LTE may be widely viewed as operators’ answer to network saturation and decreasing ARPUs, but various limitations mean the technology should not be viewed as a one-stop solution to be adopted by all.
“LTE is not a magic pill,” said Malaysia-based Maxis’s head of technology development Denis Seek at Mobile Broadband Asia 2011, held in Singapore. “The technology will not resolve the effects of poor engineering, poor optimization or poor radio conditions. Have any of these factors present and throughput will plunge.”
Seek headed Maxis’s LTE trial on the 2.6GHz band, using 2 x 20 Mhz paired frequencies. Results from the field trial found the level of outdoor coverage to be sufficient, at 2dB lower compared to HSPA+ deployed on 2.1Ghz frequency; but indoor coverage posed a major challenge for a market like Malaysia, where the majority of LTE users are expected to be using the technology indoors.
“The high frequency is a concern, especially with so many Asian markets contemplating frequencies above 2Ghz,” said Seek, adding the industry would do better to look toward lower frequency bands. “We fully embrace what CSL has done, by deploying LTE at 1800Mhz frequency.”
Self-organizing networks (SON) in Release 8 are still limited capability wise, said Seek. “Don’t get rid of your RF engineers yet.”
Despite challenges with indoor deployment, Seek said he was confident of deploying LTE successfully. “The technology will give you higher throughput provided you have enough spectrum. The difference in throughout is not significant, however,if you’re still allocating LTE to the 2 x 5 Mhz or 2 x 10 Mhz bands.”
LTE definitely holds clear advantages over 3G and HSPA+, Seek continued. “It’s very good for delay sensitive conditions, and we foresee many more multi-player applications coming into play with the dawn of LTE.”
Like many operators in Asia, Maxis is awaiting the outcome of spectrum allocation from the government.
Wu Wei Shi, an analyst at Deutsche Bank, said there is no hurry for operators to invest in LTE, unless they were experiencing capacity issues in major cities. “There is no rush to migrate unless the technology offers competitive advantages, but LTE-unique data services are limited so far. HSPA is sufficient in most cases to meet medium term demand.”
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