Aircom cites Asia deals as evidence of mobile resiliency to downturn

Mobile network management consultancy Aircom International announced two new customer wins in Asia, which it describes as a sign that operators are still willing to grow their networks despite the world's economic woes.

In one deal, Aircom signed a deal with Vietnamese cellco GTel Mobile - backed by VimpelCom of Russia - to provide network management services for the Phase 1 of GSM network rollout, including technical support for site acquisition activities, radio network planning and modelling, and associated training services.

In the second, Indonesian operator Axis purchased Aircom's microwave planning tool to support backhaul planning for expansion of its 2G and 3G networks.

Aircom also announced two contracts in Africa to supply network optimization tools to MTN Uganda and Mozambique operator MCel.

Aircom CEO Margaret Rice-Jones said that despite concerns over the global credit crisis, cellos are still keen to invest in their networks, albeit judiciously.

"What we're seeing is that mobile operators are shifting their priorities somewhat," she told "Naturally opex savings are important, and they'll be looking at their capex in terms of the ROI and how quickly that can be achieved."

Rice-Jones said customers expect an ROI of between 12 and 18 months for their capex spend, "which is doable for certain types of investments, but not good if you're banking on early LTE deployments."

She added that the impact will vary from market to market, but that rollouts are still happening, particularly in Asia-Pacific and Africa.

"The mobile industry has held up well so far, because people are less likely to give up their handset or service during a downturn when they need to stay connected," she said. "At this point, a decrease in subscriber numbers is the only thing that's going to have a significant impact on mobile operators."