|Issue:||Asia-Pacific II 2014|
|Topic:||Smarter Superfast Broadband: Challenges & solutions|
|Title:||Director – Business Development, Telecom|
|Organisation:||Black & Veatch Consulting Private Limited|
Sameer Dighe works with Black & Veatch as a Director – Business Development, Telecom, India and is responsible for promoting the E&C solutions for Telecom Industry. B&V is a leading global company providing innovative solutions to Oil & Gas, Power, Telecommunications, Water, Management consulting, and Federal clients. Particular areas of specialty include technology/licensing, engineering, procurement, construction, project and program management, and asset optimization. Founded in 1915, B&V is Building a World of Difference® by delivering projects from concept to commissioning and asset management. With over 10,000 talented professionals, B&V has been improving lives through leading infrastructure solutions in over 100 countries.
Prior to B&V, Mr Dighe has worked with NEM’s – Huawei, Symmetricom and T&M players – Acterna, W&G and Subex. In 2013, Mr Dighe got nominated for Gold Award for his outstanding work with Huawei Group. Symmetricom Inc. has awarded Mr Dighe several times including the Platinum Award in 2006, Gold award in 2009 for excellent achievements and a Special Recognition for Single Largest Value Order in 2008.
Mr Dighe currently holds a Bachelor’s degree in Electronics and a Diploma in Electronics & Telecommunications – both from Mumbai University, India.
While there has been compelling demand on all telecom operators worldwide to provide
Superfast Broadband, they must play safe on investments as ARPU continues to decline aggressively. There are many roadblocks and barriers coming by the virtue of country-specific regulatory policies and political turbulences especially in Asia Pacific region.
Increasing coverage in rural areas is still a challenge, and requires operators to reassess business models. Sparsely-populated countries, and densely populated countries like Singapore, are both figuring out workable solutions for deploying a high quality fibre based national broadband networks.
The term broadband is generally considered to be synonymous with internet for providing high-speed connectivity. Functioning of certain applications would require certain milestones of QoS to be achieved. For instance, low round trip delay (or latency in milliseconds) would normally be assumed to be well under 150ms and suitable for voice over IP, online gaming, financial trading etc. In certain other applications, utility-grade reliability (measured for example in seconds per 30 years outage time as in the PSTN network) are often also assumed or defined as requirements; there is no single definition of Broadband.
Beyond broad latency and reliability expectations, the term itself is technology neutral; Broadband can be delivered by a range of telecom technologies including DSL, fibre optic cable, power-line networking, LTE, Ethernet, Wi-Fi or next generation network. However in layman’s language, Broadband is now the buzz word; or should we say Superfast Broadband is now a necessity and no longer can be treated as a luxury.
Our lives are more connected than ever, whether it is for an individual user or the business world. More and more gadgets and appliances – phones, TVs, tablets, games consoles, video conference calls, document sharing and above all Cloud Computing – work best with a good internet connection. But as we multi-task applications such as sharing photos, streaming HD movies, a video call with the family or colleagues, download games – or play online, traditional broadband connections find it harder and harder to cope with the speed requirements.
On one hand while there has been a compelling demand on all telecom operators worldwide to provide Superfast Broadband, the other hand warns them to play safely on investments as ARPU continues to decline aggressively. Further, with too many roadblocks and barriers coming by the virtue of country-specific regulatory policies and political turbulences especially in Asia Pacific region, the forward path becomes more testing. Telecom operators are hence continuously trying to work on options to provide not just Superfast Broadband but also to implement Smart Solutions.
The telecom landscape in emerging Asia–Pacific markets is changing both quickly and dramatically. This segment remains the most dynamic and diverse in the global market, containing some of the most technologically advanced markets in the world – like Japan and South Korea, as well as a number of low-income markets where LTE and FTTH services remains a distant dream even today. Though the various countries in the Asia Pacific region are at different stages of development, they have a number of common issues to address.
In urban and more-mature markets, operators are trying to innovate in order to foster greater usage and extension of advanced data and delivery services among an already sophisticated user base. Increasing coverage in rural areas is still a challenge, and require operators to reassess business models.
Sparsely-populated countries, like Australia and New Zealand, and densely populated countries like Singapore are both figuring out workable solutions for deploying a high quality fibre based national broadband network.
For a country like India which is one of the fastest evolving countries, it is evident that the local broadband market will be dominated by mobile broadband services. The biggest concern to be addressed here by the operators is the optimum utilization of spectrum pie that each operator has received. The operators will need to have a fine balance between the launching of new 4G based services and offloading the existing 3G traffic on the new spectrum. Given the fact that almost all operators have keenly taken a share from the 1800 MHz band, it essentially means lots of infrastructure roll out is required before launching of services. Operators, already having a share of 900MHz band, have retained it by paying very heavy tariffs for operations in Mumbai and Delhi (commercial and national capitals of India respectively). This also creates a need to optimize cost by infrastructure sharing so as to ensure the cost to market is kept at bare minimum.
Wi-Fi and WiMax are other two challenges which Asia Pacific operators are addressing differently. While Wi-Fi has evolved not only as a technology but also as a business model in few countries, WIMAX as a technology, in other countries is experiencing a down fall. Few of the APAC WiMAX players like Packet One Networks (P1) in Malaysia and SingTel Optus-backed Vivid Wireless in Australia have migrated to TD LTE. The technology switch over from GSM to WCDMA and then to LTE was relatively easier due to the backward compatibility of various GSM technologies but the WiMAX to TD-LTE migration has been trickier since the entire WiMAX modem base had to be replaced with TD-LTE modems. This comes as an absolute challenge for various WiMAX operators in Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Philippines as cash flow required for this swap activity is not available with them.
Wi-Fi based business cases are gaining such momentum that even fixed line operators are ready for an additional investment in order to capture this segment. They are now using Wi-Fi to improve consumer reach into new mobile devices that emphasize video experience.
Whichever core layer technologies each of the carriers implement and finally the coverage at the access layer, defines the Broadband speed that can be delivered to the end user. Operators throughout the APAC market have been making qualified decisions between the expensive FTTH for the elite pockets and relatively low-cost ADSL2+, VDSL technologies, completed with vectoring 30A profile line-bonding solutions for the price conscious market.
With an aggressive growth demand of network densification and collation of various transmission technologies on one side, there are also challenges of space allocation for each technology to reside on a network. This is now giving rise to an opportunistic development of Software Defined Networking Philosophy (SDN). This is a technological approach to design and manage networks that have the potential to increase operator agility, lower costs, and disrupt the vendor landscape. Its initial impact has been within leading-edge data centres, but the equipment vendor industry, through its various research activities, are trying to position SDN as the next best solution for other network areas, including core public telecoms networks.
With SDN, networks no longer need to be point-to-point connections between operational centres; rather the network becomes a programmable fabric that can be manipulated in real time to meet the needs of the applications and systems that sit on top of it. SDN allows networks to operate more efficiently in the data centre as a LAN and potentially also in wide area networks (WANs).
Theoretically, SDN will improve profitability for telecom operators who adopt it because of the quality of network services will rise while the CAPEX OPEX expenditures will fall. There are however two potential problems. Operators stand a likely chance to lose control of their networks to third party SDN players. Secondly there is a possibility for the regulatory bodies to cap the prices and pass the benefit of SDN investment from operators to the software and internet companies.
Another prime aspect to be made available for Smarter Broadband is availability of appropriate telecom infrastructure to support the growing demand of high class 4G network. Network optimization of the existing 3G Infrastructure through densification is the call of today.
Small Cells implementations have emerged as a better solution to densification issues, which applies a tool box approach consisting of Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS), Small Cells and Wi-Fi. Small Cell deployments won’t roll out as quickly as the industry suggests. It’s not purely about technology, but a strong delay component would be introduced from the bureaucratic approach of the local municipalities for approvals and permits for placing radios on street furniture. Outdoor DAS and small cells are going to get smaller, lighter, greener, more powerful and provide more bands.
Single infrastructure solution will rule the day. Outdoors will start to see street furniture capable of supporting DAS, small cells and Wi-Fi technology. Indoors will begin to see next generation in-building solutions that take the form of a single, all-fiber, carrier-grade and enterprise-ready platform with fiber-fed antennas and power at the edge.
Carriers are busy adding coverage and capacity and have maintained their aggressive push to build-out LTE. With the rapid growth of wireless data usage likely to continue and to push the carriers to keep up with capacity demands, the tower operators will continue to see strong growth in APAC market.
Despite the rise of small cells, the macro infrastructure market will remain strong; In particular, rising data traffic demand will drive a need for ongoing investment in the macro layer, especially for 3G, TD-LTE, and LTE-FDD systems. This acceleration in the LTE deployments will be only achieved through new site deployments and expansions of existing sites.
In conclusion, further telecom growth in the emerging and developed Asia–Pacific markets need to include fine blend of
• Fine handshake between existing and Upcoming Transmission Technologies
• Innovative and Customer Centric Mobile applications
• Proper Planning for new Infrastructure & Optimum use of existing deployments (Sharing Model).