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Mobile Infrastructure: Keep, Share, Outsource? Operators Ask, Vendors Act
Sharing and outsourcing networks is not new in the wireless business. Operators throughout the world share transmission towers and sites, and they frequently sign roaming agreements to provide service on one another's networks. In the early days of 3G network rollouts, sharing towers and some electronics became a hot topic as operators sought ways to save money after spending billions on spectrum licenses. But few sharing deals emerged, because fiercely competitive mobile operators still saw unique selling points in their networks.

We do not yet know the level that operators are willing to reach in sharing their infrastructure. To date, most of the sharing has been for passive, non-electrical, civil-engineering elements of mobile networks, such as sites, masts, and equipment rooms. Until recently, most regulators have prohibited the sharing of radio access networks (RANs) but, given the healthy competition at the services level, many are now more receptive to the idea.

The move from running networks will create a wealth of opportunity for companies that can help mobile operators squeeze more out of their network assets through infrastructure sharing and, in particular, see partners to take over and manage their networks.

It may take a while, but many mobile networks will be shared and outsourced in mature and developing markets alike. The infrastructure will be a commodity shared by "mobile service providers" focused on developing and selling services and content. The network will be run by the companies that build them. Internet technology will spur innovation and collaboration between the two camps.

This report analyzes the evolving market for infrastructure sharing, while addressing the growing interest in outsourcing. It focuses on the various types of sharing RAN, core network, roaming, and spectrum as well as network managed services and full network outsourcing. It examines the opportunities and challenges of sharing and outsourcing for operators and vendors alike, and covers some of the primary technical and regulatory issues. The report also profiles 11 companies, exploring explores their strategies for sharing and outsourcing.

Sample research data from the report is shown in the excerpts below:
Table of Contents(uni0509_toc.pdf)
Infrastructure sharing is possible in various forms. By far the most prevalent and easiest is "passive" sharing, which allows operators to share the non-electrical, civil engineering elements of telecom networks, including masts, towers, equipment rooms, power supplies, air-conditioning, and security systems. However, this report focuses on the opportunities and challenges with "active" sharing of radio access and core networks, spectrum sharing, and network outsourcing.
Active infrastructure sharing allows operators to share the active electronic network elements that transmit and process signals the intelligence in the network that is embodied largely in base stations and management systems. Geographical network sharing or roaming can also be used as an alternative. Also addressed are managed services and network outsourcing, which involve transferring parts or all of an operator's network to a third party. Some operators view outsourcing as a logical next step after sharing a means, so to speak, of squeezing as much value out of their infrastructure assets as possible to focus on services as their core business.
[click on the image above for the full excerpt]
Companies analyzed in this report include: Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU); Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC); GTL Ltd.; Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.; Mobile TeleSystems OJSC (MTS) (NYSE: MBT); Nokia Siemens Networks, a joint venture of Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) and Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE); Orange, a subsidiary of France Telecom (NYSE: FTE); Quintel Technology Ltd.; T-Mobile International AG, a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT); Vanu Inc.; and Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD).
Total pages: 23
To view reports you will need Adobe's Acrobat Reader. If you do not have it, it can be obtained for free at the Adobe web site.
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