“Misconceptions about radio equipment, difficulty in renting land are big challenges for setting up telecommunications towers”

Ricky Steyn, Country General Manager (CMD) at edotco Bangladesh Co Ltd, a telecom infrastructure company that provides end-to-end solutions in the tower services industry, took up the post in January 2020 and joined for the first time in the South Asian country. Before that, he worked in Myanmar for four years.

In an exclusive interview with The Business Standard, Ricky Steyn shared his experience working at the largest lathe company in Bangladesh, the industry ecosystem and beyond.

He said misconceptions among people regarding radio equipment and tracing the rightful owners of properties are major challenges for setting up new towers in Bangladesh.

“Mass awareness of radio equipment and its safety features will give us access to more places,” Ricky said, adding that this is where government help is needed to educate the public.

“There is no risk of radiation from the radio equipment we use,” he said.

Securing locations and signing land leases in densely populated urban areas for new venues is another big challenge for tower companies, Ricky said.

“Finding the rightful owner to sign a rental agreement is often difficult due to previous transfer of ownership. Also, some of the chosen locations belong to the government or other influential people, which makes the process much more complex,” did he declare.

“Making contact with the competent authority for land and negotiating a lease can take more than two years in some cases,” he added.

For these reasons, mobile operators are prevented in some urban areas, including the capital, from deploying new network sites which have an impact on their quality of services.

Ricky Steyn said: “If we are going to launch the 5G network, we need the combined efforts of industry and government stakeholders to adopt a more agile approach to expedite the land lease agreement process.”

Talking about edotco’s role as a tower company to improve the quality of telecommunication service, CMD said that edotco strives to provide the best quality of service (QoS) to its customers.

For us, ensuring quality of service falls into several categories: investments focused on technology, strategic deployment of our resources, digitization and automation of our operations.

In developing the categories, he said, when edotco builds new sites or replaces existing equipment, it uses state-of-the-art technologies, which helps extend the life of assets and provides a much better quality of service. to the network.

“For example, edotco was the very first tower company in the region to adopt lithium-ion battery technology which has helped us increase the quality of services and the life cycle of our assets,” he said. added.

Based on the landscape of Bangladesh and the locations of network sites, edotco has divided the entire country into strategic and accessible centers and placed its resources across the country to provide rapid responses in case of emergency.

This compartmentalized approach has allowed edotco to be nimble and nimble in responding to customer needs, he said.

“To digitize and automate operations, we have deployed additional hardware at our sites, such as a Remote Monitoring System (RMS), which has allowed us to effectively monitor site performance and generate data that helps us predict future problems,” edotco said. says the boss.

There are four TowerCo operators in the country that were awarded licenses in 2018. TowerCo and Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) own 39,000 towers across the country. Of the total, edotco has a 34% market share.

The head of the largest TowerCo edotco Bangladesh, Ricky, said: “As per the TowerCo licensing guidelines, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) are supposed to allow licensed tower companies to buy or lease their towers. by November 2023.

But this backtracking process is happening very slowly, he said.

Although there are positive signs that MNOs are trying to either sell their towers or engage with TowerCo for leasing, he added.

Sharing his experience on the business environment of the market under the current regulator, Ricky Steyn said that the ridesharing market is heavily regulated although it was only formulated four years ago.

“It’s important to point out that global tower markets are not heavily regulated. You can look to the Malaysia, Mexico and Indonesia markets as well-suited examples,” he said.

The country has already started a trial of 5G network technology and mobile operators have secured additional spectrum as part of their readiness to implement the technology.

As an industry stakeholder shaping its readiness for the materialization of cutting-edge technology, edotco’s CMD said that the deployment of 5G will manifest itself in greater proliferation of fibrous sites and small cells.

Also, the accelerated speed of deployment is likely to be a big factor in defining the role of tower companies, he said.

“We now take digital analytics very seriously as part of our 5G readiness. We have formed a Digital and Automation Center of Excellence, just as we have formed the Design Center of Excellence to bring innovative, advanced and sustainable tower design solutions,” he said. .

To ensure tower readiness from day one, edotco also uses Network Planning Analysis (NAPA) tools, an award-winning tool that can analyze various data received from customers, suppliers and websites.

There are three other tower companies in the country and Ricky also differentiated edotco from them.

He said: “First of all, I would like to mention our customer experience. The edotco group is now the sixth largest lathe company in the world and we have been in operation for quite a long time, which has given us a better understanding of meeting expectations. client.”

Additionally, edotco has a highly experienced, skilled and skilled workforce with global knowledge, which is another strong reason to choose the company over others, CMD said.

In addition, edotco builds telecommunications infrastructure ready to operate from day one, which increases the speed of network deployment and customer access to towers, he said.

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