Cellcos not going far enough on site sharing

John C. Tanner
CommunciAsia Show Daily
Cellcos are increasingly interested in base station site sharing but not in sharing the actual RF equipment, even though the technology exists to enable it.
 
Site sharing is becoming “more of a reality” as cellcos evolve their networks and the real estate on towers gets more and more scarce, says Ben Cardwell, senior VP for global wireless sales at CommScope-owned Andrew.
 
“If you look at India, for example, there’s towers with loads of antennas on them,” Cardwell told the CommunicAsia Show Daily. “The towers were designed for one or two operators, and now they’re hosting four or five. They can’t take anymore load and it’s expensive to put new ones up.”
 
Cost savings is a top incentive for cellcos looking to share BTS sites rather than acquire new ones. A recent Analysys Mason report says cellcos who jointly roll out a new-build LTE network of 2,500 sites in a developed market can achieve 30% in capex savings accumulated over five years, as well as a 15% reduction in opex per year by year five.
 
But how much cellcos save depends on how much infrastructure they’re willing to share – and for the moment, says Cardwell, they’re mostly sticking to sharing physical elements like shelters, towers and power systems.
 
“They’re not really sharing the RF infrastructure. They’re putting in multiple antennas and cables and things for their own use, and if they need to add a new band or technology, they try to reuse what’s already there instead of putting up a new antenna,” Cardwell says.
 

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