27 January, 2008

Operators share 3G masts in UK


3 and T-Mobile intend to share their 3G cell towers. They expect to save GBP2 billion (USD4 billion) over ten years, by decommissioning over 5000 duplicate base stations.

Analysys, in this insightful report, applauds the decision. (Note: for some time after 3G licenses were sold in the UK, sharing of infrastructure was illegal. This requirement has since been relaxed.)

Voice remains the mainstay of ARPU with SMS being the primary source of non-voice ARPU. The demand for heavy data hasn't been apparent enough. AND that requirement is threatened by substitutes such as Wi-fi and Wi-Max, which means that operators need to invest in alternative technologies (examples below), which reduces the investment that they can make in their traditional cellular infrastructure.
  • fixed broadband ie triple plays and quadruple plays
  • Mobile TV
  • Femtocell - indoor base stations
Analysys also sees this as indicative of how operators will make future investments (such HSPA+ & LTE) - a strategy that led to the dominance of GSM.

Analysys calls this a 'major shift by mobile network operators' - and I agree.

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