Naza eyes 1,000 telecom towers in five years


  • Business
  • Saturday, 19 May 2018

THE Internet boom has attracted Naza Group to be involved in the telecommunication sector with its tower business.

Its unit, Naza Communications Sdn Bhd (NCSB), has about 200 towers all over the country which it manages and operates now.

In five years, the plan is to bring the total number of towers to 1,000, according to NCSB chief executive officer Fazirul David Abdullah. The expansion, says Fazirul, is necessary based on the demand for Internet and mobility services in the country and it wants to help bridge the gap by providing future enabled platforms in both urban or rural areas.

He is also talking about technical collaborations and partnerships with partners to build more towers and has several proposals he is looking at to find the best fit.

“We are trying to carve a niche in the tower business and evolve from a capital expenditure heavy business to move towards technical collaborations. We can be creative with collaborations,’’ he says in an interview.

Technical collaborations and partnerships can be with equipment suppliers to manufacturers and other parties that have towers, be it in the country or in the region.

He did not elaborate further but suffice to say that NCSB wants to play a bigger role in the tower business and there are a “handful of parties interested to work with us.’’ He says it is a capex heavy business but with collaborations and partnerships, “we will no longer be capex heavy.’’

Thus far for the 200 towers, the company has invested about RM20mil.

He did not say how much future investments are needed for the additional towers.

Fazirul has been in the telecoms business for 25 years, having worked in various positions and various countries with companies, such as Ericsson and Hewlett Packard and with clients such as Indosat and Telstra.

He says NCSB’s aim is to be part of the nation-building agenda so that there is greater access to the Internet in rural and urban centres.

According to its website, NCSB was set up in 2013 as an integrated telecommunications infrastructure company to serve as a specialist information technology and telecommunications services provider that empowers connectivity, through cutting-edge solutions with the capacity to plan, build, improve, support and manage related infrastructure.

Even though there are plenty of telecoms towers in the country for 3G and 4G type services, Fazirul says NCSB’s new towers will be 5G-enabled.

“There are many towers around but not all are equipped for 5G. We are building future-proof towers,’’ Fazirul says.

He says NSCB is “rapidly growing’’ but not the scale of competitor, edotco, which is Axiata Group Bhd’s tower business unit that owns and operates towers across Asia.

“It is the changes in technology and the evolution of the internet and IoT that has pushed growth in access and that is why more towers are needed especially in some rural areas,’’ he adds.

The transition from 4G to 5G allows wireless technology to surpass three technical thresholds – wireless internet speeds will surpass cable broadband and potentially also fibre optic cable; the IoT will have mass industrial applications for the first time; communication lag will fall to one millisecond – faster than the speed at which humans perceive touch response as instantaneous – giving rise to new, “tactile Internet” applications such as remote surgery, a report says.

Fazirul says “with 5G, we will be able to offer IoT cloud-based services too.’’

He said the business is generating revenues did not elaborate. Asked if NCSB is slated for a listing, Fazirul says it is a matter for the shareholders to decide.


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