The Budapest Business Journal asked Telenor Hungary chief network strategist Tamás Csaba about the company’s plans for tackling summer peak traffic around Lake Balaton.
BBJ: What challenges does the sudden summer increase in traffic pose?
Tamás Csaba: The number of mobile users increases five- to sevenfold or in the most popular areas, even to more than tenfold in the Balaton region during the summer season. At this time of the year, more than 10% of Hungary’s nationwide mobile traffic is generated in this region. During summer months, a specific area may have up to 20 times more users than on an average day and major festivals have 50,000 to 60,000 visitors per day. These factors obviously generate increased mobile network traffic. It is already visible that Telenor’s 4G network in the Balaton region had about 60% more data traffic this June than in the same period in 2018. As a result, the summer season requires careful preparations from mobile operators. We support increased traffic demand with temporary capacity expansions, retuning some existing base stations and the installation of temporary mobile base stations. Its landscape, nature conservation areas, protected buildings and the Balaton Law setting stringent requirements for tower construction make the lake a special area for network development. Another important aspect to consider is that the huge capacity supporting summer traffic lies idle in other parts of the year which makes cost-effective operation a challenge.
BBJ: How is 4G+ better than regular 4G?
TCs: By the start of this season, we installed 13 new base stations around Lake Balaton, and the aggregation of more frequency bands (4G+) is in operation on more than 200 cells. As a result of our network development efforts, more users can connect to the network at a higher bandwidth and in a larger coverage area than ever before. The latest 4G+ developments enable two-three times higher download data speed compared to last year, reaching 500Mbps-600Mbps in practice as the maximum in some places. Although this speed applies to the capacity of an entire cell, we can also provide more bandwidth to individual users connecting to a specific base station, of course.
BBJ: At which festivals will capacity expansions happen?
TCs: Summer is the peak season of the year when 80% of temporary base station installations and 66% of capacity expansions take place. Every year, Telenor serves about 400 to 500 events attracting more than 4,000 to 5,000 people each, including Balaton Sound, a festival with several tens of thousands of visitors, and Sziget Festival. At Sziget, where users are scattered over a large area, we will install radio transmitters of varying capacities at 17 points, while at Balaton Sound where visitors are concentrated into a much smaller area, seven additional temporary base stations will be set up in addition to enhanced overall network coverage. We will also install temporary base stations at other popular festivals attracting a large number of visitors in the Balaton region, including the Open Road Fest in Alsóörs, Everness Festival, Paloznaki Jazz Picnic, the STRAND Festival, Valley of Arts, the Zorall Beer Olympics in Alsóörs and Boglári Szüreti Festival.
BBJ: Outside the main season, what kind of benefits do the stations provide?
TCs: Early in the history of mobile technology, we used to deinstall equipment in the Balaton region in early fall to reinstall them at other sites such as the Budapest Christmas Fairs or use them for overall network capacity expansion. Technology growth has changed this practice. Equipment providing additional capacity not needed out of season is now automatically switched to a special idle mode, keeping their power consumption to the minimum. Next summer, when their capacity is needed again, they will automatically wake up to active mode.