Delmec in London: TowerXchange Meetup Europe 2023 Report

This year’s TowerXchange Europe saw the team stay close to home, with a quick trip across the Irish Sea to London.

The annual Meetup welcomed all the leading figures in the region’s industry, including MNOs, towercos, investors, regulators and suppliers. Although it is the second such event since the pandemic, it was for many the first time back in a room with close colleagues from neighbouring countries. “I missed the last Meetup in 2022,” says Delmec CEO Kealan Delaney. “So it was really great to see old friends, including participants from the main towercos Cellnex and Vantage.”

Discussions ranged from various project updates to digitisation and the ever-relevant streetworks. The team shared many learnings, and came home with a lot to think about, much of which they summarised here.

A fast-moving market

“The towerco market in Europe is reasonably new,” points out Orla Kane, Chief Commercial Officer, who was part of the Delmec team in attendance. “Most of the major players — Cellnex, Vantage, GD Towers, PTI and ATC — are new to the region or the result of consolidating assets.”

This led to a certain ‘back to basics’ approach to the Meetup, in which discussions centred on build-to-suit (BTS), co-locations and managing the value of assets. “Cost savings and efficiencies are evidently important,” says Orla. “For some of the participants, moving into active products seems inevitable, while others are more focused on building the core.”

Kealan Delaney agrees: “The big priorities are building more sites to generate revenue as well as developing more co-locations.” Central and Eastern Europe was heralded as the “next market” although it was acknowledged that it has a higher risk profile than Western Europe.

Future focus on ESG

Environmental, social, governance (ESG) strategy and the use of green energy were also part of the agenda, not least because of their association with efficiency. For example, Vantage have developed their first wooden tower, with plans for more.

“Cellnex spoke about ESG underpinning the base of connectivity,” recalls Orla. “Community criteria for investment is very much evaluated against ESG requirements with stringent reporting needs. We wondered if perhaps there is a role for TowerXchange to work with towercos, i.e., compiling information and standardising KPIs?”

While this remains to be seen, it was clear to all participants that ESG will play a major role in towerco activity in the region for years to come.

The fading appeal of digitisation

Once the leading topic during many TowerXchange events, it seems that the development of digitisation has been put on the back burner for now.

“Digitisation is great as a concept,” points out David Kilbride, Senior Key Account Manager at Delmec. “But it lacks industry direction and full end-to-end management of sites, assets and inventory.”

He believes digitisation will likely reappear and gain a foothold again when the industry matures, but for now it needs standardisation (and buy-in) to make it a reality. As part of a topic titled ‘Europe’s Digital Decade’, participants looked at not just digitisation, but also the associated IoT, sensors, drone nests and edge computing. It was obvious, though, that the appetite for its development had waned.

“Everyone seemed somewhat jaded when it came to digitisation,” Kealan agrees. “For now, it’s probably wise to limit its use to projects which demonstrate an immediate payback.”

Streetworks a continuing priority

A key part of Delmec’s services, streetworks continue to be a major focus within (and without) the towerco world. During a roundtable discussion, participants discussed how to build a business case around streetworks that would make it easier to sell the product to MNOs. Other opportunities in the area were also suggested, including rooftop replacements and the contribution streetworks can make to the development of smart cities of the future.

“While the need for streetworks is clear, ongoing challenges remain as roadblocks to progress,” Kealan says. “These include ownership of the proposed site; issues with existing client contracts; MNOs’ reluctance to share equipment; and a certain mindset around the project that hinders growth in the area.”

Current projects were discussed at length, in particular new efforts to connect the Czech Republic and Germany, which may give rise to further innovative streetworks solutions.

Every discussion demonstrated how integral Delmec’s role is in the region’s growth. “It was a great opportunity to build and enhance our relationship with key stakeholders and decision makers in the European market,” says David. “It was evident from all our interactions that Delmec is seen as a solutions generator, not just a run-of-the-mill service provider.”

“That’s what sets us apart,” agrees Kealan. “It’s our ability to build on previous experience, draw on our current knowledge and innovate new solutions to future challenges.” Delmec is here for the long-haul, helping to support new and existing clients and shape a new industry from the ground up.

“It’s exactly the same service we offer all around the world, it’s just nice to do it in our own backyard for once!” laughs Kealan. “It all helps to keep the airmiles down!”


Employee Spotlight: Guy Umondi

For this latest instalment of our #TalentedTeamwork series, we meet Guy Umondi, who has been a Senior Trainer with Delmec in the Democratic Republic of Congo for seven years. In that time he’s visited 11 countries, learning much about his industry and colleagues along the way. Today, he tells us about the parts of his job he enjoys most — and his twin passion for motorbikes and farming!  

A big part of Delmec’s operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo is centred around training. With the ongoing expansion and upgrading of telecommunications in the region, there is always a need for new members of our team. This is where senior trainers like Guy Umondi come in, generously sharing their invaluable experience and skilled expertise. “I enjoy developing careers,” he says. “For me, it’s bigger than training: it’s about helping people shift their paradigm, learn to love their job and really master their role.”

Guy’s work is incredibly important in standardising our training and certification processes, ensuring that every person on site is working to proven guidelines established by Delmec. “Today, for example, I’m delivering training in Nigeria but also working on drafting a training manual,” Guy points out. “By developing our team’s skills, expanding their knowledge and cultivating a professional, quality-first approach, we can be secure in our promise to our clients that things will be done the right way. It makes me proud when we can provide innovative solutions to their most pressing challenges.”

The trip to Nigeria is far from Guy’s only one in recent months: he’s been to 11 countries and counting on behalf of Delmec. “I enjoy meeting people from different cultures,” he says. “I find it very interesting and enriching to learn with people and develop new relationships.” He has always found himself warmly welcomed by Delmec colleagues, clients and customers: “It doesn’t matter where I am, people are always so kind and open to me. I really love it.”

When he’s not delivering Delmec training, Guy likes to hit the open road on two wheels — with his beloved power motorbike. He’s also turned his attention recently to growing his own food, discovering a new passion for farming. “My dream is to one day become one of the biggest food suppliers in my country,” he says.

Although they might sound unrelated, Guy sees clear parallels between farming and engineering: “While I like to joke around, I am very principled in how I approach my work,” he says. “I refuse to compromise on quality, whether that means taking the time to properly nourish and prepare the soil on my land, or to train and develop my colleagues in the Delmec DRC office — it all leads to a better result for everybody involved.”


Building resilience, personally and professionally

Resilience is a word we’ve all heard a lot over the last three years. It’s a certain toughness, a capacity to manage and adapt to difficult situations. It’s what Forbes calls “the ability to bounce back from hardship, to learn rather than to give up, to bend rather than break.”

It’s also not a new concept to anybody who’s been in business for any length of time. Here in Delmec, resilience is part of our DNA, from the tough economic environment of the 1980s, through to the recession of the noughties, all the way to the pandemic of late.

Through it all, we’ve had to roll with the punches, meeting issues head-on, and embracing opportunities as they come. In that way, business isn’t that much different to life — and in my role as a CEO, there are few key steps I take to help make both more resilient.

A positive perspective

We all know that not every day is sunshine and roses. Some days go so thoroughly down the drain that it can be tempting to give it all up and walk away. But it’s important to bear in mind that tomorrow’s a new day, and there’s no limit on how many times you can start again.

That’s the type of positive perspective that I value in my life and work. We operate in some of the toughest environments in the world, including snow-capped mountains and dry desert sands. If we didn’t maintain a can-do attitude and a positive approach, we’d be in trouble pretty quickly. I’m lucky that the team we’ve built relishes challenges, and sees every task as an opportunity to think creatively. But their work requires a supportive environment, and that comes from the top down.

While I’m no Pollyanna, my role as a leader is to maintain an optimistic outlook where possible and, to paraphrase another Irishman, encourage my people to try again, fail again and fail better.

Strong communication

There’s a reason why our mantra at Delmec is ‘synergy shapes success’. It’s because we’ve always valued relationships, teamwork and the transformative power of collaboration. We work hard to keep communication flowing, even with disparate teams across multiple continents and countries.

It turns out, that’s a pretty good policy for lots of reasons, not least building resilience. Research from my alma mater Harvard Business School shows “that resilience is not purely an individual characteristic, but is also heavily enabled by strong relationships and networks. We can nurture and build our resilience through a wide variety of interactions with people in our personal and professional lives.”

Those relationships, for me, are vital. They encompass trusted colleagues, loyal clients, old friends, and of course, my wife and family. By talking issues through, we get to verbalise them, hear alternative viewpoints and work together to come up with solutions.

A willingness to learn

They say that curiosity keeps you young, and it’s certainly something I’ve found to be true. No two days are the same in my job, and there’s always something new to be learned — from my teams, my executive colleagues, and my clients and their customers. I don’t operate a linear, siloed approach to leadership — who wants to exist in a vacuum? Instead, I’m all ears.

That’s one of the reasons why we hired extra consultants this year, so that we can build new expertise and fresh insights into our established teams. We try to recruit a mixture of people with academic and practical backgrounds, so that we’re accessing the most cutting-edge knowledge as well as hard-earned experience in the field.

Whether it’s an innovative design, a new product on the market or a yet-to-be tested approach, there are usually any number of solutions to a problem, if we’re willing to be open to them. That understanding helps us pick ourselves up and start again, and again, until we’ve reached our goal.

Having said all that, it’d be wrong of me to say there’s a magic formula for building resilience. Some challenges in life and business are not easy to overcome, and grit can only take you so far. But it’s important to me that I try to put building blocks in place that’ll make it easy to tackle the issues as they come in a better, more productive way. More resilience can only benefit my personal and professional life — although I’m hoping we’ll have a quieter few years ahead!


Employee Spotlight: Nikola Erdelja

For this edition of our popular #TalentedTeamwork series, we meet Nikola Erdelja, who has been a Technical Engineer in the Engineering and Innovation department at Delmec for five years. He recounts what first attracted him to the company, how much he enjoys travelling and meeting new people, and why you won’t find a cheese sandwich in his lunchbox!

Last year saw Delmec win awards from Deloitte and County Carlow Chamber for innovation in our field. These kinds of accolades are the result of hard work and dedication across the entire company, but some of our most exciting developments come from the Delmec Engineering and Innovation department. Technical Engineer Nikola Erdelja has been part of this dynamic team for more than five years.

Nikola first came across Delmec when he was looking for the right role after completing his education in structural engineering in Zagreb, Croatia. “I was searching for a job as a design engineer, and Delmec sounded like a good opportunity to improve my knowledge in steel design,” he recalls. “As it turns out, I gained so much more, including the opportunity to learn new things every day and participate in many different projects around the world.”

Of course, much of our international travel was paused for two years, but this year Nikola found himself back on the road again. His work took him to new places including Dakar, Senegal in April. “That was my first time visiting Africa,” he says. “It was a really interesting experience, and I enjoyed meeting many of the clients and colleagues I had previously only talked to remotely.”

Working closely with clients as a consultant on projects is a part of the job that Nikola relishes. “I like how Delmec is consistently growing, and I’m excited about the direction it’s going in,” he says. “Embarking on projects in Africa, Asia and Europe, opening new offices across the world and providing opportunities for employees to develop themselves is what makes it a special company.”

Nikola’s experience and expertise in infrastructure is in demand throughout our industry, and he’s been invited to participate in roundtable discussions at TowerXchange events. Like everyone in his team, he’s always keen to learn from clients and colleagues, staying ahead of the curve in a fast-moving industry. He also contributes white papers as part of his role, most recently on the important subject of wind and ice loading.

Asked for a little-known fact, Nikola shares with us a somewhat unusual aversion to a common comfort food. “I don’t like cheese,” he laughs. “I’m not allergic, just hate the taste!” Luckily here at Delmec, we welcome diversity, celebrating our cheese-loving and cheese-hating team members alike.

When he’s not at his desk, on a site or representing Delmec, Nikola likes to keep fit. “I like to run and play tennis,” he says. “Before we started working from home, we used to play football at Delmec’s HQ in Carlow and it was great fun — hopefully we can get together to have a kick-about again soon.”


Delmec in Spain: Team Report from GSMA Mobile World Congress 2023

Delmec has always been a company that likes to get out into the world. While a lot of our work takes place behind computers, in front of drawings, or 30 metres in the air, we enjoy meeting new clients, colleagues and customers. Major telecommunications events such as the GSMA Mobile World Congress 2023 (MWC23) represent great opportunities for our team to engage with other industry stakeholders, learning their pain points, solutions and upcoming plans.

“MWC23 helps to keep Delmec at the forefront of developments in the future,” Delmec CEO Kealan Delaney says.  “We get to see many emerging projects and cutting-edge concepts, which is an invaluable insight for us and our clients.”

The team travelled to Barcelona to attend the congress, welcomed by Senior Manager Spain Agustín Gómez Sáez, who was on hand to show his colleagues around his home city. They found GSMA 2023 busier than ever — the organisers’ first full-capacity event since the pandemic. “Halls were crowded, stands were flamboyantly dressed, and everyone was vying to show off what they had developed during lockdown,” recalls Head of Product Development Urban Solutions Andrew Griffin. “People were glad to meet face-to-face, shake hands and discuss our industry at length.”

Among the attendees were equipment vendors including Huawei, Ericsson, Nokia and ZTE, as well as antenna suppliers like Alpha-Wireless and Delmec clients such as Vodadone and Cellnex. “This is very much a home event for Cellnex, as their HQ is located less than 200m from the venue,” Andrew notes. “Their stand was a busy one, with suppliers and customers constantly coming and going.”

“Each year at MWC, there is a technology trend that catches our attention,” says Kealan. “Last year, that was Open RAN, and this year it was private 5G networks.” While Open RAN was still a feature for the smaller equipment vendors (and Vodafone, who demonstrated an interesting solution), private 5G was clearly the hot topic for most.

Multiple stands broadcasted their capabilities in this field, including hardware and software of varying types, as well as specific use cases and deployment strategies.

Among the antenna supplier stands there emerged a trend to assemble more equipment together on a structure, with a number of companies demonstrating 5G active antennas positioning behind passive antennas.

What this entails is a radio transparent passive antenna through which the active antenna can look. This allows installation of any vendor’s active antenna with that passive antenna; if two or more antennas can be incorporated into one case, the towerco may only have to pay for one space. It also means that the active or passive antenna can be swapped for maintenance reasons at a lower cost as only the items need to separate. However, the team did note that antenna assemblies are getting much larger and as such, will require more heavy duty connections to structures.

The Delmec team were quickly drawn to the Alpha Wireless stand, given our close relationship and ongoing collaboration. “We work together to develop innovative solutions for Cellnex Ireland,” Kealan says. “These include a site at Vicarstown, Co. Laois, and many more — all great examples of Irish companies coming together to connect our communities.”

Kealan and his team — including Senior Technical Consultant Krzysztof Ptak — concluded the event with much to think about. “It was a hectic few days, but a hugely valuable experience,” recalls Kealan. “As always, we were keen to share our experience and expertise, and also gain new insights and fresh knowledge. For example, we learned a great deal about new renewable power solutions, which are always of interest to our clients. As a result, we were able to bring loads back for our Telecoms Energy Consultant Natalia Kononovato review.”

“This is why we continue to take time out of our schedules, get on planes, and attend events like MWC23 — to constantly develop and improve our unique services, offering ever-advancing capabilities to our clients and increasing connectivity to their customers.”


Staying Fit at Fifty: Why I’m Lacing up the Running Shoes Again

In a nice touch of serendipity, Delmec and I are both celebrating the milestone of turning fifty. That half a century has treated us both well, but just as the company has to evolve and adapt for the future, so too does its CEO.

That means taking a look at my work / life balance to see if I can make adjustments to better focus on what really matters — and stay in shape for the next exciting decades to come.

A world of distractions

The New York Times recently interviewed writer Johann Hari, whose latest book, ‘Stolen Focus’ investigates “how our brains have been broken by technology.” He says we typically focus on a given task for just three minutes and we touch or check our phones more than 2,000 times every day, devoting at least three hours to staring at our screens. 

While the jury’s out about who’s at fault — Big Tech or personal willpower? — the impact of this “attention crisis” is undeniable. At an executive level, it can negatively affect a leader’s ability to effectively strategise, plan and execute goals. For this reason as much as any others, I’m working hard this year to carve out time to think, rather than act. This might mean ringfencing deep focus slots in my schedule, minimising my digital use at home, or going for a run with my phone in airplane mode. 

Lockdown lessons

While I normally travel a great deal as part of my work with Delmec, I was fortunate to spend the lockdown periods in my Carlow home, nestled in the Irish countryside. With no planes to catch or commutes to complete, I had more time to explore my surroundings with my family. When my schedule allowed, I often slipped out for a quick run by the River Barrow. 

While it was a different time, the experience taught me that it’s okay to take the time to breathe in some fresh air, get the legs pumping and come back to the desk energised for the rest of the day. Now that our schedules have ramped up again, it’s easy to think a lunchtime run is no longer possible, but it is — I just have to keep my trainers within eyesight in the office.

Keeping fit for the future 

When I was a younger man, I didn’t have to think about keeping fit — daily site visits and weekend sports took care of that. Now that I’m older, I’m aware that I have to put a bit of work into staying hale and hearty for years to come. Delmec is at an exciting stage in its trajectory, expanding into new markets, capabilities and opportunities. We’ve recently acquired FocusPlus, established a separate service (Del-Urban Streetworks Solutions), and tripled our operations over the last three years. The sense of promise in the company is tangible, and I’m determined to match my team’s energy, step by step, as we push forward into the exciting journey ahead.

I’m also conscious of enjoying every minute I can with my family, from kicking a ball around to taking hikes into the Carlow hills. You have to stay fit to keep up with a tireless teenager, and that’s motivation enough for me! 

With all of this to consider, I’m making 2023 the year that I focus on getting the most out of my body and mind. And that starts with lacing up the running shoes again.


Employee Spotlight: Fema Portillano

In this latest instalment of our #TalentedTeamwork series, we meet Fema Portillano who joined us last year as our Project Manager – Asia Region. Today, Fema traces her journey from Helios Towers to Delmec, highlighting the curiosity, attention to detail, and passion she brings to her role. She also gives us a peek into her other life as a rice farmer!

Partnerships have long been central to Delmec, starting with three Irish brothers in 1975. Since then, we’ve built more relationships with colleagues, clients and customers all over the world. Helios Towers has been one of our most important partners for more than a decade, and together we’ve rolled out telecoms infrastructure across Africa, Asia and beyond. Both companies are constantly expanding, and occasionally, a team member might move from one camp to the other in order to grow their career. 

That’s how Fema Portillano joined Delmec, having previously worked alongside our team in Tanzania as a Project Manager for Helios Towers. “During the pandemic, I was working remotely, unable to travel back to South Africa,” she says. “As it happens, Delmec was looking for a PM for their Asian projects. The offer came at a great time, and I felt comfortable knowing that my new colleagues would include people I had collaborated with before.”

It was curiosity that led Fema to the telecommunications industry more than twenty years ago. “I wanted to be part of an evolving industry that connects people around the globe,” she recalls. “That’s what led me to take an engineering degree majoring in electronics and communications.”

She has seen many changes in her field over the last two decades, but enjoys the fast pace. “Challenges are inevitable, especially in an industry that constantly evolves,” she says. “I think our company embraces these challenges and seizes the opportunities that come with them. Together, we’re focused on innovating and improving, and that’s what our clients value.”

This ‘in-this-together’ company culture is one that Fema is really drawn to. “It’s only been a short time since I joined Delmec, but I already feel the true essence of teamwork,” she says. “From management all the way to the implementation team, Delmec is made up of a diverse group of people that help and support each other as we grow personally and professionally. We’re like family.”

Fema is now busy project managing a due diligence audit for a newly-acquired portfolio in the Philippines. It’s a role she’s particularly well-suited for, as she enjoys travelling to new countries, meeting people from different cultures and working towards shared goals. She relishes tracking progress and seeing projects through to a satisfactory conclusion. “My friends tell me I might be slightly obsessed with order,” she laughs. “Maybe they’re right, as I do like things to be organised, aligned, and clean. But that certainly helps in my role as a PM!”

It also makes her a great farmer — when Fema isn’t managing projects for Delmec, she’s often to be found in her garden or on her family’s rice farm. “I’ve always enjoyed working with nature, but during the pandemic, I really got into growing food for our own consumption,” she says. “I also started designing simple mechanical tools that we can use on our rice farm, to help make our work there more efficient.” Whether she’s analysing a rice field or a tower site, Fema puts her engineering skills to great use — providing new solutions to ongoing challenges, whatever they may look like.


2022: A Year to Remember

It’s hard to believe that another year has passed, but this December feels different. 2022 was something of a rebirth for Delmec, as we headed back into the office, travelled overseas and expanded our team, operations and client list further than ever. Now that we’re close to the end of the year, I’m taking a moment to review the last 12 months and chart the amazing progress of the Delmec team.

On the road again

In a stark contrast to last year, I spent much of 2022 some 30,000 feet high in the sky. The last eight weeks have seen me visit Oman, South Africa, the UAE, the DRC, Tanzania, Pakistan, Malaysia, Malawi and Singapore. Some of the most enjoyable trips were to TowerXchange meet-ups. Over the years, our presence at these global events has grown and now our contingent of expert speakers, panellists and representatives are among the most popular draws. Our reputation is preceding us at this point, and we find audiences are eager to hear about the innovative ways that Delmec is solving our industry’s most pressing problems.

While travel has its own challenges, and it’s hard being away from my wife and children, I do enjoy being back in a room with clients and colleagues again. There’s nothing like meeting with our teams on the ground, seeing our designs come to life on sites, and discussing future projects and plans around a table. We were very fortunate to have been able to pivot so quickly to remote services in the past, but I hope to be able to continue this hybrid approach in 2023 and beyond.

Exciting growth

While the last three years have been tumultuous to say the least, I’m particularly proud of the fact that Delmec rose to meet every challenge head-on and capitalised on every opportunity our industry afforded us. As a result, our growth has been exceptional, an upward trajectory that’s poised to continue into the new year.

2022 also saw Delmec acquire the assets, projects, and expertise of FocusPlus Ltd. in Ireland. This acquisition brings into the fold a global mobile infrastructure specialist and telecoms design services company with vast experience and familiarity with diverse planning regulations. This move will help to expand our capabilities, offering our clients independent site design and planning services.

It’s been a pleasure welcoming our highly capable FocusPlus colleagues into the Delmec family, and we’ve found that already we’re learning from each other, helping to strengthen and extend our skills. No doubt the upcoming Christmas party season will help to cement the relationship even further!

An award-winning team

This year saw Delmec’s collection of awards grow bigger, with the Deloitte 2022 Best in Innovation Award as well as County Carlow Chamber‘s 2022 Business Award for Research Innovation and Technology.  We were also named as one of Deloitte’s Best Managed Companies in Ireland for the fifth time — making us one of their Gold Standard winners.
Speaking to the Sunday Business Post about the Deloitte innovation award, I recalled that the process helped our team focus on the key areas of strategy, capability and innovation, culture and commitment, as well as governance and financials. It’s heartening to think that we excelled across all of these fields, despite all the challenges posed by the changing economic environment. We’ve always made it our mission to stay ahead of the curve — no easy feat in the fast-moving telecommunications industry — and to be recognised for this was a proud moment for us all here at Delmec.

Turning 50 together

By a strange quirk of fate, both Delmec and I are celebrating five decades this year. The company has come a long way since its origins as a steel engineering and fabrication firm in the 1970s. I’ve followed a similarly changeable path, moving from an engineer to a manager, and then a CEO.  While I tend to focus on the road ahead, always moving forward, this big birthday has given me pause for thought — a chance to reflect on all that we’ve done together, Delmec and I.

From establishing overseas offices in Africa to a pivotal partnership with Helios Towers, the last half-century in particular has been one of exceptional progress, driven in no small part by our extraordinarily committed team. Ending this year with the news that together we grew our company by more than 50% is all the birthday present I could ask for.

We close this year in a great position as a company, with a solid strategy for development across multiple markets in the coming years. A huge thank you to everybody in Delmec — as well as our supportive families and friends — for driving this incredible growth.

I’m very aware that the most valuable asset in our company is our people. For us here at Delmec, synergy shapes success is not just a tagline — it’s a way of life. Here’s to our great people, to an exciting year, and to an even better 2023.

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Employee Spotlight: Natalia Kononova

In this latest instalment of our #TalentedTeamwork series, we meet Natalia Kononova, who recently joined Delmec as a Telecoms Energy Consultant. She gives us an insight into moving from civil engineering to telecommunications, and what it’s like to work remotely on international projects for Delmec.

The telecommunications industry moves fast, and staying ahead of the curve has long been a priority for Delmec. We work with some of the world’s leading academics, researchers, and experts to make sure that our teams are equipped with the information they need to create innovative solutions for our clients.

That’s the thinking that led us to Telecoms Energy Consultant Natalia Kononova, who joined Delmec four months ago. Although she’s relatively new to the company, she’s a veteran in her field. “I didn’t choose this industry, it chose me,” she explains. “I initially trained as a civil engineer, working on building design, construction, interior design, and product innovation.” She entered the telecommunications industry in 2007 and consulted with a variety of clients including Huawei in the Middle East, Cybercom in Africa and Asia, and Airov8 in Asia.

“I enjoy working on international projects with international teams,” she says about her role. “My job entails continued research, improvement, and innovation. I recently gained a new qualification in ‘Incorporating Renewable Energy in Electricity Grids’, which connected directly to my role in Delmec.” She’s currently working on several projects in Asia and the Middle East and relishes the chance to see her skills and knowledge implemented in the field: “Delmec provides me with the opportunity to develop and use what I know.”

Although she works remotely from her home, Natalia is very happy to be part of a team at Delmec. “I work with exceptional people from all around the world and it’s a pleasure to learn from them, discover their way of thinking, and work together to create something completely new.”

It’s those people who are Delmec’s biggest asset, Natalia believes, especially in an unpredictable environment. “Difficulties exist in all industries,” she says. “But with such dynamic, innovative teams, Delmec is in a great position to overcome challenges and seize opportunities.”

When she’s not drafting white papers, problem-solving with engineers, or spending time with her family, Natalia is a crack shot with a rifle. “I used to train 3-4 times a week for 15 years,” she says of the sport. “My international travel can make it difficult, but I still get out to the range whenever I can.”

Marksmanship is a discipline that has parallels with her work in telecommunications: “Both are about analysing the environment, finding the right position, and working in tandem with your teammates to focus on the target,” she says. “There’s nothing like hitting that bullseye — whether it’s scoring points in my sport, or finding the perfect engineering solution in my work.”


Delmec Speakers in Singapore: TowerXChange Asia Meetup 2022

In a fitting close to an action-packed year, the Delmec team has just returned from another successful overseas event. Taking place in the iconic Marina Bay Sands Hotel in Singapore, TowerXchange Asia Meetup 2022 gathered together the many MNOs, towercos, investors, regulators, and suppliers who are shaping the telecommunications industry in Asia.

Guests included representatives of leading names in the region including Amplitel, Summit Digital, edotco Group, Edgepoint, SBA Towers, MIDC, Phil Towers, Frontier Towers and Indara. The full Delmec contingent was also in attendance, drawn by the opportunity to meet with our Asia-based clients and discuss the many changes afoot in the region.  

The week kicked off with a ‘welcome back’ dinner, which helped to break the ice and soothe the effects of long haul travel. After that it was onto an  exciting schedule of keynote speeches, roundtables, and group discussions. Now that the team are back in our HQ — and just about over their jetlag — they’ve been sharing some of the most interesting takeaways from their time in Singapore.

A Fast-Moving Market

The Asian market has seen unprecedented M&A activity of late, with TowerXchange estimating that some 366,000 towers have changed hands in recent years. This tidal wave of activity has brought with it many new towercos, some only weeks or months old. “All of these new operators are working at a rapid pace to analyse their portfolios, serve their customers, build efficient processes, and establish a sustainable business,” points out Orla Kane, Delmec’s Chief Commercial Officer. “The scale of activity and the speed of progression in this market is quite extraordinary.”

The Philippines in particular is undergoing a sizable shift in tower ownership, with five sale-and-leaseback deals over the last 12 months.

“There was a lot of discussion around further M&A opportunities as well as growth through BTS in the Philippines,” says Orla. “We can probably also expect to see consolidations due to the higher number of smaller towercos.”

The push towards 5G is partly responsible for this rapid acceleration of infrastructure in the region. Mohan Villavarayan, our Asia Regional Business Manager, moderated a panel discussion that traced how stakeholders might expect traditional tower company models to transition to the new age of 5G.

He also attended a ‘Spotlight on Malaysia’ roundtable that focused on 5G too, looking at the government’s Special Purpose Vehicle that’s managing the wholesale distribution of 5G bandwidth. “Interestingly, the participants were divided in their opinion on whether this was a positive or negative,” Mohan recalls. “Most of the Malaysian participants were of the view that we may see a single entity indirectly emerging as the dominant operator with control of the 5G spectrum allocation.”

The Drive Towards Digitisation

Part of the lineup included a working group that was tasked with discussing the many challenges and opportunities around digitising the business. These included automation, emerging technologies, asset management platforms, and digitised workflows.

Delmec CEO Kealan Delaney found these sessions particularly interesting, as he was keen to glean some insights into the pros and cons of the solutions available. “There is no doubt that digitisation is a fact of life now in our industry,” he says. “It’s just a matter of creating the right roadmap to take us from where we are to where we need to be.”

The participants generously shared their varied experiences with the audience. Mat Jones of Amplitel gave his insights into data integration with customer systems, emphasising how much of a priority it is for their business. Tim Knowles outlined how Frontier Towers Associates faced a different set of challenges, having scaled from four to 150 people and 600 to 4,000 towers in just two years. Their business model changed from BTS to SLB, which means they need more OEM, site monitoring, and automation.

When it comes to digitisation — whether that means automation, drone use, digital twins, or more — all agreed that securing team buy-in is the key to smooth adoption. “When developing new processes, it’s important to involve colleagues from the outset, as they’ll invest in the success of the initiative,” says Kealan.

Working globally means dealing with myriad countries’ legislative rules, technological limits, and cultural considerations. “It’s easy to get bogged down in granular detail,” says Kealan. “So as an industry we need to keep it simple, demonstrate true value, and find solutions to these constraints.”

Changing Business Models

The changing face of our industry is a popular topic at every telco event lately, and Asia Meetup 2022 was no different. ​​Damien Kelly, our Head of Engineering and Innovation attended a roundtable that examined towercos and digital infracos.

“Interestingly, both ATC and Crown Castle contribute about 15% to 20% of their top line to non-traditional tower leases,” Damien points out. “This is major as it shows a shift to small cell solutions in an effort to densify the network in urban locations.” These solutions can provide lower-cost options for coverage, preventing the ratio-related losses that a typical macro site might experience.

Rural sites pose a different challenge, as the CapEx required makes them unattractive to many towercos. “There was much discussion around potentially reducing the cost by not overdesigning the solution at the beginning, but having the option to upgrade when a second tenant comes onboard,” Damien recalls.

One of the benefits of gathering so many international delegates in one room is the opportunity to hear the innovations at play in different countries. “One attendee outlined a government-backed scheme to push RAN-sharing in New Zealand, which allows a more attractive ROI,” Damien says. “Additionally, if an ultra-rural off-grid solution was rolled out, the towercos could train residents in the area to carry out general maintenance on the solar panels, further reducing the OpEx on the site. It makes for a very interesting proposition.”

Valuable Opportunities to Learn

The clue to the biggest benefit of Asia Meetup 2022 is in its name: the opportunity to meet with colleagues, clients, and customers from all over the world. While our teams are always glad to be invited to share our knowledge, we also recognise that listening is as important as speaking.

“The organisers ensured there was a good cross-section of executives participating in the roundtables, discussions, and keynote speeches,” Mohan says. “This helped us gain important insights into the tower industry in Asia, including its pain points and opportunities for growth.”

“There is no doubt that the Delmec contingent contributed enormously to the discussions in Singapore,” Kealan confirms. “They collated, analysed, and shared on-the-ground experience that has real impact on the international telco stage. But we also returned with a clearer picture of how to put those skills and that knowledge to work in a fast-changing environment — in Asia, Africa, and beyond.”