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CASE STUDY: Providing better customer service.

In January 2015, Asiacell announced its own 3G network switch-on, following a $1 billion cash investment, which included system modernisation and licence fees. After a testing period, the operator found some interference problems regarding this network and also its 2G network.

The telco required a customised solution and selected CommScope as the partner to work with to solve the problem.

"There are several operators working in Iraq and the challenge is that the frequency band is really close, which makes some interference coming to the frequencies. We are witnessing this problem especially through the 3G band, that is why we need to find a solution," said Mohammed Baban, CTO of AsiaCell, to CommsMEA .

One local carrier operates in the low frequency band, while a second occupies spectrum in a high frequency band. Both occupy airspace close to Asiacell's high and low frequency bands. Complicating the issue is the fact that a majority of the region's population is concentrated in a few densely populated areas. As a result, the three carriers often operate in close physical proximity to one another, with many instances of co-location.

"CommScope had to make sure that the customised solution would meet the specific challenges faced by the customer, while considering the short timeframes required to create the prototype. We had to ensure that we met the tight deadlines during the development of the filters for third party qualification, to respond quickly post qualification," Sayf Shehatha, country manager at Iraq of CommScope, said.

According to the operator, they serve 10 million subscribers and the company covers 96% of the Iraqi population with 2G service that uses low and high frequency bands. Many of those subscribers are located in the Kurdistan region in Iraq, where two other local carriers were creating significant interference issues.

"Since the client required a customised solution, it was first of all necessary to understand their challenges and all the technical specifications and requirements for the filters. These had to be designed keeping in mind the different spectrum bands, including pass bands, stop band, rejection required, insertion loss etc," Shehatha explained to CommsMEA .

He added that the next necessary step was to conduct a feasibility study, using specific simulation tools for a preliminary design. "The following phase was a detailed design of the filters and building the first prototypes that were submitted to several internal tests of performance, temperature, vibration, humidity, reliability, etc. After passing all internal tests, external third party certification was required. Once both internal testing and external certification were satisfied, we moved into the manufacturing phase."

The duration of the project, from the initial briefing phase until the implementation of the interference mitigation filters took around four months, both companies said.

"For Asiacell, the benefit is the quality of services that we are providing. We were registering complaints from our customers. We needed to improve the quality of the network," said Baban.

In order to prevent this situation, Baban notes that regulators in all countries should harmonise their spectrum to avoid this interference problems that requires new investments from the operators. In November 2014, Asiacell paid $307 million for a 2100MHz 3G licence.

He also encourages to maintain an ongoing discussion between operators and policy makers to regulate bandwidth.

"We are already talking with the Iraqi regulator but, due to the situation of our country, the conflict , and the security issue; we couldn't focus on this topic. There are too many factors affecting the decision. I think it is too late to solve it now," Baban said regarding the low and high frequency bands that operators are using to deliver their services in Iraq.

He reminded that the GSMA has also encouraged governments, telecommunications regulators and the industry to discuss spectrum harmonisation, which is a major objective of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

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Geographic Code:7IRAQ
Date:Mar 18, 2015
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