Research Notes

Municipalities’ policies are a ticking bomb under the mobile industry’s effort to deliver good mobile coverage and 5G

The challenges associated with rolling out 5G and improving mobile coverage cannot be addressed by mobile operators alone, but require close cooperation from a variety of stakeholders including politicians, regulators, municipalities, site owners, infrastructure providers, and users. This research note reviews the lessons that Strand Consult has learned from USA, United Kingdom, Brazil, Chile, Denmark and other countries. It offers insight for operators and regulators facing such challenges, particularly to address municipalities and site owners which exploit the social process of deploying infrastructure for private gain. It’s time that the mobile industry take the problem seriously and make resolving it a strategic priority.

Strand Consult´s newest research project “How to maximize 5G: Best practices for infrastructure, regulation and business models” has identified the 10 requirements for 5G to be a success. One of the key challenges for mobile operators today is to deploy 4G and 5G infrastructure on reasonable conditions. Strand Consult has studied this issue on 5 continents. While many in government want fast-track next generation networks, Strand Consult consistently finds a few city leaders which exploit the process for self-interest rather than maximizing the quality and coverage for the community as a whole.

When it comes to promising citizens better mobile coverage and access to 5G, politicians are good to promise the people that their country will be first. It takes little effort to hold a press conference and make a press release, but it’s something else to build a multi-stakeholder policy that works.  We can see this in the Nordic countries in which 5 prime ministers issued a proclamation that the Nordic countries would be first in 5G, but they never bothered to talk to the mobile operators in the region. The Nordic region may have been first to launch 2G, 3G and 4G, but when it comes to 5G, it is almost two years behind the United States and China.

The costs of building and running mobile infrastructure is one of the biggest costs for mobile operators. The cost can increase when cities and property owners realize that they have a monopoly on the site where a mobile operator needs to build. Cities restrict the process not only by increasing the rental price, but by imposing increased requirements for site application and approval, delaying the process for deployment by months, if not years.  Strand Consult estimates that about one-fifth of planned infrastructure is either delayed or never built because local authorities make it too difficult to deploy.

Strand Consult’s surveys show that conditions for building and operating mobile networks have gotten worse for operators, not better. The process to erect a single mobile mast/antenna can take between 12-38 months and cost €100,000 – €250,000. Rental prices have in many countries increase by as much as 8–15% per year. This is happening in markets in which operators experience falling prices and ARPU. The increasing rental costs for land where mobile masts have been erected is a ticking bomb under the mobile industry.

Here is a case from USA: The Mayor From Hell: San Jose, California’s Sam Liccardo. How greedy politicians prevent good mobile coverage.  In Brazil mobile operators are not allowed to sign up new customers if they have coverage or capacity problems. At the same time, Brazilian mobile operators can’t get the permission to fix existing problems which require erecting new mobile cells, masts, and antennas.

The solution requires hard work but is worthwhile.
The goal of Strand Consult’s mobile mast concept “10 Steps to reduce cost for mobile masts and improve mast regulation” is to help operators, regulators, and cities save time and money. We do this by educating mobile operators about our proven 10 step process. This strategy is bolstered by a set of knowledge, training, and tools which we provide to operators over a 12–24 month period. Read more about the report.

Strand Consult helped develop the multi-stakeholder model in Denmark to fast-track mobile infrastructure rollout. Since 2012, 60 percent of municipalities have streamlined building permissions and rental costs. This has reduced the Danish mobile operators total rental costs by 20%. Read about this success in Strand Consult’s report How mobile operators can reduce cost for mobile masts and improve mast regulation

Strand Consult’s reports and workshop “How to deploy 5G: Best practices for infrastructure, regulation and business models” help operators save time and money. Based upon Strand Consult’s success to reduce cost and improve regulation for mobile infrastructure, this report and workshop describes the 10-step process to get results. This engagement includes knowledge, training, and tools provided to operators delivered over a 3-24 month period.

Contact Strand Consult to see how you can take advantage of “How to deploy 5G: Best practices for infrastructure, regulation and business models.”

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