SFR combines its HSPA and optical fiber networks

Big cities in France should be getting some pretty nice mobile broadband speeds pretty soon, thanks to some new developments by their mobile carrier SFR.

SFR today announced that they are upgrading their network to support 14.4 mbps data transfer rates. Which, in itself, is nothing too new or exciting these days. Especially with max speeds rarely attainable even in a moderately crowded neighborhoods.

But SFR doing  a bit more.

The are two main reasons for why the actual data transfer rates you get on mobile network quite often fail to impress.

  • Limited of radio equipment and spectrum capacity – the more people are using a particular cell, the more these resources have to be partitioned among them.
  • Limited data backhaul capability from a cell tower.  You have to get the data from the cell tower to the Net somehow. This is usually done through radio relays and/or by leasing data lines from fixed internet providers. Which is not very scalable and might become mighty expensive as the amounts of data increases.

Well, SFR decided to do something interesting about the second – backhaul – problem. Instead of relying on someone, they decided to build their own fiber network from the busiest spots.

During 2009-2010 SFR decided to connect 350 of it’s busiest sites via the new optical links, covering 66% of Paris, 50% of Marseille and 50% of Lyon.

Quite an interesting and unique move for a mobile operator. It may not be that significant for now. But it could give SFR a nice leg up against competitors as the demand for mobile data explodes during the next few years, and the radio networks get upgraded to support data transfer rates of 40 (HSPA+) to 100 mbps (LTE).

Why, one can dream that, without having to worry about the backhaul costs, SFR may even allow us unhindered and very affordable use of such services as Skype video calls and P2P on a mobile network…

Author: Stasys Bielinis

While I like to play with the latest gadgets, I am even more interested in broad technology trends. With mobile now taking over the world - following the latest technology news, looking for insights, sharing and discussing them with passionate audience - it's hard to imagine a better place for me to be. You can find me on Twitter as @UVStaska'

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