Caring and sharing, by all means – but not with networks

Key Points:

  • Australian operators Telstra and Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) announced last week that they will call a halt to their network sharing agreement in 2012.
  • A number of operators in any given market could share their network infrastructure and compete only at the service level (an early vision of network-sharing in other words)
  • Network sharing is certainly the norm for 3G. This week it was announced that Orange, SFR and Bouygues Telecom would jointly roll out an HSPA+ network in rural France
  • But should it become so for LTE too?  How about a return to competition in urban markets?  There seems to be a real advantage to be gained by an operator which is the first to deploy LTE, in attracting lucrative early adopters. Being first to launch should be much more attractive than being equal first with one or more rivals

My take: Great article! In line with what I learned about Carriers in Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur’s book (Business Model Generation, one of my references for DiCoDE – the book) at page 62 (Unbundling the Mobile Telco): they will focus either on Infrastructure (but most out of them outsource this activity to Network Companies such as Nokia-Siemens or Ericsson), on Innovation or on Customer Relationship. Here, we find an alternative scenario for commoditizing Infrastructure Management: sharing it (maybe with management done by a Network Management Company)!

So it all relies on how Carriers see their network: a commodity (like HSPA+ for french ones) or a competitive advantage, especially towards high ARPU Early Adopters (like for LTE, especially in urban areas)? That’s a key question to answer for any Carrier out there!


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