Perspectives

The economic contribution of the European tower sector

A report for the European Wireless Infrastructure Association

Outsourcing of wireless infrastructure to independent TowerCos is a growing trend in Europe that is in line with the model prevailing globally. It delivers a number of benefits to Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), the wider wireless sector and, ultimately, the consumer:

  1. Independent TowerCos specialize in operating neutral host, “passive” wireless network infrastructure such as mobile towers. Sharing of towers with multiple tenants reduces overall cost for mobile operators, helps improve coverage and reduces consumer prices
  2. Long-term international investors in European infrastructure value the benefits of the TowerCo model, resulting in an active M&A market
  3. The average number of wireless network operators sharing an independent tower is 2.4, compared to 1.3 for MNO-controlled towers. Independent TowerCos make it easier and cheaper to roll out new networks
  4. A typical location of a wireless network operator (also point of presence) managed by a TowerCo is circa 40% more efficient than one managed by an MNO, resulting in economic savings of €31b across Europe by 2029
  5. Greater outsourcing to independent TowerCos could release an estimated €28b of capital, which MNOs can reinvest in their networks, such as to improve coverage and accelerate 5G rollouts
  6. Independent TowerCos are playing a key role in enabling 5G rollouts and the continued expansion of mobile network coverage
  7. While the share of independent TowerCos in Europe has increased in recent years (from 13% to 17%), it remains low compared to other regions (e.g., 67% in USA and Canada and 42% in Latin America). A further increase in Europe would help deliver the benefits of cheaper and better mobile networks
  8. The new European Electronic Communications Code (EECC) reflects the pro-competitive nature of independent TowerCos and is expected to benefit independent TowerCos through increased certainty for the wholesale infrastructure sector

In summary, independent TowerCos will continue to play a significant role, underpinning modern digital economies for the long-term.

Download a PDF of the report.