Digital communications

Digital infrastructure (covering both fixed and wireless communications) is a rapidly evolving sector, with intense technological innovation and faster asset replacement rates that the other sectors we have studied. Digital communication is also fundamental to how infrastructure will be used and operated in future.

Under ITRC-MISTRAL, we are developing an open-source modelling framework which will allow users to test the performance of different infrastructure deployment strategies against future demand. These kind of open-source assessment models are common in other infrastructure sectors such as energy, but this is not yet the case for digital infrastructure. Our model provides unprecedented spatial detail, modelling from the core network to the end user.

Our framework applies a techno-economic modelling approach, which incorporates the cost implications of different technologies. This is usually neglected in purely engineering-focused approaches. These results will provide new insight into the performance of digital communications networks for network operators, governments, equipment manufacturers and other stakeholders in the digital ecosystem.

ITRC-MISTRAL research in this area is being actively developed, and is already being applied and used in different national contexts. ITRC-MISTRAL researchers investigated the cost of rolling out 5G infrastructure in Britain to inform the National Infrastructure Commission’s Connected Future report, and work for the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs has assessed the costs associated with deploying 5G coverage across the Netherlands.