The size and scale of China Tower’s business is staggering. By year-end 2022, China Tower operated close to 2.1 million towers. That’s a net increase of 17,000 sites from the end of 2021. Compare that to American Tower which is the largest independent tower company in the world with 223,055 towers at year-end 2022, and almost 7,000 new tower builds for the year.
China Tower primarily serves the country’s state-owned telecommunications service providers (TSP) – China Mobile, China Telecom, China Unicom, and China Broadnet. The four TSPs accounted for a total of nearly 3.4 million tower tenants, a 102,000 year-over-year increase. The TSP tenancy ratio increased from 1.60 to 1.65 over the same period last year, showing a continuous increase in the level of site colocation.
The company installed approximately 745,000 5G base-stations during the year, with more than 96 percent of sites delivered through sharing existing network infrastructure. Through the end of 2022, China Tower reported that it has received cumulative orders of nearly 1.8 million new 5G cell sites.
Operating revenue for 2022 reached $13.4 billion, up 6.5 percent YoY. Revenue from the TSP segment was $12.0 billion, up by 3.5 percent over the same period last year, and accounting for 90 percent of operating revenue. The TSP business comprises revenue from towers and indoor distributed antenna system (DAS) business. Towers contributed $11.3 billion, up nearly 2 percent, while DAS revenue was $845 million, a 34 percent YoY increase. Capital expenditures for new tower builds and site augmentation was $3.0 billion in 2022, up 5 percent over nearly $2.9 billion in 2021.
The company sees “5G + DAS” as its dual-growth engines, with DAS as the fastest growing segment. The DAS business focuses on providing 5G coverage under various scenarios in key sectors including education, cultural tourism, transportation, and healthcare, with an integrated approach to coordinating resources and demands.
At year-end 2022, China Tower’s DAS deployments covered buildings with a cumulative area of 7,390 million square meters, representing a 48 percent YoY increase. The company expanded DAS coverage to 10,429 kilometers in high-speed railway tunnels and to 9,611 kilometers in subways, coverage reaching a cumulative length of 20,040 kilometers, up 19 percent from a year ago.
China Tower has Commercial Pricing Agreements and Service Agreements with each of the TSPs. In a statement, the company reiterated its commitment to meeting its TSP customer network construction needs using innovative construction and service models that provide low-cost and efficient coverage.
By John Celentano, Inside Towers Business Editor