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Thursday, June 06, 2019

Neutral Host Networks - Announcing July 9th Workshop on a key industry trend

One of the most interesting trends at present is the reinvention of "wholesale" in various parts of the telecoms and computing industry. Often rebranded as multi-tenant or open-access, there are growing parallels between a whole set of areas I'm following:

  • Neutral Host Mobile networks (more on this below)
  • Open-access fibre (longhaul & metro)
  • Shared spectrum bands
  • 3rd-party cell tower providers (and also ducts and poles)
  • Colocation data-centres
  • Public cloud PaaS / IaaS
  • Multi-tenant NFV platforms
  • 4G / 5G MVNOs & network-slicing
  • Hosted telephony, UCaaS & cPaaS
  • eSIM and multi-IMSI SIM cards
In other words, the technology world is getting much smarter about sharing assets and access, while maintaining - or improving - competition. Telcos, IT companies and enterprises often cannot justify the risk and capital involved in having dedicated - and possibly replicated - facilities. There is no point in every business having its own datacentre, or every mobile operator building its own tower on a given hilltop. 

Sharing - and some form of neutral / open / wholesale intermediary service provider - often makes more sense. Regulators are recognising this in many domains as well.

I've written & spoken about the mobile angles on this for a while - I've covered MVNOs in the 5G era (link), shared spectrum for private mobile networks (link) and open-access fibre for backhaul (link). I've also watched the evolution of small cells and related business models for many years - I first met ip.access in 2001.

Neutral Host Mobile (NHN) fits directly into all of these trends. I'm seeing huge interest in organisations building multi-tenant mobile networks in locations that the normal MNOs cannot address for economic or practicality reasons. In-building, metro densification, rural and road/rail-side use are prominent examples. 

The idea is that an NHN builds a network (with or without its own local spectrum), and the other companies either roam onto it, or used its shared facilities for their own radios.

This has got huge attention, especially with the rise of CBRS in the US, and the realisation that 5G will need lots of small cells, especially in cities. Sharing some or all of the infrastructure makes sense, at least theoretically. It also ties in with edge-computing, MVNOs and various of the other wholesale/hosting models I mention above.

So I'm running one of my periodic small-group workshops on NHNs, on July 9th in Central London. As usual, I'm doing it with a colleague - this time Peter Curnow-Ford of Viatec Consulting.

(I've previously run workshops on the Future of Voice, Telco-OTT Services, Private Cellular, AI for Telecoms, Blockchain for Telecoms, and 5G+MVNOs)

If you're interested in attending the public session, the full details are on this page (link)

Alternatively, if you are interested in a private workshop or deeper advisory engagement, please drop a message to information  at disruptive-analysis  dot com