Alcatel-Lucent has established a multi-industry initiative that aims to get a jump on developing innovative applications for industry verticals expected to make use of wireless broadband. HP and Samsung have joined A-L’s ng Connect Program, as have a handful of small innovators.

Service providers are in no position to create all, or even most, of the applications they expect to provide or sell to consumers. A-L intends to put many of its labs at the service of its partners to help develop applications for various end-user groups, first targeting the consumer media, automotive, enterprise collaboration (including e-healthcare) and digital signage markets.

A-L sells mobile and fixed broadband networks, including 4G, Long Term Evolution (LTE), GPON and other high-bandwidth technologies. Ideally, being able to offer a suite of applications that have been proven to run on the networks should help A-L sell equipment.

“Our partners are asking us for applications and services,” said Derek Kuhn, A-L’s vice president of emerging technology and media. The ng Connect program should help their customers move faster as they transition from today’s 3G to tomorrow’s combined high-speed wired and wireless networks.

“From our CEO on down at A-L, and with all of our customers,” Kuhn said, “we all realize that working with partners is the only way to succeed.” Kuhn cited comments by new Vodaphone CEO Vittorio Colao, who has been beating the drum for collaboration, which Colao has repeatedly referred to as an “unbeatable” approach.

A-L and some of its partners are at the Mobile World Congress this week in Barcelona showing off several applications.

Kuhn described one where the consumer with a handheld device might walk into, for example, a video rental store, scan the image of a film’s box, and call up a trailer. The application demonstrates what Kuhn called “augmented reality” relying on image recognition and cloud computing. 

One partner in the program is QNX Software Systems, which specializes in embedded operating systems, with some particular success in the automotive market. “QNX is excited about what LTE can bring to the next-generation connected vehicle. A reliable, high-speed connection transforms the user experience: No more hard drive in the car, no more out-of-date navigation and mapping system, and no more visits to the dealer to update your software,” said Dan Dodge, CEO of QNX. “The car becomes an Internet terminal, an edge device, providing users with real-time access to the latest applications, data and content. LTE complements our own vision of enabling cars that dynamically connect to the Internet cloud, to consumer devices, and to one another.”

"As we move into the next phase of the evolution of broadband networks with the advent of ultra high-bandwidth systems such as 4G and GPON, it is critical that a broad spectrum of companies – including those from industries that are not normally associated – come together in a strong ecosystem that can effectively innovate, remove business and technical barriers, and define new business models to accelerate mass adoption of new services and devices,” said Tim Krause, chief marketing officer at Alcatel-Lucent, a founding member of the ng Connect Program.

“The establishment of the ng Connect program is an important step in our strategy to create an open ecosystem so that the trusted capabilities of service providers can be combined with the innovation of the Web to bring whole new classes of services to market, services that can leverage the growing capabilities of service-aware IP networks, IMS and more,” Krause continued. “The ng Connect Program is dedicated to bringing this ecosystem to life.”

The ng Connect Program’s initial phase has three goals: accelerating deployment of new services and devices through pre-integration and validation; identifying and promoting new revenue streams through innovative business models; and broadening the wireless broadband device landscape to include consumer electronics products, industrial and consumer equipment for machine-to-machine communications, and automotive connectivity. The ng Connect Program will showcase the next-generation connected-user experience through proof-of-concept solutions.

Other companies who’ve joined the ng Connect Program are 4DK, Buzznet, chumby, Connect2Media, dimedis, Fishlabs, QNX, Signexx, Total Immersion, TuneWiki and Words & Numbers.

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