While coal and oil fuelled the last industrial revolution, data is driving the fourth. At the core of every industrial revolution is infrastructure, whether physical or digital. Building infrastructure is dependent on capital.
Providing a meeting point for capital and connectivity providers is paramount to progress digital infrastructure. On 22 – 24 June, Capacity Media and BroadGroup are running Digital Infra Leaders Europe to bring together leaders in the finance & investment, carrier, subsea, cloud, data centre, tower and fibre industries. By uniting every pillar of the connectivity industry, the event aims to facilitate investment to build the infrastructure of tomorrow.
The investment demands on the connectivity industry are significant. Increasing political demands for 5G coverage and full FTTP (Fibre-to-the-Premise) coverage would be challenging enough even without the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s no secret that the last 12 months have lead to an unprecedented demand on networks, coinciding with the rise of working from home changing the geographical demands on networks operators and increasing awareness of the impact of digital infrastructure on the environment. All of these challenges are exacerbating the financial demands placed on connectivity providers.
With increasing traffic and a growing appreciation of the critical role of communications to the global economy, we would expect to see a boom in the value of telecoms providers. Yet over the course of 2020, the value of listed telecoms providers dropped 20%, continuing the trend that began in 2015. Despite the increase in traffic, this decrease in value may stem from the 10% decline in revenues found in an ITU report, caused in part by customers unwilling or unable to pay more for their connectivity, despite their increased consumption.
Despite the challenges faced by telecoms providers, digital infrastructure investment is booming. While many sectors have seen hesitant investors faced with an uncertain future, the future of digital infrastructure has never been more apparent. This optimism is now leading to investors focusing on digital infrastructure, as traditional infrastructure shows its potential for volatility. With near-daily news of a merger or investment in the tower, data centre and fibre markets, new deployments, along with numerous new subsea cables coming online, shows there are clearly opportunities for investors.
Along with making demands for full-fibre coverage, governments are also helping to incentivise investors. These incentives are vital for driving fibre investment into rural areas, where demand is limited. With a growing government appreciation of the challenges in meeting infrastructure demands, regulators are likely to support investors, creating a more favourable environment. Furthermore, as 5G coverage expands, those building the dense network infrastructure will need capital. As 5G enables greater data consumption through content, gaming and new use cases at the edge, it will fuel a new wave of demand for data centres, both at the edge and hyperscale. Over the next five years, investment will be critical to the communications industry, while at the same time, digital infrastructure will be a crucial asset class for investors.
With the ITU predicting new financing models, there has never been a more critical time for industry leaders, lawyers and investors to come together. Digital Infra Leaders Europe 2021 will provide the perfect setting for discussions of the future of financing for the ICT infrastructure industry, through the programme of thought-leadership sessions, exclusive roundtables on the most pressing issues and virtual meeting areas where deals can get done. The initial speaker line-up has been announced, including senior representatives from BT, Dataplex Group, Eurofiber, RBC Capital Markets and more.