Step 1c: Mapping Key Elements

Other Network Infrastructure

Regardless whether a top-down, bottom-up or blended approach is selected, existing network infrastructure will have to be mapped to identify what potential service options are available or will need to be established. This includes identifying sources of backhaul capacity, such as fibre-optic cable routes and PoPs, in order to understand the amount of capacity that will be available for the access network – and its cost. One of the biggest operational expenses for rural and remote networks is the cost of backhaul (middle mile) Internet capacity. The availability of existing backhaul service to a locality thus lowers the cost of service provision (both capital and operating expenses). Backhaul mapping includes identifying existing backhaul options currently available to the locality, identifying the nearest PoPs for other core-network and middle-mile infrastructure, and determining the cost of establishing new backhaul links.

Table 7: Sources of network infrastructure data

Infrastructure type

Rationale for mapping

Potential sources

Fibre-optic cable routes and PoPs

Signals backhaul availability for high-capacity, lower-cost bandwidth

Fibre backhaul providers, national regulator, ITU Broadband Transmission Maps

Cellular network (coverage and towers)

Signals potential backhaul (fibre- or microwave-to-the-tower) and existing access network availability

MNO coverage maps, national regulator, crowd-sourced data (e.g.: OpenSignal, OpenCellID)

Satellite coverage maps

Signals potential backhaul (fibre- or microwave-to-the-premise) and existing access network availability

Mozilla Location Services and Facebook App

Spectrum rights

Can determine if spectrum bands allocated to given services are already assigned to providers. If yes, then confirmation is obtained that obligations are being met; if no, then potential arises for legally leveraging unassigned (or unused) spectrum.

National regulator, crowd-sourced open telecommunication data tracking (for Africa: https://opentelecomdata.org/spectrum-chart/)