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A reliable and high-performance mobile network is a question of the right choices. The role of Catherine Tack, Geomarketing Manager at Orange, is crucial to this. "We have to ensure that network connectivity is provided where it is needed most."
For an event or at a conference centre you might have to provide fifty times more capacity than normal.Catherine Tack
All these resources must be used optimally. "We need to roll out our network to meet the demands of the customer," explains Catherine Tack from Orange. "Geomarketing takes care of this. It is a segmentation method based on socio-demographic data in order to reach the target group with as much precision as possible." As Geomarketing Manager, Catherine provides the link between the technicians and network engineers, on the one hand, and the customers; on the other. "This means both normal consumers and business customers," she says.
Thanks to geomarketing, Catherine has a clear overview of where the demands lie. "Some areas are more populated than others," she says. "Urban areas also have different structures. Liège cannot be compared with Charleroi, for example." Geomarketing, however, is extremely precise, even down to street level.
Moreover, it is not just limited to traditional calling profiles. "Our mobile network also has to be optimised according to usage for machines connected to the network, the M2M or Machine to Machine technology." The trains of the Belgian Railway, for example, send many more SMS messages than an average user, in order to provide information about their location, situation and availability.
Shopping centres and industrial zones
Also, one of the characteristics of mobile telephony and data traffic is that it does not always take place from the same location. Where there are fewer customers, there are fewer sites and antennas necessary. Moreover, a mobile provider must be able to cope with areas such as shopping centres, industrial zones, football stadiums and motorways, where large numbers of people may come together in a relatively small area. "For an event or at a conference centre you might have to provide fifty times more capacity than normal, for example," Tack explains. "Users expect an optimal connection wherever they are. And rightly so."
The task, moreover, is not just to register mobile demand optimally, but also to take this into account when expanding the mobile network further. "After all, an optimum network connection is a broad concept. It incorporates reach, performance quality and capacity. And we also have to take the various connections into account such as 2G, 3G and 4G."
Rolling out a mobile network also involves other challenges. Each region in Belgium adopts its own legislation on the radiation standards for masts. "Flanders is the most flexible and pragmatic in this area, whereas Wallonia is a little more stringent," says Tack.
The greatest challenge for providers has traditionally been in the Brussels Region. "For a long time, Brussels had by far the most stringent standards anywhere in the world," explains Tack. "Now though, the Brussels municipal government has eased the radiation standards. Although the original standards would have made 4G practically impossible, the new standards will enable this, even though these new and less rigid regulations in Brussels have remained stringent in comparison with other countries and cities. At Orange, however, we always do everything we can to satisfy our customers."