Tuesday, 21st January 2020

Global alliance launches to support worldwide investment in digital infrastructure

International Digital Infrastructure Alliance (IDIA) will help drive global digital infrastructure roll-outs across developed and developing markets, supported by the IFC, the World Bank Group private sector arm.

The International Digital Infrastructure Alliance (IDIA) launched today to provide a unified global voice for the wireless tower industry. Founded by major tower companies (towercos), the Alliance is a direct response to an urgent need for globally recognised regulatory best practise for the deployment of digital infrastructure, crucial for investment in increasingly densified networks.

With particular focus on developing markets, and working in collaboration with the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a private sector arm of the World Bank Group, the IDIA will help avoid fragmentation in the regulatory environment and secure the long-term infrastructure investments required for sustainable densification worldwide. Founding members include IHS, Helios Towers and the edotco Group.

The tower industry provides a critical function in telecommunications infrastructure, specifically the building, acquiring and operating of shareable cellular towers that are then utilised by mobile network operators and other service providers to deliver voice and data services to people and businesses. ​The importance of this role is only set to increase with the development of smart cities and roll-out of 5G and IoT wireless networks, which will require an exponential increase in the number of sites required.

The IDIA has an initial three-year program, with an agreed set of objectives and milestones, including coordinating global messaging and advocacy, to ensure that, in the development of policy, governments and municipalities take account of the socio-economic benefits delivered by towercos as shared infrastructure providers.

The alliance also plans to provide a global database to help individual members and regional towerco associations share best practise with regulators and governments.

The IDIA will be headed by founding CEO, Chuck Green, who is also the co-founder and former CEO and Executive Chairman of Helios Towers, co-founder and former director of Helios Towers Nigeria and founding Group CFO of Crown Castle.

Chuck brings over 20 years of tower sector experience and expertise to the role, he said: “This is all about giving a global voice to the tower industry and encouraging infrastructure investment in developing markets. The cellular industry is going through huge changes in the run-up to 5G and growing network densification – both technically and structurally. These will lead to a sea change in the way mobile networks are built, operated and maintained, with new technologies seeing base stations deployed on street furniture instead of towers. At the same time, regulators are making key decisions about licensing, site access competition, infrastructure and network sharing.

“I have been encouraged by the number of major tower industry players that have expressed their support of the IDIA, recognizing the need to communicate global messages to the industry collaboratively. Together we have a strong voice, supported by a deep resource of experiential data and benchmarks.”

The Alliance is supported by, and working in collaboration with, the IFC, a private sector arm of the World Bank Group. Eric Crabtree, Chief Investment Officer atIFCsaid: “This project demonstrates IFC’s commitment to increasing affordable and reliable internet access under the global Digital Infrastructure Initiative. IFC is delighted that this alliance has been formed to support greater investment in digital infrastructure globally. This is a significant step forward for the industry and we are delighted to support its creation. We see the tower companies as central to the long-term provision of digital communications infrastructure, particularly in developing markets across the globe.”

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