Over the past couple of decades, tower ownership has increasingly been transferred from MNOs to separate tower companies (TowerCos) that can take the form of an internal division within an MNO, a separate entity controlled by an MNO or a wholly independent entity.
Outsourcing of wireless infrastructure to independent TowerCos is a growing trend in Europe that is in line with the model prevailing globally. It delivers a number of benefits to Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), the wireless sector and the consumer.
TowerCos have developed robust business models around the building and management of ground based masts and rooftop sites, offering space on these infrastructures to multiple customers, most of which are MNOs.
To understand the economic benefits TowerCos provide, it is important to understand the provisioning of wireless networks. The value chain consists of three key segments: passive infrastructure, active networks and retail services. Towers are part of the passive infrastructure and access to them is traded in the wholesale wireless infrastructure market.
EY and the European Wireless Infrastructure Association (EWIA) have published a study on the economic contribution of the European tower sector with the aim of fostering a better understanding of the benefits that independent TowerCos can provide in generating investment and promoting efficient use of communication infrastructure.