LTE Asia reveals market reality

Dimitris Mavrakis/Informa Telecom & Media
20 Sep 2011

Mobile operators and vendors from Asia gathered in Singapore to discuss about LTE during Informa’s latest LTE Asia event. Although interest in LTE soared high throughout the conference, there were several interesting topics that stood out during discussions and conference presentations.

Although there are already several live LTE networks in Asia, conference delegates were somewhat confused regarding the value proposition of LTE in these markets. Nevertheless, Asian mobile operators are keeping a close eye to LTE network deployments worldwide.

Since mobile operators in developed Asian markets have already deployed dense HSPA networks, the move to LTE is meticulously scrutinized. Few network executives also mentioned Super WiFi and whether this has the potential to disrupt the success of LTE in developing regions. There were also mobile operators that were interested in the rural market and following the German deployment example, but these were also questioning the viability of the LTE business model.

The growth of traffic was also discussed and P1 networks of Malaysia (Wimax operator) stated that monthly average download traffic is 12GB per subscriber while their heaviest user downloads 548GB/month. NBNco of Australia also aims to rollout a nationwide layer of broadband connectivity through fiber, satellite and LTE, removing the mobility elements from the LTE standard.

In terms of operator concerns, the biggest by far in the conference was the availability of devices.

LTE devices and ecosystem

Operators and vendors agreed that it’s handsets and devices that will fuel the growth of LTE networks in the region. Surprisingly, handset vendors were absent from the LTE conference but consensus was that current smartphones are not advanced enough to attract mass market interest. Given the fact that smartphones present the most lucrative business model for mobile broadband networks, it is understandable that mobile operators are cautiously waiting for the ecosystem to evolve past the second or third iteration of devices before investing heavily in a completely new network.

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