Powering toward cost reduction

How Vertiv’s global experience is helping European tower owners reduce costs

Read this article to learn:

  • How Vertiv was formed and their key solutions for communication networks
  • Vertiv’s experiences of how European towers compare to other markets
  • How 5G will impact power usage in Europe
  • The impact of new and creative power solutions on the European tower landscape

From enabling pay-per-use power models to driving technological advances which help towers become greener and more efficient, Vertiv offers a host of advanced solutions which can enhance the European tower power landscape. We spoke to Christopher Williams, Vice President of communication networks for Vertiv in Europe, Middle East & Africa, about how the company has evolved, what they are offering the market today and their vision for the future of European towers.

TowerXchange: Please introduce Vertiv, your background and how the company was formed.

Christopher Williams, Vice President of Communication Networks EMEA, Vertiv:

Vertiv designs, builds and services critical infrastructure that enables vital applications for data centres, communication networks and commercial and industrial facilities. Formerly Emerson Network Power, Vertiv supports today’s growing mobile and cloud computing markets with a portfolio of power, thermal and infrastructure management solutions including the ASCO®, Chloride®, Liebert®, NetSure™ and Trellis™ brands. Sales in fiscal 2016 were $4.4 billion. Vertiv, in its current form, is the result of decades of organic growth and strategic acquisitions of the best companies in their class.

TowerXchange: Can you talk to us about your global scope and particularly about your footprint and focus in the European market?

Christopher Williams, Vice President of Communication Networks EMEA, Vertiv:

Vertiv serves virtually all major telecom operators and leading tower companies in Europe and around the world. We provide critical infrastructure products and services for deployment in mobile access and fixed line networks as well as telecom core and data centre facilities globally.

In addition, we provide a complete range of services to help customers improve the operating performance of their critical infrastructure, deliver capacity expansion and optimise energy costs for operating their infrastructure.

As a truly global company, Vertiv has the capability and organisation to help customers roll out critical infrastructure projects wherever in the world.

TowerXchange: How do you find the European market differs to other (emerging) markets and what benefits do you see for towercos?

Christopher Williams, Vice President of Communication Networks EMEA, Vertiv:

Europe is largely a developed market where there is explosive growth and demand for high-speed data. Social media, online gaming and video consumption, in particular, are driving ever-increasing needs for higher capacity and coverage on mobile networks. This will benefit the towercos as there will be significant infrastructure investments required to meet these needs, resulting in demand for new towers and opportunities to bring new tenants on to existing tower infrastructure.

Another benefit for the towercos in Europe is that there are significantly higher rooftop counts in Europe than in emerging markets. These rooftop sites are a strong potential source of increased revenue generation for adding new tenants in areas where it is difficult and complex to build out new tower infrastructure.

Europe has a strong and largely reliable energy grid, whereas the power grid does not even exist – or is unreliable – in many emerging markets. Renewable energy options, such as solar, are widely deployed in these markets to power telecom sites. Hybrid sites running on renewable energy sources are being deployed in certain areas within Europe but not anywhere near the scale of deployment in emerging markets. However, the widespread adoption of renewable energy sources at tower sites in Asia and Africa has boosted the market, driving technological advances in alternative power (especially solar) and in the equipment at those sites. More efficient equipment reduces the power demands, making alternative sources more viable. All of this is contributing to significant cost reductions, and as the cost of alternative energy solutions drops, it’s only a matter of time until more developed regions turn to renewable alternatives. That shift may be accelerated as governments in Europe push harder to reduce carbon emissions.

Finally, Europe is a mature market, and while there are still parts of Europe that are building and rolling out networks, it’s more common that towercos are interested in driving costs out of their existing infrastructure through site consolidation and energy efficiency improvements wherever possible. That need has given rise to an increase in shared towers vs. traditional single-operator-owned towers, giving tower owners the opportunity to increase revenue per tower by leasing use to multiple tenants.

TowerXchange: Can you tell us a little about how the European tower market is using your products right now?

Christopher Williams, Vice President of Communication Networks EMEA, Vertiv:

As tower companies move from single-operator tenancy to multi-tenant business models after acquiring towers from an operator, moving from flat-rate costs for things like power to pay-for-use models becomes a priority.

One of our products is helping to enable this shift. The NetSure™ 5100 Multi-Tenant system allocates power use per tenant so billing can be divided by use rather than generalised with flat rates. The system also delivers maximum efficiency through eSure™ rectifiers and is suitable for use in extreme temperatures.

Beyond that, we provide solutions across the critical infrastructure – from outside plant cabinets and enclosures, to software designed to increase visibility across the network. Perhaps most importantly, we’re helping to simplify these complex networks by introducing increasingly intelligent solutions that enable more efficient, effective network management.

As tower companies move from single-operator tenancy to multi-tenant business models after acquiring towers from an operator, moving from flat-rate costs for things like power to pay-for-use models becomes a priority

TowerXchange: As 5G and network densification becomes a reality for tower owners in Europe, how do you see their needs changing over the next few years?

Christopher Williams, Vice President of Communication Networks EMEA, Vertiv:

Among the many uncertainties regarding 5G, there are a few givens: the 5G network will deliver vastly increased capacity to exponentially more devices with low latency.

That will require many new small cells being introduced into the network, and present an opportunity for towercos to provide a new offering: location services. Along with the need to create these small cells comes the question of where best to put them, and no one is as well positioned to make those determinations as tower providers.

The Internet of Things, 5G architecture, intelligent vehicles, and the preponderance of mobile devices are driving the need for intelligent data centres at the edge of the network. Content needs to be cached as close to the user as possible, and intelligence that once resided in a central facility needs to be distributed across the network. Vertiv is the only provider with the necessary depth of experience in both communications and data centre infrastructure to deliver solutions for this aggregation layer. We are uniquely qualified to provide edge solutions, including fully equipped intelligent enclosures such as the SmartCabinet™.

TowerXchange: With some out-of-the-box plans for tower power coming to the fore in Europe, are you seeing your customers’ power needs changing and if so, how?

Christopher Williams, Vice President of Communication Networks EMEA, Vertiv:

The needs aren’t necessarily changing, but the industry’s ability to meet those needs is improving. The biggest changes relate to system intelligence and flexibility. We can monitor and manage tower sites better than ever, tracking multi-tenant power use to enable accurate billing. Alternative energy sources are popular in other parts of the world, and their use will continue to grow in Europe. That includes solar and wind power as well as hydrogen fuel cells. We’re also monitoring the growth of alternative battery technologies, such as lithium-ion batteries, that can reduce footprint and increase battery lifespan. We’re using lithium-ion more and more in data centres, where space is at a premium, and the same advantages are appealing at tower sites.

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