It is widely accepted today that fiber is the future-proof technology that forms the foundation of all technologies, and the need to improve fiber connectivity is imperative for the building of not only the networks of today but also those of the future.
Bigger bandwidth, lower latency and better reliability is what customers expect. Fiber is the enabler that will allow for the delivery of infinite public services that will touch every sphere of public life, transforming public service delivery, and enhancing operational efficiencies. Infrastructure sharing will allow for the cost effective mechanism that enables the penetration of fibre from the cities to the most remote areas.
Governments have a key role to play in facilitating the most effective use of ICT infrastructure, and in identifying those parts of a country that need most attention. Often, they are themselves major customers and can help to make a marginal location worth investing in by acting as “anchor tenants” in remote towns, by connecting government and other public facilities such as schools and hospitals.
Due to economy of scale within telecommunication industry, sharing of telecom infrastructure among telecom service providers is becoming the requirement and process of business in the telecom industry where competitors are becoming partners in order to lower their increasing investments and improving connectivity levels among citizens.
Provided the legal and regulatory framework is correct and the right incentives are established, the critical factor in creating new, affordable broadband access, will be government action to ensure that infrastructure is shared responsibly.
Infrastructure sharing is one of the main trends in broadband infrastructure deployment. In developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, there is a trend for governments to back infrastructure sharing projects as a way to reduce costs in network deployments, expand coverage, reduce the rural-urban digital divide, and accelerate broadband take-up.
Traditional infrastructure sharing models, such as regulated access to the so-called “last-mile” network or site sharing agreements among mobile operators, have given way in recent times to new designs. The mutualisation model, where a common facility is operated by all market participants, and the cooperative model, where the telecommunication infrastructure is housed or jointly constructed with other linear infrastructures, are the two most popular designs.
Infrastructure sharing in telecommunications refers to the joint utilization of assets and/or services necessary to provide telecommunication service in order to reduce the costs of building, operating, and maintaining network infrastructure. Sharing has the potential to re-shape the structure and function of the different telecommunication services markets.
An Infrastructure cooperation strategy is recommended that refers to housing or jointly constructing linear infrastructures for efficiency gains in capital expenditures and operating expenses. The infrastructure cooperation occurs when utility operators (electricity distribution) share rights of way with broadband operators, or when telecommunication operators that provide different services share the same physical infrastructure i.e. pylons, buildings, pipes, ducts, poles, etc. The existence and exploitation of synergies in the coordinated construction, operation, and maintenance of linear networks underpin the cooperation strategy.
During the 2nd edition of the flagship Mobile Technology for Development (MT4D 2021) conference, in the areas of policy development, Hon. Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful reiterated Her Ministry’s commitment to developing digital policies for accelerated development.
“We are in the process of revising our ICT for Accelerated Development Policy (ICT4AD) and [we] are developing the Ghana Digital Economy Policy which will [all] be subjected to extensive stakeholder consultations.” She added. This is encouraging and we hope all stakeholders can do their part to ensure a better connected Ghana by adopting and allowing for infrastructure sharing across all sectors.
The writer, Marius Engelbrecht, is a Senior Strategist consultant at Huawei Technologies Johannesburg Area in South Africa
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