EdgePoint: Bridging Gaps From Malaysia To Digital ASEAN Infrastructure For Towering Connectivity

The Digital ASEAN masterplan aims to transform Asean’s digital economy and digital society by increasing digital literacy and closing the digital gap. In most ASEAN nations, achieving these goals means relying on wireless connectivity to resolve the gaps.

As such, tower company’s (towerco) play a vital role as telecommunications infrastructure is the backbone for connectivity, and mobile networks require towers in order to provide access.

EdgePoint Infrastructure Sdn. Bhd. Group CEO & Founder Suresh Sidhu, in an interview with BusinessToday said: “Our objectives and strategies are thus very much aligned to the goals of Digital ASEAN. This means ensuring the right telecommunication infrastructure is available, and is able to host not just 4G but also next generation technology.

“We will continue to focus on being the best neutral host of wireless radio equipment in the region, as we don’t pick the technologies but rather work with our customers to ensure they are deployed in as fast and extensive a way as possible.

“On current challenges faced in terms of telecommunications tower infrastructure, he explained the environment is highly competitive, with multiple players in the market today, many of whom have strong regional positions and have established relationships with customers and other stakeholders.  Competing against these players coupled with complex access, regulations and processes across Malaysia’s municipalities and states are some of the challenges we need to successfully navigate.”

The towerco business is an asset heavy business requiring significant capital expenditure and we are fortunate to have the right investment partners in Digital Bridge, allowing us to build our business and grow at a quick pace. That being said, we believe it would further accelerate the nation’s connectivity efforts if we made it easier for foreign investors to deploy capital in the sector. There are significant global pools of long-term capital that the country can attract with the right policies, Suresh said, adding, on a more national level, we encourage regulatory reforms to make access more open, for example by designating telecommunications infrastructure as a public utility.

Entering any market with strong players can be challenging for a new player.

While EdgePoint as a company may be young, our team consists of seasoned faces in the telecommunications industry. Each member of our management team comes with over 25 years of telecommunications experience not only in Malaysia, but also from working around the region. From the get go, the team has been focused on building a strong customer base and to ensure we deliver to our customers’ expectations. We believe execution is key – customer need to see we live up to our word.

“We have strong relationships with our customers in all three countries. These come from having experienced teams with a good mix of local management and experienced expatriates, deep industry insights and a strong focus on execution. We believe a good relationship is based on a good customer experience.”

5G or 6G

The deployment of 5G or 6G networks require a robust and reliable telecommunications infrastructure that can support the increased demand for high-speed data, low latency and high reliability. To support the high speeds and low latency demands, we need sites capable of hosting larger antennae arrays that can support multiband deployments.

These sites also need to be designed to blend into an urban environment in a way that also meets a community’s aesthetic needs.

5G and 6G networks will ultimately rely on a dense network of small cell sites to provide coverage to urban and suburban areas, which can be installed on utility poles, buildings and other structures to provide high-speed wireless connectivity.

Cloud computing and storage solutions are also necessary as 5G and 6G networks generate a massive amount of data, therefore the right infrastructure is needed to ensure these services are supported. Increasingly, this infra moves to the “edge” in 5G and 6G and becomes co-hosted at the tower as a result.

Backhaul networks, the portion that connects the cell sites to the core network, are essential for ensuring that the high-speed data traffic generated by 5G and 6G networks can be efficiently transported. This will almost entirely have to become fiberized, and we expect much more fibre to be deployed to all our towers in the coming years. However, we will always need some microwave redundancy which requires towers to continue to support these back up links.

In the coming years, wireless network will become even more important for data than they ever were for voice and towers will host many more types of equipment and services.

Post Pandemic competition and resilience

The pandemic has taught us to be fleet footed and nimble to deal with sudden booms and busts.

“We need to fund fast growth, and yet keep an eye on being sustainable in the event of a slowdown. The ability to read and respond to emerging signals has become key, but old-fashioned values like execution have also remerged as being important to our customers. We think that to be resilient for the future, we need to be able to marry the traditions of operational excellence with fast decision making, while always keeping an eye on the horizon for risks.

Moving Forward

Suresh said Edgepoint’s will keep striving to remain the benchmark tower operator in the region, ensuring we deliver high quality services and stay at the fore-front of innovation.

“We will continue to focus on delivery and ensuring we have sites that can meet customer’s needs. We also need to expand our range of services at every site from fibre to edge deployments, serving almost as a plug and play option for our customers.

To do this we will of course continue to partner with the right people and bring the ecosystem together, continuously innovating for both our customers as well as our vendor supply chain.

“Our own internal transformation needs to also mirror the future. We want to create a digitally enabled work environment ensuring our employees are able to make quick, insight driven decisions from anywhere, that helps builds a strong and sustainable business that delivers value to our customers and their long term success,” he added.

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