Ask an Expert: Angel Alvarado, Regional Account Manager, Telrad Latin America

Ask an Expert: Angel Alvarado, Regional Account Manager, Telrad Latin America

Foto AAAM2For this edition of Ask an Expert, Telrad spoke with our Regional Account Manager for Latin America, Angel Alvarado. As an industry veteran in the telecom business, we thought we would get his perspective on telecom trends in the Latin American region.

aae_logoQ: Describe the growth you are seeing in Latin America for Internet and telecom services.

Latin America has the fastest-growing Internet population of all regions in the world, growing 12% over the past year, and reaching more than 147 million unique web visitors as of last March.  With all this growth, I’ve noticed that some operators are more ambitious than others.  Smaller players are focused on serving their niche markets, whereas others have large business plans to roll out services to a broader, mass market.

The growing web traffic from Latin America means more users and higher demand for connectivity, and fast connectivity at that. There’s a growing pressure on operators to provide competitive Internet services to a wider, broader market. Staying competitive is one of the biggest challenges operators are faced with – especially with the introduction of mobile services in the region. However, with so many regions still remaining under-served, especially those facing geographical infrastructure challenges, establishing fixed wireless services is still a growing need.

Q: How do Fixed Broadband Wireless Access solutions address changing operator needs?

Years ago, WiMAX was the right technology to address the needs of under-served markets in the region, from countries like Mexico down to Brazil. Today, the majority of operators that we work with share one thing in common: Fixed Broadband Wireless Access best met their connectivity requirements.  Operators have amortized the cost of their networks over the years, some of which were upgraded from 802.16d to 802.16e.  Wired infrastructure can be very expensive — and in some cases — practically impossible to deploy. Geographical complexities (e.g. dense jungle, mountains, rivers or lakes) make wireless the only option to serve these areas.

Q: How are operators addressing the trend toward LTE?

Every operator is concerned about moving to LTE while remaining competitive. Those that have had WiMAX networks are concerned about how to do this.  What makes it complicated is the fact that they want to avoid disruption of their current services at all costs. Telrad has developed a strategy to support these operators. By introducing the dual mode WiMAX/LTE base stations, operators can continue to support and serve all of their existing customers (CPE equipiment) with no disruptions – while introducing the latest LTE-supported CPEs for new deployments.

Q: How long will this process take in LATAM?

Many operators in the LATAM region have already started on their LTE migration path. The amount of time it takes each operator will depend on the several factors including the size of their network. We believe that about 90% of the operators will be operating LTE networks within 24 months – which I realize is a bold statement. Regardless of the pace of this transition, it’s definitely an exciting time for the Latin American region! We’re working hard with many operators to make this happen quickly and efficiently.

 

2014-07-23T19:30:38+00:00July 23rd, 2014|The Wave - Telrad's Blog|3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Juan Jose July 24, 2014 at 8:37 pm - Reply

    I have to say that one of the key barriers for WiMAX not to prosper in the residential market was the high price of the CPEs and the complexities of the installations in the non-penetrating bands (or line of sight bands) such as the 3.xGhz. This fact, in combination with the fact that Huawei has basically conquered the LTE Base Station business, leaves all those WiMAX d and WIMAX e operators to fight for the vertical markets (oil & gas, mining, energy, agriculture, government, etc) which are hard to target on a one by one basis.
    Leaving the 3.3Ghz and 3.6Ghz for security and education in Mexico and central America has made several wireless broadband access players to fight for Smart City projects, making an inefficient use of the spectrum, mixing a whole variety of brand (Ubiquity, Cambium, Alvarion/Telrad, Airspan, Huawei, etc.)

    There is an interesting opportunity in the 3.4-3.6Ghz band in Latin America for backhauling LTE Small Cells; however, there are some operators that would want to reserve these band (3.4Ghz-3.6Ghz) for LTE-A with carrier aggregation, since for Small Cells, at very close radius distances, this band works well in NLOS conditions.

    Going from WiMAX to LTE is very uncertain, first hand, you need a licensed spectrum in LTE and that is already taken in LATAM, secondly the current WiMAX customers are not residential, they are probably businesses (small, medium, large) …question is what do these current WiMAX customers gain by going to an LTE (more asymmetric) access network ?

    • Angel Alvarado July 31, 2014 at 7:51 pm - Reply

      Thank you so much for the response, Juan Jose – you make some great points.

      Using WiMAX bands for backhauling has always been discussed, but considering that other bands (and technologies) are available for this purpose and these bands are much cheaper than WiMAX bands which were considered suitable for ‘last mile’ access makes it a difficult business case. It seems that it’s still a better idea to use WiMAX bands for wireless access than for backhauling – or at least most operators still think this way.

      Going from WiMAX to LTE makes sense if it is in the same frequency band, so the spectrum is there and the solution exists. I fully agree when you point out that many of the current WiMAX network customers are Enterprise/SMBs. Such customers often raise their concern about transitioning from WiMAX to LTE as being “very uncertain” as you state. My experience is that their concern is usually based on two questions: 1) “Can I do it with the lowest churn possible?” and; 2) “Given LTE being a mobile-centric standard, can I continue and provide the same type of Enterprise services I currently provide over WiMAX (VPN, L2, etc…)?”

      The financial/operational risks associated with such a transition often pushes them to assume a “wait-and-see” position, hoping to see new business models, or lower solution prices to mitigate these risks. In short, WiMAX business-centric operators are seeking to reduce the uncertainties related to WiMAX-LTE transition by doing it under the following conditions – at their own operational and financial pace, with the lowest potential churn, while keeping existing services. They know that eventually the disappearance of the WiMAX eco-system will push them to such a move, yet they prefer to do it when it fits them best (operationally and financially) – and not under duress.

      I see therefore “smooth transition” solutions where SDR dual-technologies (WiMAX/LTE) BTSs are slowly introduced into existing networks, while existing 16e CPEs are slowly replaced with their dual-mode equivalent, as solutions which allow the operators to future-proof their network while assuring service continuity to existing and future customers. They can introduce LTE BTS/CPEs into their existing network at their own pace, first operating as WiMAX devices, and later software “switch” them to LTE, when they feel the network (and the standard) is ready for them. Fork-lift solutions are also available, but are either very expensive in churn, or need to be based on extra spectrum – which is often not available to most Fixed Wireless broadband providers.

    • Eduard Nigma August 29, 2014 at 4:47 pm - Reply

      WiMAX customers gain faster throughput with high equipment quality

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