Network sharing in 5G is becoming a popular alternative for mobile operators. If the network sharing is well planned and designed, it can enhance competition between operators and service providers, accelerate the deployment of new technologies, increase coverage, reduce the administrative work and operational costs.


Network Sharing Models


There are two types of network sharing: passive and active sharing. Passive sharing or passive infrastructure refers to the sharing of non-electronic infrastructure at a cell site.[1]This is a popular solution around the world because operators can maintain their strategic competitiveness depending on the sites shared. Typically, passive sharing includes civil infrastructure, like towers and site locations. Sharing or leasing backhaul transmission capacity is also quite often considered as passive sharing. Passive sharing is common, as it is straightforward and typically does not require any regulatory approvals. It still offers significant CapEx and OpEx savings in longer run.

In Active sharing, operators share active network elements, typically radio access network equipment, like base stations and controllers, but sometimes also core network equipment.  The cost saving potential of active sharing is greater than in passive sharing, but it is more complex to maintain and operate and requires close co-operation between sharing operators. Typically, also regulatory approval is needed. For RAN sharing two different approaches can be used: MOCN or MORAN. MOCN, Multi Operator Core Network, refers to two or more core networks sharing the same Radio Access Network (RAN) and spectrum, meaning that the carriers are shared. This is the most resource efficient solution as it gives the mobile operators the opportunity to pool their respective spectrum allocations, resulting in improved trunking efficiency. MORAN, Multi Operator Radio Access Network, refers to the sharing of the RAN equipment (base stations, antennas, etc.), but the dedicated spectrum is used by each sharing operator, thus carriers are not shared.

Core network sharing is less common. Even core network sharing would provide further savings, limited possibilities to differentiate services and strategy decrease its attractiveness from operator perspective.



Shared Networks and 5G rollouts


5G networks are expected to incur a higher cost of deployment to meet throughput requirement and demand and to provided sufficient coverage. Regulators are allowing operators and non-telco entities to plan, design and donation wide network sharing (with some exceptions like in dense cities) for new5G spectrum bands like 3.5 GHz. To meet mobile broadband demand, 5G is likely to be offered on higher frequency radio spectrum above 6GHz as well. This means that a single cell offers a smaller radius of coverage and so achieving widespread coverage may be challenging. Thus, possibility to share the network and related costs isan interesting option to operators.

Another phenomenon is that 5G rollouts are gaining more popularity between non-telecom entities, for example railway companies, industrial players or cities could be considered as partners for network sharing by mobile operators.


The image below shows the active network sharing arrangements between operators in Europe.


Active network-sharing arrangements in Europe


How can Omnitele help in Network Sharing?


Omnitele has supported MNOs in shared network strategy, deployment, verification and in deciding on the most suitable spectrum sharing option. A good governance model is required to be in place in order to have a successful sharing agreement for the parties involved. Omnitele has also assisted many mobile network operators by designing high quality shared and consolidated MOCN and MORAN networks.  Customers have gained the following benefits:

●     Identifying synergies in coverage and site management

●     Cost savings of 25-35%on capital and operational expenditure

●     Increase in capacity and quality of service

●     Reduction of 5Gdeployment risks

Read our customer case (Suomen Yhteisverkko)


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