The doctoral dissertations of the former Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) and Aalto University Schools of Technology (CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI) published in electronic format are available in the electronic publications archive of Aalto University - Aaltodoc.

Techno-Economic Modelling of Wireless Network and Industry Architectures

Timo Smura

Doctoral dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Science in Technology to be presented with due permission of the School of Electrical Engineering for public examination and debate in Auditorium S1 at the Aalto University School of Electrical Engineering (Espoo, Finland) on the 23rd of March 2012 at 12 noon.

Overview in PDF format (ISBN 978-952-60-4525-2)   [1244 KB]
Dissertation is also available in print (ISBN 978-952-60-4524-5)


Rapid innovation in the domains of wireless communications and Internet brings new opportunities and challenges for the industry stakeholders. As Internet services and applications migrate to mobile devices, increasing demands for wireless networks arise. At the same time, increasing uncertainty exists about the role of different wireless technologies and actors providing services in the future network environment. Decision-making and forecasting requires therefore a holistic view, taking into account technology, business, and policy-related aspects.

This dissertation applies and develops techno-economic modelling methods for the study of wireless networks and services in the context of evolving industry architectures. The research is organised both chronologically and logically into two parts: 1) techno-economic modelling of selected wireless network and industry architecture scenarios, and 2) development of the techno-economic modelling methods in selected areas.

The dissertation makes several contributions to the theory and practice of techno-economic modelling. First, the dissertation explores the use of the predominantly technology-focused modelling methods in studying alternative industry architectures. Three separate techno-economic modelling studies are presented, analysing the feasibility of fixed WiMAX network deployments, virtual operator models in mobile networks, and industry architectures for DVB-H -based mobile television. In each of these studies, a systematic modelling process is followed, consisting of the following steps: market and service definition, technology definition, industry architecture definition, revenue modelling, cost modelling, discounted cash flow analysis, and sensitivity analysis. Second, the dissertation advances the theory and practise of techno-economic modelling in selected areas. A novel approach for planning and forecasting technology product evolution and new product feature diffusion is developed, combining existing models of product category diffusion and product unit replacement behaviour with a previously unexplored phenomenon of product feature dissemination. In addition, a holistic framework for analysing the usage of mobile services is developed, linking available usage measurement points to the four main technical components of mobile services: devices, networks, applications, and content. The framework is utilised in a study of mobile data service usage in Finland. Finally, scenario planning methods are used to manage and bound uncertainties related to the future of local area access networks, and more generally suggested as a complement to techno-economic modelling in defining and selecting the technology and industry architectures for analysis.

This thesis consists of an overview and of the following 7 publications:

  1. T. Smura, A. Kiiski and H. Hämmäinen, Virtual operators in the mobile industry: A techno-economic analysis, Netnomics, vol. 8, no. 1-2, pp. 25-48, 2007.
  2. E. Kivisaari, T. Autio, T. Smura and H. Hämmäinen, Operator Roles in Mobile Broadcast, Nordic and Baltic Journal of Information and Communication Technologies, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 48-60, 2008.
  3. T. Smura, H. Hämmäinen, T. Rokkas and D. Katsianis, Techno-economic analysis of fixed WiMAX networks, in Mobile WiMAX – Toward Broadband Wireless Metropolitan Area Networks, New York: Auerbach Publications, 2008.
  4. T. Smura, A. Kivi and J. Töyli, A Framework for Analyzing the Usage of Mobile Services, INFO – The journal of policy, regulation and strategy for telecommunications, information and media, vol. 11, no. 4, pp. 53-67, 2009.
  5. T. Smura and A. Sorri, Future Scenarios for Local Area Access: Industry Structure and Access Fragmentation, in Proceedings of the Eighth International Conference on Mobile Business (ICMB 2009), Dalian, China, June 27-28, 2009.
  6. T. Smura, A. Kivi and J. Töyli, Mobile Data Services in Finland: Usage of Networks, Devices, Applications, and Content, International Journal of Electronic Business, vol. 9, no. 1/2, pp. 138-157, 2011.
  7. A. Kivi, T. Smura and J. Töyli, Technology product evolution and the diffusion of new product features, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, vol. 79, no. 1, pp. 107-126, 2012.

Keywords: techno-economic modelling, mobile, wireless, industry architecture

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© 2012 Aalto University

Last update 2012-10-31