Capacity utilization and fixed-to-mobile broadband substitution potential – A study of 64 European operators
When LTE base stations are upgraded to 'Gigabit' speed
the gigabyte volume
capacity of the networks also greatly expands. We modelled LTE network capacity based on existing FDD and TDD spectrum holdings (and potential acquisitions in 2.3 and 3.4-3.8 GHz bands) and sizes of the macro site grids. Without and with Massive MIMO in the TDD bands. Topical for operators contemplating fixed-to-mobile broadband substitution ahead of upcoming 700, 1500 (SDL), 2300, 3400-3600 MHz spectrum auctions.
Mobile operator highlights
- Most European mobile operators utilized in 2016 a tiny fraction of their available network capacity
- There are significant fixed-to-mobile broadband substitution gains that can be realized if operators unleash the abundant capacity in their networks by offering unlimited data plans
- Mobile operators could carry today 100 GB per person per month and will soon have enough capacity (TDD/massive MIMO) for 200 GB per person per month or ˜500 GB per household
- Elisa Finland: ‘Basically Unlimited Everything’ but no TDD spectrum
- Hutchison-3 UK: Shied away from fixed-to-mobile broadband substitution due to limited spectrum but its recent acquisition of UK broadband that holds sizable 3.6 GHz TDD spectrum could prove a game changer
- Hutchison-3 Austria: Focused on fixed-to-mobile broadband substitution with unlimited MBB plans and pioneering massive MIMO for commercial use
- Telefonica-O2 Germany: Serious about fixed-to-mobile broadband substitution?
- Play Poland: Unlimited data but with caveats due to very limited network capacity
- Remaining operators: Findings and customized analysis available upon request
- Finland: Country with highest fixed-to-mobile substitution potential, a staggering 190% of population
- Poland: Country with the most limited network capacity i.e. highest current network capacity utilization and lowest fixed-to-mobile broadband substitution potential
- Tight mobile oligopolies: In the Greek, Hungarian, Czech, Belgian and German tight mobile oligopoly markets where prices are high and data caps are very restrictive the average network capacity utilization varies from 4% in Germany to 2% in Greece. Mobile networks in these countries are literally empty.
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May 2017 (updated 22.05.2017)
The state of 4G pricing, mobile data usage, spectrum usage, network capacity utilization and fixed-to-mobile broadband substitution. After its comeback in 2016, in 2017 unlimited mobile data goes viral and spreads to 22 countries. And while in competitive markets such as France and Denmark consumers can buy 100 or unlimited gigabytes for less than €30, in tight mobile oligopoly markets such as Portugal, Greece and Hungary €30 hardly buys any gigabytes. Europe’s mobile data divide widens further: 200x more gigabytes for €30 in smartphone plans, 600x more gigabytes in mobile broadband plans, 200x difference in median gigabyte prices, 40x difference in mobile data usage per capita and spectrum usage.
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