The high cost and complexity of mobile network deployments, and low revenue prospects, have been barriers to rural infrastructure investment. This report analyzes the challenges of connecting rural and remote areas, and discusses the feasibility of using small-cell equipment and various backhaul technologies.
The report is structured over eight sections. Following an executive summary and an introduction, Section 3 defines the rural and remote use cases addressable by small-cell technologies, and the different characteristics and challenges associated with these use cases.
Section 4 outlines the possible deployment scenarios. Small-cell network architectures can range from simple deployment of few standalone access points to a more complicated structure of small-cell clusters supported by local switching and virtualized core functions. Section 4 also discusses the challenges of deploying remote and rural backhaul links. Several backhaul options might be suitable for rural deployments depending on the use case and the backhaul cost and availability. The section focuses on satellite and sub-6 GHz non-line-of-sight (NLOS) technologies as promising backhaul options.
Section 5 discusses the business cases for rural and remote small cells and operators’ strategies to increase return on investment.
Sections 6 and 7 provide rural and remote examples for vendors’ solutions and operators’ network deployments, respectively.
Finally, Section 8 concludes with further deployment and technology development considerations for operators, equipment providers, and rural and remote communities and authorities.