Managing uncertainties in broadband investments - case studies of real options for rural area access networks

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Aalto-yliopiston teknillinen korkeakoulu | Doctoral thesis (monograph)
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Verkkokirja (3410 KB, 142 s.)
Report / Helsinki University of Technology, Department of Communications and Networking 1/2010
The aim of the study is to analyze uncertainties in broadband access network investments and determine how real option valuation can be used to manage uncertainties. A rough theoretical model for network investment valuation is summarized. The economics of different broadband access technologies, including WiMAX and ADSL and Flash-OFDM, in rural area is analyzed with the developed methods. The adaptation of the service is modeled by different S-shaped curves and those models are used to make service penetration forecasts in Finland. The analyses of investments are based on the statistical characteristics of the simulated net present values (NPV) and investment costs of the projects. Different option valuation methods, e.g., Black-Scholes formula and binomial tree and modular Monte-Carlo simulation, are implemented in the study. These valuation methods are compared with scenario based discounted cash flows. The shape of the NPV distribution for an investment varies depending on the technology and service area of the network. The study shows that the distribution of the network investment costs is log-normal because of the network coverage requirements and the exponential growth of the average network traffic per user. This makes the distribution of the NPV negatively skewed. The shape of the distributions and the valuation models that can theoretically be applied vary from case to case. Thus, there is no single statistical model that could be safely used to optimize the size of the network. The statistical analysis and the comparison of the methods show that Monte-Carlo real option simulation gives the most reliable results. The simulated service area, a small municipality called Ähtäri, seems to be a challenging business case for operators. With wide coverage and an operation period of 8 years, the expectation of the NPV is negative for WiMAX and positive for ADSL. However, the WiMAX network has an option to extend the service area to summer cottages, too. Another analyzed service case, ITS for railways seems to be profitable and comprehends several technology and growth options for train operator.
Supervising professor
Östergård, Patric, Prof.
Thesis advisor
Östergård, Patric, Prof.
adaptation of new technology, broadband access, forecasting, Internet, network investment, real option, techno-economics
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