Many operators will leapfrog from HSPA to 3G LTE, as the window of opportunity for HSPA Evolved is insignificant when compared to 3G LTE.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (wireless.frost.com), European Mobile Broadband (EuMoBro) Mêlée between 3G LTE and Mobile WiMAX, finds that by 2013, there will be around 22.4 million 3G LTE subscribers with service revenues totalling to €9,685.4 million in Western Europe. Both Mobile WiMAX and 3G LTE technologies are covered in this research.
Over the past year, mobile data usage has skyrocketed – six to fourteen times more data is being used on mobile broadband networks today than in the previous year. This is being driven by flat rate pricing and high-speed mobile broadband availability (HSDPA/HSPA). Average users download more than 5GB per month, some as much as 9GB to 11GB.
Though data traffic is on the rise, revenues are unfortunately flat. Operators are witnessing divergence of revenues and traffic load curves for the first time due to the new data loads and flat rate price models. Hence, network cost has to decline and there is a strong focus in the 3G LTE camp on margin and production cost.
"Next generation wireless technologies such as 3G LTE and Mobile WiMAX will eventually lead operators to move to an 'open' access, any client device connected, Internet model, with the advent of consumer electronic devices being embedded with 3G LTE technology," notes Frost & Sullivan Programme Manager, Luke Thomas. "This in turn will lead to higher service stickiness and reduced churn."
However, operators will need to do away with locking-in client devices to their respective mobile broadband access networks. More smartphones/UMPCs/laptops/consumer electronic devices connected to such high-speed networks will lead to incremental revenues for mobile operators.
"If a mobile operator has decided to deploy 3G LTE by 2010/2011, it should immediately start upgrading its backhaul as each LTE base station would require a minimum of 200-300Mbps backhaul capacity," advises Thomas.
Mobile operators are currently considering high-capacity point-to-point microwave links and relay for backhaul. However, some are considering minimising additional CAPEX on the backhaul by subsidising 3G LTE-enabled femtocells, thereby making their mobile subscribers pay for the backhaul. The deployment of femtocells, however, would require careful network planning to avoid any interference levels between the macrocell and femtocell.
"Rather than providing flat-fee unlimited contracts or traffic caps for 3G LTE and Mobile WiMAX, operators need to be more innovative with their pricing strategies so as to differentiate themselves from competition but, at the same time, ensure that it is not too complicated or non-transparent for the user to understand," remarks Thomas. "Furthermore, operators need to put in place effective management tools to manage traffic using QoS policies, prioritised access and flow based processing."
Such active traffic management will ensure that operators do not tarnish their brand image by levying huge charges for high-speed mobile broadband access.
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European Mobile Broadband (EuMoBro) Mêlée between 3G LTE and Mobile WiMAX / M2E2