Hong Kong's CSL yesterday announced at the Mobile World Congress that it's in the process of rolling out an integrated, all-IP HSPA+ network that will be completed later this year.
CSL CEO Tarek Robbiati said it launched the network upgrade more than a year ago after picking ZTE to build what it claims will be the world's first software defined radio HSPA+ network.
But he gave no specific date or investment figure on the upgrade.
CSL and ZTE completed testing a month ago of the dual-mode 2G/3G network, which has a notional capacity of 21 Mbps download and provides a transition to LTE.
Robbiati told a Barcelona press conference that its goal was to build a single network, operating in multiple bands, capable of re-using most of its components to create a unified operations and maintenance environment that lowers the total cost of ownership. The integrated network will also reduce its equipment footprint and power consumption.
"Hong Kong is not only a difficult environment to roll out a network, with over 7,000 buildings with more than 30 floors, but from a business specific it is equally challenging," he said.
"It's an environment where the voice rates are among the lowest in the world. Quite simply, you can't make money anymore from voice in Hong Kong, which is why we are putting a lot of emphasis on high-speed data. We believe the new network will give us key differentiating features that will make us unique.
"This network will enable mobile broadband services that will drive 3G ARPU, and from our view HSPA+ is the nature path to an update to 4G."
He noted that the project builds its parent company's experience in rolling out its Next-G network, with significant sharing of know-how with Telstra's engineering team.
Telstra CEO Sol Trujillo, who was on hand for the announcement, said the build-out was about market leadership.
"It's about delivering an experience that others can't offer and raising the value to the customer. The 21-Mbps speed is part of the customer experience and part of the value-add."
He said data from Australia shows that as you increase the speed of the network it drives ARPU, margins and the customer experience.
CSL has 2.5 million mobile subscribers and operates across four bands and last month picked up an LTE license.