According to a company spokesperson, Austrian operator A1 is still considering whether to set up a separate towers company, Der Standard reported. A final decision has not yet been made, the report added.
A1 explained that the potential sale of transmission masts would enable the active marketing of the passive infrastructure to other operators. This means that the masts could be rented by several network operators at the same time, which would enable more efficient management of the infrastructure.
A1 has established tower companies at some of its subsidiaries already. The company has been considering ways to better exploit the infrastructure since at least 2020.
In considering this move, A1 is yet another example of a growing trend in the telecommunications industry: spinning off network infrastructure to be managed by separate tower companies.
Managing existing network infrastructure is costly, and rolling out 5G, which requires more towers than previous technologies, is even more expensive. By handing off the responsibility for the physical towers to a separate company (or a subsidiary), the operator both frees up capital for reinvestment, while simultaneously ensuring that existing and new network infrastructure is managed and built out more cost-effectively.
An additional benefit to selling tower infrastructure is that it would allow for the leasing of passive infrastructure to multiple network operators, as well as the possibility for a more efficient development of future infrastructure, which improves network coverage for all.
Overall, this practice appears to be a win-win for everyone involved. Given the widespread benefits of creating separate tower companies to manage network infrastructure, we expect to see more operators in Europe continue to move in this direction.