How the TowerCo carve-out model is inspiring new ways of thinking about old telco assets

In a recent blog series, we described the potential for OSS to help drive entirely new revenue / business-models that leverage the many strengths that telcos retain – Telco’s burning exchange moment – a playbook of fixes.

Today’s article will take a closer look at one of the ideas under Playbook #7 – They have real-estate in highly valuable locations – and how that could influence telcos to think differently about their asset bases.

The emerging trend of tower asset sell-offs, particularly to non-telco investor groups (InvestCos), is revolutionising the operations models of tower assets as well as their monetisation. This shift underlines a stark contrast from traditional tower operations thinking using telco methods and unearths a new business model that aims to maximise profits and streamline operations using modern techniques.

The TowerCo carve-out allows the InvestCos to think differently because the objectives are different. Telcos operate towers for the sole purpose of attaching active infrastructure (eg antennae) to them, whereby the active equipment generates the revenue (via delivery of cellular services). InvestCos operate the towers like real-estate, providing locations on the tower for telcos to lease. The tower becomes the primary source of revenue under the InvestCo model. Two very different lines of thinking – one with towers as only a facilitator of revenue, the other with towers as the source of revenue.

This divergent thinking also manifests in the way the towers are managed. Traditionally, telcos have relied on engineering-heavy techniques like AutoCAD designs, plus expansive operations and maintenance teams to maintain tower / site assets. By contrast, InvestCos are demonstrating a vastly different approach. Their strategy hinges on maximising a return on their asset investment – which means a strategy of minimising headcount, while automating processes wherever possible and outsourcing labour wherever feasible too. This lean business model contributes to a more cost-efficient method of maintaining and monetising tower assets.

In line with this innovative model, InvestCos are embracing cutting-edge technologies like digital twin, drone image capture and augmented reality – combined with a new style of TowerCo OSS – which includes site management, asset management tools (like the ones described in this article), lease-management, contract management, capacity planning and much more. These purpose-built tools allow TowerCos to increasingly manage their assets remotely, cutting down on travel time, site induction challenges and in-house resources.

Furthermore, InvestCo interests diverge significantly from traditional telcos when it comes to revenue maximisation because of a focus on leases rather than customer services (although having mount points on a tower that can service a large potential customer base certainly doesn’t hurt). Rather than limit their scope to exclusive use by a single network operator, InvestCos aim to lease to as many network operators as possible (the multi-tenancy model). This strategy not only drives up revenue but also positions them as valuable partners in the growing telecommunications market. This paradigm shift underscores a strategic pivot in managing tower assets, one that embraces technological innovation and considers alternate revenue opportunities for the assets.

Can similar paradigm shifts (supported by OSS of course 😉 ) unlock new business / revenue / operating models for telcos from their other asset classes? Correspondingly, what other purpose-built OSS could inspire us to take a new lens on old assets?


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