Local wireless access provision for rural penetration and urban diversification: A techno-economic analysis

Jaume Benseny

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


Wireless access services contribute to digitalization and economic growth; hence, its desirable that they become widely adopted by consumers and enterprises. These services are predominantly provided by nationwide operators, given country-level regulation and scale economies. However, their uniform offering and rigid technical solutions struggle to serve declining rural areas and competitive urban areas. This thesis studies how local wireless access provision can advance rural penetration and urban diversification by employing novel technology and introducing structural market changes. A techno-economic analysis is conducted through known and novel methods, providing empirical, managerial, and theoretical results over three logical steps. First, we identify market conditions that slow the diffusion of national services and/or enable local provision. To this end, we propose two novel methods for wireless technology diffusion investigation. One method studies national diffusion, measuring the spatial relationship between population density and diffusion determinants. When applied to the Finnish broadband, it reveals the positive role of spectrum policy on rural penetration and characterizes community commitment as a key local provision enabler. The other method investigates local diffusion, forecasting urban wireless traffic evolution, considering new devices and the role of policy. The traffic forecast of downtown Helsinki suggests that macrocell capacity may soon become fully utilized. Therefore, small cells with high deployment costs are needed to enable urban diversification. Second, we assess the feasibility of small cell and edge cloud technologies to address the identified limiting market conditions. We develop a cost model for deploying smart light poles equipped with millimeter wave cells and various sensors. The model includes novel hardware and deployment structures, cost sensitivities, and estimations for the smart city. For edge cloud technology, we assess operator adoption of a routing solution based on recent Information-Centric Networking (ICN) developments, i.e., IP-over-ICN. Benefits and challenges are identified regarding preexisting traffic and edge application provision. Finally, we evaluate local market structures that employ the previously studied technologies. We suggest that market structures around a community operator can advance rural penetration, given longer investment pay-back times, among other factors. For urban diversification, we indicate that local neutral operators can facilitate co-investment and data exchange across connectivity and data markets. Hence, local provision can mitigate initial deployment costs and promptly deliver new connectivity services when national provision struggles. We provide policy recommendations for local market structure realization.
Translated title of the contributionLocal wireless access provision for rural penetration and urban diversification: A techno-economic analysis
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Hämmäinen, Heikki, Supervising Professor
  • Töyli, Juuso, Thesis Advisor
  • Finley, Benjamin, Thesis Advisor
Print ISBNs978-952-64-0415-8
Electronic ISBNs978-952-64-0416-5
Publication statusPublished - 2021
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • techno-economics
  • wireless technology diffusion
  • wireless access
  • local wireless markets
  • local operators
  • data operators
  • city networks
  • rural networks
  • edge clouds


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