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Thursday, 6 May 2010

Avren's Next Generation Networks & Basestations Conference Summary


Interesting summary on Next Generation Networks & Base stations conference is available on Think Femtocell and Avren's website. Here are some interesting bits:

  • Operating a mobile network contributes around 30% to the annual costs of each operator, and there are many different ways to save money. Where before, coverage was a real differentiator between networks, today it’s much more about service.
  • There are enormous savings to be made by sharing cellsites between operators – T-mobile and 3 in the UK have combined their cellsites and reduced the total number from 55,000 to 31,000 in the last two years. The number is now slowly expanding again to fill in coverage holes and add capacity. The recently announced merger between Orange UK and T-Mobile means a further round of site consolidation over the coming years. Meanwhile, their UK competitors O2 Telefonica and Vodafone have also made a site sharing agreement, meaning that there will be just two competing sets of cellsites across the country.
  • Some speakers questioned the sense of offering unlimited flat rate data plans – the industry sentiment is that these can’t last. The highest traffic users are consuming disproportionate amounts of network resources – several examples were given of 2 or 3% of users taking up over 40% of available capacity.
  • Kenny Graham, Vodafone R&D Group, has been a keen champion of femtocells in public areas for some time – coining the term metro-femto. He believes that the most difficult challenges for femtocell deployment have already been overcome. He classified femtocells into four groups and clearly believes all have a place in network deployment:
    • Domestic
    • Enterprise
    • Public service areas (indoor hotspots)
    • Metro Femto (Outdoor hotspot )
  • Installing more antenna and equipment at existing cellsites, such as required for LTE or MIMO technologies, is constrained by physical and planning limits of cellsites. Metro femto can be deployed unobstrusively in the urban areas with peak traffic demand, providing high levels of capacity.

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