1800-MHz refarming key to LTE roaming

John C. Tanner
07 Sep 2011

There are plenty of incentives to refarm 1800-MHz spectrum for LTE usage, but the biggest one may be to facilitate LTE roaming more quickly and widely, operators said Tuesday.

LTE1800 was a dominating theme during the opening day of the LTE Asia conference in Singapore, with executives from StarHub, CSL and Telstra discussing ongoing plans to refarm their 1800-MHz frequencies and the subsequent advantages of doing so.

“You can reuse sites and equipment, and you get better coverage than you do at 2.6 GHz, including indoor coverage,” said Peter Cook, VP for mobile network engineering at StarHub, which plans to launch LTE1800 in Q4 this year. “You can reduce your site count up to 30% compared to 2.6-GHz LTE for equivalent coverage and speed.”

For many operators, it’s also a way to launch next-gen mobile broadband services without having to waiting for local governments to allocate 4G spectrum, said Mike Wright, executive director for networks and access technologies at Telstra, which aims to launch full LTE1800 services before the end of the year.

“We don’t expect to get either [700-MHz] digital dividend spectrum or 2.6 GHz spectrum for another few years, so the question for us has been, what to do in the meantime?” he said.

The same is true in Indonesia, said Toni Agus Pribadi, head of the network monitoring quality division of Indosat, which has been trialing LTE1800 partly as a proof-of-concept for the regulator that spectrum refarming is viable.

“The regulator hasn’t yet allocated LTE frequencies and has postponed this for the next two years, so 1800 is our only chance to deploy LTE,” he said during a separate session.

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