Anoop Bhattarai is deputy managing director of strategic planning for Nepal Telecom and is speaking at the LTE Asia conference taking place on the 18th-19th September 2013 at the Suntec, Singapore. Ahead of the show we find out more about what the state of play is for Nepal Telecom.
What have been the main developments and major milestones for you over the last 12 months with regards to LTE?
There have been two major milestones for us. Firstly, installation of GSM/WCDMA/LTE core equipment was completed and we await spectrum to begin offering commercial services. Secondly, there was the formation of a study team for countrywide network implementation of LTE-Advanced, beginning in 2015.
How much of a challenge do you feel monetising LTE will be?
It will be one of the most challenging aspects for developing a business plan for the LTE network. For the end-to-end LTE network readiness a huge sum needs to be spent just to guarantee sufficient bandwidth for every user in the coverage area. However, the OTT services will be the one exploiting all the investments. Developing the local content, services and getting the benefits from it will be the challenge. Furthermore, the availability of affordable/cheap terminals will also affect the growth of the LTE ecosystem and in turn the monetisation prospects.
Tell me about the fresh challenges that LTE brings with regard to backhaul?
The broadband access opportunity for every user has a direct impact on backhaul. The existing backhaul in many cases is not designed to cater for the huge traffic from numerous subscribers simultaneously. With the rise of local content, from OTT, and VoD services, there will be a huge pressure on all the sections of the backhaul network. Thus readying LTE network also brings with it the requirement to upgrade backhaul, requiring a huge investment.
Can initiatives such as RCS Joyn enable carriers to overcome the OTT threat?
Of course, RCS initiatives such as Joyn can act as a tool to reduce the threat imposed by OTT. However, the success of RCS initiatives requires co-operative group work from all the related parties. The business model of all the operators has to be very similar so as to have enough pool of users to challenge OTT.
Are you eager to implement VoLTE?
Yes, but the development of the quality and affordable VoLTE terminals seems to be delayed to justify the investment in VoLTE.
Where is LTE Advanced on your roadmap? Will you implementing it all at once or gradually introducing key features?
We are planning to deploy the LTE-advanced network from Q1 2015
There are still some concerns over the performance of the latest handsets with regard to LTE in terms of battery life and call quality. What’s your view?
With the growth in number of LTE networks and the subscribers, the LTE ecosystem is now heading towards self sustainability. As the battery life and call quality are the most essential factors regarding the terminal and of course the LTE ecosystem, the R&D in this arena will definitely be intense with the outcome sought within a year.
Why is attending the LTE Asia conference such an important date in your diary?
As we are planning to deploy the LTE-advanced network in Q1 2015, attending the conference would be very helpful for me to identify the key areas to focus during the deployment of the LTE network.