Camusat secures contract to rollout 500 towers in Myanmar for Apollo Towers

A perspective from the front lines of tower installation in Myanmar

Read this article to learn:

  • Leveraging Camusat’s logistics best practices to overcome transport and power infrastructure challenges in Myanmar
  • Site acquisition in Myanmar
  • Investing in local people and resources to deepen the talent pool in Myanmar
  • Rolling out 7-10,000 towers in Myanmar over the next five years

Camusat are old friends of TowerXchange – their ‘whatever it takes to get the job done’ culture has enabled this global managed service provider to prosper in frontier markets where others would fear to tread! So it is no surprise to see Camusat entering the challenging virgin market of Myanmar, where they already have 70 staff on the ground and are gearing up to commence rollout in April of 500 towers for Apollo Towers. TowerXchange caught up with Camusat Chairman Richard Thomas to find out more.

TowerXchange: For TowerXchange readers not already familiar with Camusat, please introduce your company.

Richard Thomas, Chairman, Camusat:

Camusat is a global market leader in the implementation of telecom infrastructure, with a deep expertise in building telecom towers. We have a presence in 32 countries worldwide, and earlier this month announced partnership with Apollo Towers to build 500 towers for them, and for their anchor tenant Telenor, in Myanmar.

TowerXchange: What’s your view of the opportunity in Myanmar?

Richard Thomas, Chairman, Camusat:

Myanmar is a great country to work in – the people are very disciplined and eager to help.

This new project pushes both Camusat and Apollo Towers to be pioneers in a country at an inflexion point of rapid telecom market growth from its current nascent stage in the process. Myanmar is a virgin market. The penetration of mobile services is very low; this is genuinely one of the last countries in the world requiring substantial telecoms infrastructure rollout. While this push will create both new challenges and opportunities for Camusat and Apollo Towers, common commitment to the goal of delivering value to Apollo’s customers and to the people of Myanmar will enable the partnership to write one of the first pages of the modern telecom history in Myanmar and sustain the country’s growth.

TowerXchange: Camusat has a reputation for tackling and overcoming logistical challenges in some of the most challenging telecoms markets worldwide – how have your experiences in Africa and the Caribbean prepared you for the Myanmar rollout?

Richard Thomas, Chairman, Camusat:

Overcoming logistical challenges is one of Camusat’s specialties! We know this kind of country very well.

The climate in Myanmar makes installation and maintenance of towers complicated, particularly during the rainy season in August and September when there can be huge variations in rainfall and water levels, so we need to be ready and equipped. However, we’re used to these challenges from our extensive experience in countries like Madagascar and Haiti. We’ve been in Myanmar for over a year now, so we’ve studied the environment and implications for logistics.

TowerXchange: What is Camusat’s role in the rollout of towers in Myanmar and at what stage are you in this process?

Richard Thomas, Chairman, Camusat:

We are at the first stage of the rollout. Camusat is currently leading site acquisition, much of which has been completed. We’ve brought in experienced site hunters from abroad to work with and train local teams, yielding some good results. Each team is fully compliant with local regulations and processes. Our e-Sight asset management and site acquisition platform – homemade – is very helpful in finalising geotechnical studies, building permits and other documentation in an efficient and proactive way.

We will commence civil works in April for an initial 500 sites for Apollo Towers. We’ll also be implementing energy supply solutions. After installation, we will offer full O&M services.

TowerXchange: Is the focus of this initial rollout concentrated on Myanmar’s three biggest cities, or is it reaching out into rural areas? And what is the power situation in Myanmar?

Richard Thomas, Chairman, Camusat:

These first stage sites are concentrated primarily in Yangon, Mandalay, and Naypyidaw, so Camusat has built a local organisation in each city.

There is little grid power beyond Myanmar’s three big cities, so we are already implementing some sites with unreliable or no grid connection. Solar hybrids can be used where consumption is low, but there are few locations with good wind. Hybrid power will be widely implemented at cell sites in Myanmar, and in many locations gensets plus batteries will be the most efficient solution.

TowerXchange: What skills and resources have you had to import, and what have you been able to use locally?

Richard Thomas, Chairman, Camusat:

We have found some good local civil works partners in Myanmar. While our local partners often don’t have much experience with telecoms construction, they have talented people and a good culture, so we leverage Camusat’s know-how and experience to train local teams. Camusat already has 70 people in Myanmar, but the emphasis for many of our expats is to train local people.

As part Camusat’s broader strategy to build strong foundations in Myanmar, we are proud to confirm our commitment to invest in local resources, training the local personnel for improvement of the required skills and knowledge transfer to local talent pool, thus enriching the local communities in multiple ways.

One of our main areas of focus within the Camusat Academy has been to train people to respect health, safety and security considerations.

while Myanmar may be coming late to mobile telecommunications, the country will rollout the latest technologies and implement a modern rollout plan using independent towercos to save capex and opex

When it comes to raw materials, importing steelwork from China and India to Myanmar is easy enough, and much of the equipment and concrete can be sourced locally.

TowerXchange: To what extent is Myanmar using a coordinated rollout of shared towers between operators?

Richard Thomas, Chairman, Camusat:

We don’t know the over-arching coordination strategies of the operators and towercos. However, I can say that while Myanmar may be coming late to mobile telecommunications, the country will rollout the latest technologies and implement a modern rollout plan using independent towercos to save capex and opex.

TowerXchange: Finally, how do you see the future for Camusat in Myanmar?

Richard Thomas, Chairman, Camusat:

As the rollout reaches full scale, we expect 7-10,000 towers to be installed in Myanmar within the next five years, by which time Camusat expects to have 300 staff in Myanmar. We are starting with construction services, but will eventually offer end to end passive infrastructure management services.

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