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How can operators benefit from the golden age of surging mobile traffic?

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This article is brought to you in partnership with Huawei.

The mobile network is witnessing the upcoming arrival of an unprecedented golden age. However, this era holds both challenges and opportunities for operators. The rising mobile traffic is set to unlock business potentials, but will also put operators’ networks under huge pressure.

Traditional networks will struggle to bear the impact of surge in mobile traffic. During peak hours, operators’ networks are prone to be overloaded, resulting in declined network speed and poor user experience. Operators are faced with the challenges of enhancing network performance, increasing user satisfaction, and fully capitalizing on the increasing mobile traffic.

An international leading operator has taken the lead in enjoying the business success brought by the growth of mobile traffic. With the help of innovative technologies, this operator has stood out in this competition. In 2017, XL, a leading operator in Indonesia, partnered with Huawei to launch TechCity joint innovation project in the country’s second largest city Bandung. In this city, Huawei’s exclusive CloudAIR solution was debuted and then rapidly deployed on 1,400 sites. This significantly alleviated the network pressure, boosted network capacity, and improved user experience.

Stand up to the challenges, find the way out, and set an example for others

The issues facing XL’s mobile networks are even more challenging than those facing other operators due to the situations specific to Indonesia.

Indonesia has a population of approximately 250 million, while the number of mobile terminal users reaches 260 million. This means each person holds an average of more than one mobile phone. What’s more, young people constitute a relatively large part of Indonesia’s population. Such age distribution indicates huge momentum for the growth of mobile traffic. Authoritative statistics shows that data traffic has nearly been doubling in Indonesia every half year from 2015 to 2017.

Surging traffic demand leads to network congestion. Taking Indonesia Bandung as an example, the problem of slow speed appears frequently in the rush hour of data traffic hotspots, which seriously affects user experience.

Additionally, XL struggles with network capacity expansion. The two traditional approaches, namely obtaining additional spectrum or boosting spectrum efficiency. Unfortunately spectrum resources are particularly scarce for Indonesia’s operators, and the cost of spectrum leasing is excruciatingly high.

So XL hopes to refarm existing spectrum to boost spectrum efficiency and meet the rising demands for LTE spectrum brought by increasing LTE traffic. However, 2G subscribers continue to constitute approximately half of Axis’s (XL’s low-end brand) total users. The spectrum refarming must not lead to the decline in GSM traffic. Such restriction poses huge technical challenge for XL.

XL has figured out the best way to tackle all the above challenges. Its success sets an impressive example for other operators around the world.

Seek joint innovation to monetize business value

In March 2017, XL decided to team up with Huawei to kick off TechCity joint innovation. The aim was to eliminate the network capacity bottleneck via the application of innovative technologies and verification of new business models.

During several rounds of communications, Huawei obtained a clear understanding of XL’s pain points. These include high proportion of 2G users, heavy LTE load, low ARPU, high DOU, spectrum shortage, and high cost of spectrum leasing. To address these specific issues, Huawei proposed the GSM and LTE long-term coexistence strategy and suggested the CloudAIR solution.

Huawei CloudAIR is a network construction solution featuring spectrum cloudification. The 22.5 MHz resources on 1.8 GHz band are used to deploy GSM S333 and LTE 17.7 MHz. This approach substantially increases spectrum efficiency, expands LTE network capacity, and sustains GSM traffic, while incurring zero additional spectrum leasing expense.

The following three months saw multiple rounds of live network tests and business analysis by XL and Huawei. The test solution was verified. In October 2017, CloudAIR saw its first deployment in Bandung. Within a short period time, the solution was applied to 1400 sites across the island.

Thanks to its joint innovation with Huawei, XL cleared a series of hurdles and reaped business profits. The deployment of CloudAIR enabled pronounced growth in user experience and spectrum efficiency. The GSM services suffered no traffic decrease while the congestion on LTE networks was relieved. XL was also able to enjoy higher operational efficiency. Areas with CloudAIR saw 58.4% enhancement in user throughput, 21.7% improvement in cell capacity, and 5% growth in traffic.

Carry on with TechCity investment and speed up CloudAIR expansion

TechCity joint innovation allows Huawei to fully understand XL’s demands and offers tailor-made solutions. It also accelerates the implementation of cutting-edge technologies. Encouraged by the high business value of this new model, XL has decided to further expand its TechCity investment.

“Huawei CloudAIR solution not only boosted data traffic but also promoted XL’s brand image in Bandung. It also helped XL meet the strategic requirement of making more out of growing data traffic,” remarked Yessis D. Yosetya, XL’s CTO. “XL hopes to apply the solution in other key cities in Indonesia as soon as possible. This will help ease network capacity pressure, bringing XL greater business success.”

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