Press release

21 Jan 2022

DIPA – EY report: Digital InfraCo – unlocking the tower power

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EY India

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  • Investment to the tune of INR1.8t–INR2.2t required over the next 3–5 years for developing the digital infrastructure in the country
  • There is an urgent need and significant opportunity for Tower Companies to transform into Digital Infrastrucure providers for ensuring digital networks across India.
  • Such transformation by getting into adjacent businesses would require large investments and bring significant value to these companies. 

New Delhi, 21 January 2022: The Digital Infrastructure Providers Association (DIPA) and EY released a report ‘Digital InfraCo – unlocking the tower power'. The report reflects the key opportunities for towercos to transition to digital infrastructure companies.

The telecom infrastructure industry has been instrumental in driving the connectivity revolution in the country. It has been the backbone of a rapidly evolving nation that is riding high on the digital transformation wave. To support India’s journey to a completely digital society, it is imperative for towercos to transform into digital infrastructure companies.

Today, towercos are well positioned to expand their infrastructure portfolio, by tapping into adjacencies to cater to the changing needs of end customers. As part of the National Broadband Mission, it is envisaged that 5 million km of cumulative fiberization is required by 2024. Towercos are well positioned to address this opportunity through their experience of managing distributed infrastructure. Deploying small cells for network densification offers another exciting opportunity. Outdoor small cell deployment in India is expected to reach 475,000–550,000 by 2025.

Increased adoption of low latency and high bandwidth applications bring adjacent new opportunities to these companies by way of edge data centers, shared microwaves, Wi-Fi and IBS infrastructure, EV charging services, power-as-a-service in rural India, digital advertising, and others.

Mr. Akhil Gupta, Chairman, DIPA while speaking at the event said, "The critical role that the telecom industry plays today for every country and economy is unanimously acknowledged globally. India today is moving towards 5G, which will herald a major step in an ongoing evolution of India becoming a major digital economy with a focus on inclusive growth. The Telecom Infrastructure Industry is all braced to support these ongoing developments by providing the much-needed Capex and Opex savings to the service providers as they roll out 5G networks simultaneously reducing the Go-to-Market time for these technologies.

Robust digital infrastructure is a prerequisite for India becoming a leading digital economy and for its future competitiveness. Building this infrastructure with large scale optic fiber layout, hundreds of thousands of small cells, Wi-Fi and IBS infrastructure, EV charging etc. will require large investments running into billions of dollars. It presents significant opportunities for existing towercos to venture into adjacent spaces and realize significant value over the next 3-5 years. Addressing some of the regulatory bottlenecks faced by towercos will go a long way in helping them transform into Digital Infrastructure companies and share such infrastructure on a non-discriminatory basis with all service providers.

Prashant Singhal, Emerging Markets TMT Leader, EYsaid, “The tower infrastructure sector has played a critical role in transforming Indians from Digital-first to Digital-throughout lifestyle. In the next few years, India is expected to transform into a high-tech digital society. To achieve this, substantial investment is required in setting-up the underlying digital infrastructure. It necessitates TowerCos to transform into Digital InfraCos backed by conducive policy support. Given the market construct, sharing of Infrastructure will play a key role for cost-effective scale to turbo-charge radical shifts in digital.”

The report was released during a virtual event ‘Robust digital infrastructure – key to digital transformation’ organized by DIPA.

Speaking at the occasion, DIPA, Director-General, Mr.T.R. Dua, said, “India as a nation has recorded a multi-fold rise in digital adoption, making it the second-largest consumer internet market. The telecom sector needs a prolonged and comprehensive approach for strengthening the industry. Our first and foremost priority is digital infrastructure buildout, which is essential for economic growth, job creation and the provision of services. Further expansion in scope of IP-Is by allowing active infrastructure sharing will be instrumental in realizing the shared infrastructure business model pioneered in India. With new technology adoption, suitable provisions can be accommodated in the ‘Indian Telegraph RoW Rules Nov’2016’ for facilitating deployment of in-building solution (IBS), small cells, aerial cable, and street furniture.”

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About DIPA

Digital Infrastructure Providers Association (Erstwhile Tower and Infrastructure Providers Association) was constituted in 2010 as an industry representative body registered under the Indian Society Registration Act, 1860. Digital Infrastructure Providers Association (DIPA) represents the India’s digital infrastructure industry that develop, build, own and operate the nation’s wireless infrastructure.

From infrastructure providers and equipment manufacturers to EV charging infrastructure and fibre deployers, we bring together a dynamic group of companies that enable consumers to lead a 21st Century connected life.

The association is dedicated to interact, discuss and deliberate with Indian Government Ministries, Policy Makers, Regulators, Financial institutions, and technical bodies etc. for the knowledge collection & dissemination for promotion of healthy growth in telecom services.