In recent years, the traditional model of an operator having single ownership of all the physical network elements and layers in a mobile network has begun to be challenged. This is due to a number of factors but mainly centres around the rapid growth and complexity of technology migration, regulatory requirements and constant increase of capital expenditure.
There are a number of emerging approaches that aim to tackle these issues my means of network infrastructure sharing.
Different types of infrastructure sharing include:
Passive infrastructure sharing is identified as the options available for mobile operators intending to share passive elements in their radio access network. Generally, site sharing involves sharing of costs related to trading, leasing, acquisition of property items, contracts and technical facilities and the sharing of passive RAN infrastructure such as:
Active RAN infrastructure sharing is the shared use of electronic infrastructure. It involves sharing RAN and networking infrastructure between two mobile operators mutually offering access to each other’s resources to better serve customers.
It is likely that emerging 5G networks will depend on active RAN sharing to reduce the cost of a new RAN build out that may employ new millimetre wave spectrum, as well as sophisticated multi-tower, multi-carrier aggregation.
Spectrum sharing (also known as frequency sharing), is one of the most widely debated issues in telecommunications at the moment. This is because current spectrum availability is very scarce and much of the best spectrum for transmitting mobile signals has already been licensed to wireless carriers, or it’s being used by TV broadcasters which hold the rights to these licenses.
To tackle this, spectrum sharing solutions are being proposed to allow operators to share their spectrum commercially with one another.
Infrastructure sharing solutions have proven to be a critical lever contributing to the growth of the telecommunication sector. As the complexity of technologies develop to pave the wave for things like 5G and IoT, new sharing opportunities will need to be devised to result in benefits for both citizens and consumers.