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20 | June 2008 |
WiMAX home run
for Vodafone Malta
The Vodafone Group is conducting WiMAX trials in different parts of the world but it was
in Malta where it launched commercial services fi rst. Joseph Cuschieri, Chief Commercial
Offi cer (CCO) at Vodafone Malta, explains to Ken Wieland why the Vodafone subsidiary
believes WiMAX is a perfect fi t for delivering broadband to the home
alta is Europe’s smallest telecom market largest mobile operator on the island in terms of “We price the 2Mbps service practically identical
but it may prove to be a hugely signifi - revenues and customers (Malta has a population to the incumbent’s,” says Cuschieri, “but the 3G
cant one for the WiMAX industry. In of around 400,000). mobile data package is almost double the basic tier
June 2007, Vodafone—the largest mobile operator But how does Vodafone Malta distinguish its WiMAX package.”
in the world in terms of revenue—launched its WiMAX offering from its 3G service, particularly Melita Cable has also recently announced a
fi rst commercial WiMAX service via its Maltese as it will upgrade its HSDPA network later this 10Mbps service, which may require a response
subsidiary. year from 1.8Mbps maximum downlink speeds from Vodafone Malta. “We are evaluating future
If Vodafone Malta has a good WiMAX experi- to up to 7.2Mbps? After all, some mobile opera- WiMAX products that will go up to 4Mbps, but
ence then it would do the technology’s chances tors in Europe—most notably Telekom Austria— that will take another round of investment,” says
no harm at all of being adopted by Vodafone on a are already using HSDPA as a DSL substitute. Cuschieri, but he would not be drawn on how much
larger scale. With Vodafone’s enormous purchasing power, extra investment that would take.
The good news for WiMAX supporters is that the 3G route to fixed broadband might be even
Joseph Cuschieri, CCO at Vodafone Malta, is more attractive than it is for Telekom Austria, Country by country
pleased with the technology’s performance so far but Cuschieri has a different view—at least where It would be a mistake, says Cuschieri, to view
and is giving positive feedback to the Vodafone Malta is concerned. WiMAX rollout in Malta as merely a technology test
Group. “The public are embracing the technol- “We are positioning WiMAX predominantly bed for the Vodafone Group as a whole. “Th e rollout
ogy,” he says. “It is proving a good substitute for as a fixed broadband product for households of WiMAX [in Malta] is being done purely on its
traditional fixed-line services and we are satisfied that directly competes with ADSL and cable own business case merits to address the fi xed broad-
with the take-up, particularly as we are up against modem services from other providers,” he says. band market,” he says. “Every market has diff erent
providers who have been in the broadband mar- “With WiMAX you can have multiple PCs at- characteristics that aff ect the WiMAX business case.
ket a long time. Vodafone is also working very tached via WiFi to the CPE unit; it is mobile It has to be done on a country-by-country basis.”
hard to establish itself as an Internet broadband Internet within the home for the whole family. One potential drawback of the 802.16d business
provider.” We position our mobile broadband product us- case is the lack of indoor coverage, which requires
Using 802.16d equipment from Airspan in ing HSDPA as personal broadband on the move. the installation of an outdoor CPE unit. “We esti-
the 3.5GHz frequency band—7 channels of We have many customers using both broad- mate that around 70-75 percent of installations will
3.5MHz—Vodafone Malta has achieved island- band products to suit their particular needs or require an installation of an outdoor CPE, but that
wide coverage with 24 base stations and an requirements.” is factored into the business case,” says Cuschieri.
investment of around €3m. Vodafone Malta off ers 2Mbps connections over Th e attractiveness of the WiMAX option also
Vodafone’s WiMAX strategy is to provide a the Airspan kit, which includes VoIP. Th ere are increases when the terms and conditions set by the
fixed-line broadband product to complement monthly data download limits associated with the incumbent on local loop unbundling (LLU) and
its portfolio of mobile services and has already service, ranging from 12GB to 40GB, and defecting wholesale bit-stream services appear unreasonable.
managed to attract 2,000 WiMAX subscrip- subscribers from other providers can keep their Such conditions, for the time being, exist in Malta.
tions. Vodafone Malta, with a customer base of existing fi xed-line number when they use the VoIP “We are evaluating the LLU option (for off ering
approximately 200,000 mobile subscribers, is the WiMAX service. DSL services) and working on a business model,
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