3G/WiMax : Facing the Future

VoicenData Bureau
New Update

The ARPUs might be falling for operators, but not the

subscriber base-in both GSM and CDMA services. At least for the last ten months,

an average of 9 mn plus subscribers are added in GSM and 4 mn plus in CDMA

services. As of October 2009, the total GSM subscriber figure stood at 355.2 mn

and as of September 2009, the CDMA subscriber figure stood at 126.32 mn. So the

network infrastructure, including mobile network, also is bound to be

strengthened. Coupled with this, 3G and WiMax services in the near future will

create more demand from network operators for test and measurement solutions, to

meet the standard quality of services.


A Trai report on congestion at the POI says network

efficiency of operators is questionable at present. Moreover, a burgeoning

subscriber base, increasing customer churn due to quality of service issues, and

3G and WiMax services in the near future require service providers to rethink

their spending on infrastructure, and latest technologies and

solutions-including T&M solutions. HS Bhaskar, country manager, Spirent

Communications says, "The fundamental reason why 3G is being rolled out is

because of the need for data on wireless. It means new investments required for

validating data throughput quality. Here, the quality is about how fast and

flawless the network is. This is the time when most service providers need to

add more value to their existing customers by increasing quality."

Quality Paradigm

The common man's perception is that we can not do much about the service

quality-be it voice calls, or triple-play services-because they do not have any

choice about it. Jayanth Ramachandran, head, business development, telecom

account, and regional manager, South India (T&M), Rhode & Schwarz, says, "In our

view the trend is towards providing more and more coverage or reach, but the QoS

is not given that much importance. The subscribers in India also do not have

much choice about the QoS, whereas in developed telecom market, the quality is

of prime concern and their teledensity is also very high."


Switching over to other operators also does not help much, as

network efficiency and quality of service are universal issues in countries like

India. Here, lucrative tariff plans are working as magic to attract customers.

But with Tata DOCOMO's revolution on pay-per-second billing system, and almost

all operators following suit, the magic of lucrative tariff will not hold the

customers for long. They need to accelerate measures for quality of service.

In developed markets, quality alone is enough in retaining

customers. Jayanth Ramachandran says, "There is not much scope for operators in

developed markets and they have to retain their existing customers only through

QoS. In contrast, in India, for a new operator to get a good subscriber base,

the tariffs have to be quite lucrative. These extremely low tariffs are putting

pressures on the bottom-line and they are not investing in capital instruments

required to monitor the QoS. But things are set to change with mobile number

portability coming in."

Spending the right amount to increase the quality of service

is crucial, particularly at a time when MNP is going to become a big threat for

all operators. Cost cutting by corporates and more innovative ways of conducting

business will offer new opportunities for operators, but they have to make the

services more reliable. Companies can also save a lot of travel time if meetings

can be done via videoconferencing. This will certainly increase business

opportunity for T&M players' equipments because of the pressure from users for

high quality service.


The fundamental reason why 3G is being rolled out is because

of the need for data on wireless. It means new investments required for

validating data throughput quality

HS Bhaskar, country manager,

Spirent Communications

After adding subscribers, the next big step that comes for

operators is to improve QoS to retain them-be it existing voice services

orfuture triple-play services. The role of T&M vendor is very important

Vasudev Tantry, Anritsu Pte, India

GR Manohar Reddy, managing director, Aishwarya Telecom says,

"Testers are already available, which can give information to operators about

the QoS. But the issue in India is that most operators are not utilizing the

available high-tech T&M solutions, as they are focusing on increasing subscriber

base rather than improving QoS."

For operators, wireless data services cost very high to

deliver and it is complex to manage large-scale networks. It also creates major

problems in ensuring that the QoS and quality of experience (QoE) requirements

are met. Though vendors are well-equipped with T&M solutions to address the

challenges posed by next generation technologies and services, operators seem to

be having difficulties in diverting resources to improve the QoS due to falling

ARPUs. As Reddy, puts it, unless the mobile number portability is implemented,

operators will not improve the QoS.


In the US, network operators have huge customer base as in

India, but there, the whole T&M practice is different. Their operators buy T&M

solutions before the network is deployed and periodically test the network

thoroughly. Their spending is approximately $4 bn, whereas in India, their

counterparts spend a mere $120 mn.

Rescue Available

T&M vendors are prepared for the 3G and WiMax services avalanche. They have

testers and solutions to help them improve QoS, especially in the 3G and WiMax

environment. Ramachandran says, "As more and operators join in, networks are

loaded to full capacity. In such situations, conventional instrumentation will

not be sufficient to evaluate the QoS. One needs state-of-art instrumentation to

maintain these."

Viraj Pradhan, communications sales manager, Asia Pacific,

Tektronix says, "In today's world, where spectrum is scarce and resources have

to be carefully planned and spent, optimization of networks is turning out to be

the key differentiator. Operators around the globe and in India are focusing on

this aspect to reduce opex and capex, while at the same time improving QoE, and

thereby, customer satisfaction." Companies like Tektronix offer a suite of

solutions. Its flagship 'pptimon solution' that enables 3G operators to meet and

exceed the standard required for QoS and QoE. The solution is a 3G monitoring,

troubleshooting and optimization solution, based on its flagship K18 hardware

probe and is scalable depending on the size of the network.


Bhaskar of Spirent Communications says, "It is imperative

that service providers have to assess the quality prior to and during deployment

of their services. Spirent being the leader in data communication test

solutions, we believe that we have entered into the 'high of all times' service

provider industry. Today, Spirent solution qualifies the data network capability

on 3G or WiMax networks." Spirent has top of the line 'layer 2-7' solution,

including Ethernet mobile backhaul and data throughput on different wireless

networks. Apart from this, it also offers terminal device conformance testing,

according to the 3G standards, for operators for their next generation services.

According to industry sources, there are enough T&M solutions

available to make possible the next generation network and services with

improved network efficiency. But network operators are not investing the right

amount for the same. In an attempt to acquire more new subscribers, somewhere

SPs have not been able to concentrate on QoS even in the existing voice

services. Vasudev Tantry of Anritsu Pte India says, "After adding the

subscribers, the next big step comes for the operator to improve QoS to retain

them. The role of T&M vendor is very important for network QoS. Anritsu has got

a wide range of products and solutions for 3G and WiMax services, which help

monitoring and maintaining the QoS for the service providers."

Tantry further adds, "The T&M investments in India by various

service providers is just about 1% of the total network investment! This is way

below the developed market figures of around 4%."


Stay Close

The new avalanche of next generation communication services calls for a more

focused approach to deal with customers, network operators, and equipment

vendors. At any transition period, a 360° approach is essential and

understanding the customer's specific requirements makes the fundamental

principle of any new market strategy. Staying closer to customers is the mantra

during a transition period for most businesses.

Pradhan of Tektronix says, "Tektronix would stay closely

engaged with operators and equipment manufacturers, and enable them to roll out

next generation services with speed, and at the same time ensure that the

services launched are at a good QoE." He further adds, "Our solution set has

intelligence built into it through algorithms that enable it to quickly isolate

the critical problems and identify the root cause of these issues. These

solutions have a degree of automation and expert intelligence that guide the

engineer or manager, and helps him fix critical issues that affect QoE and

customer satisfaction."

For Spirent Communications, staying closer to the customers

means providing technical education to customers to understand and benefit them.

As Bhaskar points out, "Spirent Communications adopts technical education

directly and indirectly and helps stakeholders to understand the network testing

criticality. This can be either or both of our products and services offerings

from Spirent. Our global services team expertise to effectively convey the



Opportunities for Vendors

As part of austerity measures nowadays, enterprises have started using data

intensive applications like videoconferencing. 3G and WiMax services will also

offer data-intensive applications, once they are rolled out. So, any news

services will add to T&M vendors business opportunities. Tantrysays, "T&M is a

derivative industry and any new service/new technology is an opportunity for the

T&M players. Going forward, QoS will play a key role when the role of T&M

solutions will definitely grow."

When videoconferencing is offered through impending 3G mobile

services also, it will increase business opportunity for T&M players. Increasing

network complexity with existing multiple networks or technologies and data

intensive applications from one end to another of the customer network

necessitate complex management solutions for service providers. Complex

management solutions are needed for operators due to increasing deployment of

disparate traffic like data and time-sensitive applications like VoIP,

videoconferencing, etc. Undoubtedly, all these developments create demand for

advanced T&M solutions.

So, burgeoning mobile subscribers, MNP implementation in

December 2009, and rolling out next generation services like 3G and WiMax in the

near future demand operators to reduce capex and opex, and to improve the

network quality and delivery of services, though it might mean spending more

than what they are spending on T&M solutions at present to satisfy their

customers and avoid customer churn.

Kannan K