The Financial Express

Robi scores highest in sharing towers

| Updated: October 20, 2021 13:47:14

Robi scores highest in sharing towers

Robi Axiata Ltd has scored the highest in sharing its towers with the tower-sharing companies, achieving the objective of telecom sectors' infrastructure facilities.

According to the operator's inside information, Robi has already sold 5,300 towers to the tower-sharing companies to date and earned Tk 21 billion.

The company is also ready to sell all of its towers within the next few months, a company source told The Financial Express.

Shahed Alam, Chief Corporate and Regulatory Officer of Robi Axiata Ltd, said that given the state of maturity of the telecom sector, tower-sharing among the operators is the best solution to optimise an operator's investment portfolio.

"With greater efficiency in tower management, we can easily bring down the number of towers in the country," he added.

He said Robi has long been taking a lead in this regard in the industry. "We're very much ready and willing to scale up tower-sharing to power our digital vision."

Robi has around 8,000 towers and by selling more than 5,000 tower sites, it has earned Tk 21 billion.

Robi is planning to earn Tk 30 billion by selling all of its towers.

Out of 24,425 towers owned by mobile network operators (MNOs), only17 per cent or around 5,000 towers are currently being shared. More than 90 per cent of these towers were owned by Robi.

However, only Robi shares its towers with other MNOs, but other operators are not willing to sell or share towers with Robi.

Three years ago, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) awarded licences to four companies to manage and operate all the mobile towers, taking away the responsibility from the MNOs.

The objective of separating the mobile tower licences was to reduce the initiative of building new mobile towers, prevent wastage of land and electricity, and ensure optimum utilisation of towers through shared use.

Reducing the additional cost burden in tower management was also an objective of the initiative, according to guidelines.

According to industry insiders, much of the effort to form separate tower companies has failed in the last three years.

In the first year of getting the licences, the four tower companies were able to build only a single tower together and not a single tower owned by the MNOs has been shared, according to the industry insiders.

The BTRC introduced a policy called 'Tower Sharing' in 2007 to allow a tower to be shared and used by multiple MNOs.

The number of towers owned by the MNOs currently stands at 24,425, which is 66 per cent of the total towers in the country. In the last one and a half years, about 2,000 new towers have been built across the country.

MNOs had been managing towers from the beginning of their journey in 1997. After two decades, the responsibility of managing these towers is now in the hands of four tower companies.

E.co owns the highest number of towers currently.

AB Hightech, Kirtankhola and Summit Tower together own less than one thousand towers.

BTRC has recently asked its Engineering and Operations (E&O) Division to look into the matter.

It also asked the officials to sit with the MNOs and tower-sharing companies to find the reasons why the tower-sharing companies were not able to achieve the objectives even after three years.

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