Mobile internet use is reshaping networks

By Hamish Fletcher

The growing number of users accessing the internet on-the-move is reshaping the way mobile networks need to be built, says Telecom's delegate to the World Mobile Congress.

The congress, held in Barcelona last week, is a global gathering of the world's biggest players in telecommunications.

Speakers this year included head of Google Eric Schmidt, Vodafone chief executive Vittorio Colao and Twitter boss Dick Costolo.

Telecom's retail chief executive Alan Gourdie said discussions centred on how the sharp rise of mobile internet use has changed the way telcos need to develop their networks.

"Industry leaders are all saying the same thing - that we're seeing a major change in the way people are using their mobile phones and the explosion of internet usage of mobiles is the big feature."

This shift meant less focus was placed on the large-scale, "macro" mobile network.

"Networks were traditionally seen as big base stations put in place around the country. But what we're seeing now is much greater attention to what they call 'metro site development' - small cell sites to fill in and extend the coverage of the traditional macro network which we have in New Zealand."

These small sites are necessary to shoulder the demand of mobile internet use and are cheaper and more efficient than their larger counterparts.

This new model of mobile internet infrastructure uses both the radio network (which mobile internet is carried on now) and wireless internet services used by computers.

"They're blurring the lines, with operators focused on providing a multi-layered radio network underpinned by WiFi," Gourdie said.

While he said Telecom's XT networkwas robust enough for New Zealand's data usage, the discussions at the conference gave the telco plenty to consider.

"What we're seeing at the congress are the options available to us.

"What we've now got is choices in our road-map which are very clear and increasingly cost-effective, ultimately leading to LTE [fourth-generation mobile technology]."

- NZ Herald

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