Mobile towers installation to touch 4,20,000 by FY'17: Report

Mobile towers installation to touch 4,20,000 by FY'17: Report Mumbai: Second generation (2G) telecom base stations, which are currently installed on 3,76,000 towers in the country are likely to increase to 4,20,000 by 2017, according to a report.

"The future deployment of towers will be demand driven and not based on proactive deployment. The tenancies are expected to be driven by 3G capacity and 4G coverage with capacity in later years, and some 2G coverage in select areas, according to a report by Analysys Mason.

It is expected that catch up coverage and additional capacity in urban areas will result in an incremental tower deployment of 44,000 towers between the end of March 2012 and the end of March 2017.

The number of 3G subscribers is expected to grow to around 412 million by 2017, the report said.

The Analysys Mason report also states that the current coverage of 3G remains focused on select cities, but operators are expected to roll out 3G networks in tier II and tier III cities in the next two years.

Analysys Mason expects 3G coverage will reach villages with a population of greater than 5,000 after a few years, amounting to about 19,000 villages in total.

As the number of sharing operators on a tower increases, it results in better economics for tower companies as they are able to generate incremental revenue while incurring insignificant incremental capital expenditure.

As of March 31, 2012, the main tower companies in India are Bharti Infratel (80,000 towers along with Indus), Reliance Infratel (50,000 towers), Viom Networks (42,000 towers), GTL Infra (33,000 towers), ATC (10,000 towers), Tower Vision (8,000 towers) and other small independent tower companies such as Ascend Telecom.

A separate report by CRISIL Research has said that 3G and 4G services will add substantially to data traffic in India, thus necessitating more base stations due to additional capacity requirements. This, in turn, is expected to increase the demand for towers.

With declining prices of 3G services in India, its adoption and traffic has increased across circles and it is expected to grow with increasing service and device affordability and coverage expansion. The number of 3G subscribers is expected to grow to around 412 million by 2017, the Analysys Mason report said.

Bharti Infratel scores over US-based telecom tower companies in terms of number of towers (over 80,000 as compared to the US average of 18,000 towers between American Tower, SBA Communications and CCI Tower), the report said.

PTI