Monday, February 16, 2009

MWC - Day One

Well it all got off to a slightly downbeat start in Barcelona today. Normally, when you arrive and see there's no queue it would be a cause for celebration. But the lack of any first day morning queue at the registration desk was a dead giveaway that this year numbers are down.

It wasn't then helped by the Financial Times running a front page story predicting that LTE rollouts will be delayed until 2012 because operators just don't have the CAPEX available.

The thing is, while the GSMA may think they've been terribly clever in creating a branding campaign around 'mobile broadband', what they've actually done is negate any need for the consumer to be aware of LTE, 4G, or anything of the sort. If it looks like mobile broadband, it is mobile broadband. And operators don't need to spend billions to get to it.

The announcement by Telstra today, together with QCOM, Ericsson and Sierra Wireless*, of the launch of the world's first HSPA+ network shows just why operators can afford to wait for LTE for a while longer. Peak downlink speeds of 21Mbps (so about 7Mbps in a real world deployment) are undeniably broadband. In fact, compared to my woeful Tiscali DSL service at home, its the stuff dreams are made of.

Now ok, LTE may be more spectrally efficient and, if the operators are actually successful in driving up data usage, the HSPA+ radio network and backhaul will soon creak, the cost/performance ratio will start to become inverted and operators will have no choice but to throttle bandwidth and enforce tighter policies ... but in a world where CAPEX is hard to come by ... well, it's easy to see why HSPA+ is being seen as a real option.

* Sierra Wireless is an AxiCom client

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