2010 Prediction No. 3: Network sharing driven by mobile broadband

This concept has been discussed and implemented by a small number of operators during the past several years. However, the unstoppable growth of mobile broadband has changed the rationale for network sharing.

Operators realise that, by sharing networks, they can offer a mobile broadband service with a higher capacity and better coverage--a critical success factor in the mobile broadband sector. But, given the cost control pressures, many operators are increasingly reluctant to make the investments to achieve the improvement, therefore the simple option is to share networks with a like-minded operator.

What remains unclear is the best business model for network sharing to become a success. The merger of T-Mobile UK and Orange UK will likely result in the two having a single shared infrastructure--together with a number of MVNOs. This is presently how the sharing model is working in Sweden, and it is expected to be adopted elsewhere within Europe, and become the standard form for network sharing.

However, this effectively means separating operators from their networks, morphing them into MVNOs on what was their own infrastructure.

Nonetheless, any European country with between four and five meaningful operators is a prospect for network sharing.

2010 Prediction No. 3: Network sharing driven by mobile broadband