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As we prepare ourselves for 5G deployment, more towers will be deployed which will increase the CAPEX and OPEX for mobile network operators.

For many years, MNOs have been trying to monetize and reduce the OPEX of their towers. In some countries, over 40 percent of towers are shared and many others are moving toward adopting the same policy.

As per Deutsche Telecom CEO, “Deploying 5G across Europe could require US $350 to $550 billion,” which is 1.5 to 2.5 times the total investment for 4G rollout.

In order to control the towers’ CAPEX and OPEX, MNOs are choosing one of many options such as sale-and-leaseback (same happened with Zain KSA), towers network management whereby a third party manages the MNO (many examples in GCC), and a joint venture in which the MNO keeps majority of shares and has control over certain things.

With 5G coming, the range of BTS and its requirements may need more tower deployments which will increase the investments of MNOs.

Do we need a policy for infrastructure sharing? Should this be a governmental decision? Or should MNOs work together to limit the costs and be more sustainable?

As per ADL, Europe holds a 477,000 site base, the MENA region has around 240,000 sites, India’s site count has risen to approximately 460,000, and there are roughly 410,000 sites in SE Asia.

MNOs and tower companies should work closely to develop and implement asset monetization strategies, as well as prepare for the opportunities that lie ahead.

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