Joint network investments key to survival

Nicole McCormick/Ovum
07 Feb 2011
In Vietnam, EVN Telecom and Hutchison’s Hanoi Telecom share a 3G radio access network.
But there are still other opportunities to share infrastructure in overcrowded markets, such as Indonesia and Cambodia, especially as operators expand their 3G networks into regional and rural areas. If network sharing was desirable in the aftermath of the global financial crisis, it is a critical cost-saving measure today as operators struggle to find new revenue sources, especially in developing low-ARPU markets.
Meanwhile, the debate rages over 4G network sharing in Asia-Pacific. Ovum believes it makes sense for operators in some countries to share LTE infrastructure. Network sharing, in theory, is more feasible in the IP world of LTE than on existing embedded service networks.
But early signs are that operators in Japan and South Korea, which do not come from a culture of infrastructure sharing, will launch their own full-blown LTE networks. Japan’s Softbank Mobile is even talking about deploying TD-LTE alongside FDD LTE to alleviate capacity constraints in data-heavy areas. It clearly has no intention to share LTE networks.
Similarly, shared LTE networks will be a difficult sell in Australia, given that coverage and network quality is an important market differentiator, and will continue to be so.
In small Asian markets, where coverage is not a big competitive edge – such as Singapore, Hong Kong and New Zealand – we urge operators to consider sharing one LTE network. Indeed, PCCW and Hutchison in Hong Kong jointly picked up spectrum at auction and thus will deploy a single LTE network. 
In emerging markets, LTE network sharing is expected to be particularly widespread, especially among operators that have struggled to reap a return on their 3G network investments.


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