UK: The Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) recently announced the availability of a new UMTS900 operator case study on Optus in Australia, which shows significant cost and coverage benefits of deploying 3G mobile broadband services with UMTS900.
The case study examines the business drivers and practical experiences of Optus, who launched UMTS900 in May 2008. It confirms the findings from GSA’s earlier UMTS900 case study on Elisa Corporation in Finland, and also provides additional insights.
UMTS900 has given Optus the extra range and penetration to address the challenging Australian landscape. According to Andrew Smith, Director, Mobile Core Engineering for Optus, “UMTS900 is ideally suited for Australia. The extended reach of this frequency means we can deliver better quality and wider coverage across sparsely populated areas, as well as enhanced depth of coverage.”
While the majority of today’s 3G/HSPA (High Speed Packet Access) mobile broadband networks worldwide operate in the 2100MHz band, the use of lower frequencies, such as 900MHz, provides a much larger geographical coverage area when compared to what is possible when using 2100MHz.
Widely used by GSM systems throughout Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, HSPA deployments in the 900 MHz band significantly reduces the number of cell sites needed to cover rural and suburban areas, which translates to major CAPEX and OPEX savings for 3G deployments. These cost and coverage benefits also apply to the deployment of UMTS in other lower frequency bands such as 850MHz.
The Optus network is the largest UMTS900 network in the world. In addition to cost savings, the ability to use existing infrastructure dramatically reduced the time needed for deployment.
According to Andrew Smith, “We had previously completed significant changes to our antennas, so with UMTS900, we could walk into a site knowing limited external work was needed, which allowed a much faster deployment.”
Optus saw the rollout of UMTS900 in suburban and rural areas as a natural extension of its initial 3G deployment in the more heavily populated areas where 2100 MHz was used. UMTS900 has brought 3G and mobile broadband services more cost-effectively to outside the cities.
More than just the need for fewer installations, UMTS900 facilitates the addition of a much larger data market because it provides better indoor coverage than 2100 MHz.
Optus believes that today’s broad array of UMTS900 data products, combined with the increasing availability of UMTS900-capable smartphone devices, will enhance its competitive position.
“In an economic climate where buyers’ purchasing timeframes may move from an 18-24 month cycle to a 36-month cycle, we see the increases in ARPU enabled by better data performance as critical to continued success,” explains Henry Calvert, Director, Product Portfolio Planning, Optus.
According to GSA’s latest research, ten UMTS900-HSPA systems are now in commercial service in Europe, Latin America, and the Asia Pacific region. The availability and choice of UMTS900 user devices is rapidly increasing, with 130 HSPA/mobile broadband devices capable of operating at 900MHz (as well as 2100MHz) announced by 23 manufacturers, with more products being released every month.
The 900/2100MHz HSPA devices frequency combination is becoming commonplace for products destined for European and APAC markets.
“The availability of our second operator-based case study provides further evidence of the benefits of UMTS900 in allowing operators to bring mobile broadband service to underserved areas in a more cost effective and efficient manner,” concluded Alan Hadden, President, GSA.
“The increasing efficiencies and performance improvements using evolved HSPA (HSPA+) systems, including increased peak data throughput rates, are equally available with 900 MHz deployments as on other HSPA mobile broadband bands, to ensure a seamless user experience of mobile broadband services."