Major mobile operators are already challenged to keep up with expanding capacity demand. In addition to the capital challenge of expanding capacity, now operator must invest in next generation 5G networks, further straining capital budgets. In order to close the gap of investment, now more than ever, it is critical for MNOs to work with neutral hosts as part of their strategic network planning for 5G networks.
This opportunity has led to the development of a new breed of neutral host operator,that can carry the traffic from multiple operators, on their own spectrum, and their own small cell network. By providing this capacity through their own investment, the neutral host can support the mobile operators with capacity to augment their own 5G network investment, saving capital investment, and reducing interference between their own macro 5G network, and the small cell network on a different neutral spectrum.
This paper outlines how the next generation wireless technologies not only are a step function in wireless performance, but also creates new kinds of deployment opportunities. Dense Air has been unique in embracing this new deployment model. They have invested in their own spectrum in 5 countries to date, with more countries to come. By pursuing a neutral host deployment model, Dense Air can deploy their own infrastructure where they have spectrum to pursue a new multi-use economic model. Once Dense Air’s unique approach enables them to establish a neutral host small cell network to support multiple mobile operators 5G networks, the same infrastructure can be used to support municipal Smart Cities network initiatives, and private 5G networks for enterprises.
Major MNOs are in a very challenging position as mobile data demand continues to expand at breakneck pace. As smartphone usage becomes an inherent part of everyday life, MNOs are challenged to keep up with ever increasing demand for perfect coverage and adequate capacity that their subscribers have come to expect. Markets in developed countries are very competitive for subscribers, have flat ARPUs, and yet must keep up with the escalating demand for capacity, which translates to more and more CapEx each year. Now operators have a whole new challenge and drain on resources with the advent of next generation 5G networks. Being able to find new deployment models are needed for MNOs to move their networks to the next stage.
In addition to the next step of technology, new user models enabled by 5G are creating a “perfect storm” of new kinds of deployment stakeholders, like municipalities interested driving economic growth by being a mobile infrastructure leader, creating smart cities, and addressing the digital divide. Also, enterprises are looking to take advantage of private networks to enhance their manufacturing and business processes. All of these efforts can be supported and augmented by deployment of a neutral host networks.
MNOs are reaching a point where they cannot keep up with the continuously expanding demand for to increase capital spend each year. Mobile data forecast to continue growing by 35-40% over the next 5 years, according to the Cisco VNI forecast, driven by continuing increase in mobile usage demand, IOT implementations, and other 5G high bandwidth usage models, including smart cities, These challenges are intensifying at a time when major operators are now pushing to deploy 5G networks, which will consume a large part of their already strained CapEx budgets. 5G network infrastructure is expensive compared to 4G infrastructure and other previous generations. Radios that can support both sub 6 GHz and microwave bands are expensive, and many small cells are needed to provide coverage for the short range of the microwave spectrum that provides the capability to support high throughput functions. Budgets would need to expand an estimated 60% to accommodate the build out of 5G through 2025, according to McKenzie’s Road to 5G report. Yet, CapEx budgets for major MNOs has been flat for the last 5 years at about $160B since 2015, according to Statistica, even before this new demand for a next generation build out. There are strong market forces pushing MNOs to deploy 5G quickly, to show that an operator is on the cutting edge and can beat or meet its competitors claim to be the first to deploy 5G. But operators must turn to new models to meet this need to deploy 5G networks while minimizing their CapEx drain,