Urban small cell business case analysis published

We have analysed the business case for urban small cells – metrocells and the indoor public space counterparts. The analysis is a comprehensive technical and financial examination of the balance of benefits and costs. It factors in the complex mix of wireless and wired backhaul options and takes account of existing and projected macrocell and fibre deployments.

Our base case analysis focused on a dense urban area of 37.6 km2 with LTE traffic growing at a compound annual growth rate of 35% over the period 2014-2020. We find that the deployment of small cells to enhance capacity yields a benefit or $48.6m (present value) for a total cost of ownership of $29.8 million yielding a positive net present value for operators of $28m and a Return on Investment of 136%.

We have examined the role small cells can play in improving the depth of coverage provided by an operator who does not have any low (< 1 GHz) frequency spectrum and wishes to achieve similar coverage to their competitors. Wide area deployment of small cells is unlikely to be as cost effective as macrocell deployment. However, if the small cells are targeted more explicitly at the cell-edge areas where the macrocells deliver unacceptable coverage, cost savings can be achieved compared to achieving the same target by macro layer augmentation. These cost savings range from $2.8m to $7.2m. Additional benefits in substantial increases in the quality of experience to users are also available without additional costs.

A presentation covering the key points of the analysis is available for download:

The full analysis is available from the Small Cell Forum.

Ofcom consultation on new Public Sector bands, based on RW analysis

Real Wireless have contributed to a consultation, released this month, by Ofcom, discussing the forthcoming award of 190 MHz of spectrum in the 2.3 and 3.4 GHz bands, intended for Public Sector use.

The consultation focuses in particular on future coexistence between potential new users of the spectrum and existing users of adjacent frequencies.

A major piece of the work is our analysis of capacity impacts amongst neighbouring TD-LTE systems.

The report is available to download from Ofcom website; go to our publications list for details »

Real Wireless inputs into GSMA spectrum report

Following on from our recent work for Ofcom on the UK’s spectrum requirements, we’ve contributed to a major report released this month (February 2014) by the GSMA.

Authored by Deloitte, “The Impacts of Licensed Shared Use of Spectrum” highlights how strict limitations associated with Licensed Shared Access (LSA) spectrum agreements – such as shorter terms, build obligations, lack of certainty and small allocations – can significantly reduce the likelihood of a mobile operator to invest.

Real Wireless developed the model and worked with Deloitte to perform the economic analysis underpinning this report.

The report is available to download from GSMA website, go to our publications list for details »

The Real Wireless Manifesto – outlining the next 12 months in wireless

Today Real Wireless has launched the Real Wireless Manifesto, which gives a comprehensive overview of how we predict the wireless industry and wireless user community will develop over the next 12 months: the challenges they face, the developments that they will see and how their approach to wireless will change.

When compiling this manifesto, we were keen to showcase the depth and breadth of knowledge that the Real Wireless possesses, as well as our unique experiences of the industry. As such we don’t just predict the technological developments of the next 12 months, we also give our insight in to the commercial, economic and regulatory aspects too.

But this isn’t simply future gazing for future gazing’s sake. With this body of knowledge behind it, the manifesto also makes clear recommendations for how to approach wireless in the coming year. For each of these we also outline our rationale, explaining the logic and proof points that these draw upon. Our predictions are also not all what we believe will definitely happen, but rather what should happen to maximize the benefits.

The conclusions it reaches paint a stark picture of wireless in 2014:

  • Mobile operators are walking in to a ‘perfect storm’ of commercial and technological challenges – and few are doing anything to prepare for it
  • Wireless consumers and users are not only becoming more demanding, but also increasingly unwilling to accept the negative effects this has on the network
  • 2014 will see the death of ‘offload’

For the rationale behind these and thirty other predictions, alongside recommendations for how the industry and users can best approach these in the coming year, download the Real Wireless Manifesto ‘How wireless will – or should – evolve’ for free.

If you want any more information on anything in the Manifesto, leave use a comment below and we’ll get back to you. Alternatively if you want to dispute any of our claims, we’d also like to hear from you too – we’re not adverse to a good debate!

Operators facing a ‘perfect storm’ of commercial and technology challenges in 2014

Real Wireless warns that operators lack clear strategies to deal with the issues, from coverage to CapEx and M2M to spectrum

PRESS RELEASE | London, UK. 12 February 2014: Mobile operators are facing a ‘perfect storm’ of challenges in 2014 according to wireless experts Real Wireless. The independent consultancy is warning that carriers have yet to grasp the scale of technological and commercial challenges that will start to hit in 2014, with many completely lacking a strategy to cope.

The analysis was taken from a landmark manifesto, launched today, looking at every aspect of the wireless industry in 2014 and beyond, from 5G to small cells, spectrum, backhaul, M2M and more. These issues affect not just operators but regulators, vendors – and all of those that use wireless technology, from consumers to transport operators, stadium owners or enterprises.

With the wireless industry under unprecedented financial pressure and subscribers demanding ever more from their wireless service in terms of better coverage and more capacity, while technology complexity continues to accelerate, Real Wireless has found that 2014 will see a multitude of issues and challenges come to a head.

“We’ve taken a look at every aspect of the wireless industry, from spectrum to technology, the economics, the locations people are using wireless and the commercial opportunities. All included we’ve found that mobile operators are facing a perfect storm of challenges starting from this year. The next few years pose an unprecedented challenge, and few operators are preparing for it,” said Professor Simon Saunders, Director of Technology and co-founder of Real Wireless.

“While there’s never an easy time to be an operator, technology challenges are increasing in complexity at the same time as financial pressures bite. More CapEx is needed to support data traffic growth, improve coverage and build out 4G, but revenue & ARPU are under strain – indeed, in Europe the industry has moved ex-growth.”

Some of the challenges include:

  • Small Cells. Sophisticated operators have developed plans for seizing the opportunities of small cells, and see them as an important source of competitive advantage. Crucially, the technology enables them to re-engineer processes and human capital. They also involve partnering and outsourcing more operations, often to landline operators and MSOs. Other operators risk being commercially blind-sided.
  • 5G is coming faster than many appreciate, with vendors demonstrating technology and standards activity progressing. However, as complex as spectrum has been for LTE, with UEs having multiple product SCUs to complicate roaming, it will be even harder for 5G. There will be increasing tension between mobile operators, satellite operators, broadcast TV and other spectrum users. Few operators or regulators are prepared for these issues, which will come to the fore at WRC15.
  • Having 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G all running, all interacting and all needing spectrum will be a technical nightmare and financially insupportable – yet few carriers have planned for how to switch off any of their technologies – while growing use of M2M on 2G complicates this. 2G will be largely unaffected this year, but pressures to eventually phase it out will grow progressively. Meanwhile, other operators will make serious plans to phase out 3G in favour of 4G.
  • Wireless consumers and users are becoming more demanding. The remorseless growth in traffic poses its own challenges, but they are also increasingly unwilling to accept poor coverage. Enterprises, stadium owners, retailers are increasingly aware of this, and see good wireless service as business critical. Some operators have developed strategies for how to serve this demand in a responsive and cost-efficient way. Others are in jeopardy of falling behind.

2014 will see change at both ends of the technology scale. It is difficult to phase-out 2G with concerns from rural users and the growing M2M market, but operators need to develop plans quickly. At the same time, Real Wireless warns that 5G is appearing on the horizon and operators need to plan for the next wave of generation upgrades, migrations, devices and service shifts. Operators will also need to manage increasingly complex spectrum-sharing arrangements and roaming agreements.

“What will make 2014 different from any other year is that there are so many big challenges across such a wide range of areas all at the same time,” added Saunders. “We’re anticipating further consolidation of both networks and operators as demanding consumers and new market entrants put pressure on an industry that is already seeing its growth slow.”

The Real Wireless manifesto, ‘How wireless will – or should – evolve’, is available to download free of charge here. Bringing together the views of experts across the wireless industry, it highlights the challenges and opportunities for the sector over the next 12 months, with insights from the Real Wireless on how to best shape mobile and wireless strategies.