As Reliance Telecom Infrastructure readies itself for the IPO, here is the state and analysis of Telecom Tower Infrastructure in India. At the end of FY2009 [March], India had ~282,000 Telecom Towers serving 390 mn wireless customers.

Tower operators bullish on growth prospects for new entrants, launch of next generation technologies. 3G/WiMAX deployments in top 100 cities could require incremental 18,000 cell sites primarily from 900/1800 MHz operators. Tower operators looking to offer all elements of network for sharing.

Projected Tower Capacity for FY-10 March – 2010
Indus Towers – 116,000
Reliance Infratel – 50,000
BSNL – 55,000
Bharti Infratel – 30,000
Vodafone – 8,500
Idea Cellular – 9,000
Quippo Telecom Infrastructure – 36,000 [For Tata]
GTL Infrastructure – 10,000
Essar Telecom – 6,500
Others – 21,000

The capital cost to install a ground-based tower has declined to nearly Rs 2.5 million on average from Rs 2.8 million–3.0 million a year ago due to falling commodity (primarily steel) prices.

Revenue per tenant has fallen to nearly Rs 32,000 for the first tenant and Rs 30,000 on average for the second tenant for ground-based towers. Fuel and power costs are also paid by tenants on the tower on a shared basis and average nearly Rs 23,000–25,000 per month.

Operator-owned towercos report significantly higher profitability than independent passive infrastructure operators.