telusMichael Wu, Director, Wireless Access Technology Development, Telus, Canada is speaking on the subjects of HetNets at the LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Ahead of the show we speak to the Wu to find out more about backhaul strategy, network optimisation and business challenges.

What were the chief technical and business challenges you faced when you rolled out LTE?

TELUS first launched LTE services in 14 metropolitan areas across the country in February 2012, and since that launch we have expanded coverage to reach more than 70 per cent of Canadians, with plans to cover even more by the end of this year. From a technological perspective, the key challenge was really about making iRAT (inter Radio Access Technology) work between UMTS and LTE. The iRAT handoff between UMTS and LTE had very limited global deployment at that time and there were issues tied into the devices as well. As happens when implementing most new technologies, the timescale was underestimated and it took us longer than expected to complete the development. With the growth of social media, Internet mobilisation and consumerisation, monetising LTE investment was a key business challenge for Telus, as it is for all carriers. Customers expect to pay less but enjoy more data consumption at better speeds.

The LTE World Summit, the premier 4G event for the telecoms industry, is taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Click here to download a brochure for the event.

What impact does LTE have on your backhaul strategy and technology choices?

LTE enables services to operate at faster speeds and at lower latency. This relies on much more stringent backhaul performance. When Telus launched UMTS in 2009, we implemented an all-IP backhaul deployment, which enabled us to prepare for the LTE upgrades.

Are small cells important for your roll out and how can they successfully be integrated into the network?

Small cells were not the key consideration for our initial LTE rollout. This is primarily because LTE small cell technology was not mature at that time, and there were no LTE small cells available. That said, at Telus we believe small cells will be the key element to address future exponential growth of data traffic. We are continuing to explore small cell technology and believe the successful integration of small cell into the macro LTE network will be made possible once key features mature, such as eICIC, and RE in LTE Release 10.

What are the key techniques for network optimisation in LTE and what effect can it have on the customer experience?

LTE introduced many new technologies, such as 2×2 MIMO and OFDMA. For these, the traditional RF optimisation techniques such as drive testing and antenna down‐tilt will not satisfy the requirements for network optimisation. In the market today, there are many different kinds of techniques: MIMO optimisation, RET based third-party SON tools, SON based real-time optimisation and others. Some of them are mature while others are still under development. These optimisation techniques greatly improve customer experiences by fixing network problems in real-time instead of potentially waiting week after week due to the nature of troubleshooting complexity in the LTE world.

Some fear that the dedicated backhaul required for every small cell installed will destroy the economic benefits that they bring in terms of offload. What’s your view?

Backhaul technologies for small cells are still evolving so it is too early to make that statement. In my view, the adoption of small cell backhaul will depend on each operator’s individual business case – what infrastructure they have today and what they will build in the future, and also whether they are looking for partnership to leverage others’ infrastructure or not. Ultimately, the winning strategy will be providing enough backhaul capacity for small cell traffic growth, while maintaining an attractive investment return.

Why is the LTE World Summit such an important show for operators to attend?

The LTE World Summit is the main event in the global wireless industry where all the key players are present. The Summit represents a unique opportunity to share information with other operators and key vendors, get a stronger sense of where the industry is at and assess new developments with other industry players. By speaking at the conference and representing Telus, I see this as an opportunity to recognise the success of Canadian business in the global marketplace, and more specifically showcasing Telus as a leader in technology innovation and introduction. By demonstrating that Canada continues to have a healthy balance of regulation and free market economics, we are ensuring the future of a healthy and vibrant mobile broadband sector.

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