LIVE FROM MOBILE 360 LATIN AMERICA: Martin Wessel, head of technology evolution at Telecom Argentina (Personal), highlighted “five practical ways to reduce network investment, and this may help make this 4G business a sustainable one”.

Noting that the main costs in a 4G network are in spectrum acquisitions and the radio network, it was the latter on which the executive’s attention was focused. However, he also cautioned that the cost-cutting approach is “not perfect – it depends on the operators and their requirements in different countries”.

He suggested that operators look to a “one site, one vendor” approach, which has the benefit of reducing operating costs, optimising the use of site infrastructure, and puts an operator in a good position for future spectrum refarming opportunities.

He also suggested operators look at RAN sharing, which was described as a “nice way to reduce capex and opex”. Noting that this solution has been accepted to differing degrees in different markets globally, he said that it requires “a lot of maturity” from those involved, due to the close collaboration necessary between operators.

Next up was optimising backhaul. Wessel said that modern radio technology will allow interconnection of remote sites without the need to install fibre, which is a costly element in any network build.

Fourthly, he suggested a “coordinated rollout” of 4G networks to match demand for 4G services, especially where the technology is being deployed as a way of increasing capacity rather than for coverage reasons. “One option is to do everything in one shot, the other is to do it as the demand for services increases,” he said.

Finally, he suggested taking a pragmatic look at the access network could reap rewards. For example, the one site, one vendor concept pushes operator to new engagements with suppliers, which can lead to price savings.

“In some cases the cost has gone down by more than 30 per cent,” he concluded.

Personal is Argentina’s third-largest operator according to GSMA Intelligence, with 19.4 million connections and a 31 per cent total market share. It has the country’s largest 4G customer base and is expected to hit one million LTE connections by Q3 2015, ahead of closest 4G rival Telefonica (Movistar).

Argentina awarded 4G licences last year in an auction.