What do operators gain from sharing 2G, 3G and LTE networks?

In today’s highly competitive telecom market, even fierce rivals are considering sharing their networks. Network sharing reduces costs, expands network coverage and speeds the rollout of new services.

Mobile operators face rising data traffic and increasing demand from customers. That makes the option to share radio access and backhaul network costs look more compelling.

Business partners without borders

Successful network sharing requires technical solutions that can offer:

  • Necessary quality-of-service implementations
  • Fairness
  • The possibility to flexibly define what belongs to common infrastructure and what doesn’t.

As an example, one requirement would be whether the partners share or separate synchronization distribution.Network sharing reduces costs and speeds the rollout of new services

But partnerships are not just about sharing network architectures. Both parties also need to share commercial information, which raises its own challenges.

Successful business partnerships can deliver:

  • Savings in capital and operational expenses
  • Reduced time-to-market for new networks
  • Reduced costs for existing networks.

A few operators have deployed the new business partnering model. Recently, Vodafone and Three Ireland announced their network sharing, as well as Vodafone and Telefonica UK.

Next-generation architecture paves the way for new revenue and business models

Most often, big LTE investments drive the interest in network sharing.

Tellabs has also worked with several operators who share their 2G or 3G networks. This type of sharing offers financial benefits and may open up new opportunities to expand business in saturated markets.

Sharing 2G or 3G networks can also act as a foundation for future LTE sharing. Smaller players may also be able to "leapfrog" more established operators with LTE sharing.

Network sharing helps to overcome profitability challenges, but may raise technical issues that need careful planning and good technical tools. For network sharing to work, you need smart networks with tools that support manageability, network visibility and intelligence.