A1 Telekom, Austria: “We are experiencing very dynamic development regarding mobile devices”
Thomas Baumgartner, is head of optimisation for A1 Telekom in Austria. We speak to him ahead of the LTE World Summit taking place on the 23-24 May 2012 CCIB, Barcelona, Spain to gain some insight into his thoughts on the progress of LTE in Austria and its potential in the future.
What are the main milestones you have reached with relation to your LTE deployment?
A1 launched its LTE data service in October 2010. Initially only data sticks were available, but since the end of March we have been offering our first LTE smartphone (the HTC Velocity 4G).
What are the main challenges you have faced, or expect to face, as you roll out LTE?
One of the main challenges is to provide LTE sites with broadband IP connections. In order to transmit data rates of 100 Mbit/s and above fibre cabling has to be used. After planning and connecting thousands of sites in 2011 we are very well prepared for rolling out LTE in all urban areas in Austria.
To what extent can LTE provide an insurance against declining revenue streams from voice and SMS?
With LTE we not only increase speed but also improve latency considerably. We are going to see a lot of new services like mobile telepresence for business customers or new features for online gaming services for residential customers.
Is there a place moving forward for unlimited data tariffs? Are they sustainable?
The overall capacity that can be economically achieved with a mobile network is technically limited, even with LTE. At the same time we try to satisfy all customers according to their needs. The answer is to design tariffs according to speed rather than volume.
With so much attention paid to the radio access network, is there enough focus on backhaul?
A1 made great progress on improving backhaul: we currently provide high speed IP connections to around 75 per cent of all 3G/4G sites.
What’s your view on FDD vs TD-LTE spectrum?
We have a TDD spectrum that is next to our FDD DL spectrum, and in the future we hope to be able to use this band as additional DL-only band that is aggregated with the existing FDD band to boost downlink capacity.
Do you think that VoLTE will have an impact and if so, in what time frame?
We expect that in 2013 the first operators will switch from CS Fallback to VoLTE so that voice services can be provided directly over LTE.
Is there enough innovation occurring in the mobile network industry? Can you provide some examples?
In 2003, A1 launched UMTS with top speeds of 384kbit/s. Nine years later we operate a commercial service with a peak rates of 100Mbit/s. This doubles every year, which is a faster growth rate than the number of transistors per chip in the semi-conductor industry.
What changes would you hope to see in the industry in the next five years?
At the moment we are experiencing very dynamic development regarding mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. We are facing new standards, frequency ranges and therefore lots of new equipment. Despite the existence of four and even more frequency ranges (800, 900, 1800, 2100, 2600MHz) we would like to implement only two units for lower and higher frequencies. This also applies to antennas.
Why are you attending the LTE World Summit and what are you looking forward to most?
The LTE World Summit gives me an excellent chance to exchange views with colleagues from other operators and get an update on recent developments in the LTE arena.
The LTE World Summit is taking place on the 23-24 May 2012 CCIB, Barcelona, Spain. Click here to register your http://ws.lteconference.com/interest.