Operators around the world are building the next and 5th generation of mobile networks. 5G is clearly an evolution, and commercial products are combinations of 4G, 5G, NB-LTE and other technologies. While 5G promises a new technological revolution, there are major regulatory challenges to deploy networks and new business models.

Strand Consult’s survey of the past 25 years of building and operating mobile networks shows that conditions for mobile operators have gotten worse, not better, for operators. The process to erect a single mobile mast/antenna can take between 12-36 months and cost €150,000 – €350,000. Policymakers and local government want to copy-paste the tower paradigm to small cell networks, a development which would kill 5G in the cradle.

While operators are stepping up their investments in spectrum, infrastructure, and technology, consumers increasingly complain about mobile coverage. Demand for data has exploded but subscriber revenues have not kept pace. As such, operators need to take concerted steps to optimize the expected benefits and costs when they deploy 5G. Operators need to learn how to rollout infrastructure, to find partners for business models, and to address the regulatory challenges that impede its business.