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India, China mobile markets prep 3G launch

Posted: 18 Sep 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:China 3G  India 3G  mobile broadband  network 

As many mature mobile markets start to discuss the next evolution of their broadband networks, the two largest mobile markets in the world—China and India—are just launching their first 3G networks.

By any standards the potential market for the new mobile broadband services is staggering—last year alone India added 10 crore new 2G mobile subscribers. As neither country has widespread fixed broadband penetration, mobile broadband services are even more in demand and as such we're likely to see the fastest uptake in history.

Both countries would be advised not to repeat the mistakes made by more mature Asian and Western markets where rapid uptake of 3G services has certainly not equated to rapidly growing profits. China and India operators will need to carefully manage the economics of their networks—above all the cost of backhaul, their single largest expense—if they are to avoid the same fate.

While operators in both countries will both be deploying the latest 3G base stations, the rest of their infrastructure is completely different. The result will be very different mobile broadband services on the ground. The disparity between India and China and how easily they can migrate to next generation mobile broadband technologies will highlight the much maligned and forgotten issue of backhaul. Whereas China's infrastructure is well prepared for this shift, in India an all-IP network is currently not an option. The country's operators must utilise the existing transmission infrastructure, all of which is legacy based, therefore the 3G networks must be designed to maximise existing resources.

The challenge is considerable. While operators could easily cope with backhaul in 2G networks, the evolution to 3G was significant. A single GSM connection requires 13Kbps, a GPRS connection uses around 60-80Kbps but 3G leaps up to 348Kbps. 3G upgrades such as HSDPA, where a single connection can offer 14.4Mbps per user, is an exponential leap—this means 1 user can use the same capacity as 1,000 GSM subscribers.

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