Site Construction and Shared Sites

In developing countries in particular, mobile telephony has been central in making services available to large sections of the population. However, much remains to be done to increase the penetration of mobile services, particularly in rural areas. The problem arises from the high cost of network infrastructure. This leads to high prices, as operators seek to recover their investment.

Sharing mobile infrastructure is an alternative that lowers the cost of network deployment, especially in rural areas or marginal markets. Mobile infrastructure sharing may also stimulate migration to new technologies and the deployment of mobile broadband. It may also enhance competition between mobile operators and service providers, when safeguards are used to prevent anti-competitive behaviour.

There are two basic categories of mobile infrastructure sharing: passive and active. The former refers to the sharing of physical space, for example by buildings, sites and masts, where networks remain separate (see Figure). In active sharing, elements of the active layer of a mobile network are shared, such as antennas, entire base stations or even elements of the core network. Active sharing includes mobile roaming, which allows an operator to make use of another’s network in a place where it has no coverage or infrastructure of its own.

Policy-makers and regulators are examining the role that mobile network sharing can play in increasing access to information and communication technologies. The focus is on how this could generate economic growth, improve quality of life and help developing and developed countries to meet the objectives of the World Summit on the Information Society and the Millennium Development Goals established by the United Nations. Here are some examples of what is happening in mobile infrastructure sharing around the globe.

Sharing Sites Advantages:

  • Infrastructure sharing limits duplication and gears investment toward underserved areas, product innovation, and improved customer service.
  • Traditionally, telecommunication development shows economy of scale and telecom operator spending has been dominated by considerable investment of technology and infrastructure. Given that such investments are fixed, sunk and irreversible, they represent a high risk factor. Maintaining and upgrading infrastructure make this risk even higher. For example, fixed network operators are migrating to next-generation networks, after most mobile network operators have already deployed the third-generation(3G) infrastructures. Therefore, infrastructure sharing can significantly reduce entrance and development risk.
  • Infrastructure sharing also has great impact on competition. Market becomes more attractive to new players for decreased entrance barriers. Such players can enrich the competition while investing effectively. By alleviating pressure of network deployment, sharing allows operators to turn their attention to improved innovation, better customer service and eventually better commercial offerings and healthier competition.

Telecom Sites Sharing