5 ways leveraging digitisation solves the major problems facing the tower industry today
Guest blog post by vHive ahead of TX Meetup Asia 2023
The telecom tower industry faces critical challenges as the business shifts to accommodate 5G rollout, a rapidly evolving M&A landscape, and volatility in real estate and energy prices. These challenges make it more important than ever for tower companies to leverage the tools available to improve key performance indicators and manage costs effectively.
In recent years, digitization has emerged as a transformative force that promises to address some of the tower industry’s most pressing needs and revolutionize the telecom tower landscape.
Automated, drone-enabled tower surveys; digital twins; and AI-powered analysis tools are a technology combination that delivers unparalleled accuracy and insights to industry stakeholders. Digitization technology such as digital twin platforms provides tower companies with a single source of truth about their assets in the field and the tools to generate accurate, targeted insights about their portfolios. This accessible and easily understood data enables proactive decision-making, smoother operational processes, and optimized revenues.
This article delves into how the digitization of assets can address specific industry pain points and propel tower companies towards better outcomes: improved tenancy ratios, increased revenue per site, streamlined tower maintenance processes, and enhanced customer communications.
1. Improving Tenancy Ratios through Data-Driven Insights
Digitization offers a comprehensive solution to improving tenancy ratios, a key performance indicator for the tower industry. Traditional approaches to tower management often lack real-time visibility into tower occupancy and usage, relying upon outdated records and infrequent surveys. Inaccurate, siloed, and inaccessible data makes it difficult for stakeholders to understand exactly what each tower holds, which tenant owns the equipment, and where opportunities exist to add equipment on existing towers.
Tower digitization platforms provide digital twins of towers that allow customers to immediately identify unused space, so that they can strategically target potential tenants. As the 5G rollout continues and next generation telco equipment is deployed, accurate tenant data and analytics help users optimize tower space while avoiding overload.
2. Increasing Revenue per Site with Digitization
Accurate revenue management is paramount for sustained growth in the telecom tower industry. Inaccurate tower data makes it difficult to confirm what equipment is held by each customer, and where that equipment is located. Manual revenue tracking processes and spreadsheets are error-prone and can lead to substantial revenue leakage.
Digitization of field assets provides the single source of truth that both tower companies and their customers require, equipping users with accurate, comprehensive information about each piece of equipment, including the ability to associate the equipment with the owner. This not only ensures accurate billing, but also minimizes revenue discrepancies and disputes with tenants. Up-to-date tenant data combined with the above-mentioned ability to identify open space available for utilization leads directly to improved revenues.
Shared, 3D simulation environments are an additional benefit of digitization. With simulation, tower companies can easily work with customers to plan equipment changes or upgrades, making the design process easy and shortening the time to revenue. The capability to virtually add or remove equipment from a tower provides the flexibility for customers to add equipment from a catalog, making the process even easier.
3. Streamlining Tower Maintenance and Workflows
Maintenance challenges, ranging from equipment failures to environmental damages, can lead to revenue loss. Digitization supports predictive analytics, which anticipates potential maintenance issues by tracking any changes over time. By detecting anomalies and patterns, field operators can implement proactive maintenance measures, reducing downtime and improving network reliability.
In addition, AI-powered analytics applied to digital twins of physical assets can point out typical tower maintenance issues and provide accurate and easily understood information about a problem. Digital twins can provide workers with the understanding they need before a maintenance site visit, ensuring that they have the right tools and people in place to get the job done and minimizing field time (which eventually translates to reduced costs as well).
Advanced digitization platforms for towers also provide APIs that allow integration with other systems. These APIs can be leveraged to link inspection reports and digital asset data with work order and other asset management systems, streamlining maintenance workflows and offering all stakeholders accurate, up to date information.
4. Enhancing Communication with Stakeholders
Effective communication among stakeholders, including tower companies, tenants, and regulatory bodies is vital for smooth operations and better customer relationships. Digitization facilitates transparent and seamless communication, providing an easily understood visual understanding of physical assets through centralized platforms, where stakeholders can access data, reports, and updates. This shared access to accurate visual data enhances collaboration, reduces misunderstandings, and expedites issue resolution.
Tower organizations often cite inaccurate field information as one of the main problems leading to customer disputes. When working with customers to resolve billing issues, plan equipment upgrades, or develop new sites, digital twins and simulation provide a common reference point.
Flexible simulation environments provide a shared, collaborative space that facilitates information sharing across teams and systems. Based on the standard BIM format that everyone knows, 3D simulation offers new opportunities for cooperative planning and removes the element of miscommunication that can negatively impact customer relationships.
5. Enabling Data-Driven Decision Making
Digitization equips the telecom tower industry with a robust data ecosystem that fuels informed decision-making. Advanced digital platforms for towers provide data and business insights about physical assets from the individual tower level, capturing detail of each level and each piece of equipment, to the global portfolio level, allowing companies to assess their overall position.
This enables companies to adapt their business strategies and stay competitive in a rapidly evolving landscape. Moreover, data-driven insights facilitate strategic partnerships and collaborations that can drive innovation and value creation.
The telecom tower industry is poised for a digital transformation that promises to alleviate its core challenges. By harnessing the power of digitization, tower operators can significantly improve tenancy ratios, ensure accurate revenue management, minimize maintenance issues, and improve customer relationships. The integration of automated, drone-enabled data capture; digital twins; data-driven insights; predictive analytics; and flexible simulation environments redefines how the industry operates, leading to increased efficiency, reliability, and innovation.
Contact vHive to explore how the vHive digital twin platform can improve your company’s KPIs and solve many of the problems facing the tower industry today.