ZTE on Tuesday insisted that from the vendor community’s point of view, there is an upside to network-sharing deals between mobile operators, even though such agreements lead to fewer overall cell sites.
"The impact on vendors is limited," claimed Zhang Jianguo, CTO for ZTE's Asia Pacific and CIS regions.
Speaking to Total Telecom during CommunicAsia in Singapore, he explained that although operators target lower costs by decommissioning overlapping base stations, network consolidation represents a growth area for vendors’ managed services divisions, since it requires the integration of two RANs.
Once the network has been consolidated, telcos still operate their own individual core networks, he added.
"After consolidating the network they (operators) will still look to upgrade the RAN to the latest technology at the lowest price," he continued. "ZTE is well placed to address them."
Jianguo's comments come at a time when players are increasingly looking to network-sharing agreements and joint ventures to lower the cost and improve the performance of networks, specifically in saturated markets where revenue growth has slowed.
The U.K. in particular has seen a raft of such moves, including the creation of 3UK's and T-Mobile's MBNL joint venture in 2007; the shared 2G and 3G infrastructure that emerged from the combination of Orange and T-Mobile's U.K. mobile businesses into Everything Everywhere; and more recently the escalation of O2 and Vodafone's network-sharing agreement into a fully-fledged joint venture, called Cornerstone Telecommunications Infrastructure (CTI).
"We expect to see a similar model emerge in Asia Pacific… driven by subscriber saturation," Jianguo predicted.