Mobile Broadband in Fragrant Harbour

Posted: July 1st, 2010 | Author: Kari Pasonen | Filed under: Around the World | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

It is always a pleasure to visit the busy and booming Hong Kong, even though at this time of the year, it is a hot, rainy and humid place, with summer monsoons pouring waves of hot clouds over the South China Sea.  For Comptel, it is also a pleasure because of the hot and steaming telecom environment; Hong Kong is a market crazy over the latest gadgets, services and bargains.  It is no wonder that some of the leading operator groups like Telstra, Vodafone, Hutchinson and China Mobile have operating companies there and are seeing it as a field lab for new service innovations.

The “Fragrant Harbour” (what Hong Kong means in English) has become the place with one of the highest population densities, bank densities, mobile phone densities and mobile data consumption rates.  People there are enthusiastic about technology and eager to try out new services…and chat, download, browse, stream, tweet, play, gamble, listen, watch, comment…in a sense, it’s an ideal market for an advanced mobile operator.

But at the same time, this market is also price and quality conscious, demanding good service and fast responses with affordable prices. Operators need to be flexible and customer-focused, and willing to listen to their customers and try out new business models.

In Hong Kong, mobile broadband is THE thing right now. Smartphones are representing 80% of traffic (and this is growing fast!), and the need to meet the huge growth in cell and transmission capacity is the main concern of all operators.

But it seems that this is not enough.  On top of sheer capacity, it is becoming more and more important to put that capacity in the right places and to control the use of it in a way that helps to cope with user expectations: “If I’m paying more, I want better service and faster connections.” Stating that the offered service quality class is “best effort” is an insult.

Mobile operator business is becoming more like broadband business; all new network building decisions need to be based on data traffic growth. Advanced capacity forecasting, planning and monitoring are becoming critical as data transmission cost is becoming the key success factor—no wonder that Hong Kong was the place where Comptel delivered the first policy control and cell capacity management system.

This new mobile data market is also turning some basic assumptions upside down.  For example, the peak data rush hour is after midnight (I’m wondering what the applications are…); this is affecting the network operating procedures, as the maintenance window is becoming shorter—traditionally, all network changes have been done in the early hours of the day.

Comptel has had a very long presence in Hong Kong and worked closely with several mobile operators there.  In fact, SmarTone-Vodafone, one of the leading communications service providers in the region, has been a Comptel customer for almost 20 years, and we have found that in that kind of small, technology-driven, business-focused market, it is very easy to see what the key market drivers currently are.

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