Mix'n'match: Telecom's new hybrid GSM/EV-DO network

, posted: 14-Mar-2007 14:12

TelecomYesterday, I wrote about Telecom's plans for a new mobile network for Communications Day in Australia and the more I think about it, the strategy makes sense. The idea is for Telecom to make use of what it already has - a well-functioning CDMA network with the high-speed EV-DO Rev A data overlay - and sort out the roaming issue by bolting GSM and UMTS/HSDPA gear onto it.

Although normal people don't use it, as IDC telecommunications analyst Darian Bird points out, voice roaming is crucial for Telecom. Not just for Telecom customers either: presumably Telecom will want to sell roaming rights to overseas operators so that people visiting New Zealand have another option than Vodafone to choose from.

A second network to roam on in NZ will be good for tourists and business visitors, as pricing should go down with more competition.

Data roaming doesn't look like it's on the cards (NPI) though. It's just not going to be a priority until you can extend that $49 a month data plan to include say a week's worth of usage in Australia as well. Very few business people can justify $8-30 per MB data charges when you pay that for a day's usage in a hotel or less in an Internet café.

Building the new network isn't going to be cheap at up to $1.2 billion. An analyst I spoke to gasped at that figure, and thought it would include all sorts of new stuff for the project, like converged fixed/wireless handsets. That would be a very good move by Telecom, one that'd leave Vodafone in the dust and definitely mitigate the expected "churn" when number portability hits.

The new network would be the first one in the world of its type. Good on Telecom for being brave I say, and here's hoping it'll come off.

Speaking of mobile networks, Natalie Apostolou had a scoop in Communications Day on Tuesday about Telstra. The Aussie incumbent is spending over half a billion dollars on boosting its Next G network. Called "Project Simba", the second phase of the Next G network deployment entails large-scale site acquisition to extend the footprint, as well as in-fill of access points in existing coverage areas.

Next G is said to offer over 40Mbit/s speeds soon, so Telstra is also spending big on backhaul to support high bitrates.

Back to Telecom: since its moving ahead with big investments (and asset sales), does that mean Marko Bogoievski is effectively the new CEO? Presumably he's the one signing off on the big spend after board approval. I wouldn't be surprised if Marko gets the job at least until Telecom separates because the company needs someone at the helm who is familiar with the business and regulatory environment. An overseas hire wouldn't be clever at this stage.

Theresa Gattung is currently holding her last analyst briefing (in Sydney, typically enough) today. Heavy-hitters Bogoievski, Kenrick and Ratcliffe will be there too... would love to be there and see the presentations.

Update The abovementioned presentations are linked to in Grant17's comment below. Also, Jenny Keown wrote a story about the UMTS network build for the Herald today. I am surprised at the general lack of media attention however. You'd think that a billion dollar plan like this ought to fire up editors and journos, but all is quiet.

Other related posts:
TDD vs FDD for LTE
Huawei TDD LTE demo aboard the Shanghai MagLev train
Apropos that new Telecom logo

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