Commercial 5G services are starting to launch across Europe, following the first round of auctions and is in line with the European 5G Action Plan.
There is a strong case for the next wave of 5G investment in urban areas to feature network sharing arrangements, which have already proven useful in sparsely populated rural areas that might otherwise have been too costly for multiple operators to serve.
Across the board, network sharing enables operators to extend coverage at lower cost and reduce capital and operating expenditure, especially in areas where it is uneconomic to deploy several competing infrastructure networks.
Efficient use of urban space
5G networks, particularly in urban areas, will require many more base stations (or cell sites) than 3G and 4G have. This will significantly increase network roll-out costs, as operators will need to build new cell sites and RAN infrastructure. Each new cell site will also require backhaul, further adding to deployment costs.
In dense urban settings, there are fewer locations that can support physical infrastructure requirements. In this case, network sharing agreements can allow more players to offer 5G services in cities.
The costs of 5G
- Upgrading existing RAN infrastructure (masts, base stations and antennae)
- Upgrading IT and service platforms
- New higher-frequency spectrum
- New infrastructure