The Indian telecom market is “looking structurally very good,” Rod Smith, executive vice president and chief financial officer of American Tower Corporation (ATC) said in the NAREIT REITworld 2020 annual virtual conference. The Boston based ATC is said to own and operate 74,569 tower sites in India as of September 30, 2020. The company in its financial data for the period ended September 30, highlighted that India accounted for 15.4% of its total property revenue during its third quarter. Airtel, Vodafone Idea (Vi) and Reliance Jio are said to be major telecom operators to be engaged with ATC in India.
Smith in the NAREIT REITworld 2020 annual virtual conference on Wednesday said that ATC is “on track” to “recover” commercially in India.
“But the Indian market really is looking structurally very good, has three commercial carriers, one government backed carrier, and we do see double digit gross growth there,” Smith said in the NAREIT REITworld 2020 annual virtual conference.
However, Smith highlighted that the ATC’s international markets “grow a couple of hundred basis points faster” than the company’s home market, the United States of America.
“That’s primarily because their technologies are good five years behind us kind of on average, it differs in certain places, maybe even longer, in terms of behind us and in other places like India and parts of Africa,” Smith said.
The executive vice president of ATC also highlighted that the company prior to the consolidation in the Indian telecom market experienced “extra growth” as compared to its US business.
“We are looking forward to a recovery in India in terms of continuing to see the churn rates come down following the consolidation that has happened in that market,” Smith said.
Crucially, Smith also said that the COVID pandemic did “affect” its “build program” with the company witnessing slowdown in several countries including India due to lockdown restrictions. However, Smith highlighted that ATC still expects to build over 5000 new sites with a “lot of those in India.”
In its third quarter earnings call for the period ended September 30, 2020, Smith said that ATC is set to build 3500 new tower sites in India by the end of 2020.