Hrvoje Jerkovic, service quality assurance manager, VIPnet, Croatia, is speaking on Day One of the LTE World Summit, taking place on the 24th-26th June 2013, at the Amsterdam RAI, Netherlands. Ahead of the show we find out more about his views on various topics, including cloud, RCS, and VoLTE.
What major developments have there been with regards to the LTE industry in your region this past year?
VIPnet launched LTE commercially in March 2012 and currently we provide LTE in four major cities, making up almost 50 per cent of the country’s population coverage. The fact that we have widely available dual-carrier 3G on 2100 MHz for several years, offering speeds up to 42MBps, makes LTE a logical next step technology but it’s not a quantum leap.
What are the key techniques for network optimisation in LTE and what effect can it have on the customer experience?
Despite moderate LTE coverage our top customers with state-of-the-art smartphones should benefit from it whenever possible. In terms of network optimisation, in particular VIPnet has recognised the importance of smooth handovers between 3G and 4G networks in idle as well as in dedicated mode. LTE brings an additional challenge on 800MHz because there is no 3G layer, which makes handover from 2G to 4G and vice versa, even more interesting for operators to solve.
Why do you think that cloud services are now so important for telcos?
The cloud is really being hyped right now by operators as it is a good story to cover the real issues. Cloud is all about reducing costs by merging a number of utilities into one cost-efficient environment that delivers a secure and reliable service, and it is something that operators can offer to their customers. A few years ago it was called hosting, but now it has evolved. Cloud is a major opportunity for operators to avoid simply becoming bit-pipes.
Do you believe that RCS services can genuinely help the industry compete with OTT?
OTT players are gaining ground but for the huge majority of customers we are still “service providers”, and adopting RCS services is the next step in the evolution of telcos. Giving customers new ways of communication, in combination with good marketing will lead to a success story. The biggest issue with RCS is that is taking a long time to get to market and is in danger of dying before it starts, but maybe it still has a chance.
Is VoLTE part of your plans and what benefits will it bring both to operators and consumers?
Since we are the premium operator in the Croatian market, our promise to customers is to support all features they might need. As far as VoLTE is concerned we have been providing our customers with an HD Voice service for over two years. However, in conjunction with the development of handsets that support it we will implement VoLTE. We have to be very careful with the customer perception of VoLTE because they must find some significant value in it in order to accept it. It is very unlikely that VoLTE will find its way to the market merely because it is a new technology.
Should operators charge a premium for LTE just because it’s a faster service?
Investment in LTE requires that significant resources so therefore it’s expected that a premium charge should be applied. However, LTE should not only be faster but, according to standards, offer a quality level that guaranteed to be better than 3G.
What do you think will be the most exciting new development in LTE in 2013?
There are several technologies that will shape LTE in near future and one of them is heterogeneous networks. With higher bandwidth we can expect an even higher signalling load on the network, which is challenging to handle and control. The other will be controlling roaming pricing. Since Croatia is a very tourist oriented country, and will very soon become a full member of EU, it is our obligation to fully apply all the regulations regarding roaming pricing.