Inspiring Opinions: Shared active networks a feature of our future

At Delmec, we’ve seen huge changes in our almost fifty years in the telecommunications field. Over that time, we’ve learned much about the opportunities and challenges posed by rapid advances in technology, and we now believe that shared active networks will be a major feature of our industry’s future.

These will significantly reduce infrastructure costs and allow for the denser, quicker coverage that service-users have come to expect, particularly with the arrival of 5G. The new technology will allow for great leaps in terms of global telecommunications, but only if the speeds and connectivity are there to support them. The upgrades and additions required will be expensive, but network owners who move to share these costs can safeguard the savings for other, service-related strategies.

Whether or not active network sharing becomes a part of our industry sooner or later depends on a number of factors. The major industry players all have embedded positions on the global stage: transitioning from decades of direct competition to a future of collaboration and cooperation is likely to be challenging. In addition, there are existing investments and agreements that will need time to play out before new partnerships can be explored. Finally, the sharing of active networks can be complex, involving technology that is still being developed. That said, we believe that much of what is required is already in existence, and could be applied now if there was a willingness to try.

The most important obstacle is probably the simplest: it will require no small amount of courage to change the status quo, particularly as it may mean forgoing immediate advantages for longer-term opportunities. TowerCos are in an optimum position to drive this evolution, particularly as their positions evolve with the arrival of outside investors. Shared active networks would allow TowerCos to potentially become netcos, i.e., managing both passive and active networks, across multiple telcos.

The brave few that venture forward with shared active network strategies will be best placed for the inevitable shift from access to infrastructure to quality of service. Competition in the future will focus on the offering to the end user: every euro, pound or dollar saved by network sharing is a boon to the company’s differentiation on customer experience and services.

Like most things in life, the issue of shared active networks is nuanced, and no doubt many conversations about its pros and cons are taking place in TelCo and TowerCo boardrooms all over the world. One thing is certain, however: change waits for no man or woman, and as always, Delmec will be there to help our clients adapt and thrive, whatever their future looks like.

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