Minnows pull together to take on tower power trio

20 Feb 2008

Several standalone network infrastructure companies are planning to consolidate their mobile base station site assets to compete with the ‘big three’ in India’s booming cellular tower industry, which are all owned by major GSM/CDMA mobile phone network operators, according to The Economic Times. Smaller companes including Essar Telecom Tower & Infrastructure, GTL, Quipo, TowerVision and Xcel Telecom are reportedly in negotiations revolving around possibilities for cooperation to take on larger infrastructure owners Reliance Communications’ RTIL, Indus Towers (jointly owned by Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar and Idea Cellular) and the tower subsidiary of Tata Communications. The Indus joint venture has over 72,000 sites, RTIL has around 40,000 towers, whilst Bharti’s own separate infrastructure company Bharti Infratel owns 21,000 sites. None of the independent firms has as many as 5,000 towers. The Economic Times reports that there has been recent consolidation in the sector, with Quipo’s parent Srei Infrastructure buying GSM provider Spice Communications’ tower unit last month, following the purchase by Morgan Stanley of a stake in TowerVision, and Xcel Telecom’s acquistion of Punjab-based Tics Telecom in November 2007.