Some figures on Mobile Operator OPEX

Sometimes I find it really strange that a large part of wireless networks is everything but wireless. The only part which is really "wireless" is the radio channel between the user and the cell tower. Behind the base station data and voice is transferred over copper or fiber cables, or microwave links in some cases.

Kevin has come up with an interesting whitepaper on the evolution of the transmission network behind the base stations which is required to adapt the networks to the increasing demand for mobile data. Among many other things the following figures were quite interesting to me, especially when combined with an earlier post of mine on data usage of a mobile PC user and potential revenue generated per base station:

  • Cost of Running the Network: The percentage for running the network from the total operational expenditure (OPEX) is around 30%. On the other hand, 43% of the money goes to Marketing, Sales and Administration… (see figure 2 in the whitepaper). I wonder if (and where) the salaries of the various top executives (CEO, CTO, CMO,…) are included in the OPEX!? 😉
  • Backhaul Line Rental: On page 4, the whitepaper says that the line rental for a 2 MBit/s E-1 link used for most UMTS base stations today is about € 250.- per month. This amounts to about 1/3 of the 30% spent from the total OPEX on network operation.
  • Cost for Technical Personnel: The costs for technical personnel to run the network amounts to another third of the network operation costs. This is 10% of the overall OPEX. Not very much compared to the 43% for Marketing, Sales and Administration…