On the resilience of cellular networks: how can national roaming help?

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Cellular networks have become one of the critical infrastructures, as many services depend increasingly on wireless connectivity. Therefore, it is important to quantify the resilience of existing cellular network infrastructures against potential risks, ranging from natural disasters to security attacks, that might occur with a low probability but can lead to severe disruption of the services. In this paper, we combine models with public data from national bodies on mobile network operator (MNO) infrastructures, population distribution, and urbanity level to assess the coverage and capacity of a cellular network at a country scale. Our analysis offers insights on the potential weak points that need improvement to ensure a low fraction of disconnected population (FDP) and high fraction of satisfied population (FSP). As a resilience improvement approach, we investigate in which regions and to what extent each MNO can benefit from infrastructure sharing or national roaming, i.e., all MNOs act as a single national operator. As our case study, we focus on Dutch cellular infrastructure and model risks as random failures, correlated failures in a geographic region, and abrupt increase in the number of users. Our analysis shows that there is a wide performance difference across MNOs and geographic regions in terms of FDP and FSP. However, national roaming consistently offers significant benefits, e.g., up to 13% improvement in FDP and up to 55% in FSP when the networks function without any failures.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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