The global telecom towers market was valued at 4342.520 thousand units in 2020, and it is projected to be 5308.088 thousand units by 2026, registering a CAGR of 3.34% over the period 2021-2026. The leasing concept has enabled the MNOs to invest heavily in developing their infrastructure and reach across rural regions, thus bringing new revenues to the tower operators through tower installations. Tower-sharing is one of the significant growth drivers for the telecom industry, as it provides benefits like cost reduction and faster data rollout. The telecom tower industry has gained prominence as an independent industry, mainly in India and the United States.
- With the outbreak of COVID-19, the telecom industry has witnessed a significant increase in demand for internet services due to a major chunk of the population staying at home and remote working conditions. The increase in people working from home has led to an increase in demand for downloading, online video viewing, and communication through video conferencing, all of which are leading to increased network traffic and data usage - Over recent years, there has been a surge in the installation of telecom towers. The telecommunication exchange websites estimated that over 250,000 towers would be erected globally in 2020 alone, with operators from China and India contributing the highest to the new tower installations. These towers are operator-owned tower companies, including new towercos owned by companies, such as Vodafone, Reliance Jio, Orange, and Hutchison. Further, the operator-owned towerco sector was developed by the equivalent of more than eight edotcos in the previous year. Operator-led towercos now own 55.6% of the world’s towers, up from 52.7% at the same time the previous year. - The telecom tower industry has drastically evolved over the past decade. The core towerco proposition and business models have been successfully adapted to match the demands of new markets in Africa, Southeast Asia, Europe, China, and, most recently, the Middle East. There is relatively little territory left for the industry to colonize. - The operator-owned segment may dwarf the independent towerco sector, but China Tower still distorts its market share. Excluding China Tower from the consideration, operator-led towercos may own 24.6% of the towers globally and independent towercos 22.2%. The growth of the operator-led towercos and independent towercos has principally come at the expense of Mobile Network Operators (MNOs)-captive sites. - Tower-sharing is one of the significant growth drivers for the telecom industry, as it presents benefits, such as cost reduction and faster data rollout. The telecom tower industry has obtained high prominence as an independent industry, mainly in India and the United States. - Tower companies have been focusing on building new cell sites that include ground-based towers, rooftops, and DAS, to overcome the competition from mobile network operators, who are planning to build their own operator-led towers. Also, tower companies are increasingly acquiring the cell sites owned by MNOs through sale and leaseback transactions.
Key Market Trends Operator-owned Tower is Expected to Register a Significant Growth
- In the operator-owned telecom tower segment of the market studied, multiple mobile network operators (MNOs) are responsible for the construction, functioning, and maintenance of the towers. These services are being increasingly outsourced to third-party companies in the emerging economies. - Globally, the proportion of towers owned by MNOs decreased when compared to 2018. Many of these tower assets were trapped on MNO balance sheets as a function of regulatory policy. For instance, if foreign, direct ownership of towers is not permitted to exceed 50%. In other instances, the MNO may still see its towers as a source of competitive differentiation, or the market it serves or MNO itself may be seen as less investible by the tower industry. - Between towercos nearing saturation of addressable markets and investible portfolios globally, combined with the growing tendency of MNOs to carve out and keep operator-led towercos, towercos are having to look beyond their core business of building, purchasing, and leasing ‘vertical real estate’ to consider new assets and new services. Indeed, according to many towerco leaders, upwards of 50% of organic growth is now found not in macro towers and rooftops, but in lamp posts and in-building solutions. - Operators own more than two million telecom towers, while third parties have constructed the rest. Moreover, the advent of operator-owned companies that provide telecom towers, such as Bharti Infratel (India), with other MNOs as their clients, has provided further growth to the operator-owned telecom tower segment. - The trend of ownership of towers varies from region to region. In Asia Pacific, operators cling to their towers as a primary source of differentiation. In contrast, in the US tower market, a significant majority of the towers have long since been transferred from MNOs to independent companies.
North America is Expected to Hold Major Share
- The United States Landscape is one of the most competitive landscapes for major vendors as many companies are operating for growth due to the excessive demands for 5G telecom in the country. The country has many key vendors engaging in mergers, acquisitions, partnerships, rollouts, and coalitions. - In December 2020, American Tower Corporation announced that it had completed its acquisition of InSite Wireless Group LLC for nearly USD 3.5 billion. American Tower expects the assets acquired from InSite to generate approximately USD 150 million in property revenue and approximately USD 115 million in gross margin in 2021. - SBA Communications is a major tower provider in the United States with around 10,000 towers in the country and it is known for its focus on wireless communications. Also, the company announced a long-term master lease agreement with DISH, that will provide DISH with access to SBA’s nationwide portfolio of wireless communications sites. - In Canada, mobile wireless services have been the largest and fastest-growing sector of the telecommunications industry in recent years, and that trend is expected to continue with the deployment of new technologies such as fifth-generation (5G) networks and new applications including the Internet of Things (IoT). - Bell Mobility, RCCI, and TCI (collectively, the national wireless carriers) together exercise market power in the provision of retail mobile wireless services in all provinces except Saskatchewan, where SaskTel exercises sole market power. Bell Mobility exercises market power in the provision of retail mobile wireless services in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and Yukon. - According to the Commission’s 2020 Communications Monitoring Report, mobile wireless service revenue reached CAD 28 billion in 2019, representing over 55.5% of all telecommunications service revenues. The number of mobile wireless service subscribers was 34.4 million in 2019, an increase of 1.2 million over the previous year. Average monthly data consumption also continued to increase, with subscribers now using 2.9 gigabytes (GB) of data on average per month, more than double the average consumption of 1.4 GB per month in 2015.
Competitive Landscape The telecom tower market is highly competitive and consists of several major players. In terms of market share, few of the major players currently dominate the market. These major players with prominent shares in the market are focusing on expanding their customer base across foreign countries. These companies are leveraging strategic collaborative initiatives to increase their market share and profitability. The companies operating in the market are also acquiring start-ups working on telecom towers to strengthen their product capabilities. Hence the market concentration is high.
- April 2021 - Telxius announced a collaboration with Ciena a networking systems, services and software company, to power two transatlantic submarine cables, Marea and Dunant. Ciena’s Spectrum Sharing submarine network infrastructure will allow Telxius to provide highly flexible managed spectrum services while offering customers customised virtual fiber pairs. - March 2021 - Helios Towers enters into agreements with Airtel Africa Group companies for the acquisition and rollout of over 2,500 sites. They signed agreements with Airtel Africa to acquire its passive infrastructure operating companies in Madagascar and Malawi and enter exclusive memorandum of understanding arrangements for the potential acquisition of its passive infrastructure assets in Chad and Gabon. - March 2021 - CMPak and Huawei conduct Pakistan’s first commercial use of Smart 8T8R. Zong 4G has successfully implemented Pakistan’s first Smart 8T8R in collaboration with Huawei Technologies. The implementation was done on CMPak’s (Zong’s) existing 4T4R network, which was upgraded to Smart 8T8R in Lahore. This technological advancement has increased the capacity by 1.8 times, improving the user experience by folds. The launch of Smart 8T8R, in particular willpave the way for future technologies, including 5G, in Pakistan. - Feburary 2021 - The SBA Communications Corporation announced a long-term master lease agreement with DISH, that will provide DISH an access to SBA’s nationwide portfolio of wireless communications sites. DISH will lease the towers from SBA while SBA will deliver a variety of pre-construction functions. - October 2020 - The Deutsche Funkturm GmbH announced its entry into a consortium which includes KATHREIN Broadcast GmbH, Dr.Ing. h.c.F. Porsche AG, Rohde & Schwarz GmbH & Co. KG, Südwestrundfunk, TechnischeUniversität Braunschweig - Institut für Nachrichtentechnikand Telekom Deutschland GmbH to carry out a two year project to combine two high-power-high-tower transmitters located at the broadcast network sites in Stuttgart and Heilbronn and low-power-low-tower transmitters at mobile network sites in terms of a single frequency network amongst various other objectives supporting the growth of 5G.
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