Tuesday 12 May 2020

Passive and Active Infrastructure Sharing

I have written about Network sharing before here. In that particular tutorial, my main focus was to explain Active Infrastructure / Network Sharing mainly. So the focus was on two most common approaches, MORAN and MOCN. The Passive Infrastructure / Network Sharing can be a bit involved as well depending on the agreement between the different parties. Here, let's focus on this.

Quoting from the GSMA whitepaper:

Passive infrastructure sharing is where non-electronic infrastructure at a cell site, such as power supply and management system, and physical elements such backhaul transport networks are shared. This form can be further classified into site sharing, where physical sites of base stations are shared and shared backhaul, where transport networks from radio controller to base stations are shared. Passive infrastructure sharing is the simplest and can be implemented per sites, which enables operators to easily share sites and maintain their strategic competitiveness depending on the sites shared. Operation is also easier with this form of sharing because network equipment remains separated. However, the cost-saving potential of sharing is limited relative to other forms of sharing.

Active infrastructure sharing is sharing of electronic infrastructure of the network including radio access network (consists of antennas/transceivers, base station, backhaul networks and controllers) and core network (servers and core network functionalities). This form can be further classified into MORAN (Multi-Operator Radio Access Network), where radio access networks are shared and dedicated spectrum is used by each sharing operator, MOCN (Multi-Operator Core Network), where radio access networks and spectrum are shared, and core network sharing, where servers and core network functionalities are shared.

As in the case of site sharing, MORAN and MOCN can be implemented per sites and enables strategic differentiation. However, operation of network equipment needs to be shared (or at least issues must be shared with participants) and therefore increases the complexity of sharing relative to site sharing. The cost-saving potential is greater than site sharing. Core network enables greater cost-saving potential but is complicated to operate and to maintain strategic differentiation. It is important to note that core network sharing has not been popular and only a few cases have been suspected to be so.

The pros and cons for different sharing types can be seen in the table above.

This old presentation from 2014, explains the pros and cons of the two passive sharing approach nicely

Passive sharing: Site + tower sharing

  • What is shared?
    • Cell site
    • Shelters, towers
    • Power, A/C
    • Security for buildings and systems
  • Potential advantages
    • Cost sharing for site acquisition, infrastructure, lease, maintenance, power
    • Reduced network footprint
  • Potential drawbacks
    • Entrants may not benefit if they lacks own sites to offer
    • Costly to negotiate and implement when established networks are being consolidated

Passive sharing: Backhaul

  • What is shared?
    • All elements of site sharing
    • Backhaul links: cables/fiber, leased lines, microwave
  • Advantages
    • Cost savings in equipment cost
    • Cost saving in deployment
      • Joint-digging of trenches (70-80% of costs)
      • Microwave links – reduced license fees
    • Faster deployment timeframe

The presentation has examples from different parts of the world and also pros and cons of active sharing. Check it out here.

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