Mae Kowalke, TMCnet Contributor
I must admit that currently I don’t use LTE as much as I write about it. However, this is not for lack of wanting LTE, but rather because I live in the woods where there is not enough coverage. It is more a failure of policy than a failure of technology.
I’m not alone, and the question of how to bring LTE and the societal benefits of comprehensive mobile broadband coverage to the US and other countries is an important discussion.
Recently Bell Labs Advisory Services, the research arm of Alcatel-Lucent, looked at the various models for rolling out LTE in hard to reach places in an interesting paper, Open Access LTE: Reducing LTE Deployment Costs for Rural Broadband Coverage. What it found was that open access LTE, where a single entity owns the spectrum and deploys a nationwide LTE network that then is rented out to mobile network operators, offers significant advantages.
The research showed that adopting an open access LTE strategy could deliver up to a 50 percent increase in adoption over the traditional approach of having each mobile network operator build out their own system.
The five benefits of open access LTE
Overall, Bell Labs found five benefits to an open access LTE approach.
First, it is a more efficient use of spectrum resources since an open access LTE model reduces the number of radio sites both in urban areas where traffic is heaviest, and in rural areas where coverage can be spotty.
Second, it can bring affordable, quick and widely available LTE services by significantly reducing the threshold for economic viability by reducing the peak investment needed by the incumbent operators.
Naturally, it also brings better profitability for incumbent operators than the traditional auction model, up to 2 years shorter according to Bell Labs. Also, compared to buying spectrum via the traditional auction model, the price paid by mobile operators is reduced since the network is optimized to meet the actual traffic needs with the minimum number of sites.
A fourth benefit of open access LTE is overall economic benefits, as higher LTE penetration leads to lower subscription fees and increased revenues—revenues that exceed the sale of spectrum. It can improve healthcare, social services and overall economic activity, too.
Finally, an open access LTE approach improves social welfare since it bridges the digital divide and gives people like me better connectivity.
I’m all for anything that lets me use LTE as much as I think and write about it!