Q: What are the benefits of having a centralized infrastructure sharing management system for Hutch to manage infrastructure operation?
TN: Over the last decade, infrastructure sharing between licensed telecom operators both fixed and mobile has been actively encouraged by the telecom regulator TRCSL. As a result extensive tower sharing has developed and today more than 50% of Hutch Greenfield towers are shared with other operators. It has therefore become important to have an infrastructure sharing management system to efficiently manage this function and be aware of the loading and configuration on each tower.
Q: Sri Lanka is a small island. Why can’t all telecom companies get together and share tower sites to optimize tower usage among telcos, and expand coverage to every corner of Sri Lanka?
TN: Under the guidance of the TRCSL, telecom companies are extensively sharing towers already for the past two decades. Whenever we are required to build a new tower as none are available to share nearby, we immediately invite other telecom companies to share the tower. Tower sharing opportunity also encourages operators to deploy towers into more remote areas as they can be confident that other operators will share the tower and costs.
Q: What are the benefits to the country, population and telecom subscribers from extensive infrastructure sharing?
TN: The benefit to the country is that instead of multiple operators building their own towers around the same location, sharing an existing tower can save valuable foreign exchange as most of the towers are imported. The local population also benefit as they do not need to endure visual pollution of having multiple towers in the same location disturbing the natural environment. With the lower cost of infrastructure sharing, the telecom subscribers can therefore receive lower tariffs for telecom services. It is not a coincidence that Sri Lanka today has one of the lowest mobile tariffs in the world.
Q: Will infrastructure sharing be important for the future deployment of 5G networks?
TN: Yes it will. . In fact, it will be even more important than today because 5G networks will need many more towers than present to support the capacity required. Each operator cannot be expected to build their own 5G towers independently as this will be very costly and also cause a lot of issues to the general public with so many towers coming up. Therefore an extensive centralized infrastructure sharing arrangement must be in place to facilitate future 5G network deployments.
Q: Why should other clients share Hutch infrastructure and what benefits could they reap?
TN: There are multiple benefits in infrastructure sharing within the industry, not just Hutch. With clients sharing a Hutch tower, they can save substantial capital expenditure in building their own tower. The speed to market is also faster as identification of suitable site, obtaining site approvals and then tower build time can take up to 1 year.