Deployment of mobile broadband to rural areas has always been challenging. On the demand side, remote communities with little to no access to the Internet and low disposable income negatively affects user adoption. On the supply side, challenging terrain such as hills and valleys disrupt Line-of-Sight (LOS) connectivity while a lack of existing infrastructure makes deployments to locales situated far from city centers extremely costly. Both forces drive the price point up for rural mobile broadband deployment, making it economically unviable.
This report assesses some of the innovative solutions equipment vendors provide to overcome the challenges of rural connectivity. Currently, low-cost small cells complement macro base stations in providing rural coverage, but unique solutions such as tethered and untethered aerial platforms have the potential to disrupt the business model. Revenue and shipments for rural macro base station and small cell shipments are also analyzed in the report. Alternative business frameworks for rural deployment are also evaluated in the report. These frameworks recommend the roles governments, third-party providers and mobile network operators can play in successfully rolling out rural cellular networks.