Demand forecasts for passive infrastructure equipment and services in Asia – 2018 update

TowerXchange checks in on demand across six different categories of equipment and services in the fifteen most active Asian tower markets

Read this article to learn:

  • In which Asian countries are a substantial volume of new towers being installed?
  • What equipment is being installed on those towers in terms of energy, RMS and access control solutions?
  • What has been the progress of small cell, microcell and DAS deployments?
  • Who are the leading MNOs and towercos, and what are the prospects for transactions between them?

Asia remains the largest and fastest growing region in the world both for investment in telecom tower networks, and for the expansion of the independent towerco business model. Once again, TowerXchange is updating its annual country-by-country review, with a deeper analysis of the products and services required in each market.

While gearing up for the fifth annual TowerXchange Meetup Asia, taking place in Singapore, 4-5 December 2018, we offer our readers invaluable insights into the key dynamics of the top Asian tower markets from India to Indonesia, encompassing China, Malaysia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Bangladesh and more. Additionally, TowerXchange takes a preliminary look at the Philippines – a market in the making which could soon attract substantial investment from international towercos.

We’re keeping the categories we’re reviewing the same as last year, so you can make a like-for-like comparison. We are rebranding one of the categories from its original focus on small cells, DAS and IBS to “Beyond towers” – expanding the scope to include edge computing, fibre, small cells, DAS and IBS.

– Energy: our focus in this category is on primary and backup power solutions, energy storage, hybrid and renewable energy solutions for unreliable grid and off grid.

– RMS, ILM and access control: is there need for remote monitoring and access control systems on most towers? Are they connecting to a NOC and to a Site Management or Infrastructure Lifecycle Management platform such as those provided by Accruent, Tarantula or nexsysone?

– As a function of the volume of new build, is there significant requirement for towers and accessories? Or demand for the services of turnkey infrastructure providers in building new towers, decommissioning parallel infrastructure or upgrading existing sites?

– How much demand is there to date for small cells, microcells, DAS and IBS? And what about fibre?

– And finally, is there much prospect for sale and leaseback or towerco consolidation to keep the consultants, lawyers and other advisors busy?

TowerXchange examines the 15 most active Asian tower markets, predicts demand for passive infrastructure equipment and services, and lists the largest towercos and MNOs active in each country. The following matrix is compiled based on hundreds of research calls and meetings with Asia’s leading towercos and MNOs in which we’ve diagnosed their procurement and capex priorities.

Meet the key stakeholders at this year’s TowerXchange Meetup Asia, taking place on December 4 and 5 at the Marina Bay Sands, Singapore!

Download TowerXchange Asia Vendor Matrix 2018

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Brief commentary on Asia’s less active tower markets

East Timor: Too small to provide the necessary economies of scale to towercos, therefore TowerXchange has yet to study the market in detail.

Japan: Towers are still seen as strategic assets by mobile network operators, hence no tower sharing. Currently JTOWER is the only known infra-sharing entity serving Japan’s MNOs, and its focus is on IBS. Until the market opens up, TowerXchange has no impetus to study the market in detail.

Mongolia: In 2013 the government separated telecom service providers from infrastructure providers in the challenging 3mn population, 1.5mn sq km Mongolian market. The infrastructure providers, including State-owned ICNC, Mobi Network and Sky Network, run towers, active equipment, fibre and microwave backhaul. More than half Mongolia’s ~1,000 towers are shared. TowerXchange has yet to study the market in detail.

Nepal: Axiata’s acquisition of Ncell from TeliaSonera may herald the entry of edotco into Nepal. The government is looking to implement a telecoms infrastructure provider regime, currently underway and drawing interest from international players. TowerXchange expects to study the market in detail in the coming months.

North Korea: Impenetrable to a Western research firm like TowerXchange, and probably impenetrable to foreign investors!

PNG: Digicel seem disinclined to share attractive urban locations, restricting sharing to rural sites in PNG. With no towercos present, there is no impetus for TowerXchange to study the market in detail.

South Korea: No immediate opportunities for tower industry growth, therefore TowerXchange has yet to study the market in detail.

New Zealand: The country could hold interesting opportunities for towercos. Historically, the three New Zealand operators would not share their infrastructure but the government has changed its policy last year as they are very keen on driving infrastructure development in rural and remote areas. That could lead to some action in the local market.

The Philippines: The country could soon become one of the most exciting markets for Asian towercos. Earlier in 2018 the Department of Information and Communications Technology announced its plan to create a third telco in line with Rodrigo Duterte’s intentions of challenging incumbents Globe and Smart’s duopoly.

After several delays, DICT is set to release the final draft of the Terms of Reference (TOR) in the selection of the third telecommunications company, which should take place before the end of 2018. Viettel, AT&T and Telenor among many other have confirmed their interest in entering the Philippines and the irruption of a third player could also create a tower industry in the country, which will make the required tower roll out faster and reduce capex for the carriers. In fact, leading operator Globe has already announced the creation of an infraco that will manage all their infrastructure assets independently.

The government and both operators have identified a lack of sites in the country, where the two carries own approximately 18,000 sites. Meanwhile, Globe has set up the goal of building new 500 towers every year.

If you have passive infrastructure equipment or services, or small cell solutions, to sell to Asia, then don’t miss the ‘technology evaluation working groups’ led by the region’s leading towercos and MNOs and hosted at the 5th Annual TowerXchange Meetup Asia on December 4-5 at the Marina Bay Sands, Singapore!  Click here for more information

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