Tower companies (TowerCos) build and operate towers which are used as passive infrastructure to host active elements of one or more telecommunications networks. Cullen International’s updated benchmark provides an overview of the TowerCo ecosystem across 12 jurisdictions around the world.
The research covers for each jurisdiction:
- details of the largest TowerCos by number of sites, services provided, and clients served;
- ownership and consolidation trends, including recent mergers and acquisitions involving TowerCos; and
- policies and regulations of relevance for TowerCo operations.
- There are no TowerCos in Korea or Singapore.
- 26 TowerCos were analysed in the ten other studied jurisdictions. 35% of TowerCos are controlled by mobile network operators (MNOs), while 65% operate their business independently.
- 92% of the studied TowerCos have passive lease agreements with multiple MNOs or multiple types of users, including MNOs, government agencies and other enterprise users.
Regulatory requirements imposed on TowerCos
- Among the surveyed jurisdictions, the services offered by TowerCos are not regulated by the national regulatory authorities (NRAs) in the same way as MNOs are regulated, unless they also provide electronic communications services.
- Only Australia, the EU, South Africa and the UK specifically classify tower sites as critical infrastructure.
- Only China requires a licence for TowerCos to provide access to passive infrastructure. South Africa proposed licensing requirements for TowerCos in June 2023. India set registration requirements in 2021.
Site deployment and sharing
- All surveyed jurisdictions recently implemented or proposed policies to ease macro site deployments.
- Six of the surveyed jurisdictions recently implemented (Australia, China, Japan, Korea, Mexico and the UK) or proposed to implement (India and South Africa) policies and/or regulations to encourage site sharing.
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