20th APDC Congress – Operators doubt the viability of 4G investments

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The tender for the allocation of 4G licenses is only promised for 2011, but mobile operators are already putting forward issues that have to be addressed by regulation to ensure the viability of investments and their sustainability.

With different views, Zeinal Bava, from PT, António Coimbra from Vodafone and Miguel Almeida from Optimus, took advantage of the last panel of the 20th APDC Congress to share the doubts and problems they believe must be considered so that the scenario remains competitive and the networks can move forward.

Zeinal Bava, PT’s CEO, started by warning that “in the last year the competition in mobile has been extraordinary, in a bad way”, stating that it is necessary to look at the customer but also at the companies and that the short-term strategies because the result is bad for the industry, companies stop investing.

«It is important to have a good sense of regulation and take into account that the industry needs a return to invest in new services», he defended.

Without discarding enthusiasm in the fourth generation mobile networks, Zeinal Bava doubts that operators will be able to make investments as quickly if there are no good conditions.

“More important than what can be collected with the spectrum [para o Orçamento de Estado] it is what the 4th generation can do for the country ”, he warns.

Although agreeing with some ideas, Miguel Almeida from Optimus, believes that there are conditions for the country to go on this 4th generation train. «It is critical for the country to be able to give businesses and citizens the competitive advantages of 4G», he stressed.

The distribution of the spectrum and how it will be done is an important issue to ensure this viability, as well as the guarantee of return on capital, but Miguel Almeida warns that it is necessary to learn from the mistakes of the past in LTE and take advantage of the country’s situation to create the conditions for this to be a success story and allow us to congratulate ourselves for the options in 3 years and not to regret the choices made.

4G can be an opportunity to have a new perspective: “it is not productive to double or triple the investment in networks”, he recalls, a perspective that had already been defended by the company.

António Coimbra, CEO of Vodafone, also stresses that the company agrees with the rationality of investments in LTE.

“The country’s economic phase suggests that there is more rationality in the new generation networks.

We can take better advantage of the infrastructure and optimize, guarantee greater profitability in the networks, because what matters is the services, the network is a means … ”.

Even so António Coimbra explains that this does not mean that there is no viability for more than one network, only that there are other alternatives to consider, such as the creation of a single network, an option taken in Italy where all operators have joined.