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The public are embracing the
technology. It is proving a good
substitute for traditional fi xed-line
services and we are satisfi ed with
the take-up
Joseph Cuschieri
but we are not happy with the LLU terms,” says for a further extension were unjustifi ed. However, to standard—combining both LTE and WiMAX.
Cuschieri. “We have started discussions with the make up for the lapse of time from the date of the ini- Th e offi cial position of Vodafone is that it is
regulator on this but nothing has happened so far. tial extension request to the publication of the MCA’s technology agnostic— it’s not averse to using
Th ere is lot of uncertainty. One way to get round decision, the regulator granted a 3-month extension to DSL in some cases—but some commentators take
that uncertainty is to build an alternate network, each of the three licence holders (the Vodafone Malta the view that Vodafone’s apparent trumpeting of
which WiMAX allows us to do.” 50 percent coverage target being moved to July 2007 WiMAX is no more than a ploy to encourage the
Vodafone Malta is one of three WiMAX licence but the 99 percent target remaining at April 2008). 3G community to ramp up its eff orts to provide a
holders on the island. Th e other two—Cellcom Vodafone Malta beat comfortably all the better mobile broadband experience and to fast-
and Mobisle Communications—have yet to roll WiMAX coverage targets set by MCA. “We wanted track LTE development.
out their WiMAX networks (blaming the lack of to make sure we had as wide a coverage area as Th e most overt pro-WiMAX pronouncements by
standardised and certifi ed WiMAX equipment) possible so that we could penetrate the market Vodafone are, of course, Sarin’s keynote presentation
and have consequently been fi ned by the regulator, more quickly, ” says Cuschieri. at 3GSM in Barcelona in 2007—where he warned
Malta Communications Authority (MCA), for not that alternate 3G technologies may ‘eat our lunch’—
fulfi lling their licence obligations. (Vodafone Malta Vodafone and WiMAX and Vodafone’s subsequent announcement in August
has taken exception to this argument and has urged Vodafone, through its Mobile Plus strategy, not 2007 that it had joined the WiMAX Forum.
the regulator to increase its fi nes to avoid spectrum only wants to provide mobile broadband but also It is diffi cult to support the view, however, that
hoarding of this kind.) make inroads into the fi xed-line markets; it is posi- Vodafone is not taking WiMAX seriously. Not
It was in October 2005 when the MCA awarded tioning itself to be a ‘total communications service only does it have commercial WiMAX operations
the three WiMAX licences on the understand- provider’. In doing so, it hopes to develop other in Malta but also, via its subsidiaries, it either has
ing that the ‘pre-WiMAX’ services would be later revenue streams that can help off set any future WiMAX trials or commercial services in Bahrain,
upgraded to 802.16e, and island-wide coverage to losses in mobile voice and SMS revenue, particu- France, Greece, New Zealand and South Africa.
be achieved within two years. larly in developed markets where the twin forces of In terms of using WiMAX for true mobility
Due to the complaints by Cellcom and Mobisle in competition and regulation are taking its toll. services, Cuschieri says Vodafone Malta is “keeping
early 2006 on lack of certifi ed kit, however, the cover- How big a role WiMAX will play in Vodafone’s its options open”. MCA is currently in a consultation
age deadline was extended for all three WiMAX li- Mobile Plus strategy is open to debate. If Voda- period regarding the allocation of 2.5GHz spectrum,
cence holders (the new deadline for Vodafone Malta fone Malta is anything to go by, where WiMAX is which would open the door for mobile WiMAX if
being 50 percent of the network to be deployed by preferred to HSDPA in delivering fi xed broadband, awarded, but Cuschieri is not convinced a true mobile
April 2007 and 99 percent deployed by April 2008). it suggests that it could be signifi cant. WiMAX service will be necessary. “From a personal
But that was not the end of the story. In October On the other hand, Vodafone is already com- point of view, I don’t see mobile WiMAX as being able
and November 2006 MCA received further requests mitted to undertaking LTE trials with Verizon to provide the mobility that customers need,” he says.
from Cellcom and Mobisle for a ‘signifi cant relaxation’ Wireless and China Mobile in both FDD and TDD “Mobile WiMAX is not a substitute for 3G. Technol-
of their rollout and coverage obligations. MCA un- modes. And Arun Sarin, Vodafone CEO, speaking ogy is always changing and developing, of course, but,
dertook a consultation period in early 2007 to weigh at this year’s Mobile World Congress event in at this point, mobile WiMAX can’t off er anything that
up the case but ruled in March 2007 that the requests Barcelona, expressed his desire for a unifi ed 4G 3G can’t already deliver.
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