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Telstra to deploy femtocells… but not yet

10 сентября 2009

Running a 21-Mbps HSPA+ network in the 850-MHz band means Telstra does not have to worry about the quality of its indoor mobile coverage, which means the Australian operator has no immediate plans to offer femtocells its subscribers.

“The indoor coverage is spectacular,” Hugh Bradlow, chief technology officer at Telstra told Total Telecom on Wednesday.

With initial femtocell rollouts, “the primary focus is on capacity and coverage,” he said.

But boosting capacity is hard to do with femtocells, because until there are a large number deployed, “you’re not saving any capacity,” he explained.

“[And] you don’t want to charge your customers for coverage,” he added, since that sends the message that the operator has not built out its network properly.

For Telstra, the attraction of femtocells is in the application layer.

“When they’ve got the applications, we’ll be right in there,” Bradlow said.

Elsewhere in the global operator community, “there’s definitely interest” in the femtocell proposition, added Dan Warren, director of technology at the GSM Association.

He explained that some operators are looking closely at femtocells, while for others the business case is too difficult to justify.

He agreed with Bradlow that operators should not focus on the improved indoor coverage aspect of the technology, which he claimed would be “commercial suicide”.

“You need [to give customers] a pricing break,” in order to drive femtocell take-up, he said.

Charging customers for coverage does not seem to worry Vodafone though.

The U.K. mobile operator became the first in Europe to roll out femtocells commercially in July. And its focus is squarely on the coverage play, with no femtocell-specific applications or tariffs in evidence as yet.

LTE rollout to complement HSPA+
Following comments made by Mike Wright, executive director, wireless engineering and operations at Telstra on Tuesday, Bradlow spoke in more detail about the operator’s plans for LTE.

“We will deploy LTE in an evolutionary fashion as required, Bradlow said.

“We [already] have nationwide broadband [on HSPA+],” he said, noting that a move to LTE will come when and where the company starts to hit capacity limitations.

“We’ll need some in urban areas,” running on 2.6-GHz spectrum, he added. Telstra will also roll out LTE in some rural areas in the 700 MHz band. These plans will hinge on the availability of spectrum though; the government has yet to set up an auction for those frequencies, Bradlow said.

Ultimately, Telstra will provide mobile broadband over a combination of HSPA+ and LTE.

“LTE is interoperable with the 3G layer... You can build on top of your existing investment in the network,” Bradlow said.

“The vendors are making great strides in things like software-defined radios, software-defined base stations... and the core network,” smoothing the path for operators to upgrade as and when necessary, added Warren.

The timing of operators’ LTE rollouts will depend on the availability of spectrum, when they made their last major network investment and the technology evolution path, and customer demand, Warren said. “That’s what generates the business case.”

Источник: Total Telecom

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