Network sharing is becoming more and more popular as a means to provide coverage quickly and in a cost efficient way. The high price paid for the license in some countries as well as mergers, acquisitions have raised recently high interest in this topic. For these reasons 3GPP has decided to investigate what shortcomings currently in the technical specifications may prevent a standardized approach to the deployment of shared networks. This TR is aimed to describe a wide variety of possible network sharing and highlight the expected user experience for each of the scenarios. Charging aspects, terminal aspects and security are also investigated.
The purpose of this technical report is to collate in a single document the requirements, considerations and deployment scenarios that operators as well as users need to see fulfilled for a successful use of a shared network. Particular attention has been given in making possible the avoidance of proprietary solutions particularly for what concerns the terminals.
Furthermore, the concepts discussed in this report may be applied to sharing a GERAN and UTRAN infrastructure, in this sense the interest in network sharing tools extends to the vast majority of the existing GSM operators who intend to deploy a UMTS Terrestrial Radio Access Network layer to complement the existing GSM/GPRS coverage.
In the current dynamic market place, as a result of partnerships, acquisitions, creative agreements among operators and so on, the need for tools that enable various degrees of network sharing is becoming more and more important.
When GSM and then UMTS were specified, the possibility of sharing part or all of the network by two or more separated commercial entities was not considered and as a result the standards lack some functionalities that enable the realisation of such commercial agreements.
GSM was designed under the principle "one operator, one radio access network". The GSM network has some possibilities of infrastructure sharing, but it does not support true radio access network sharing. The initial design of 3GPP system has followed the same principle.
This technical report is aimed to capture the service and user requirements that must be fulfilled by the 3GPP system in order to enable network sharing in a standardised way. Section 5 describes various Network sharing includes various scenarios e.g. spanning from common radio access network connected to multiple core networks toor multiple radio access networks sharing one core network. Section 6 contains a summary of the user classification and network identities. In section 7 the user requirements are described, while section 8 deals with the network operator requirements. Section 9 describes the mobility requirements in a shared network. The rest of the document is covering security (section 10) and charging (section 11). Some conclusions can be found in section 12 and an annex with examples of practical realisation of network sharing is provided.