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Post pandemic will move more individuals to decentralized offices, telemedicine, online classrooms, media and entertainment. It clearly indicates that future business and internet are inseparable. Telecom industry being the bedrock of internet access, in turn relies on telecommunications towers for its best reception signal. ‘Broadband for all’ is the hope and scope that enables India’s US$5 trillion economy as envisaged by the government.
Plenty of new opportunities are arising for tower companies to shift their attention from a macro tower focused business, towards new business models hinged on fiber, small cells, data centers, Wi-Fi, smart cities and beyond. Collectively, the new business avenues present towercos a combined market opportunity size of ~US$2.8-4.3 billion in 2023. To tap on these emerging business models to full potential, it would require an investment of ~US$8.9-12 billion up to 2023.
Currently energy consumption is estimated to be 25%-30% of total operational expenditure of a tower company. However, with the advent of emerging technologies such as 5G, IoT, AI etc, the energy consumption is likely to increase further to take up around 40%-45% of opex. The Indian telecom industry which accounts for around 1% of the country’s total carbon dioxide emissions – higher than the global standard of 0.7% – would have to aggressively push for green energy solutions. Indian telecom industry is the second largest consumer of diesel after railways consuming about 200 crore litres annually. While the electricity situation is improving considerably across the country, it is still erratic in several pockets. The cost of diesel genset powering is 80%-120% more than electricity,
To reduce diesel usage at sites with intermittent and erratic power supply, tower companies are deploying efficient storage solutions such as Li-ion batteries, advanced VRLA batteries, flow batteries and thermal energy-based solutions. Added to it, among renewable energy, solar power is the most commercialized technology. However, solar sites account less than 10% of the tower companies portfolio. This is because; it is less reliable and provides energy supply for merely 5-6 hours, which increases reliance on electric grid and diesel.
With a holistic approach and collaboration with OEMs and service providers, the tower industry can move to a greener value chain encompassing:
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