Is a single mobile network enough for a country?
This is the question we posed at Avrens NGN conference in April 2010. Our core premise is that other utility services gas, electricity, and even fixed telephony typically deliver services via a single network. If it is taking too long to achieve full-scale consolidation in many mobile markets, perhaps pooling the networks together into one or two networks can streamline the industrys structure and reduce network costs. For this sort of network-level consolidation, competition is no longer at the network level but rather at the service level.
Since we posed this question, many others have begun to ask whether four or five mobile networks are really sustainable in any country. UK-based infrastructure company Arqiva has articulated its concept of a Neutral Host, positioning itself as a viable candidate to unite, consolidate, and manage the existing networks of all UK mobile operators.
But lets not get carried away just yet. Even if this radical structure can deliver huge benefits to the industry, challenges abound. Questions about loss of network competitiveness, ownership of assets, and regulatory directives all need to be answered before the industry can eye a single network for the future.
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