@My New Handle
What kind of network is it that we want deploying?
The GSMA has provided the interoperability and scale that has made this kind of development possible. And, yes, the base station technology has become completely commodified but that wasn't the case 20 years ago when the first networks went up.
Real time network management, cell-handovers, billing info, etc. still have to be done but the move of the vendors to providing the whole network is indeed part of that change. And consider the time, labour and legal costs actually building the damn network.
All this so we can jabber from coast to coast. Yes, the licences were largely licences to print money but nobody forced to buy and use mobile phones.
As the article suggests the real use case might be installing "field networks" in remote areas.