 R&D staff.

Future networks: closer than you think

"Innovation is of course also taking place in developed markets," said Poosala. "One example if that licensed spectrum is not sufficient to support the data explosion or to achieve rural coverage. In the US, WhiteNET offers efficient networking in the unlicensed part of the spectrum where the network stack provides efficient communications over DTV Whitespaces, which could be an excellent and cheaper offloading partner to LTE [long term evolution], Indian regulators are considering releasing spectrum to such uses."

"ICT is heading to business models that deliver content of the right kind at the right time," he said. "Money could come from different models without network throttling."

"The future of the Internet is bright," said Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs executive director and president, Seoul, C. Randy Giles. "Thirty (30) years ago, the net was basically peer to peer and we were less concerned about geography (location) than getting the information: it was about connections in the late 1990s."

"Current network changes are a focus on making information- or content- centric networks," Giles said. "There has been a paradigm shift from Internet communications to media delivery. The demands of information are putting a tremendous pressure on research into meeting the demands in the next decade or even less."

"The new architecture horizons include the idea of a shift to distributed caching (or in-network caching), where every route has storage (cache) in order to provide more efficient response to demands," he said.

"The new architecture of media delivery - or content-centric networking - to interest packets rather than data packets, which includes a change of naming conventions to hierarchical aggregatable names for locating and sharing data," said Giles.

"Other leading edge notions from our Internet engineering task force is to evolve the content-centric network [CCN] to suggest to the industry such innovations as Green CCN, which is environmentally-sensitive research that looks at the energy implications of using the Internet," he said. "This includes how to optimise moving bits of information by examining transport, storage/caching, including temporary storage, into fewer hops across the network rather than 10 hops, for example."

"Optical Space-Division Multiplexing is one aspect of trying to re-engineer core network processes for an improvement factor of 10, for example, moving to the Terabit Ethernet," said Giles. "This would allow the encoding and denser packing of information. Currently, we do not know how to meet the information speed targets expected in the near future and are exploring such ideas as photonic integration using different patterns of light that are separated at the receiver and also using optical amplifiers rather than electronic amplifiers. The future may be closer than you think."


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