Assessing the capacity, coverage and cost of 5G infrastructure strategies: Analysis of the Netherlands

Edward Oughton


Many of the technologies driving both the global economy and societal development, such as the Internet of Things, Industry 4.0 and Smart Healthcare, depend on adequate capacity and coverage of digital connectivity. It is therefore essential that wireless connectivity can be delivered in a cost-efficient way by Mobile Network Operators, for the benefit of all digital ecosystem actors. The contribution of this paper is to analyse the capacity, coverage and cost of different enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) infrastructure strategies, as the industry moves towards integrating new 5G spectrum bands and densifying existing networks. Both a supply-driven and demand-driven investment analysis is undertaken using a case study of the Netherlands. The supply-driven analysis estimates the capacity that can be provided to users via new spectrum, before network densification via small cells is required. The demand-driven analysis tests a range of required per user speeds including 30, 100 or 300 Mbps and quantifies the performance of investment strategies in meeting this demand. The key contribution is estimating the traffic threshold delivered per user from integrating 5G spectrum bands on the existing Dutch macrocell network. Based on the inputs of this analysis, we find that 5G spectrum bands provide an average per user traffic capacity improvement of approximately 40% for the Netherlands in comparison with the existing LTE capacity.