Number of Subscribers per LTE Base Station

Back in 2016 I wrote an article in which I calculated the number of users that are served by an LTE base station site. I made my calculations based on the number of base station sites and subscribers in Germany that are publicly available. My conclusion was that an LTE base station site serves about 750 subscribers. A few days ago I came across this presentation by Nokia given at Aalto university in October 2018 which has interesting numbers on this topic as well.

Have a look at slide 5 to be surprised. According to Nokia, German network operators have around 9-10 base station sites per 10k population. That’s around 1000 subscribers per base station, i.e. it’s in the same ballpark as the 750 subscribers I calculated. So far so good. But the slide also says that in Japan, the base station density is twice as high and (drums!!!) Finland’s base station density is 4 times as high! So that’s an interesting data point that partly explains how Finish network operators can cope with an average of 15 GB of data traffic per subscriber per month while in Germany and many other countries, networks have to deal with less than 2 GB per user per month.

But to be fair, an average says nothing about the density in cities and if/whether/when congestion occurs there due to massive use. Hm, time for another Finland trip to get some first hand experience! Also, one could argue that if there are four times as many base stations in Finland per subscriber than in Germany, this would result in higher prices. But that’s not the case, Finish mobile subscriptions seem to be significantly cheaper than those in Germany, despite being real unlimited flat-rates.

One thought on “Number of Subscribers per LTE Base Station”

  1. Regarding the subscription price difference, I would also take the spectrum cost difference into account. Slide 8 says for 5G 3.5GHz it was lowest for Finland in Europe so far. And I think that low cost for spectrum happened also in the earlier LTE assignments. Whereas Germany is famous for being high cost on that. I bet in the ongoing 3.5 GHz auction the operators here will end once again with the highest amount to be paid in Europe if not even in the World overall.

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