Wednesday, February 24, 2010

South Asia and Middle East - Growth in the passive infrastructure

[zawya] The passive tower infrastructure of telecom operators and infrastructure service providers has continued to accelerate, as the demand to support network infrastructure is boosted by a growing subscriber base and expansion of geographical presence by telecom service providers (TSPs). South Asia, with its low telecom penetration, will lead the growth in the South Asia and Middle East (SAME) region.

Tower growth in Bangladesh, India and Egypt will be rapid due to the rising number of subscribers and need for greater geographic coverage. However, tower growth in the Sri Lankan, Saudi Arabian and United Arab Emirates (UAE) markets will be at a steady level for the next 2-3 years, as operators are planning to invest in infrastructure for technology upgrades and attempting to expand coverage in new geographic areas.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (, Telecom Passive Infrastructure Market - SAME, finds that the passive tower infrastructure market is expected to grow steadily in the markets of India, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Sri Lanka and Egypt. This growth will be driven by the rapid expansion of the subscriber base in South Asian countries and the growing geographical presence of TSPs in the Middle East. The technologies covered in this research service are wireless infrastructure, mobile and broadband infrastructure, fixed and cellular services, broadband and carrier services and passive infrastructure services.

"An increasing subscriber base and the expanding geographical footprint of operators in South Asian countries will drive the installation of towers in the region," says Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Manish Dixit. "The entry of new operators and technological upgrades from 2G/3G networks will boost the deployment of additional towers in mature markets such as Saudi Arabia and UAE."

The steady rise in subscriber base and adoption of newer technologies such as 3G/wirelessintegrated multiple access (WIMAX) have put immense pressure on the existing infrastructure, thereby presenting an opportunity for telecom operators and infrastructure vendors. It has become necessary for TSPs to support the momentum by matching growth in tower infrastructure to host active and passive components.

Millions of new subscribers are added every month in South Asia and with a comparatively large untapped geographical area, an increased network footprint is essential to maintain high growth rates. At the same time, TSPs in the Middle East are continuously expanding their geographical presence and upgrading their networks, which are requiring additional deployment of towers.

Dwindling average revenue per user (ARPU) and global economic slowdown have impelled operators to curtail their capital expenditure (CAPEX) and operating expenditure (OPEX), resulting in innovative and cost-effective models such as infrastructure sharing. Such models are likely to be a key trend in the SAME markets. In mature markets such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia, the saturation of the mobile services market has curtailed the network expansion spree, resulting in an overall decline in tower deployments.

"A continuous rise in tower prices, coupled with falling ARPUs, is exerting further pressure on telecom companies to optimize their OPEX spending and rationalize capital deployments," explains Dixit. "This could hamper the growth of towers in the short term."

In the South Asian markets, service providers will continue to concentrate on acquiring customers as well as expanding their geographical presence. Infrastructure sharing is the key to penetrate into rural areas. In the Middle East markets, service providers will keep upgrading their network infrastructure to support new technologies, resulting in additional deployment of towers. While infrastructure sharing could be considered, it is yet to gain traction.

"To overcome existing challenges, TSPs are optimizing costs by outsourcing and centralizing equipment along with infrastructure sharing to convert CAPEX into OPEX," concludes Dixit.

Growth in the South Asia and Middle East Telecom Passive

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