edotco Group is the first and leading regional integrated telecommunications infrastructure services company in Asia. It specializes in end-to-end solutions in the tower services sector including co-locations, build-tosuit, energy, transmission and operations and maintenance (O&M).
Their regional portfolio includes over 29,500 towers and is supported by state-of-the-art real-time monitoring service, echo, which helps to improve field operations whilst maximizing operational efficiencies.
With a portfolio of over 1300 towers and managed sites in Pakistan, edotco has developed built-to-suit and colocation offerings to enable telecommunications providers to efficiently meet their growing infrastructure requirements. We had a chance to meet Arif Hussain, Country Managing Director, Edotco for an exclusive interview, here is what he said.
- How has the telecom sector changed over time?
From 2004 to now in 2019, I think there has been a positive transformation in the telecom sector. 15 years ago there were hardly 8 million cellular subscribers & today we have close to 160 Million subscribers according to the data provided by PTA. There are 69 million 3G/4G subscribers and the numbers are constantly growing. This is a very healthy sign for the telecom industry because the need is clearly increasing. The telecom sector has become more important than ever because there is a huge demand for data.
Online banking, Ecommerce, emergence of online service apps, E learning, all require internet facility. In the future the scope is expected to grow further. This also means that the competition is getting intense for every telco today because the there is so much to offer but one has to keep in mind that innovation is key.
- What kind of services does Edotco provide to facilitate telecom?
We are primarily infrastructure providers to the telecoms; Edotco Group is the first and leading regional integrated telecommunications infrastructure services company in Asia. We specialise in end-to-end solutions including co-locations, build-to-suit, energy, transmission and operations and maintenance (O&M). This allows Telecom operators to improve field operations whilst maximising operational efficiencies. Whether it’s site provision, construction of towers or energy supply to the site, we take complete responsibility from the start to finish.
In addition, edotco is also providing a suite of other services designed to enhance coverage within a building; edotco’s customised In-Building Solutions and smart cell solutions offer customers a high level of network performance.
Smart small cell solution can be deployed in the form of smart street furniture, optimizing public infrastructure to provide connectivity and other amenities to people such as free WIFI, digital signs, smart benches or even fully-integrated smart bus stops; enabling it to blend seamlessly into any urban environment. It can offer both high indoor capacity and coverage as well as outdoor.
Why do you think tower companies are important?
Evolution of 3G & 4G, this has changed the entire landscape for operators and consumers. With provision of data services things are moving at lightning speed. To support 5G services, telecom operators would need to invest more in towers, if today there are approximately 35,000 towers in Pakistan that number would have to double to cater to future needs. That’s where Edotco plays a pivotal role as we provide sustainable and cost effective solutions to telecoms. We remove asset heavy burdens from MNOs allowing them to focus on their core services. This also enables telecom operators of saving their operating cost from anywhere between 35 to 55 percent by outsourcing the passive part of the network.
- How many operational sites does Edotco have currently?
Edotco Pakistan’s current tower portfolio consists of over 1300 towers, out of which, 97% are in urban areas, while the remaining are based out of Pakistan’s rural areas. We do have plans to expand it further and ensure coverage in remote areas as well to facilitate our clients.
- What is the concept of tower sharing and why is it important?
Towercos bring about efficiencies such as reduce the cost of network operations and help telcos achieve market coverage effectively and fast. This can be attained through the sharing of infrastructure and also via the optimization of operations and maintenance processes.
- There is a lot of innovation coming in tower infrastructure and design as well? Is your company also planning to offer something new in this regard?
Innovation is our main driving force; we are strong proponents on doing something new and something out of the box! Edotco is already leading in terms of innovation in this industry, some of our unique initiatives include: Bamboo Towers, LCS, Rooftop towers and Carbon Fiber towers, all of which have been pioneered by Edotco. Apart from that, our innovative design set comprise of Aesthetic Monopoles, Lamp Pole Towers, In-building Solutions and Street Furniture.
- What technological changes are required to meet the growing data demands of the future, especially after the introduction of 5G?
With the advent of 5G, data requirements will increase exponentially, there will be more machine to machine connections. While you may think that telecom operators have enough towers and there’s no need to build more towers — particularly in urban areas where there’s already blanket coverage — in actuality, mainly due to growing data needs, the coverage of towers will keep shrinking. And hence telcos’ need for towers will keep growing. This is where our role becomes even more significant as the way forward is not to have everybody build their own separate towers, but instead have a tower company to manage all sorts of tower centric services to not only reduce the cost but also the overhead.
- Apart from the business end, Edotco has been a strong proponent of environment friendly initiatives. What are some of the initiatives being run by Edotco which could benefit the environment?
Edotco has deployed numerous sustainable design innovations and embarked on an extensive use of renewable energy across its footprint. In an effort to reduce our overall carbon emissions, we also use alternative materials to build our towers. As such, we have explored the use of lighter carbon fibre to build the structures, resulting in a 20% reduction in carbon emission per site along with exploring the option of bamboo towers. In extension to that, the company is also shifting the way in how its sites are powered, with the usage of renewable energy systems. In Pakistan, in replacement of electricity from the grid and diesel generators, the sites are electrified with power from the grid, eliminating usage of diesel generators hence resulting in a 41% reduction in carbon emission per site.
- What are some of the challenges Edotco has to face?
Every business has to face some sort of challenge; our set of challenges might be a little different. There are some operational challenges such as acquisition of a site, getting the approvals from government authorities, ensuring timely delivery. We believe to create an agile and future ready telecom infrastructure industry it is important for us to ensure enhanced collaboration with the local ecosystem to bring in transformation.
- How do you think can a stronger communication landscape transform the future of Pakistan?
Infrastructure providers such as ourselves and other stakeholders need to come together and play our respective roles to help realise the capacity required (for 5G) while at the same time continuously innovating to keep communities and people connected. Effective communication landscape can create numerous opportunities as it will lead to strengthening of E commerce in Pakistan, open online business opportunities, facilitate growth and collaboration between industries, enabling the country to benefit economically ad technologically.