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
Rationale for mapping
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
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/)