Techno-economic study of 5G network slicing to improve rural connectivity in India

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Around 40% of the world’s population is currently without access to the internet. The digital divide is due to the high cost of provisioning these services and the low return on investment for network operators. We propose using 5G network slicing with multi-tenancy (also known as neutral host networks (NHN)) for macro-cells and small cells in rural areas to reduce the costs. This paper investigates the techno-economic feasibility of using rural 5G NHN to minimise the digital divide.A generic model is developed to analyse the techno-economic analysis of 5G NHN deployment around the world, with a special focus on rural areas where no MNO is interested in providing services. To understand the application, it is applied to the Indian scenario. First, a discussion on existing infrastructure, competition and statistics for Indian telecommunications is presented. Next, the technical requirements are analysed using the key performance indicators (KPI) required for the rural 5G NHN for the Indian scenario. The study also analyses the relationship between coverage, investment in the network, the number of subscribers, investment time, demand, the investment per user and sensitivity analysis to understand the feasibility of the proposed solution for Indian villages with different input conditions. Later, a case study is carried out based on the proposed approach, along with coverage modelling for a few Indian villages having different topologies. The results show that 5G NHN using network slicing can significantly reduce the total investment
required for providing 5G services in rural areas. Furthermore, the study shows that rural 5G NHN is a viable investment and a key enabler for internet connectivity for villages with 10-year investment, having a subscribers’ base as low as 100 with a customer growth rate of 7%.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2645-2659
Number of pages15
JournalIEEE Open Journal of the Communications Society
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2021


  • 5G networks
  • rural connectivity
  • India


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