Whatever happened to single wholesale networks?
Mar 09, 2023 by Jonathan Watson


In the Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams notes with amazement that the inhabitants of Earth “still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea”.

Single wholesale networks (SWNs) also once seemed like a “pretty neat idea”.

Those who backed the concept claimed it would enable mobile coverage to be achieved everywhere, even reaching those parts of the country where mobile operators feared to tread (as there was no money to be made).

SWNs also meant operators wouldn’t have to max out their credit cards building those annoyingly expensive networks. All the lovely savings they would make as a result could then be handed over to consumers—possibly as piles of cash in easy-to-carry bags.

And if providing coverage were to become cheaper, it would also get easier for new players to enter the mobile market, thereby making it more competitive.

Sadly, things don’t seem to have worked out that way. Almost everywhere that SWNs have been tried, things just don’t seem to have worked out.

To find out more, take a look at our new research note on single wholesale mobile networks. It is available to all subscribers to our Spectrum Research Service.