Alcatel-Lucent Opens Online Video Lab In Cambridge

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The new facility under the Bell Labs banner will look at ways of compressing your funny cat videos

Alcatel-Lucent has launched a new division of Bell Labs in Cambridge, to focus on real-time video delivery across wireless networks.

The research team will be led by Bo Olofsson, who previously worked at at IBM, Apple and Dell. Most recently, he oversaw the product research group at BSkyB.

According to a study by Alcatel-Lucent, video already accounts for approximately 75 percent of a mobile service provider’s network traffic. As the overall number of online users grows and the quality of online video improves, networks will have to work on their capacity and optimisation techniques to keep pace.

“The massive growth in the generation and demand for video-centric content is creating one of the biggest issues for our customers as they evolve their networks. Bo Olofsson’s team will work closely with the IP Video team to solve these issues with solutions that optimize video-centric delivery and network capabilities that ensure high quality even as demand explodes,” said Marcus Weldon, president of Bell Labs and CTO at Alcatel-Lucent.

Video worries

Bloom DesignBell Laboratories was established by Alexander Graham Bell in 1925, as Bell Telephone Laboratories. Part of AT&T for most of its life, it has given us such building blocks of the modern world as the transistor, the laser, the C programming language, wireless LAN networks and UNIX – the ancestor of Apple’s OS X and Linus Torvald’s Linux.

In 2006, Bell Laboratories’ parent company, Lucent Technologies, signed a merger agreement with Alcatel. Since then, the lab has moved away from basic science and focused on networking, nanotechnology and software as the R&D subsidiary of the newly created Alcatel-Lucent. This has also given it a European presence.

The new Bell Labs office in Cambridge is an ‘antenna’ location – a small, specialised research facility that concentrates on a single major industry issue. In this case, it will look at ways to compress and optimise video traffic.

This includes not just the content on YouTube, Netflix or other cloud services, but also video uploaded, stored, managed and delivered by users themselves.

“As consumer and enterprise user behaviour evolves and appetite to produce and consume video continues to grow it is placing huge demands on the network and forcing a need for change – coming from a provider I have first-hand experience of these challenges – and we are going to research new ways to support that demand,”said Olofsson.

The new ‘antenna’ facility will be co-located with the headquarters of Alcatel-Lucent’s IP Video business, which has grown significantly following the acquisition of Cambridge based Velocix in 2009.

The latest announcement follows the opening of the ’antenna’ cloud research facility in Israel in May. A third location will be revealed later this year.

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