Effect of population density and network availability on deployment of broadband PPDR mobile network service

Matti Peltola (Department of Communications and Networking, Aalto University, Espoo, Finland)
Heikki Hämmäinen (Department of Communications and Networking, Aalto University, Espoo, Finland)

Digital Policy, Regulation and Governance

ISSN: 2398-5038

Publication date: 8 January 2018



The purpose of the paper is to define the best deployment alternatives for a public protection and disaster relief (PPDR) mobile network service – the implementation alternatives being either a dedicated network, a commercial network or a hybrid of the two network types. The selection criteria are based on the social benefits that the PPDR mobile service is expected to bring to society. The critical parameters are population density and service availability, which both directly relate to the socioeconomic benefits achieved by providing broadband (BB) mobile services in various demographic areas.


A causal loop model has been developed to define the socioeconomic benefits of the PPDR network, the parameters being population density, service availability, socioeconomic value of the service and the costs of the network. The network solution alternatives are studied using the Finnish PPDR network as a reference – analysing various areas of the country with differing population densities from remote, rural and more densely populated suburban and urban areas.


Socioeconomic value is a common measure for assessing the value of governmental investments; population density has a strong impact on the optimum deployment alternatives as the socioeconomic value is directly proportional to this variable. The flat nationwide fee of the mobile users means that the users are subsidised in sparsely populated areas – and overcharged in densely populated areas. This is the main reason why the commercial network seems to be most feasible in rural areas, whereas the dedicated network works best in urban areas. Based on the case study, the commercial network is most preferable up to the point when the population density reaches 50-125 persons/km2. After that point, the dedicated network becomes more appropriate. Proposals are being made to improve the availability of the commercial networks enabling them to serve as a PPDR network: ensuring priority functionality and a protected power supply; allowing PPDR subscribers the exclusive use of one of the 700 MHz spectrum bands in restricted, critical areas; and extending use of the existing narrowband PPDR network in areas where communication availability is crucial.


On the one hand, the financing of BB PPDR mobile networks is an unresolved issue in many countries. On the other hand, the ability of commercial BB networks to provide better quality of service is improving, making viable the alternative to subscribe for radio service from a commercial operator. Therefore, the feasibility study on how to provide an optimum mobile BB service for PPDR organisations is of real value at this time.



Peltola, M. and Hämmäinen, H. (2018), "Effect of population density and network availability on deployment of broadband PPDR mobile network service", Digital Policy, Regulation and Governance, Vol. 20 No. 1, pp. 78-96. https://doi.org/10.1108/DPRG-07-2017-0042

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