Investments of up to ₹2.2 trillion will be needed over the next three to five years for developing digital infrastructure in India, the Digital Infrastructure Providers Association (DIPA) and EY said in a report Friday.
The report suggested that tower infrastructure providers should transform into digital infrastructure companies, expand their infrastructure portfolio by tapping into adjacencies to cater to the changing needs of end customers.
The investments will be needed for building infrastructure with large scale optic fibre layout, hundreds of thousands of small cells, Wi-Fi and IBS infrastructure, EV charging etc, even as towercos venture into adjacent spaces and realize significant value over the next five years.
As part of the National Broadband Mission, it is envisaged that 5 million km of cumulative fiberization is required by 2024, which can be addressed by tower companies through their managing distributed infrastructure, while deploying small cells for network densification offers another exciting opportunity. Outdoor small cell deployment in India is expected to reach 475,000–550,000 by 2025, the report said.
Akhil Gupta, chairman, DIPA said, "India today is moving towards 5G, the telecom infrastructure Industry is all braced to support these ongoing developments by providing the much-needed capex and opex savings to the service providers as they roll out 5G networks simultaneously reducing the go-to-market time for these technologies."
Addressing some of the regulatory bottlenecks faced by tower companies will go a long way in helping them transform into digital infrastructure companies and share such infrastructure on a non-discriminatory basis with all service providers, he added.
Prashant Singhal, Emerging Markets TMT Leader, EY, said, “India is expected to transform into a high-tech digital society, and to achieve this, substantial investment is required in setting-up the underlying digital infrastructure. It necessitates TowerCos to transform into Digital InfraCos backed by conducive policy support."
"Given the market construct, sharing of Infrastructure will play a key role for cost-effective scale to turbo-charge radical shifts in digital," he said.