China Tower, based in Beijing, continues to make progress on its ‘One Core and Two Wings’ strategy. In its operating results for the first six months of 2023, the largest tower company in the world reported its portfolio grew to 2,061,000 towers across China as of June 30. That figure is up 6,000 towers from the end of 2022. During the same period, the company gained 61,000 new colocations, bringing the total number of telecommunications service provider (TSP) tenants to more than 3.4 million. Its TSP tenancy ratio increased to 1.67 from 1.65 at the end of 2022. The company says this increase demonstrates continuous growth in the level of site colocations.
The company’s total operating revenue for 1H23 was $6.5 billion, up over two percent from $6.3 billion in 1H22. EBITDA for the first six months in 2023 came in at $4.5 billion, flat with the same period a year ago. Profit attributable to the company share owners was $675 million, up by 15 percent YoY.
China Tower’s One Core strategic business involves constructing tower and distributed antenna system infrastructure that is shared among its TSP tenants. Accounting for 88 percent of total revenues, the TSP business revenue was $5.7 billion, down by over one percent in 1H23 compared to the prior year period. Of that total TSP business, the tower business revenues were $5.2 billion, down by almost three percent YoY while the indoor DAS business generated revenues of $477 million, up by 24 percent YoY.
The decline in the tower business was due mainly to lease rate reductions under the company’s updated Commercial Pricing Agreements with China’s three major state-owned mobile network operators – China Mobile, China Telecom, and China Unicom – that are also China Tower’s primary owners. Excluding the impact of these agreements, China Tower’s comparable tower revenues were $5.5 billion, up by nearly two percent year-over-year. Note that China Mobile is the world’s largest MNO by subscribers with over 975 million mobile customers as of December 2022. China Mobile accounted for about 60 percent of China Tower’s revenue in 1H23.
The company’s tower business is very active. China Tower deployed approximately 325,000 5G cell sites in the first half of 2023, Inside Towers reported. More than 95 percent of these 5G cell sites are mounted on existing structures.
DAS is the “second engine” for TSP business development. As of June 30, 2023, China Tower had installed in-building wireless systems across China covering a cumulative area of nearly 95 billion square feet, up by 48 percent YoY. DAS coverage in high-speed railway tunnels and subways totaled a cumulative length of over 13,700 miles, an increase of 21 percent over the same period last year.
The company’s Two Wings strategy comprises its Smart Tower business and the Energy business.
The Smart Tower business involves building digital towers which are specialized structures that provide monitoring and surveillance in fields such as farmland protection, forestry fire prevention, and the protection of the Yangtze River’s ecosystem. The Smart Tower business generated $472 million in 1H23, up by 31 percent YoY.
The Energy business comprises a battery exchange marketplace for light electric vehicles and power backup systems. Power backup is focused on key industries such as communications and finance. China Tower offers an integrated four-in-one solution covering power backup, power generation, monitoring and maintenance. Revenues from the Energy business in 1H23 was $275 million, up by almost 39 percent YoY.
Zhang Zhiyong, China Tower Chairman said, “In the future, the Company will continue to place technological innovation at the center of driving high-quality corporate development.”
By John Celentano, Inside Towers Business Editor