Partnership 'critical' for LTE in SA

2012-11-19 11:02
Cisco managing director Alpheus Mangale has urged companies to collaborate on LTE. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Cisco managing director Alpheus Mangale has urged companies to collaborate on LTE. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - It is imperative that mobile operators collaborate on the rollout of Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks to save cost and build a more robust service, an industry player has urged.

"I think the industry will to be foolish to think that you will be successful on your own. We are operating in an environment where collaboration and co-operation will give us and bring us better success quicker," Alpheus Mangale, managing director of Cisco told News24.

Mobile operators in SA established their networks as unique differentiators as they raced for coverage when the service was first rolled out in the early 1990s.

At the time, then Vodacom CEO Alan Knott-Craig pushed his staff to build a new base station every day, according to his book, Second is Nothing.

Mangale said the cost of deploying network infrastructure was expensive and as the country anticipated higher speeds, it would make more sense for companies to work together to reduce their input costs.


"You know the cost of deploying the network is absolutely horrendous; it doesn't make any practical sense for all the operators to go and deploy the same networks.

"Why not deploy one network and build enough capacity on that network and share it among each other? And take that investment where you would have built 10 LTE networks, and why don't you build one big robust network that everybody shares?" said Mangale.

At least one operator agrees with this view.

Cell C CEO Knott-Craig has argued that a national private entity should manage mobile broadband spectrum and this would reduce cost for mobile operators in rolling out the service.

"A national wholesale broadband network would address these challenges, as spectrum would be allocated to a single entity made up of operators and entities (including state-owned companies) that have the means and willingness to participate in this initiative.  Capital expenditure per company would also be significantly less," Knott-Craig said.

The saving should be passed on to consumers, who would then get the double benefit of high speed and lower cost, said Mangale.

"It makes sense from a commercial point of view; it makes sense for consumers because we get fast access in terms of those services. So I don't think it will be smarter for operators or any companies in the industry to say they can exist in isolation."

- Follow Duncan on Twitter
Read more on:    cell c  |  vodacom  |  cisco  |  mobile

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