Network rationalisation – lessons from 2G and 3G migrations
Mobile operators worldwide are exploring opportunities to deploy 4G and 5G technologies by re-using spectrum currently supporting 2G and 3G services. The payoff from network rationalisation includes improved capacity, data speeds and broadband coverage. Drawing on experiences from mobile operators across the Asia-Pacific region, a new report from the GSMA takes an in-depth look at this important topic.
The pioneers are found in this region. The “Legacy mobile network rationalisation – Experiences of 2G and 3G migrations in Asia-Pacific” is based on projects conducted by mobile operators in six countries. It looks at the most suitable regulatory and market conditions for achieving a smooth and successful process.
For mobile operators around the world, it is an opportunity to reduce the extra cost of running multiple networks. Savings can be realised by:
- Simplifying network management operations and RF planning;
- Avoiding costly maintenance of ageing network equipment, including equipment spares;
- Eliminating ongoing costs of software licences;
- Reducing lease cost of tower space for multiple antennas; and
- Lowering energy consumption of the network.
Network rationalisation benefits everyone
However, thanks to the potential for improved capacity, data speeds and broadband coverage; consumers and businesses also stand to gain. As a result, mobile operators can develop more innovative services based on 4G and, when the time is right, 5G.
Importantly, based on the experience in the Asia-Pacific region, network rationalisation lessons learned include:
- Operators typically initiate legacy shutdown plans and usually switch off at different times depending on their user base;
- Which technology to retire depends on specific market circumstances and potential obligations;
- The full process generally carries a transitional period of around three years, with preparations commencing earlier than formal public announcements;
- A reasonable formal notice period commonly comes along with a well-designed campaign targeting affected customers, possibly assisted by the regulator;
- Switch-off process may include upgrade incentives for long tail customers, with comparably priced plans, and handset recycling initiatives.
Finally, download the report below and go here to learn more about spectrum licensing.