5G Towers: What are 5G Towers and Who are the Top 12 global 5G Tower Companies

In "5G Towers: From Basics to the Top 5G Tower Companies Globally," we take a deep dive into the realm of 5G towers. Uncover what 5G towers are, how 5G towers operate, the types of 5G towers, and discover the top 12 global 5G tower companies. We spotlight their current 5G towers offerings, gauge their support for small cells and DAS solutions in relation to 5G towers, and unravel the strategies these major players are adopting to propel 5G towers infrastructure. Step in for a comprehensive understanding of 5G towers and the companies leading the charge.

Skyscrapers have been dominating the skyline of most major cities in the last couple of decades, but what has been striking is the appearance of Telco Towers. Red blinking dots over the horizon under a clear sky is quite an indicator. The densification of telco towers will fuel 5G, meaning cell tower companies need to find logistics and infrastructure to deploy the 5G technology.

Two major factors will primarily dominate the expansion of 5G and its success. 5G Telecom gears and 5G passive infrastructure. For 5G gears, we hear a lot of buzz from Global OEMs like Ericsson, Nokia, and Huawei and disrupting players like Mavenir, Parallel Wireless, and Altiostar.

What are 5G Towers?

A 5G cell tower, more commonly referred to as a “5G Tower,” stands as the next generation’s pillar in wireless communication. While the tower structure might resemble its predecessors, it’s the equipment attached to it that provides the game-changing fifth-generation (5G) communication services. The equipment, known as a macrocell, has the crucial responsibility of adhering to the standards set by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP). This standardization ensures uniformity in 5G services and infrastructure across regions.

5G Towers vs. Small Cells: What’s the Difference?

While the terms ‘5G towers’ and ‘small cells’ are sometimes used interchangeably in casual conversations, they refer to distinct entities with specific roles in our evolving telecommunications landscape.

Physical Structure and Size

  • 5G Towers: These are large structures that support multiple sets of equipment from various wireless carriers. They’re designed to accommodate antennas, remote radio heads (RRH), and other vital telecom gear.
  • Small Cells: Much more compact, small cells typically fit within a volume of 25 cubic feet. These miniaturized cellular base stations are often mounted on existing infrastructure, such as light poles or utility posts.

Coverage Area

  • 5G Towers: These provide a broad coverage area, spanning several miles, and serve as the backbone for wide-area wireless communication.
  • Small Cells: With a limited coverage diameter of usually less than half a mile, small cells supplement the main network, particularly in densely populated urban and suburban regions where the demand for connectivity is high.

Network Generation

While 5G is in the name, not all 5G towers exclusively support 5G. They can, and often do, support previous network generations like 4G. Similarly, while many small cells have been installed to bolster 5G coverage, several still operate on 4G networks.

Proximity Controversies

Small cells, given their deployment in high-density areas, often find themselves closer to homes and businesses. This closeness sometimes triggers concerns regarding aesthetics, property values, and potential health implications. In response, bodies like the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have established guidelines to oversee the safe and strategic placement of small cells, particularly ensuring they don’t pose traffic hazards or other safety risks.

Understanding Cell-Sites and Cell Towers

A ‘cell site’ encapsulates the entire set of equipment and infrastructure, including antennas, buildings, telecom gear like base stations, RRH, and power resources. In contrast, ‘cell towers’ refer specifically to the masts or poles that hold antennas and RRHs. These towers can be shared by multiple carriers or utilized solely by one. Often, wireless carriers lease or rent these towers to mount their equipment. For a deeper dive into the nuances of the 5G cell tower, consult the article titled “5G Cell Tower: Introduction.”

5G Towers’ Role and Upgrade: How Do They Differ from 3G and 4G?

At a glance, 5G towers might appear indistinguishable from their 3G or 4G ancestors. However, the difference isn’t in their skeletal structure but in the innovative equipment they host. This advanced equipment ushers in unparalleled data speeds, ensuring multiple connections without the network feeling the strain, and guarantees lower latency for an efficient user experience. Thus, while the towers might echo the past, the technology they support is leaps and bounds ahead.

Importance of Cell Tower Locations in Mobile Connectivity

The role of cell towers in modern communication is indispensable. As transmitters and receivers of radio frequency (RF) signals, these towers ensure that your mobile devices maintain seamless connectivity for calls, texts, and internet access. The density and placement of these towers directly influence the quality of your mobile network coverage. In urban areas, where the demand for data is higher, the concentration of cell towers is greater, whereas in rural areas, the distance between towers can lead to weaker signals.

Identifying 5G Towers: How Can You Tell If a Tower is 5G-Enabled?

For most of us, distinguishing between a 4G and a 5G-enabled tower by sight is a tall order. While certain antennas are explicitly installed for 5G, their visual markers might be elusive to the untrained eye. Some towers even straddle both worlds, offering 4G and 5G services concurrently. Yet, as we approach the end of 2023, the prediction is clear: a majority of cell towers will be 5G-enabled. For those curious to check the status of a nearby tower, using specialized measuring tools or a 5G-compatible phone could be the key.

Locating Cell Towers: Tools and Techniques

Comprehensive Online Platforms: Various websites aggregate data on cell tower locations. By entering your location details, you can access a map or list of nearby towers. Remember, while helpful, these resources may not always provide real-time or complete data.

Mobile Applications for Signal Tracking: Numerous apps are available that provide detailed insights into the nearest cell towers, including their signal strength and direction. These applications can be particularly useful for tech enthusiasts who wish to delve deeper into network analysis.

Utilizing the FCC’s Database: The FCC’s Antenna Structure Registration Database is a valuable resource for identifying registered antenna structures, including cell towers, across the United States. This database can be particularly useful for locating larger towers and understanding the network infrastructure in your area.

Observational Techniques: Sometimes, the simplest method is to observe your surroundings. Look out for lattice towers, monopoles, or stealth towers cleverly disguised as natural elements. Recognizing these structures can give you a general idea of where your mobile signals are coming from.

Optimizing Your Cell Signal Reception

Enhancing your mobile signal is not just about locating the nearest cell tower; it’s about understanding how to interact with your environment to improve connectivity:

  • Seek Higher Ground: As RF signals travel better vertically, moving to a higher elevation can significantly improve your signal strength.
  • Open Space Advantage: Outdoor spaces often provide fewer obstructions, offering a clearer path for the signal to your device. Use this knowledge to position yourself strategically for better reception.
  • Wi-Fi Calling as an Alternative: In areas with poor cell coverage but available Wi-Fi, enabling Wi-Fi calling can be a lifesaver. This feature allows you to make calls over a Wi-Fi network, bypassing the need for a strong cellular signal.
  • Signal Boosters and Repeaters: For those who consistently face poor signal strength in specific locations like homes or offices, investing in a signal booster or repeater can be a game-changer. These devices amplify the existing signal, providing a more robust connection.

5G Tower Proximity and Safety: Is It Safe to Live Near a 5G Tower?

Safety concerns surrounding technology are neither new nor unexpected. The increasing number of 5G towers has reignited debates about their safety, especially in residential zones. But here’s the consensus: 5G towers, fundamentally, don’t differ dramatically from their 3G or 4G counterparts when it comes to emitting radio waves. Moreover, the frequencies 5G employs aren’t drastically higher. The real differentiator is the tower’s design. Most antennas on these towers point outwards, ensuring that the emissions aren’t directed downwards.

How do 5G Towers work?

5G towers operate based on a combination of advanced technologies and principles of wireless communication. Here’s a simplified breakdown of how 5G towers work:

  • Basic Principle: At the most basic level, 5G towers, like their predecessors, transmit and receive signals using radio waves. These waves travel between the tower and compatible devices, such as smartphones or IoT devices.
  • Frequency Spectrum: 5G employs a broader range of frequencies, especially higher frequencies called millimeter waves (mmWave). These waves can transmit large amounts of data at very high speeds but have a shorter range than lower frequencies.
  • Small Cells: Given the shorter range of mmWaves, 5G requires a dense network of smaller, more localized base stations, called small cells, in addition to traditional large towers. This setup ensures consistent high-speed coverage, especially in urban areas.
  • Massive MIMO: 5G towers utilize Massive Multiple Input Multiple Output (Massive MIMO) technology. This involves having many more antennas on a single tower than 4G, improving the capacity and efficiency of transmissions.
  • Beamforming: This is a traffic-signaling system for cellular base stations. In layman’s terms, it’s like a traffic system for cellular signals, directing beams of connectivity to specific devices rather than broadcasting in every direction. This enhances the efficiency and speed of the 5G network.
  • Network Slicing: This allows operators to create multiple virtual networks within a single physical 5G network. This ability can ensure that various types of data (like from an IoT device versus a video stream) get the bandwidth and priority they need.
  • Edge Computing: 5G networks can leverage edge computing. This involves processing data closer to the data source (like a local server) rather than sending everything to centralized data centers. This reduces latency and speeds up response times.
  • Backhaul: Once data is collected at the tower, it needs to travel to servers and other parts of the network. This can be done through wired connections, but with 5G, there’s a greater emphasis on wireless backhaul solutions, which use radio waves to transmit data between towers and the core network.

In essence, while the foundational concept behind 5G towers isn’t radically different from earlier generations, the amalgamation of new technologies and strategies makes 5G capable of much faster speeds, greater capacity, and reduced latency.

5G Cell Tower Types - TeckNexus
5G Cell Tower Types – TeckNexus

What are the different types of cell towers?

Broadly the cell towers can be classified into four categories, specified below:

Monopole Towers

  • Built from a single tubular mast and requires only one foundation
  • Small footprint on the ground
  • Height can range from 40 feet tall to 200 feet tall across tenants
  • Antennas are attached to the exterior on the top of the cell tower
  • Some cities have banned the construction of new monopoles because they are eyesores.
5G Monopole Tower - TeckNexus
5G Monopole Tower – TeckNexus

Guyed Towers

  • They have three guyed lines anchored to the ground and guy wires to anchor and support them.
  • Requires a larger amount of land, usually around 100 meters or more
  • Height can range from 200 to 300 feet tall and can support multiple wireless tenants
  • Antennas are attached to the exterior on the top of the cell tower
5G Guyed Tower - TeckNexus
5G Guyed Tower – TeckNexus

Lattice Cell Towers

  • Self-supporting towers made of steel latticework in a square or triangular shape
  • They are very stable and easy to construct
  • Height can range from 200 to 400 ft
  • Antennas are attached to the exterior on the top of the cell tower.
5G Lattice Cell Tower - TeckNexus
5G Lattice Cell Tower – TeckNexus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stealth Cell Towers

  • In some cities, zoning codes require that towers blend into the surroundings.
  • Typically a monopole tree is disguised as a tall tree, e.g., a palm tree or pine tree.
  • They are costlier to build
  • They cannot provide the same amount of coverage to the tenants as other types of towers
5G Stealth Cell Tower - TeckNexus
5G Stealth Cell Tower – TeckNexus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read 5G Cell Towers: Introduction for details on the above cell tower types.


Related Articles:


 

Who are the top 12 global 5G tower companies?

 

China Tower

China Tower Co., Ltd. (“China Tower”) is a large-scale state-owned communications infrastructure service company. The company mainly constructs, maintains, and operates base station supporting facilities such as communication towers, high-speed rail and subway public network coverage, and large-scale indoor distribution systems. It is the primary infrastructure supplier to three major China National Carriers, China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom, and is spread across 31 provinces in China. Founded: 2014 Headquartered: HQ in Beijing, China and has established cell tower locations in 31 provincial-level branches and local and municipal-level branches across the country Infrastructure: 2.1 million communication towers China Tower solutions include: China Tower has implemented the “One Core and Two Wings11” strategy to increase optimization, coordination of resources, and sharing, leveraging them to compete and gain cash flow. One core refers to the traditional cell tower business of providing Macro, Small Cell Towers, and DAS infrastructure. Two wings refer to the TSSAI (Trans-Sector Site Application) business, which provides tower-specific data information to industries, and the Energy business, of providing power to different industries.   

China Tower Services | Source: China Tower
China Tower Services | Source: China Tower

 

  • Macro station business consisting of the ordinary ground communication tower, landscape tower, simple tower, ordinary floor tower, floor holding pole
  • Microsite business consisting of microcell tower station, holding micro pole station, and social sharing microsite
  • Room division business includes constructing commercial buildings, large venues, subway tunnels, communication equipment, and connectivity.
  • Site-based information service integrates site resources, dedicated transmission lines, data platforms, and various third-party equipment to provide customers with information services such as data collection, return, aggregation, analysis, and application.
  • Energy business, i.e., power generation business,e.g., portable lithium battery packs

China Tower’s 5G Strategy: Rapid scale implementation of 5G technology in China has helped China Tower to improve its financial numbers. During H1, 2021, there was a 16% YoY on their revenues, and as per the company, 5G technology is becoming the key growth driver of their Telecom Service Providers (TSP) business. China Tower has also implemented multiple measures to facilitate large-scale 5G cell towers construction, such as:

  • Exerted advantage in resource coordination via actively harnessing the implementation of 5G supporting policies and coordinating site entry in key scenarios
  • Improved resource utilization efficiency via fully utilizing resources, including existing towers and ancillary facilities for shelters and making full use of social resources
  • Reinforced leadership in technological innovation via enhancing the application of innovative products, including low-cost high-frequency based 5G radio waves cell towers and ancillary facilities for power supply, and promoting the sharing solutions of 5G passive DAS at low costs with access to all frequency bands

 


 

American Tower Company (ATC)

Spread across six continents and 24 Countries and having more than 6000 employees, ATC is one of the leading providers of the wireless infrastructure of cellular communications in North America. Founded: 1995 HQ Location: Boston, MA, with operations across the United States and in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Ghana, India, Kenya, Mexico, Niger, Nigeria, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, South Africa, Spain, and Uganda Infrastructure: 214,000 communications sites including 43,000 properties in the United States and Canada and more than 171,000 properties internationally American Tower Locations | Source: American Tower   Tower Solutions of ATC include:

  • Build-to-Suite
    • ATC provides Site Candidate Information Packages (SCIP) consisting of detailed data analysis for new or collocated sites to MNOs. 
    • ATC provides Site Data Package (SDP), which contains legal, logistical, and site infrastructure reports
  • Cell Tower Acquisition
    • For ATC, Tower operations are their core business, backed by financial strength and technical expertise. They support MNOs with fast and efficient deployments.
    • Compliance related to the environment, safety, and regulators are ensured.
  • Concealed Structures
    • With network expansion, the city skylines are getting dominated by cellular towers. 
    • There can be requirements from civic authorities to conceal those. ATC provides expert solutions by which they beautify and conceal cellular towers.
  • Broadcast Towers
    • Provides taller towers at great locations for optimal coverage to national broadcasters and local stations, along with the expertise needed to reach target audiences

Strategy and Positioning for ATC 5G Towers: With 43K towers, technical expertise, and provisioning for incremental capacity, ATC is equipped strategically to support wireless carriers in their 5G journey. Also, deploying 5G technology in various bands will increase the new 5G cell tower deployment. In summary, the major drivers for ATC are continued investment in 4G/LTE and increased momentum in 5G. Awards:

  • FORTUNE magazine named American Tower one of the World’s Most Admired Companies in 2021.
  • American Tower Named to Forbes America’s Best Mid-Size Employers List in 2021
  • American Tower Named as One of Newsweek’s America’s Most Responsible Companies 2021

 


 

Indus Towers

The merger of Bharti Infratel Limited and Indus Towers formed Indus Towers Limited. The combined strength makes Indus one of the world’s largest telecom cell tower companies. Indus’ leading customers are Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Idea Limited, and Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited, India’s leading wireless telecommunications service providers by revenue. Founded: 2006 HQ Location: Gurgaon, Haryana, India Infrastructure: 183,462 towers and 332,551 colocations (as of 30th September 2021), and a nationwide presence covering all 22 telecom circles. Communication Tower Solutions of Indus Towers include:

  • Towers – Deploys ground-based towers, rooftop towers or poles, lightweight hybrid poles, monopoles, or camouflaged towers that merge with the backdrop, in addition to mounting the operator antennae at the appropriate height.
  • Tower Operations Center (TOC) – provides an end-to-end tower management solution, incorporating the aspects of top-line maintenance, reliable tracking measures, and sustainable energy practices. 
  • Powerprovides uninterrupted Energy Supply to Telecom Equipment.
  • Space acquisitionacquire space from residential and commercial property owners For Housing Telecom and Power Equipment.
  • Smart Cities – has rolled out its Smart Digital Infrastructure of Smart poles, LED lights, CCTV cameras, Variable Digital Messaging Board, Environment Sensors, and City Public Wi-Fi, including the fiber backbone, in partnerships with New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC), Dehradun Smart Cities (DSCL), Bhopal Smart City (BSCDCL)
  • Green Sites – Towers are powered through either grid-sourced electricity or diesel generators and devised innovative ways of deploying batteries using the combo solution, the NCU, turbo solutions, variable speed diesel generator sets, and micro cooling solutions that target sites with temperature-sensitive equipment and cool them separately.
Indus Towers Smart Cities | Source: Indus Towers
Indus Towers Smart Cities | Source: Indus Towers

Strategy and Positioning for Indus 5G Towers: India has begun its 5G journey, and several operators like Airtel, Vodafone India, and Reliance Jio are doing trials. Indus towers expect the 5G rollout to happen soon and increase demand for Site Infrastructure. 


 

Cellnex

Cellnex is Europe’s leading independent wireless telecommunications operator and 5G infrastructure company. Founded: 2000 HQ Location: Headquartered in Barcelona, Barcelona, they provide service in Austria, Denmark, Spain, France, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Switzerland. Infrastructure: They have 128,000 sites and 75,000 already in the portfolio; the rest are closed or deployed until 2028. Communication Tower Solutions of Cellnex include:

  • Telecom Infrastructure Services – Offers its communications and broadcast sites to wireless operators and customers who distribute their services using wireless technologies.
  • DAS and Small Cells – Offers multi-operator telephone network solutions for indoor and outdoor facilities with high user densification through technologies such as DAS (Distributed Antenna Systems) and Small Cells
  • Audiovisual Broadcast networks – are Spain’s main broadcasting infrastructure operator, offering comprehensive turnkey or modular service to its main private and public audiovisual groups.
  • Smart Cities, IoT, and Security – Provides communications networks and IoT solutions to efficiently manage urban resources and services to enable smart cities.

Cellnex 5G Tower Strategy: Cellnex is one of the key proponents driving and accelerating 5G in Europe. They are building 5G infrastructure that they envision as a “neutral host” and have “sharing schemes “between operators. At MWC21 in Barcelona, through Edzcom, a subsidiary of the Group, Cellnex showcased the latest technology in private communications networks to allow companies and industries to perform their processes through their infrastructure. Cellnex also demonstrated at MWC21 below 5G use cases it is working on: 

  • 5G Catalunya Pilot, jointly with MásMóvil, aims to turn the city of Barcelona into an open innovation stage 
  • 5GMED – focussed on Future RailwayMobile Communications System (FRMCS) and advanced services for cooperative connected and automated mobility (CCAM) 
  • 5G Lean project, a collaboration with Nokia and Quobis to bring connectivity to rural areas

Cellnex partnered with BASF (chemical company) to deploy the first private 5G network in a Spain chemical plant. In this deployment, Cellnex will install and deploy a private 5G network at BASF’s production center in La Canonja, Tarragona, for various industrial use cases.


 

Vantage Towers

Vantage towers aim to develop and deploy mobile infrastructure at scale for accelerating Europe’s transition to 5G. It is the second-largest tower company in Europe. Founded: 2000 HQ Location: Headquartered in Düsseldorf, Germany, they have towers across Germany, Spain, Portugal,  Czech Republic, Ireland, Romania, Hungary, and Greece. Infrastructure: They have 82,000 communication sites, including macro sites, small cells, and DAS. 100% of the electricity that Vantage Towers uses to operate its infrastructure is obtained from renewable energy resources such as wind, solar, and hydropower.

Vantage Towers Offerings | Source: Vantage Towers
Vantage Towers Offerings | Source: Vantage Towers

Vantage Tower Solutions include:

  • Infrastructure assets
    • Ground-based and rooftop assets for 4G/LTE and 5G rollout
    • DAS and small cells for indoor and outdoor requirements
  • Services
    • Colocation to rent space, equipment, and network access on ground-based and rooftop tower sites
    • Build-to-suit – ground-based and rooftop macro sites, small cell, and distributed antenna system (DAS) solutions
    • Enhance network performance services.

Vantage 5G Tower Strategy: Vantage towers look to position itself as a “5G Superhost” to cater to enterprise users and wireless carriers.  


 

Crown Castle

Crown castle brings in 25 years of expertise, with 40K+ towers deployed and 80K+ miles of fiber. It is changing how MNOs are deploying their technologies. It provides two models for cell sites, shared infrastructure and single-tenant, like ATC. Founded: 1994 HQ Location: Houston, TX Infrastructure: 40K+ towers, ~80K small cells on air or under contract, and ~80K route miles of fiber

Crown Castle Infrastructure | Source: Crown Castle
Crown Castle Infrastructure | Source: Crown Castle

Tower Solutions of Crown Castle include:

  • Towers & Roof-top
    • Installs monopole, lattice, and guyed towers, which are fed by backhaul coaxial copper or fiber
    • Provides equipment shelters and ground space to allow connectivity for fiber and edge data centers
    • In dense areas where towers are not feasible to install, provides rooftop sites.
  • Small Cells – Installs small cells for indoor, outdoor, and mixed-use areas working with commercial real estate companies, carriers, and partners.
  • Fiber – Includes managed SD-WAN solutions, optical encryption, video transport, dark fiber, wavelength, cloud connect, ethernet, and private networks.

Crown Castle 5G Tower Strategy: Crown Castle has restricted its operations mainly to the US and has concentrated more on Small Cells and Fiber deployment. Its recent ten-year collaborations with Verizon and Dish Network for 15 years for providing site infrastructure point to its increased focus on 5G deployment. 


 

SBA Communications

SBA communication is the third-largest tower company in the Americas. A $51.8 B enterprise operates in 15 markets. It has around 33K+ towers in the United States, Brazil, Canada, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, and South Africa. They were founded: in 1989. HQ Location: Boca Raton, Florida Infrastructure: 33K+ communication sites, including towers, buildings, rooftops, distributed antenna systems, and small cells.

SBA Communications Small Cells | Source: SBA Communications
SBA Communications Small Cells | Source: SBA Communications

Tower Solutions of SBA communication include:

  • Towers – Owns and operates towers, including towers requested by wireless carriers leveraging in-house site acquisition, zoning, and construction expertise.
  • Leasing – Leases antenna space on multi-tenant towers and other communications facilities to wireless service providers under long-term lease contracts.
  • Site Management – provides site marketing and management services to property owners. Currently, SBA manages ~ 9,700 communication site locations for third-party property owners.
  • Site Development – Provides network design, site identification and acquisition, zoning approvals, and permitting. Cell site audits to augment existing wireless facilities to wireless service providers and operators to develop their network.
  • Construction – Provides construction services on a single cell tower basis or by delivering a complete turnkey network deployment solution customized to meet the needs of wireless service providers.
  • Technical services – Installation and commissioning; quality and support services; architectural and engineering services; and program management and deployment

SBA 5G Towers Strategy: The two primary businesses of SBA include site leasing and site development. With the continued growth of 5G service in the Americas, a substantial 5G network will continue, driving strong revenue results.


 

IHS Towers

IHS towers call themselves towers of strength. They provide telecommunications infrastructure to emerging markets. Founded: 2001 HQ Location: Principal executive office is located in the UK Infrastructure: 30,207 towers in nine countries – Colombia, Peru, Brazil, Nigeria, Kuwait, Cote d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Rwanda, Zambia

IHS Tower Offerings | Source: IHS Towers
IHS Tower Offerings | Source: IHS Towers

Tower Solutions of IHS include:

  • Colocation and lease amendments – Adding new customers to existing towers and Adding new equipment and services at existing towers for existing customers
  • Build-to-suit solutions – Building a new tower site based on customer-specific needs
  • DAS Inbuilding solutions, Small cell, Fiber connectivity
  • Mobile connectivity to remote rural locations

IHS 5G Towers Strategy: The African market is untapped, with a huge growth opportunity. The strategy for MEA cell tower companies are 

More Cell Tower+ Increased Penetration= Increase in SIM sales+ Cash Flow for new Technology 

The 5G strategy for IHS towers in Africa will be to push MNOs to quickly migrate from 3G to 4G/LTE and subsequently to 5G.


 

GTL Infrastructure

GTL Infra is India’s independent Shared Telecom Infrastructure Service Provider with a presence across all 22 telecom circles in India. GTL is the pioneer in introducing the infrastructure-sharing concept in India. Founded: 2004 HQ Location: Navi Mumbai, Maharashtra, India Infrastructure: 28,000+ telecom towers across 22 telecom circles in India.

GTL Infrastructure | Source: GTL Infra
GTL Infrastructure | Source: GTL Infra

Tower Solutions of GTL Infra include:

  • Tower & Infrastructure sharing
    • Provides 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G cell towers that can be shared across telecom operators in India
    • Provides space in shelters and optimum heights for mounting antennae on towers for the operators to host their active equipment
  • Energy Management – provides uninterrupted power supply in its Cell Sites at a pre-determined cost from the customer. 

GTL 5G Towers Strategy: For India, the spectrum auction will still happen for 5G, and the telecom outlook is still not out of the woods. Although GTL must be ready for 5G, during the last few years, it has lost cash, and liabilities are higher than assets, so its stance on 5G is still not decisive.


 

Phoenix Tower International (PTI)

Phoenix Tower International owns and operates wireless infrastructure sites and focuses on infrastructure expansion throughout Latin America, the Caribbean, the United States, and Europe. Founded: 2013 HQ Location: Boca Raton, FL Infrastructure: 13,500 towers, 986 km of fiber, and over 80,000 other wireless infrastructure and related sites in 18 countries throughout Europe, the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean.

Phoenix Tower International Map | Source: PTI
Phoenix Tower International Map | Source: PTI

Tower Solutions of PTI include:

  • Colocation services and Build-to-Suite (for wireless carriers) – Provides reliable collocation services with established processes and local and regional personnel expertise and constructs a high-quality site to suit the specific needs of wireless companies, if it does not have an existing site available to meet customer needs
  • Land and rooftop acquisition with Asset management (for landlords) – Works with landlords and real estate owners on land and lease acquisition solutions under existing wireless infrastructure, whether wireless towers or equipment on rooftops. 
  • Real estate management and marketing – Site marketing, lease management, record keeping, billing, collections, installation oversight, and access management
  • Tower acquisition – Provides services from the start of the process for tower acquisition to its final closing, including transaction structures that can act as alternative financing. 

 


 

Tower Vision

Tower Vision is an independent tower management company specializing in providing shared passive infrastructure and related services to the telecommunication industry in India. India-based customers include Bharti Airtel, Jio, Vodafone Idea, BSNL, MTNL, and Tata Communications. Founded: 2006 HQ Location: Gurgaon, Haryana, India Infrastructure: 9,000 towers and 15,000 + multi tenancies sites across all telecom circles in India and broad portfolio of passive infra including Ground Based Tower (GBM), Ground-Based Mast (GBM), Roof-Top-Pole (RTP), Outdoor Small Sell Sites (ODSC), Cell On Wheels (COW), in-building solutions, smart poles, and fiber-based solutions

Tower Vision Offerings | Source: Tower Vision
Tower Vision Offerings | Source: Tower Vision

Tower Solutions of Tower Vision include:

  • Towers and infrastructure sharing
    • Ownership, management, and operation of wireless communication towers of all types across the country
    • Acquisition, deployment, maintenance, and asset management of telecommunication towers based on the Build, Own, and Operate model. 

 


 

Helios Towers

Helios Towers (HT) owns and operates telecommunications towers and passive infrastructure in six high-growth African markets. Their primary business is building, acquiring, and operating telecommunications towers capable of accommodating and powering the needs of multiple tenants. Founded: 2009 HQ Location: London, UK and operates across South Africa, DRC, Congo B, Ghana, Tanzania, Senegal, Madagascar, Malawi, Chad, Gabon, Oman Infrastructure: 8,765 sites with 17,773 tenants

Helios Towers - Build-to-Suite | Source - Helios Towers
Source – Helios Towers

Tower Solutions of Helios Towers include:

  • Colocation – Leasing space on their existing towers 
  • Build-to-Suit – Builds cell phone tower to suit customer needs, if the current portfolio does not meet the business needs
  • Sale & leaseback – MNO’s existing portfolio of towers is acquired and leased back to their former owners and colocating other tenants to increase the use of infrastructure. 
  • In-building solutions – provide infrastructure in large-scale buildings such as shopping malls, high-rise buildings, and stadiums.
  • Managed services – run day-to-day site operations in case customers do not want sale and leaseback transactions. 

Helios Tower 5G Towers Strategy: Helios Towers plans to build 1000 Telecom towers in SA to fuel the growth of 5G. It has negotiated with local players and wants to buy existing cell towers from wireless carriers like Vodacom and MTN. 


 

Way Forward for Tower Companies

Cell towers across different geographies have their drivers and challenges.

  • In many markets, like in India, we see consolidation and mergers, the recent merger of Bharti Infratel and Indus towers and the acquisition of VIOM Networks. However, in other Asia markets like China, their outlook looks robust with 5G rollout happenings.  
  • In regions like Oceania, wireless carriers like Optus and Telstra are selling their stakes in their existing cell towers business.
  • We have also seen Operators selling their existing cell phone tower stakes to different companies in Europe and the Americas. This generally fuels the expenses that wireless carriers need to make for 5G deployments.   

One of the major expenditures for Tower Companies is power provisioning at the cell towers. In urban areas, it is mostly based on electricity, but in rural areas, they are highly dependent on diesel. With rising awareness of clean environments, there has been a continuous focus from Tower companies to implement greener power like solar panels. 

 

 

Are 5G Cell Towers Safe, and is it Dangerous to Live Near a 5G Cell Tower?

The safety of 5G cell towers has been a topic of public concern and scientific inquiry. To address this question, it’s essential to understand the technology behind 5G and the nature of the radiofrequency radiation (RFR) it emits.

Understanding 5G Technology

5G, the fifth generation of cellular network technology, offers faster speeds and more reliable internet connections on mobile phones and other devices. Unlike 4G towers, 5G can operate in three different frequency bands:

  1. Low-band spectrum: Offers better coverage and penetration but with lower speed improvements over 4G.
  2. Mid-band spectrum: Provides faster speeds and lower latency than the low-band but does not penetrate buildings as effectively.
  3. High-band spectrum (millimeter waves): Offers the highest speed and capacity but has a shorter range and is obstructed more easily by buildings and other structures.

Radiofrequency Radiation from 5G Towers

5G cell towers, like earlier generation cell towers (3G, 4G), emit RFR, a type of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation. The key characteristics of RFR from 5G towers are:

  • Frequency Range: 5G operates at a higher frequency than previous cellular networks, but it’s still within the non-ionizing part of the electromagnetic spectrum, meaning it lacks sufficient energy to remove tightly bound electrons from atoms and cause ionization, which is required to damage DNA and cause cancer.
  • Intensity: The intensity of RFR decreases rapidly with distance. The exposure levels from cell towers are generally low, especially when compared to other sources of RFR we commonly encounter in daily life, like WiFi routers and cell phones.

Health Concerns and Research

  1. Cancer Risk: Current research, including studies by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the American Cancer Society, suggests that exposure to non-ionizing radiation from cell towers is not sufficient to cause cancer. These studies, however, are ongoing, as 5G is a relatively new technology.
  2. Other Health Effects: Some studies have explored potential links between cell tower radiation and other health issues like headaches, sleep disturbances, or cognitive disruption, but the results are not conclusive.

Regulatory Standards and Compliance

Regulatory bodies like the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the United States set exposure limits for RFR from cell towers. These standards are based on thresholds for known adverse health effects and include a safety margin. Cell towers, including 5G towers, are required to comply with these standards.

Proximity Considerations

Living near a 5G tower doesn’t necessarily mean higher exposure to RFR. As mentioned, the strength of the radiation decreases with distance, and the antennas are typically designed to spread the signal horizontally rather than directly downward.

Personal Experiences and Perceptions

Individual comfort levels with living near 5G towers can vary. Some people report no issues living close to cell towers, while others express discomfort or concern, particularly when small cells are installed close to residential areas.

Conclusion

The balance of scientific evidence to date suggests that 5G cell towers are safe and pose minimal health risks to people living nearby. However, it is important to continue monitoring and researching, especially as the technology evolves and becomes more widespread. For those concerned about potential risks, consulting credible sources and staying informed about ongoing research is advisable.

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