Upon completion of the swap project on 6 May 2010, Mr. Vasiljevic, project director of Telenor Montenegro said: “Today we witness the integration of the entire network. Over the past six months, we have successfully swapped the core, radio, and transmission networks of Telenor Montenegro on schedule. This is the most complicated project ever undertaken since we started operation in 1996.”
Telenor Montenegro began developing its mobile business in 1996. With 98% wireless coverage in Montenegro, today it is the dominant local operator. However, the company’s rise has not been without problems. At a time when competition was intense, Telenor Montenegro met with technical bottlenecks. Their network equipment was supplied by different manufacturers, and the network structures were complicated. The original equipment could not support smooth upgrade to HSPA+ and LTE, and operation came at a high cost. With other multinational competitors operating in Montenegro, building a simple, high-speed network became a major issue for Telenor Montenegro.
The First Operator to Provide HSPA+
Montenegro’s population is around 700,000, and the mobile penetration is around 200%. All multinational operators in Montenegro have now focused their attention on developing new networks and technologies to attract more subscribers.
To be more competitive, Telenor decided to modernize its existing networks. A decision was made to deploy an all-IP wireless network that would have a simplified network structure and reduced operating cost.
After careful consideration, ZTE’s competitively priced Uni-RAN solution was chosen, and a new cooperative partnership was formed.
To overcome the problems associated with diverse and complicated equipment, ZTE adopted SDR base stations based on IP structure, set up an SME team, and developed an upgrade program. These base stations allow 2G and 3G network convergence and smooth software upgrade to HSPA+ and LTE. The project was a great success. Telenor Montenegro became the first operator in the country to deliver a cutting-edge, fast-rate HSPA+ network.
A New Network Created in 53 Days
Installing a new network was not the result of a few days effort. Most would agree that deploying a network on snow covered mountains at --25˚C is a big challenge. After carefully assessing its logistics, engineering, and outsourcing capabilities, ZTE created an implementation plan.
Logistics was the first critical step of the project. 70% of the sites were located on mountaintops. Transporting equipment in extreme cold, mountainous terrain, and deep snow was a significant challenge that required careful planning. The technical and logistics teams worked together to create an efficient transportation program. This planning was critical for ensuring timely delivery of equipment and for completing the installation in 53 days.
With an understanding of the existing network, Telenor and ZTE cooperated in designing an engineering program. Because of the tight schedule, ZTE swapped 15 clusters within 50 day. That meant one cluster was completed every three days. After swap, 3G voice and video call drop rate was 0.19%, HSDPA call drop rate was 0.25%, and soft handoff rate was 99.98%. The network’s performance was substantially improved, and the number of user complaints was significantly reduced.
ZTE has previous experience working in Europe and Montenegro and was able to cooperate with local outsourcing partners to meet the project’s requirements. The short timeframe of completion made Telenor more competitive and resulted in a larger market share for the operator. Several days after the project began, Telenor Montenegro sent the first letter of thanks in recognition of ZTE’s rapid response and dedication.
Montenegro welcomed in a new era in the 3G wireless market, and Telenor Montenegro enhanced its leading position with the new network. This laid a solid foundation for an ongoing win-win partnership between Telenor and ZTE.
“I highly appreciate the delivery capabilities of ZTE. Despite difficulties due to harsh weather and heavy snow, you delivered the whole network in a timely and highly efficient manner and completed a task that was supposed to be impossible,” said Kjell Nordbo, CTO of Telenor Montenegro.
“I would like to say thanks to ZTE’s management and project teams for a job well done. It is obvious that ZTE has delivered a competitive, high-technology network and has provided very good service to Telenor. I believe ZTE will continue to succeed in the future,” said Kjell Nordbo, CTO of Telenor Montenegro.
As of June 2010, the number of Telenor Montenegro subscribers was around 600,000, and the coverage rate of 2G and 3G were 100% and 97% respectively.