Doubts Linger Over Mobile Broadband Readiness

This article was first published by Tony Poulos on the TM Forum’s Digital Services Initiative

Research from WeDo Technologies’ annual worldwide customer event, held recently in Braga, Portugal, has revealed that well over half (57 per cent) of CSPs feel less prepared for the transition to LTE/4G/NGN and managing the associated opportunities and risks than they should be. Worryingly, this figure has actually risen in the past 12 months, as this time last year only 40 per cent of CSPs felt they weren’t as prepared for LTE as they should be.

The survey went on to reveal that only just over a third of CSPs regard the roll out of 4G/LTE thus far as a success. Rui Paiva, Chief Executive Officer at WeDo Technologies, commented; “Demand for data traffic is driving the launch of 4G globally and marketing and sales departments are reacting quickly, but the associated risks need to be carefully considered to ensure that services are secure. This is why CSPs are feeling unprepared and perhaps not where they thought they would be 12 months ago. Revenue Assurance requires a considered and thorough approach to ensure opportunities are maximized and risks are minimized”, Paiva continued.

LTE rollout may not be the only concern, particularly for operators in Europe. The European Commission also updated its Digital Agenda Scoreboard recently, measuring progress with respect to the targets set out in Europe’s Digital Agenda. The new study completed by Point Topic shows that whilst nearly all households in Europe could access basic broadband services at the end of 2012, significant challenges still remain in delivering high-speed broadband to all.

At the end of 2012 over 99.9 per cent of households could have access to at least a basic broadband network – covering all fixed, fixed wireless, mobile and satellite technologies. However, there can be significantly more variation in the coverage of Next Generation Access (NGA) technologies which can deliver speeds of at least 30 Mbps, were available to 53.8 per cent of households at the end of 2012.

In Malta, the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland and Luxembourg, NGA coverage had already exceeded 90 per cent at the end of 2012. However in France, Greece, Croatia and Italy, less than 25 per cent of households had access to these high-speed services.

Bringing NGA services to the rest of Europe is likely to require considerable effort and investment. But a recent study by Point Topic suggests that the investment required could be much less than previously estimated.

The results suggest that the EU will have to invest about €82 billion to reach the objective of 100 per cent NGA coverage. This is much less than is often suggested. For example, the European Commission generally quotes a range of €180 to €270 billion as the cost of achieving all the Digital Agenda targets.

The €82bn is dominated by the €52bn cost for reaching rural areas, although only 14 per cent of the EU’s households are there. A further €22bn will be needed to cover the semi-rural sector. But a modest €8bn should be enough to bring NGA to all the 148 million households, 71 per cent of the total, which make up Europe’s cities, towns and suburbs.

As countries like Australia and the USA have already discovered in rolling out high-speed broadband services, it is the rural areas that bump up costs, but the scarcer populations in those areas are no less entitled to the services that services than their city-slicker countrymen.

All this does not explain why The Insider, currently residing in France in a village five kilometers from a major center, can only muster 2 Mbps ADSL access when the next village 7 km away from the same center gets 12 Mbps, and another 8 Km away gets 20. If it’s left to existing service providers to make the investment in Europe’s Digital Agenda it is plainly obvious that, despite what Neelie Kroes may espouse, they will always prioritize those areas that guarantee them the best return.

The Insider is written by Tony Poulos, Market Strategist at the TM Forum

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Alex Leslie
About Alex Leslie 400 Articles
Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet.

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