UMTS900 Operator Case Study Shows Significant Cost and Coverage Benefits

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The Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA) has published an operator case study on Finland's Elisa network which it says shows significant cost and coverage benefits of deploying 3G services in the 900Mhz spectrum band.

According to Dr. Eetu Prieur, Head of Access Networks for Elisa, "3G coverage with UMTS900 can save 50 to 70% of our mobile network costs versus UMTS2100. And that includes both CAPEX and OPEX."

While the majority of today's 3G/HSPA mobile broadband networks worldwide operate in the 2100 MHz band, the use of lower frequencies, such as 900 MHz, provides a much larger coverage area when compared to 2100 MHz. Widely used by GSM systems throughout Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa, the use of the 900 MHz band significantly reduces the number of cell sites needed to cover rural and suburban areas, providing major CAPEX and OPEX savings for 3G deployments. These cost and coverage benefits also apply to the deployment of UMTS in other lower frequency bands such as 850 MHz.

In addition, the case study confirms that end-user data speeds are the same for UMTS900 and 2100 MHz systems, but UMTS900 can provide the same geographic coverage with fewer than half the number of cell sites.

The case study also examines the business drivers and practical experiences of Elisa, which launched the world's first UMTS900 service in 2007. Elisa saw the rollout of UMTS900 in suburban and rural areas as a natural extension of its initial 3G deployment in the more heavily populated areas where 2100 MHz was used. UMTS900 has brought 3G and mobile broadband services more cost-effectively to outside the cities.

Elisa recognized that indoor coverage was another key benefit of UMTS900 mobile broadband usage. With UMTS900, Elisa was able to reuse existing GSM900 sites and frequencies to fill in the areas not covered by the UMTS2100 network already in operation. "Once we have completed our GSM site conversion and established nationwide 3G coverage, we will expand our UMTS900 rollout into urban areas to create a nationwide UMTS900 network," added Timo Katajisto, CTO of Elisa.

The increasing availability of UMTS900 devices is a key trend, coming in all form factors including phones, PC modems, embedded laptops, and routers supporting data speeds comparable with 2100 MHz devices. "We're looking forward to the day when all 3G terminals support UMTS900," remarked Panu Lehti, EVP of Consumer Business for Elisa.

"We believe the availability of this first operator-based UMTS900 case study is a significant development, bringing clear business, technical insights and learnings which will greatly assist the extension of mobile broadband services to all," concluded Alan Hadden, President of the GSA.

The report is available on the GSA website (4 page pdf file - registration required).

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Tags: asia pacific  rural  elisa  capex  mts  hspa  mobile broadband  900mhz  umts900  opex  indoor coverage  indoor  global mobile  gsm900 

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