Norway’s TeliaSonera, which launched 4G six years ago, again turned to technology to set itself apart from the competition with a faster network that can support future use cases it hasn’t even thought of yet.
The operator, the first in the world to roll out 4G back in 2009, launched the first commercial 4.5G network last December.
Speaking at Huawei’s 4.5G summit held in Barcelona on Sunday, Head of TeliaSonera Norway Abraham Foss said the reason behind the rollout was that it has to innovate to “deliver an unmatched customer experience. We are using technology to drive the user experience”.
“We are on a journey like everyone else in the industry to find services different from tradition voice and now data and move away from being network centric in our thinking,” he said. “It’s part of our drive towards being a new-generation telco.”
Given the highly developed economies of the markets it serves, he said “we are heavily dependent on driving technology adoption, otherwise we won’t be able to compete globally.”
With the public sector accounting for as much as 50 per cent of employment in Norway and the healthcare sector making up much of that, Foss said it’s vital to use technology to drive efficiencies. “There’s no chance we can succeed with that kind of welfare system if we don’t use technology to innovate.”
Where’s the use case?
Foss said if asked what will be the results of the 4.5G launch in two quarters, “I wouldn’t be able the answer. I don’t think you can make decisions based on the kind of incremental thinking. But if you don’t produce a good customer experience, we know what the financial results will be.”
He recalls that when it first launched 4G, people asked what was the point since there were few handsets available much less many services, and he didn’t have an answer at that time. But the use cases soon emerged and now 82 per cent of its network traffic is based on 4G.
“We got the exact same questions two months ago when we launched 4.5G.”
The operator turned to Huawei, which built its 4G network, for its 4.5G technology, which uses four spectrum bands to achieve a peak downlink rate of more than 1Gb/s.
Like everyone else, TeliaSonera is searching for business opportunities, and establishing “innovation leadership” can attract partners, he explained. “The time when the operator controlled the complete value chain is long over. If we want to succeed, we need to drive innovation to attract partners. We can’t do this alone.”
The Internet of Things and other major IT trends represent enormous opportunities, he said, even if it “we don’t know exactly what it will mean tomorrow or next month. But it’s going to be important going forward and we’re pushing a lot of activities to learn how to use these new technologies”.
He said Nordic countries are at the forefront of the IoT revolution, but the technology wave is now in front of the business models, which is a challenge for everyone. “But there are opportunities to innovate in both the private and public sectors, which means the network has to be developed before these opportunities emerge not after.”
He cited figures from Ericsson that forecast the average data usage for smartphones will jump from 1.4GB to 8.5GB per month by 2018 and the number of connected things per person will increase from 1.7 to four.
“No matter how you look at the numbers, while we don’t know exactly what’s going to happen, what we do know is that it will absolutely be critical to develop high-speed, high-capacity, low-latency networks,” he said.