In our past couple of LTE blogs and infographics we’ve established that those mobile network operators who deploy LTE the fastest are those who begin reaping the benefits before their competitors. New LTE-enabled services are driving new revenues, existing customers using more data, new customers signing up to your new ultrafast mobile broadband offering – but how do we get there?
The answer is LTE overlay. Converged RAN (C-RAN) remains a viable route to getting LTE to market, but it is slow – meaning mobile network operators (MNOs) risk falling behind competitors in delivering the network that business and personal users now demand. Put simply, overlay is the best and fastest way to deploy LTE – 75 per cent of operators revealed in recent research that overlay is their chosen deployment means – and it just gets LTE to market quicker. LTE overlay also doesn’t compromise existing 2G or 3G network stability, and delivers 30 per cent performance improvement over C-RAN into the bargain.
Refarming means possibilities
Naturally, deploying LTE means having spectrum available – but that doesn’t necessarily mean that operators need to wait around for a new spectrum auction to take place. By implementing voice over LTE (VoLTE), operators can quickly and conveniently free up spectrum thanks to VoLTE needing 50 per cent fewer carriers than traditional circuit switched fallback (CSFB). VoLTE can free up existing spectrum to be refarmed elsewhere and used to launch new LTE services immediately. Something that gives operators a clear advantage over competitors and genuine first mover status, allowing them to get new revenue-creating LTE services out to market fast. Which in turn boosts market share and average revenue per user (ARPU).
Furthermore, deploying LTE early lets operators cap their 2G and 3G spending at this stage – giving them the opportunity to refarm the spectrum for their LTE network. This brings the twin benefits of addressing ever-increasing mobile data demand from subscribers and also helping make the deployment of the LTE network more cost-effective.
The numbers stack up; LTE is three times more spectrally efficient than 3G and six times more spectrally efficient than 2G, while VoLTE delivers over 70 per cent cost savings versus CSFB.
Network sharing speeds up deployment
Another useful tool in the LTE deployment kit is the network sharing model. As ever, network deployment means having all the right elements available, but challenges remain; challenges like the fact that spectrum is limited, that there are only so many sites available to operators and that capital is always required to fund the deployment. All these challenges must be overcome to get to market faster.
The network sharing model, where operators can share cell sites, masts, RAN equipment, spectrum and core networks between themselves can deliver a holistic impact. By sharing some or all of these elements in this mutually beneficial model, operators can expand their LTE coverage areas quickly and cost-effectively. A RAN sharing approach can see operators enjoy as much as 21 per cent TCO savings per site.
Add small cells to the LTE overlay deployment to densify the network and operators can enjoy still further benefits – this means being able to deliver extra capacity where it is needed fast and cost-effectively.
Picking the right partner
Our latest infographic, below, outlines the ways in which operators can get LTE to market fast and begin reaping the rewards. However, working with the right partner remains essential – in the recent Mobile Europe survey, 78 per cent of respondents said that when choosing their LTE vendor, previous experience of LTE rollouts was either critical or important.
Working with an expert partner brings the combined benefits of a fast deployment track record, proven LTE experience and expertise as well as support through continuous innovation. All of this comes together to help you maximize your chances of a fast, high quality and cost-effective deployment which will deliver returns now and in the long-term.
Sofia Flores is a Senior Product Marketing Manager for Wireless at Alcatel-Lucent.