The deployment of fixed and mobile wireless services in rural areas gives rise to unique opportunities and challenges that include subscriber-less services, service coverage, and wireless-transmission derived challenges.
One major challenge that arises in rural deployments is subscriber-less services mode, where revenues are often derived from other service providers’ subscribers in the form of roaming fees.
Despite being one-step removed (not direct subscribers), the speed and quality of service is still crucial. In fact, in subscriber-less services mode, the effect of low service availability or downtime directly impacts revenues. In contrast, in the case of subscriber-based service mode, low service availability or downtime is only reflected as churn when an operators’ direct subscribers experience ongoing or repeated service degradation.
Service coverage is another major challenge that arises in rural deployments. It is often challenging to achieve coverage in remote locations that are usually sparsely populated or unpopulated, for example wide-open spaces and places along highways, national parks, deserts, mountainous terrains, etc. However, despite these challenging environmental conditions, achieving wide coverage is essential to the validity of an operator’s business case as the areas that are the hardest to cover are actually the ones that are the most attractive in terms of national-roaming agreements.
The abovementioned challenges heavily reflect on wireless transmission. Although well-suited for rural geographies and deployments, many wireless transmission systems also pose challenges that include long distance, power efficiency, reliability and maintenance.
Going the maximum distance is essential to minimize sites, reduce costs, and maximize operational efficiency. In order to reach distance locations where service is essential, operators can utilize ultra-high power radios, and still eliminate or reduce the need for relay sites (which are often very hard to establish). This also facilitates the use of smaller antennas, which have significant impact on both CAPEX and OPEX as well as tower load.
With some sites that are “off-the-grid,” power consumption matters and translates into time and money spent on generator maintenance and refueling. In certain scenarios, reducing the wireless transmission equipment power consumption allows the use of a smaller generator.
High reliability & low maintenance
Due to distance, geography and weather/environmental conditions, physically accessing sites can be time consuming and challenging. For this reason, reliability and availability are imperatives for service assurance and revenue protection. This calls for a reliable, flexible, remotely upgradable and low maintenance wireless transmission solution.
Overcoming wireless-transmission challenges is vital for the successful deployment of fixed and mobile wireless services in rural areas. The key to enabling the successful implementation of such services, Is the deployment of a power-efficient, highly reliable wireless transmission system that is of extremely low-maintenance.