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Closing Broadband Gaps: Altman Solon's Global Network Planning Survey

Arrow by Altman Solon empowers leading telecom and network operators to implement better network deployment strategies for 5G, fiber, and broadband, ultimately improving returns by more than 50%. Arrow by Altman Solon creates a cohesive, robust blueprint for network expansion and upgrade needs, analyzing and optimizing network deployment decisions to minimize costs and maximize growth.

Today, billions of dollars are being deployed to address the significant Internet connectivity gaps that exist. Still, many residential and business subscribers remain unserved and underserved in the U.S. and globally. Less than 40% of households in the United States have access to more than one provider for high-speed broadband (>250 Mbps) and enterprises often struggle to compete or provide essential services without sufficient connectivity. To bridge these gaps, network operators and equity partners are increasing their investment in digital infrastructure, but inconsistencies in the network planning process present significant challenges.

Altman Solon’s recent Global Network Planning Survey, which gauges the network planning practices of top global broadband providers, finds that nearly all providers surveyed are planning to increase subscribers over the next three to five years. Further analysis suggests, assuming an average expansion plan size of 1,000 locations, providers will need to collectively develop approximately 2,500 plans per month over the next five years. With high growth expectations, a hyper-competitive landscape, and vast amounts of fiber needed to achieve those goals, an effective network planning process is key to timely deployment decisions and return on investment.


Throughout the network planning process, providers are constantly navigating changing assumptions, integrating multiple data sets, and managing various internal stakeholders, all of which must be mapped across business and technical considerations. The misalignment that can often result, which survey respondents noted as a top priority to address as they approach a period of growth, can delay decision-making and timelines throughout a network expansion. Faced with an ever-increasing demand for connectivity and more players looking to stake their claim in certain areas, rapid deployment will be a key determinant of success for those looking to expand their footprint.

To understand the success of an expansion and begin planning for areas that may be most attractive to consider for future expansions, measurement is imperative; yet there is no one-size-fits all metric that defines success. The survey found that respondents identified net subscriber growth and ROI as primary metrics of focus – a leading indicator for frequent measurement and holistic financial metric respectively – painting a picture that a project is heading in the right direction.


As the landscape becomes increasingly competitive and complex, amid growing demands on networks to close the connectivity gaps that persist, the margin for error has never been thinner for operators balancing growth goals and commercial objectives. Those keen on reaching new subscribers and maximizing the ROI of their expansions should develop a strategy that removes functional siloes, leverages integrated geospatial and business planning tools, and aligns on goals and metrics that define success at the outset.

Altman Solon recently conducted its Global Network Planning Survey, compiling findings from interviews and surveys of over 60 executives from network operators directly involved in the network planning process. Surveying decision-makers covering a range of strategic and technical functions and various operator types, the findings highlight how providers are approaching network planning to expand their footprint and bridge the existing digital divide.

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Leadership & Oversight

Ben Yemini