ISLAMABAD: Malaysian firm ‘edotco Group’ on Thursday expressed its commitment to transforming the telecommunications landscape of Pakistan.
Briefing the media about the future investment plan of the company in Pakistan, edotco Chief Executive Officer Suresh Sidhu said, “To date, edotco has invested over $100 million to establish and grow its local operations. Pakistan and Malaysia have shared a healthy bilateral relationship and we look forward to leading the way in telecommunications investment while playing a part in achieving the country’s digital agenda.”
He said the group, through its local operations (edotco Pakistan), reinforced its position as the country’s nation-building partner by highlighting its commitment to shaping Pakistan’s telecommunications landscape to be future ready, while overcoming the challenges to effectively manage the infrastructure industry.
“There is a lot of work to be done for to enable 5-G services in Pakistan,” the edotco chief said. “We support the ambitions of the government and are in constant touch with the telecom operators, as we intend to buy their mobile phone towers.”
The edotco CEO noted that the country’s smartphone penetration rate is expected to grow from the current 30pc to over 60pc in the next five years.
“In order to meet the projected fivefold spike in mobile data usage, Pakistan’s telecommunications industry will need over 30,000 new tower sites by 2022, double the amount it has now,” he stated, adding that the new sites would provide coverage to rural and hard to reach areas as well as capacity sites, to meet the increasing data usage growth, as more users transition from 3G to 4G and beyond.
“We are optimistic about Pakistan’s encouraging connectivity developments. However, studies show that at least 14,000 telecommunication towers throughout the country are overlapping, leading to the duplication of resources and structural inefficiencies. As such, beyond increasing the number of towers to meet the growing usage, it will be more efficient to look at decreasing the number of overlapped sites through infrastructure sharing and explore ways to manage and grow the number of towers,” the CEO continued.
He said infrastructure sharing has proven to facilitate mobile network operators as it helps alleviate the cost pressure of building and maintenance of towers, whilst enabling them to focus on their core business and new service creation. He added that by reducing overlapping sites and increasing tenancy ratio per tower, the industry will see a significant reduction in capital expenditure (CAPEX) and annual operating expenses (OPEX).
Sidhu elaborated, “At the moment, the towers in Pakistan are operating at approximately 4,300 subscribers per tower – more than twice the 2,000 per tower ratio recommended. Building and maintaining this infrastructure requires a substantial capital investment and resources from MNOs. Considering this, edotco is ready to introduce innovations and invest in upgrades that will support faster, better and more cost-efficient shared network infrastructure throughout Pakistan.”