Customer case

RAN sharing for digital inclusion in rural areas

Wed 09 Nov 2022

For rural areas, Arcep, through its "white zones - town centers" program, requires the 4 French historical operators to mutualize mobile networks on existing sites as well as on new sites. This type of initiative aims to improve connectivity and promote access to digital services in low-density areas. The "New Deal 4G" scheme reinforces the regulations and requires operators to switch to 4G as a condition for renewing the licenses authorizing the use of frequencies.

To respect this regulatory framework, our client, an international telecom operator, called upon our team of experts in 3G/4G mobile network engineering. The aim was to define a turnkey method for the deployment and operation of RAN[1] Sharing 4G mobile networks.

RAN sharing, a virtuous model

RAN Sharing or mobile network sharing corresponds to the grouping of all or part of the infrastructure and equipment making up the mobile network. It can take several forms, such as passive infrastructure sharing, frequency mutualization, roaming, etc.

This type of model is said to be virtuous, as it allows significant savings in the deployment and operation of a mobile network, with a favorable effect on regional planning. Especially developed in Northern Europe, it allows the coverage of less dense areas where an operator alone would not be able to invest due to lack of profitability. It also contributes to the protection of the environment by reducing the number of infrastructures (notably towers) to be implemented. It is therefore a great tool for regulators.

Transversal coordination of internal and external teams

During this project, our teams ensured the transverse management with internal and external contributors who are the stakeholders of the 4 operators. For this purpose, we have mobilized various business profiles such as RAN technical experts, operations and production teams, as well as IS and business departments. The initiative was new in its format for most of the participants. This is why an agile mode of operation and an experimentation phase allowed us to gradually build a solution and to test the methods and tools for the industrialization phase.

Guidance in constructing an End-to-End method

This project requires a confirmed expertise in mobile networks, but also an ability to manage the governance of the project from beginning to end. Our experts managed all the phases of the project, from the scoping and inventory to the implementation of post-deployment QoS[2] projects: 

  • Implementing workshops to gather the different stakeholders and better identify the roles and contributions of each.
  • Organizing and implementing different phases of the project from experimentation to generalized deployment.
  • Drafting of deliverables such as technical specifications; master plan; process descriptions.
  • Managing inter-operator connection operations.
  • Providing support to after-sales service teams and network production units to resolve incidents and customer complaints in network life.
  • Implementing QoS improvement workshops.

Network expertise of Sofrecom's consultants allowed to bring a quality support and to define a method of deployment and exploitation of RAN Sharing type structures industrialized and replicable on the whole territory.

A Customer experience improvement project

This support has made a significant contribution to improving customer connectivity in low-density or rural areas. The implementation of a RAN Sharing structure has made it possible to accelerate access to the network in these areas where connectivity is of poor quality, often slow or non-existent. This multi-operator model allows real savings in the construction, maintenance and operation of the mobile network.

This project allowed our client, a telecom operator, to define its deployment and production process for shared 4G mobile networks, whether for updating existing sites to this network or for creating new sites. The project has provided a positive response to the connectivity needs of customers living in rural areas. A great initiative for the digital inclusion of territories.

Read more :

Mobile infrastructure sharing in France: the TowerCo outlook

Coverage of rural areas: Business model change could alter the game

Beyond carve-out

1 Radio Access Network

2 Quality of Service