3G services


GSMA, the global trade body representing the mobile industry, called on Bangladesh to issue 3G licences soon to make broadband services more widely available. Licensing the 2100 MHz spectrum band for 3G services would enable Bangladeshi operators to launch mobile broadband services, which their customers can use to gain fast and easy access to the Internet and online services, it said on Wednesday. Bangladesh’s mobile sector has grown rapidly, with user numbers reaching more than 45 million at end-September from 200,000 in 2001, while the country has only 1.32 million fixed-line phones. “Laying new fixed-line connections is expensive and inefficient, so high-speed mobile networks are Bangladesh’s best bet to realise the many social and economic benefits that arise from widespread access to broadband services,” said Ricardo Tavares, senior vice president for public policy at the GSMA.
When he built Parakrama Samudraya a millennium ago, King Parakramabahu the great did not have to depend on the Internet. How lucky! Had it been so, he would have achieved few great feats. The pitiable Broadband services at Polonnaruva looked as if we have not made any advances since the days of the Great King. Both SLT and Dialog boast about their island wide networks.
Dialog Telekom, Sri Lanka’s leading mobile communications service provider announced the launch of its 3G/HSPA service in Manipay Jaffna following the setting up of the 530th 3G Base Station in Manipay, Jaffna. Dialog Telekom earns the distinction of being the first mobile service provider to provide 3G services in Jaffna. Dialog 3G will deliver the unique communication channel of video calling to customers in Jaffna who will now be able to have face to face conversations with their loved ones locally and internationally. Read the full story in Daily Mirror here.
Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) Indian telecom giant Bharti Airtel, which had announced its entry into the Sri Lankan mobile phone sector with much fanfare last year, is experiencing delays and may well be re-drawing its investment plans for the island country, says a Sri Lankan telecommunication expert. Rohan Samarajeewa, former head of Sri Lanka’s Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (TRC), told IANS that while there was no doubt that Bharti Airtel was committed to operating in Sri Lanka, it had altered its timetable and could well be scaling down its original investment plans. The reasons for the delay in starting the operations were in the realm of speculation, Samarajeewa said. But he did point to a possibility of difficulties in getting frequencies from the TRC, as it is generally recognized that the allotment of frequencies tends to be “highly politicised” in Sri Lanka. The parent company in India could also be changing its priorities as regards capital allocations, in the context of the growing challenges in the more lucrative Indian domestic market, Samarajeewa said.
In yet another blow to the existing GSM operators, the Communication Ministry has decided to auction spectrum for third generation (3G) mobile services and wireless broadband services through technologies such as Wi-Max. The auction will be open to new companies wanting to foray into the telecom sector as well as established foreign telecom players. The existing operators had wanted the auction for 3G services to be limited to the licence holders. The Ministry’s decision to open up the bidding to all players is also a move away from the telecom regulator’s recommendations that it be restricted to existing operators. The move gives a chance to the likes of Deutsche Telecom, AT&T and new Indian players such as Unitech and Hindujas, which may not get spectrum in the 2G band given the huge rush, to enter the high growth telecoms market.
Deploying W-CDMA 850 to cannibalise the CDMA mobile as well as to launch 3G without having the so called “3G license” is on the move. Telstra (Australia) and Vivo (Brazil) have done it quite well. Now the French telecoms regulator has approved plans to allow the incumbent GSM network operators to reuse their 900Mhz bands for 3G services.  ART has also announced that any 3G new entrant authorised following the application procedure for the fourth UMTS licence would also have access to the 900 MHz spectrum once it has been returned by the existing 2G operators. Read more.
The Arab Advisors Group has devised “Cellular Competition Intensity Index” to rate and properly assess the intensity level of competition in the Arab World’s cellular markets.It has found Jordan maintains top rank followed by Iraq, which impressively jumped to the second rank. Meanwhile on the opposite extreme, Qatar -the last cellular monopoly market in the Arab World- naturally came last in the index.  The index takes into account the number of operators, packages, and services available in each of the 19 countries covered by the Arab Advisors Group in this report, with each category assigned a certain weight according to its importance as an indicator of competitive behaviour.   The categories include the following: Number of licensed and expected operators; number of working operators; market share of largest operator; number of current prepaid plans; number of current postpaid plans; availability of corporate offers; availability of 3G services; availability of operational ILD (International Long Distance) competition.
The government of Pakistan seems set to issue three 3G licences by the end of this year, according to recent Reuters reports. Pakistan is one of a number of populous Asian nations whose hunger for more widely available communications services are proving to be a major growth engine for telecoms groups with global ambitions. However, it does remain to be seen if there exists a solid business case for investment in third generation networks in a region where the most basic prepaid voice and SMS services are stimulating economic activity by providing consumers and businesses with connectivity. This has not deterred the state-owned GSM operator in Nepal, one of the world’s poorest countries, from launching 3G services. The 3G SIM card reportedly costs about US$64.
Data and 3G may not be a priority in Asia: discuss. No, we’re not referring to Japan, Korea or Hong Kong. Not even China. This time we’re looking at the area’s so-called emerging markets – markets like Indonesia where the market-leading operator Telkomsel and third-ranked player Excelcom launched 3G services in early September. Or the Philippines, where rival operators Globe and Smartcom have been offering 3G for a slightly longer period.
Most Indonesians access the Internet primarily using fixed wireline infrastructure, mostly dialup. Because of lack of competition in the fixed line sector due to various reasons fixed line growth has been stagnant which has also affected Internet growth in the country. Not only are no new lines being added to bring more homes online, the inadequate backbone infrastructure in large swathe of the country makes deployment of broadband services unviable even if incumbent’s local loop bottleneck could be bypassed. However, yesterday’s Wall Street Journal (March 15, 2007) seems to suggest that high speed 3G wireless technology like HSDPA can bring broadband on a large scale to Indonesians. It (misleadingly) implies that since HSDPA is merely a software upgrade to 3G networks it will not require any new major telecom infrastructure investment in Indonesia.
According to this article that appeared today in India’s Business Standard, TRAI seems to be considering using a base price + beauty pagent mechanism to award 5 licenses (of 5MHz each) for companies to introduce 3G services. The prduence of using beauty pagents needs to be questioned. The failures of 3G auctions in Europe in 2000 has been mentioned as one of the reasons for opting for a beauty pagent. However the failures of those auctions stemmed from operators’ over-estimating the potential of a new and untested service. It is unlikely that operators would make the same mistake again – my argument being once-bitten, twice shy.
Telegeography June 13, 2006 The Telecoms Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued its highly anticipated consultation paper covering wireless broadband services, including UMTS and WiMAX. The paper is available for download here [PDF] The paper has identified two overriding issues concerning the introduction of high speed wireless services – namely, frequency allocation and licence fees. The issue of frequencies is already a hot topic in the market, with the nation’s GSM and CDMA operators clashing over their preferred spectrum for 3G services. The TRAI had previously proposed allocating spectrum in the IMT-2000 standard 2GHz frequency band, for both GSM and CDMA operators, designed to support both W-CDMA and CDMA2000 1xEV-DO 3G development. Whilst the country’s GSM operators supported the plan, the CDMA lobby is demanding that the 1900MHz band be made available, saying that there is a dearth of CDMA equipment and handsets available for use in the 2GHz spectrum.