Jayhun Mollazade is CEO of WiMAX carrier AzQtel, which goes to market in Azerbaijan with the brand ‘Sazz’. He is speaking about the transition from WiMAX to LTE on Day One of the LTE Asia conference, taking place on the 18 September 2013 at the Suntec, Singapore.
You are transitioning your network from WiMAX. How is your LTE network deployment progressing?
We are still in the initial planning stages for the transition to TD-LTE. We have attended a number of forums to understand what other operators are doing but especially to understand the development of the TD-LTE ecosystem and the planned vendor support. We now feel comfortable that we are on the right path in our evolution to LTE. Currently, we are in the process of evaluating vendors and we expect that process to complete shortly.
What have been the biggest challenges you are facing as you make this transition?
There is a lot of excitement about LTE as a technology and its benefits to 2G/3G operators especially. With WiMAX as our technology, we are already providing 4G services and speed to customers. Therefore, we wanted to make sure that we do not rush to change our technology but that our decision is based on our particular circumstances and need.
What progress has been made in terms of TD-LTE deployments becoming a worldwide standard?
It’s our goal that TD-LTE will become a worldwide standard. Since we use WiMAX technology and WiMAX technology is based on time division multiplexing it’s therefore a natural evolution for us to evolve to TD-LTE technology. There are several operators throughout the world who share our particular circumstance. Globally, there are a number of operators who have deployed and/or are thinking of deploying TD-LTE. From our vantage point, we certainly support all efforts in turning TD-LTE into the global standard technology.
Some operators are looking to deploy LTE Advanced? What do you think will be the most exciting development for LTE in the next 12-18 months?
I think the commercialisation of LTE Advanced features will be the most exciting development in the next 12-18 months. In particular, the commercialisation of RCS services, such as Joyn, VoLTE, and e-ICIC. These features will enable network operators to offer OTT-like services and therefore the ability to compete effectively with OTTs.
What is your overall pricing strategy? Will your LTE pricing plans differ in any way from WiMAX
We expect to perform a detailed evaluation of our current pricing strategy, its alignment with the capabilities offered by LTE to develop a final LTE pricing strategy. Our current pricing strategy was developed three and a half years ago based on an evaluation of the broadband market in Azerbaijan at the time. The broadband market has changed significantly since then. Therefore, we now have the opportunity to develop new pricing strategy based on current market conditions.
Will you be looking to move into voice with VoLTE?
We currently offer wireless broadband services to our customers. We expect to be able to create a mobile broadband network with LTE and we will continue initially focus our business strategy on offering the best-in-class mobile broadband services. We will only implement VoLTE when the technology has matured and when there is a proven market demand for this service.
What are you most looking forward to in attending the LTE Asia conference?
We look forward to continued dialogue with other WiMAX and LTE operators and vendors to better understand the direction of the TD-LTE ecosystem and how it can benefit us in our markets.