The telecom industry is rapidly transforming. Customers are demanding denser coverage and higher speeds in expanding areas. To keep pace, carriers are making strategic infrastructure investments to expand and improve coverage. T-Mobile and Sprint, for example, invested billions of dollars in 2017 to bring 5G service to customers in the US by 2019.¹
They aren’t the only ones. IDC forecasts spending on 5G-related routing and optical backhaul will rise at CAGRs of 146.1% and 129.6%, respectively, in the next five years.²
But infrastructure investments are costly and time-intensive, especially for carriers with a wide coverage area. To expand coverage in high-demand areas, such as densely populated areas like Southern California, finding a local carrier network infrastructure provider is often the best option.
Local infrastructure providers already have the sites carriers need. They often have a dense array of infrastructure options, including base stations, antennas, lattice towers, A-frame tower structures, tubular steel poles, streetlights and small cell towers that you can use to expand your capacity.
Like all service providers, all carrier network infrastructure vendors aren’t created equal. Some will have a wider array of infrastructure options and coverage than others. To find a provider that meets your needs, use these tips.
Tips for Choosing the Best Carrier Network Infrastructure Provider
Assess On-Net Fiber Optic Maps
One of the major benefits of using a network infrastructure provider is that you don’t need to invest the time and resources into building your own infrastructure in order to provide denser, high-speed coverage to your customers. That benefit only comes if local providers have the infrastructure you need in the area you’re targeting.
To determine if local providers have the coverage you need, start by assessing their on-net maps. While not all-inclusive in terms of wireless infrastructure and backhaul capabilities, on-net maps will give you a good idea of how extensive the vendor’s fiber optic network is and where they concentrate their services. Vendors with a strong presence in your target area will be more likely to have infrastructure that meets your needs. If vendors have little to no presence in your target area, you can save time and avoid contacting providers who aren’t likely to fulfill your needs.
Review Wireless Backhaul Capabilities
Customers are demanding seamless, reliable and secure networks that can handle massive amounts of streaming to televisions, mobile devices and other multimedia applications. To meet this demand, carriers will need to partner with service providers that offer wireless backhaul capabilities that can handle large volumes of data and high speed demands.
To avoid the need to switch providers unnecessarily in the future, you should also ensure your third-party provider is ready to support the next generation of network needs. By having access to a large network of wireless cell sites in specific locations, carriers can extend communication services to existing and new sites, meeting expanding needs with next-gen technology.
Evaluate Infrastructure Variety
Carriers looking to expand the service and quality of their connections, will want to leverage a network provider that offers a diverse portfolio of infrastructure equipment.
If you’re looking to expand service in the Southern California area, for example, look for a provider that already owns electric transmission towers and street lights throughout the already well-developed area. The wider the variety of infrastructure assets in each local area you’re targeting, the more likely it is that you’ll find existing sites that offer high-quality connections.
Consider Package Options and Flexibility
The demands on carriers are consistently changing as customers search for higher performing services. Keep that in mind when selecting a third-party infrastructure provider. Look for a vendor that can adjust their RFP packages to reflect your budgets and needs today, and be ready to scale with you as you grow.
For example, you may not be ready to broaden your network to more than 800 sites all at once. Instead, you can likely meet demand by selecting fewer key sites to focus on immediately, then create a plan to incorporate others in time. In the same vein, you’ll want to tailor services.
The best local carrier network infrastructure providers will work with your needs, providing different package options and the flexibility to shift as your requirements change. When evaluating providers, ask about flexibility up front to ensure you’re committing to the right partner.
Consider More than Just Infrastructure Availability
The four considerations above will help you choose the right infrastructure provider for your business, but they’re not catch-all categories. Expertise, whether or not providers own all their infrastructure or also lease from other parties, and customer service should all come into play. Vendors with proven experience and knowledge about local zoning, engineering design, and equipment installation support will be critical when expanding into new areas.
Often, the best local providers will work with all the requirements above and own all their infrastructure. They may also provide custom services, such as attending municipal meetings to lend support for your projects, providing expertise on local restrictions, and even speaking on your behalf.
As you evaluate your options, consider similar services that you may need. Will your provider go above and beyond to help you expand? Find a provider who will partner with you to expand your capacity now and in the future.
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