How many cell towers in Country X

Guesstimate Market sizing tmt
New answer on Feb 12, 2022
3 Answers
Anonymous A asked on Feb 11, 2022

Hi, I have been practicing a lot of back of the envelope/guesstimate style cases and am a little stuck on the logical breakdown of this question. 

First method i‘ve considered: 

- area size of country 

- determining #cell towers per ^2km 

Second method i’ve considered 

- determining connections that require cell towers e.g. mainly through #cellular devices scattered across major cities 
- assuming roughly the #cellular devices covered by a single tower & scaling 

Any thoughts and feedback would be appreciated. Thanks.

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Best answer
replied on Feb 11, 2022
Empathic coach, former McKinsey Engagement Manager |Secure offers from top consulting firms

Great ideas. For market sizing questions start with understanding what are the drivers behind the demand of the quantity you are estimating are. Then test these with the interviewer and structure your approach based on the drivers. In this example, there are also many answers but let's assume the following is the case: 

- Number of towers' main driver is cell phone usage plus there is a buffer of unused capacity in case of fluctuations in usage. 

- Inquire whether different networks need different towers or different providers need different towers. Let's assume the interviewer says you can simplify you do not need to consider different types of networks (eg 3G) or providers. If that is fine then the number of towers is simplified:

- - # towers= (# cell phones* average cell phone usage+ a buffer factor for unsed capacity in towers)/average total usage servable by a single tower 

- Then they might ask you additionally to estimate the number of cell phones in that country yourself, etc.

This is just one suggested simplified approach. My proposal is generally with market sizing questions test with the interviewer whether you are allowed to simplify by making him aware of the detailed option and suggesting ways to simplify. This way you are on the safe side.  If you are not using a calculator, even propose rounded numbers wherever possible. I hope this helps. If you have further questions, feel free to reach out personally.

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replied on Feb 12, 2022
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replied on Feb 11, 2022
Bain | EY-Parthenon | Roland Berger | FIT | Market Sizing | Former Head Recruiter

You could start with population as well. Area of the country is not really the major driver, as rural areas have different type of networks (which are much lower density).

Of course, if a country has a huge rural area, you could approach it with two segments, one for urban population, and the other for rural population, with different number of towers per 1000 people.

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Empathic coach, former McKinsey Engagement Manager |Secure offers from top consulting firms
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