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Developing Commerce in Africa: Phone Company in a Box

I never thought of paint as being an important part of the engine of commerce.

That is, until I met Ueli Frei, who heads FUNDES International, an NGO that fosters economic growth among micro-businesses in Latin America. His team helped a group of independent “mom and pop” drug stores band together and operate, in many ways, as a single retailer.

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Where Cloud and BYOD Meet, Opportunities Abound for Service Providers

The explosive growth of mobility has had a transformative impact in recent years. Increasingly, it is viewed not just as an industry force but as an overall economic lever, driving expansion on a GDP level.

This was a core theme of the 2012 Canadian Telecom Summit, which I attended last week in Toronto. Certainly, Canada itself is a prime example, and there was much discussion about the vital role mobile video and data have played as key enablers in Canada’s economy as a whole.

My presentation and panel at the Summit focused on the opportunities afforded to service providers by this unbridled appetite for mobility, especially from a business-to-business perspective. In particular, I discussed the intersection between cloud and the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement. This evolution, I believe, will be a critical catalyst, ensuring the continuation of mobility-driven productivity and economic growth.

The fact is, service-provider-delivered business-to-business cloud services have not Read More »

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The Cisco – SP Partnership: How Proactive Planning Drives Service Quality

By Carlos Cordero, Director, Service Provider Internet Business Solutions Group

In my previous blog I explained the importance of collaborative testing between telecommunications service providers (SPs) and their network vendors in order to achieve higher service quality levels. I’d like to start where I left off and move on to exploring how this type of collaboration can extend into the planning process.

SPs with the highest service quality tend to have a strong planning capability within both their Network Engineering and Operations organizations, which is directly coordinated with their vendors. Leading SPs establish a joint Program Management Office (PMO) with their network equipment vendor, whose scope of responsibility includes early bug identification, bug remediation, and new feature deployment. This includes structured, joint planning meetings and performance reviews which are attended by VP-level engineering and operations executives, as well as senior members of the vendor’s account team, services organization, and the development organization.

The joint SP-vendor PMO performs several critical activities.  First, it drives requirements gathering with senior network designers, and then works with them until actual code is released.  The PMO also develops network architectures with the vendor and the SP’s engineers using “Plan-of-Record” (POR) documentation.  Next, the PMO jointly prioritizes feature functionality with the vendor, keeping track of critical features needed by specified timeframes.  It works closely with the vendor’s development organization to understand any design limitations, testing issues, and special conditions.  In addition to performing classic management functions, the PMO makes use of “Bug Workbooks” to track all major, critical, and minor bugs and trends.

For example, Read More »

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Economic Catalyst: Telecom Right-of-Way Access

By Steven Shepard, Contributing Columnist

I have always loved trains. Never knew why, but I think I just discovered the reason. They’re part of the industry I work in – or at least played a founding role here in the United States. And, they gave us much of the terminology that infuses our telecom vocabulary: switches routers, hubs, trunks, lines, etc.

But one railroad in particular played a fundamental role in the development of the industry and, more importantly, in the development of a truly competitive U.S. telecommunications industry.

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Corny Technology: Welcome to Innovative Iowa

By Steven Shepard, Contributing Columnist

A couple of weeks ago I was in the bustling metropolis of Stanton, Iowa (population: 714), one of the most charming towns I have ever had the pleasure to visit. It is the home town of Mrs. Olson, the iconic figure in Folger’s Coffee commercials — which is why their water towers look so unique (see the photo insert below).

I was working with an independent telephone company client, one of about 1,300 in the U.S. — 250 of which are in Iowa. These independents are typically smaller phone companies, often family-owned, and almost always technologically-advanced.

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