Parsons is helping British Telecom relocate several exchange sites in and outside of London.
Projects are being driven by a booming global telecommunications industry services market, which is projected to reach $1.7 trillion by the end of 2008, according to a report from Boonton, N.J.-based market research firm Insight Research Corp. Overall, the industry is expected to grow nearly 10.3% over the next few years and reach $2.7 trillion by 2013, according to the firm’s projections.
“The telecommunications industry is growing and broadband networking...to facilitate new service offers is leading the way,” says Insight President Robert Rosenberg.
Upgrades and expansion projects for wireless carriers continue to be a staple for the telecommunication industry. But engineering firms are now forced to compete with equipment manufacturers, as clients seek turnkey services and ways to reduce the cost of installations and margins.
“There have been a lot of changes in the wireless carrier market, and firms have to be very agile,” says John Small, president of Parsons Commercial Technology Group in Charlotte, N.C. “Carriers are increasingly looking for bundled services. They want a single point of supply and service for projects.”
Firms able to adapt to changing market demands will find a bevy of projects. Although half the world’s population now uses mobile phones, wireless penetration is still low in many parts of Africa, Asia and other remote regions around the globe. Carriers are running lean networks and developing business models to offer affordable handsets and cheaper payment plans, making mobile phones more affordable in developing areas.
Service providers like AT&T continue to pour resources into India, while Chinese carriers are aggressively pushing into rural areas, where lower incomes and weak communications infrastructure have traditionally prevented expansion. Russian service providers VimpelCom and Mobile TeleSystems are expanding to neighboring countries including Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and into central Asia. Also this year, Jamaica-based Digicel expanded into Papau, New Guinea, and France Telecom struck a deal to buy a majority stake in Kenya’s No. 3 wireless firm.
After years of being dormant, the wireline market is starting to stir. Opportunities are surfacing in Europe as broadband providers upgrade and expand networks to provide bundled telephone, Internet and television.
In Poland, Denver-based CH2M HILL upgraded a portion of broadband service provider UPC Poland’s CATV network to a 2-way 860-MHz network to allow services such as Video on Demand, and Voice over IP. The firm also completed a design-build project for Spanish cable provider ONO, which expanded the company’s network to 60 metropolitan areas and covered an estimated 3,100 miles of local networks and 6,200 miles of fiber backbone.
Because advancements in technology have reduced space requirements for carriers’ network facilities, companies are consolidating operational buildings and selling the vacated real estate. Parsons is continuing a roughly $77-million project for British Telecom to relocate several exchange sites in central London and surrounding areas. The firm also is in talks with Ireland’s Eircom and telephone companies in Portugal and Romania about providing exchange consolidation programs.he worldwide telecommunications industry continues to pick up speed as Vodafone, France Telecom, China Mobile and other communication giants race to grab assets in developing markets and demand increases for new services in the wireline market. The rapid growth is changing how engineering design firms and contractors approach projects, as new opportunities are created and business models are redefined. “Wireline carriers all over Europe have many facilities located in expensive areas... and selling the real estate is one way to boost revenues,” says Small. “This has been a very successful program, and we expect the service to continue growing.”