3G sector to share networks

3G sector to share networks

Mobile operators will co-operate on infrastructure to cut costs, say analysts

The sharing of 3G networks is to become increasingly common as service providers look to cut costs while expanding their coverage.

An organisation looking to extend its network to 13,000 sites could save £505m in capital expense and a further £505m in operational costs by co-operating with other providers, says intelligence firm Analysys.

The savings stem from a reduced need for new infrastructure, and through sharing the cost of operating sites, over a period of ten years.

Early interest in infrastructure sharing evaporated, and mobile operators chose to build and operate their own dedicated 3G networks.

Companies lost interest in the concept of network sharing in the early days of 3G rollout, opting instead to build their own equipment. But the rise of new technologies will force the industry to reconsider, according to Dr Alastair Brydon, co-author of the Analysys report.

"Network sharing is back on the agenda," said Brydon.

"Mobile operators face major expenses in the coming years, including investments in femtocells, LTE, broadcasting networks and fixed broadband.

"As a result, most operators will not be able to invest sufficient amounts quickly enough on their own to exploit 3G’s full potential."