American Tower eyes growth from C-Band, India

American Tower has particularly high hopes for its business in India. (Getty Images)

American Tower’s name implies that the company provides towers in America, obviously, but the company actually considers itself a global communications infrastructure provider. Looking to the future, American Tower’s CEO Tom Bartlett said the company is eyeing revenues from C-Band deployments in the United States, but it also see growth opportunities in India.

Speaking yesterday at a Citi investor conference, Bartlett said C-band is an impetus for new spend that will benefit American Tower in the U.S. “The biggest correlation for our growth rate is our customers’ capex that they’re spending on networks,” said Bartlett. 

That capex spending could be on new spectrum, new antennas, new radios or new fiber. “I think what they’re spending on C-band is indicative of how optimistic they are on optimizing 5G technology going forward, which I think is a very strong statement for our business,” he said. “They’re not going to be spending all of this cash, all this capital, on C-Band without the ability to spend a lot of capex on deploying it.”

RELATED: Takeaways from C-band as bidding resumes: Kellogg

As of today, the C-band auction has smashed records with $79.3 billion raised.

“I think that’s really a strong message for how they [operators] think about 5G and the opportunities,” said Bartlett. “We’re right in the middle of that. We should be able, as a neutral host, to take advantage of that opportunity.”

India and international

American Tower is in about 21 different markets, globally. Bartlett said, “Our business development pipeline has probably never been as active as it is today. A lot of new spectrum is coming in all the markets, not just for 5G but also supporting 4G in a lot of our emerging markets.”

He expects emerging markets to grow 200-300 basis points faster than the U.S. market. “Sure, there’s risk that comes along with it,” he said. “We’re aligned with the major MNOs in those markets. If you’re a believer in broadband, we should expect to see solid rates of growth in our international markets.”

The company has particularly high hopes for its business in India. Bartlett said the structure of the market there “looks very much like the U.S. market” with three wireless providers and three large tower companies. “You’ve also got a government that’s very much focused on digitizing the entire country,” he said. “And you’ve got a lot of new names coming in like Facebook, Amazon and Google. They see the same level of opportunity as we do. Everything they do is going to drive more demand on the network.”

He cited other factors that point toward telecom growth in India such as a large population of 1.3 billion people, low broadband penetration and a lack of wireline presence. “We see a positive future there,” he said. “We think it provides a very meaningful market to participate in.”

RELATED: Amazon enters the fray for a stake in India’s telecom business: report

The edge

American Tower is dipping its toes into edge computing. At last count, the company had deployed six edge data center sites.

The company has 40,000 sites in the United States, and it is methodically identifying those sites that would make sense to add edge compute facilities. “Given the real estate that we do have, the power that we have, the relationships, the on-ramp to wireless customers in those locations, it does provide an opportunity for growth on top of our core platform,” said Bartlett.

The company plans to partner with third parties to fulfill its edge ambitions. “It’s not one where we’re going to be able to do it ourselves,” he said. “It’s one where we’re going to be looking to venture. We have a number of relationships right now with different companies looking at different go-to-market strategies, whether hyperscale, data center company, whether it’s enterprise, or an MNO.”

At a given location, American Tower can provide 500 KW of power and support up to three shelters with up to 30 cabinets. It has the benefit of already having gone through the zoning and permitting processes.