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Malaysia's mobile operator scenario: interview

AvantiKumar | Oct. 2, 2013
CommScope’s Asmadi Aziz and David White point out some of the strengths and challenges in the country's mobile operator scene.

 
Asmadi Aziz: That's exactly why we've been showcasing various solutions that allow the different operators to increase coverage without necessarily adding more towers or antennas.

For example, there are multi-band antennas which handle multiple bands in one antenna. These can be deployed instead of having one antenna for 3G and another for LTE [long term evolution] for example.

Alternatively you can increase capacity on existing sites by replacing a single antenna with a Twin Beam antenna which effectively increases the site from three to six sectors providing a 70-80 percent increase in data throughput without increasing the antenna count. This can partially solve the issue of site acquisition in cities.

Operators can also deploy more, but smaller antennas and have them concealed in common features in public spaces such as in street lamps. This is an aesthetically pleasing option.


From your dealings with Malaysian operators, would sort of measures have they been adopting to overcome challenges?

Asmadi Aziz: We are constantly and continuously working closely with the Malaysia operators to identify and develop solutions to help them modernise cell sites and optimise network planning, capacity, coverage and performance. With the option of adding new cell sites being expensive and difficult to materialise due to local regulatory requirements, operators have to look at how to more effectively use the existing sites to increase capacity and coverage without causing other problems such as increased tower loading or network interferences.

Ultra-Wideband antennas will allow operators the flexibility and scalability to upgrade, or switch, to 2.5G, 3G, and 4G technologies, as well as any high band frequency ranging from 1700 MHz [Megahertz] to 2700 MHz in a single array thereby lowering tower leasing costs while increasing speed to market capability.

We have also discussed the idea of sharing infrastructure which will expedite the address of coverage and capacity issues, especially where site acquisition is the main challenge for the operators.


And what more do operators need to do in the next 24 months or so?

Asmadi Aziz: As far as mobile users are concerned, data is data. Whether they stream or download content over one technology or another isn't important to them.

Their main concern is having a connection capable of delivering the service they want, wherever and whenever they want it. If such services are not available, operators not only miss out on revenue opportunities, but their subscribers may go elsewhere. No operator can afford this in an environment of greater than 100 percent mobile penetration and falling voice and SMS revenue streams. Network capacity is a high priority in the mobile industry.

The same report by Ericsson also noted that users with "high network satisfaction" were 80 percent more likely to stay loyal to their operators which only goes to show just how important network capacity and quality is.

Capacity will remain top of mind as the number of smartphone users in Malaysia continues to increase. The demand for data and network coverage has never been more crucial. Recently, the Malaysian government also initiated a rebate programme for those who use smartphones. These are challenges that can be addressed with the various solutions in the market, such as Twin Beam antennas.


Could Malaysian operators achieve a 'QoS jump' by adopting some best practices that you've seen in other parts of the world?

David White: With new technologies like LTE, containing interference is critical for network service quality. CommScope are able to provide a range of class leading antenna solutions, which are specifically designed to address this key area providing increased capacity and enhancing the data speed of the network.

In addition, the flexibility of these antenna solutions allows operators to future proof their network investment satisfying the current market demand but also allowing them to upgrade to planned next generation services without having to replace the antenna.

As networks become more complex, it has become increasingly time-consuming and expensive for operators to maintain existing cellular sites. Factory assembled tower top solutions are one approach operators are considering to improve installation quality and enhanced network performance while reducing maintenance and simplifying future network upgrades over the life of the network.

Are Malaysian government agencies well-positioned to monitor QoS?

Asmadi Aziz: They're actually very active in promoting the sharing of infrastructure between operators. Besides that, they also push for infrastructure that is aesthetically pleasing and blend in with the environment. Another area where they are active in is looking at increasing capacity in high-traffic public spaces like stadiums, train stations and shopping malls.

 

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