Posts tagged ‘Vodafone’

UK finally gets some 4G competition

4G_cupcake

An O2 4G cupcake in London today

It’s a big day for LTE in the UK as Vodafone and O2 both launch their LTE networks, giving EE some competition in the 4G space some 10 months after it first launched. However, EE’s rivals are hampered by the limited nature of their launches – London, Leeds and Bradford for O2, and just London for Vodafone. This will hit 13 and 12 cities respectively by the end of the year, but for most of the country outside London/Leeds it’s all rather less exciting.

Still if you are in coverage and you’re wondering if the networks are actually running and how they compare you’re in luck. I popped down to Oxford Street this lunchtime and into the relevant stores for some EE vs Vodafone vs O2 LTE speed test action.

While the numbers are good, my experiences in store were not exactly stellar however. Both O2 and Vodafone had specialist 4G staff on hand, but only the latter actually got it right.

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Interview: Head of network, Vodafone, Netherlands: “The introduction of small cells is the next step in serving our customers.”

Head of network, Vodafone, Netherlands

Head of network, Vodafone, Netherlands

Matthias Sauder, head of network, Vodafone, Netherlands, is appearing 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 find out more about Vodafone’s upcoming LTE launch in the Netherlands and how the network can best be optimised. 

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

The key optimisation technique in LTE is SON (Self Organizing Networks). SON is a technique which can improve the accessibility, throughput, and retainability, enabling the operators to better manage capacity– in particular coverage and capacity optimisation, load balancing and handover robustness, which are all methods of improving the customer experience. However, additionally automated neighbour relations and self-configuration mechanisms are also helping to improve operational excellence and customer experience. I would also not underestimate the efforts which have to be spent to introduce and optimize CSFB (Circuit Switched Fall-Back). It is an absolute must to provide a basic voice service at great quality.

Are small cells enough to solve the problems of localised demand for data?

The introduction of small cells is the next step in serving our customers where they would like, delivering an unmatched network experience. I see them as a first step in dealing with all the challenges that operators face from the increased use of smartphones. They will help operators cope with capacity demands and the OPEX challenge. The implementation of small cells will speed up the rollout of local capacity/coverage improvements and they also limit the visual impact of a mobile network. I also see LTE-Advanced technologies such as COMP as future solutions for further improving capacity management.

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’s your strategy around Wi-Fi and is it an effective means to reduce load on the core network?

We will trial Wi-Fi deployments linked to our small cell trials in major cities in the Netherlands. It can be used as a measure to improve the customer experience and help to reduce load on the core network.

What do you think will be the most exciting new development in LTE in 2013?

There are several that spring to mind. Generally, the introduction of LTE within the Vodafone network in the Netherlands: and technically, the use of active antennas. We will see more small-cell deployments all over the world and SON will be used to optimise networks and mitigate complexity.

How quickly are you looking to deploy LTE Advanced and what are the challenges you predict it might bring?

Firstly we aim to launch a high quality LTE network and then LTE-Advanced will be one of the next natural steps. We want to get the basics right!

Why is the LTE World Summit such an important event for you to attend?

It is a great event to catch up on the newest trends and developments. The event provides a unique opportunity to meet many different colleagues from all over the world – networking is key. Content wise the event has been excellent so far and I am pretty sure it will prove so again this year.

Good vibrations in the UK: Vodafone and O2 come together

ImageThere have been major developments in the UK mobile operator market today with the news that Vodafone and O2, the UK arm of Telefonica, would be coming together and sharing resources in order to build their networks faster.

It’s a direct response, if somewhat delayed, to the threat from Everything Everywhere, a joint venture between Orange (France Telecom) and T-Mobile (Deutsche Telekom ), and Three (Hutchison Whampoa). It’s not an entirely new venture, as the two have been sharing some sites since 2009 in a venture called Cornerstone, but this takes it from 4000 sites up to 18,500 masts and towers shared.

It’s not a full joint venture as with Everything Everywhere – customers won’t be able to choose between Vodafone and O2 signals, and the two companies will continue to compete in every other way.

It’s great news.

The two operators claim that this deal will bring 2G and 3G coverage to 98 per cent of the UK population by 2015, finally dealing with the many notspots that continue to plague this not particularly large country.

What’s particularly welcome is that the pair claim that it will enable them to bring 4G,by which we have to assume means LTE, quicker than they would separately. Ofcom, the UK regulator stipulates that there should be 98 per cent coverage of 4G by 2017 so this should help them meet that claim.

Network sharing does seem to be the way forward, especially in these cash strapped town. It simply makes sense from an efficiency point of view. Is there much sense in having the same areas covered by multiple networks by rival network offering essentially the same service.

The two companies said that the consolidation could also enable them to trim the fat and they could shrink the sites they run by 10 per cent.

Speaking at the LTE World Summit last month, Eduardo Duato, CTO at Orange Spain said as much, pointing out that while the US makes do with just four major networks, Europe, roughly the same size land mass, has over 100. He called on his local regulators and all those across Europe to support operator’s sharing prospects. “It doesn’t make sense to have this many networks [in Europe]” he said “we have to move to LTE network sharing.”

Vodafone and O2 seem to agree with him.

The move will mean that there will essentially two networks running in the UK – the MBNL network that powers Everything Everywhere and 3, and the extended Cornerstone network of Vodafone and O2.

So what do we have here then? Intelligent combining of resources, offering the potential for much improved coverage and accelerated roll out of next gen LTE services, and all with some extra cost cutting thrown in.

It all sounds alarmingly, well, sensible. At this rate, we could have operators making money and even satisfied customers.

Crazy times.

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