The risks associated with Wholesale Open Access Networks

07 August 2017

Wholesale Open Access Networks are perhaps not the solution that is claimed.

The goals are often ambitious when governments want to build a single wholesale network (SWN) or a wholesale open access network (WOAN) instead of relying upon competing mobile networks to deliver mobile broadband services in their country.

Citizens are promised better coverage, more competition, and as a result, more affordable prices. However, turning this vision into a working reality is difficult. Research shows that of five countries originally considering this option, only one, Rwanda, has actually rolled out a network. Problems include cost and a lack of competition. The other countries looked at in this report are Kenya, Russia, Mexico and South Africa.

The lessons from these five countries should serve as examples to other countries thinking about this. They highlight the real challenges of a SWN or WOAN. They are a wakeup call to those regulators that look to them as an alternative to tried-and-true approaches to network deployment.

Other alternatives than Wholesale Open Access Networks (WOAN)

The GSMA works hard to help improve connectivity in rural areas. A better way forward is for governments, regulators and also mobile operators to collaborate on long-term solutions. The basic building blocks which can help make this happen are:

– Cost effective access to low frequency spectrum

– Support for spectrum re-farming

– Support for all forms of voluntary infrastructure sharing

– Elimination of sector specific taxation on operators, vendors and consumers

– Non-discriminatory access to public infrastructure

– Support for streamlined planning and administrative processes

– Relaxation of Quality of Service requirements

– Context appropriate competition policy, especially concerning market structure

– Support for multi-sided business models such as zero rating and sponsored data

To read the full report in English, Spanish and French and understand the GSMA’s recommendations on Wholesale Open Access Networks, download the report.

English report (PDF)
Spanish report (PDF)
French report (PDF)