Network Sharing Could Be a Creative Way to Bridge the Digital Divide

By Jeff Johnston

April 2020

Key Points

  • Bridging the urban-rural digital divide will take a multi-pronged approach with creative business models. Simply relying on federal support is not enough.
  • Wireless network sharing is an example of such a business model. It is a way for operators to reduce their cost of service, enabling them to provide more wireless broadband coverage in high-cost areas.
  • Spectrum sharing in the CBRS band addresses many of the technical challenges of network sharing.
  • The influence of ESG investors could convince operators to expand their rural coverage.
  • The most likely scenario may be a third-party neutral host provider that builds and manages the network for the tenant operators.

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