Mobile operators around the world and in India face the same question – ie. how fast and how big you need to invest in building 5G network. The overall challenge is the huge capital investment needed to build 5G network and acquire a new frequency spectrum. At the same time, operators are seeing fixed revenue generation or even a decline due to competitive pressures.
As the spectrum is planned for several months in India, telecom operators need to consider the following points in order to achieve a profitable deployment:
In the past, the implementation strategy was the same for everyone. Forward operators must be super surgical when deploying the network. Operators must have a close link between the network investment and the commercial value they can derive. They need to develop a strategy of what capacity and to what capacity they need to invest in which area, depending on the study / research of how people use the network in this area. For example, the implementation of a 5G network for a residential area will differ from the industrial zone.
Full use of the frequency spectrum
5G needs spectrum in the low, medium and high frequency bands to provide broad coverage and support all uses. Low bandwidths are needed to extend high-speed 5G mobile broadband in urban, suburban and rural areas. With low frequency bands, the number of towers required will be lower, while medium bands will offer a combination of coverage and capacity with deeper penetration into buildings.
High bandwidths are needed for 5G services such as ultra-high speed mobile broadband. The requirement for high frequency bands in the number of towers will increase significantly, leading to an overall increase in CAPEX and OPEX.
Therefore, the deployment of a 5G network in rural areas with low frequencies will be different from the metro in cities, where high frequency bandwidth will be required.
Research Open RANA significant part of the total network costs for building a wireless network is related to Radio access network (RAN) segment. Any reduction in RAN equipment will significantly help wireless operators save costs.
In traditional network deployments, RAN software and hardware remain exclusive to a single provider. Therefore, if the operator wants to upgrade the network, it is necessary to replace all hardware and software.
Open RAN is a movement for defining and building 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G RAN solutions based on hardware and software-defined general-purpose technology, neutral from the provider.
Unlike traditional RAN, the Open RAN architecture separates hardware and software. This means that the RAN hardware – e.g. Baseband modules (BBUs) and remote radio modules (RRHs) can be supplied by any vendor and managed by Open RAN software to enable equipment interoperability and deployment of multiple RAN vendors.
There are two more elements for opening a RAN:
Virtual RAN (vRAN) – Virtualization of the mainband module so that it works as software on a common hardware platform; Centralized / Cloud RAN (C-RAN) – Consolidate RAN hardware and migrate to a cloud architecture.
All instances of Open RAN remove provider blocking and lead to a significant reduction in CAPEX and OPEX for Operator Radio Access Networks (RAN).
In summary, for Deployment of 5G in India, few permitted regulatory aspects remain. The deployment rate of 5G in India was stopped by the Covid-19 pandemic. At the same time, service providers have already begun to conceptualize and test 5G deployments to maximize CAPEX savings.
Telecommunications operators now need to assess how the network infrastructure and related costs will develop over the next few years and the appropriate approach needed for deployment. Telecommunications operators will then be in a strong position to win the race for early 5G commercialization.
(The author is a managing director, a member firm of Protiviti for India)