It’s no secret that Mobile Operators are facing increased pressure as competition grows at the same time that data demands are going through the roof and margins are compressing. Residential and business customers have options, and operators are always exploring cost effective ways to keep and attract customers. Access to spectrum is an important part of this equation, especially as 5G solutions are starting to roll out. In general high quality contiguous spectrum is limited, and even when spectrum becomes available for auction, it’s not cheap. Unlicensed Wi-Fi comes with its own set of issues.
Commercially available since September 2019, CBRS shared spectrum is now an option. It’s a new way for operators to strategically and cost-effectively densify their network and providecustomers with greater 4G/5G coverage and capacity. There are many benefits operators should consider when mapping out their network densification strategy.
Top 5 benefits of shared spectrum
1. Increased Revenue – As mentioned above, customers have a lot of options to choose from when selecting a mobile network provider and that list could continue to grow as cable and internet companies move into the space. Shared spectrum provides superior coverage and capacity, a competitive differentiator to grow your customer base. This will not only incentivize current customers to stick around but attract new customers, as well.
2. Speed Of Deployment – With spectrum auctions, it can take years before the spectrum is available for commercial use. When it comes to shared spectrum, Initial Commercial Deployment has begun. Operators can now access shared spectrum to not only introduce new services and create new businesses models, but shared spectrum can also solve decades old challenges, such as improving wireless connectivity indoors and closing the digital divide. Not only are MNOs taking advantage of shared spectrum now (see resources below) but an unprecedented CBRS ecosystem has developed in a very short time, including all major handset manufacturers.
3. Cost Savings – Operators are often forced to rely on expensive, disruptive DAS or carrier Wi-Fi solutions. Shared spectrum is far more cost-effective than DAS and comparable to Wi-Fi, but with all the standardized benefits of 4G/5G, including reliability, security, mobility, and high-speed performance. Operators won’t need to buy and own spectrum to make this happen. Today they can operate freely in the 80 MHz of spectrum set aside for General Authorized Access. In mid 2020, they will also have the option of buying county-wide Priority Access Licenses that will be good for ten years and are expected to be far more affordable than national exclusive licenses. In this shared spectrum model, operators get network capacity or coverage on an as-needed basis, which could potentially result in dramatic savings in CapEx.
4. Quality Control – Rest assured that, with shared spectrum, the quality of service offered will remain high because this is an extension of the operator’s 4G/5G network. Unlike Wi-Fi bands which are getting crowded and prone to interference, access is dynamically managed by the Spectrum Access System so interference is kept to a minimum. This means that customers get an enhanced experience and operators can confidently deliver Key Performance Indicators for critical business applications.
5. Competitive Advantage –A high capacity, quality coverage 4G/5G network that can be extended indoors gives operators a competitive edge against those that aren’t using shared spectrum. Your customers and your traffic stay on your network. Offering enterprise business services becomes easy, cost-effectively expanding your reach into places that have been hard to reach til now.
Shared spectrum enables operators to quickly roll out network capacity for new indoor and outdoor 4G/5G services while keeping customers on board.