Monthly News Roundup: April 2024
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Monthly News Roundup: April 2024


A round-up of all the latest news in the global tower industry


Regional: Tower One Wireless reaches 540 towers in Latin America

Tower One Wireless announced in April the completion of their 540th tower. The towerco boasts a tenancy ratio of 1.08x. The company built 32 new sites over 2024 and is active in Colombia, Ecuador, and Mexico.

Brazil: IHS Brazil and Vivo Partner to Offer Connectivity on São Paulo Metro

IHS Brazil has announced a new 5G DASsystem for São Paulo Metro Line 5, managed by ViaMobilidade. The installation will last approximate 12-18 month period and will be the most modern DAS project in Latin America. 630,000 people are predicted to use the system daily.

Colombia: WOM Colombia follows WOM Chile into bankruptcy

WOM Colombia has filed for bankruptcy locally, according to BNAmericas. Ramiro Lafarga, WOM Colombia’s CEO said in a press release that the company’s main shareholder were looking at ways to achieve the required financing and ensure its sustainability with Deutsche Bank.

Peru: Telefónica Peru recapitalised by group following tax dispute resolution

Telefonica will recapitalise its subsidiary in Peru to the tune of €620mn. The move follows a loss to the tax authorities which had an impact of over €673mn.


Ethiopia: ECA resets termination rates to boost competition

The ECA has set price caps on mobile and fixed termination rates for the next five years in a bid to foster better competition in the country’s telecoms sector. Mobile and fixed termination rates were reduced from EBT 0.31 to ETB 0.23 for mobile, ETB 0.15 for fixed-line and ETB 0.05 per SMS. The move was justified as a after a review by the ECA to examine competition dynamics and propose counter-competitive measures.

The government has been keen to facilitate more market competition against state-owned incumbent Ethio Telecom, with Safaricom Ethiopia launching services in 2022 marking the country’s second MNO to enter the market. The government is still in the process of finding an investor to acquire a 45% stake in the operator, which is expected to be followed by a tender for a 3rd MNO license and finally a towerco license. Encouraging market competition and a healthy MNO environment is key to creating a strong platform for the neutral host model.

Crucially the regulator has indicated Ethiotelecom has significant market power in the realm of telecom towers, an important step if the market is to be later opened up to competition.  

Nigeria: AMN activates Starlink for cellular backhaul in Nigeria

AMN announced that the first of its rural base stations in Nigeria has been connected to SpaceX’s Starlink constellation which uses LEO backhaul for connectivity, after both firms signed a deal in July 2023 to use Starlink for remote backhaul across Africa. Starlink’s low-latency connectivity enables its multi-carrier RANs to provide 2G, 3G and 4G services to remote areas in Nigeria, and paves the way for 5G which AMN plans to launch before the end of 2024.

South Africa: Telkom shareholders to confirm tower unit sale in May

Telkom South Africa had confirmed the sale of it’s tower unit Swiftnet for ZAR 6.75bn (US$335mn) to infrastructure-focused private equity group actis in a move to pay down debts and balance its books. However, it was reported that the Telkom shareholders still need to vote on the deal to confirm the sale, which is expected to happen on 24th May.

South Africa: MTN commitments further investment to manage power

South African MNO MTN Group has responded to ongoing loadshedding challenges with further investments into back-up power generation, with R1.9bn (US$101.3mn) committed by the middle of this year to generators, batteries and renewable energy to reduce downtime. MTN had originally signed a 13,000-tower ESCO contract with IHS Towers in 2022 as part of their sale leaseback to the international towerco, but this was subsequently cancelled.

MTN has been investing directly in improving the resiliency of its network, and exploring power winching after new regulation permitted private power generation to combat state-owned grid operator Eskom’s inability to meet national power demands.


Malaysia: Malaysia’s $1bn 5G roll-out hits stumbling block

Malaysia’s plans to have a second 5G operator has reached an impasse.

A complex government-sponsored settlement agreement reached in early December between state-owned 5G operator, Digital Nasional Berhad, and the country’s five private mobile telecommunications companies has broken down, according to Channel News Asia.

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s government allowed the country's five MNOs to compete together in a compromise that would potentially see the private telcos taking a stake in the single wholesale 5G operator, state-owned DNB, or forming a separate joint venture to become Malaysia’s second 5G operator to provide competition in the country’s booming mobile telecommunications sector.

Myanmar: Edotco to sell majority stake in Myanmar market exit

Axiata subsidiary Edotco will sell its 87.5% stake in its Myanmar towerco to a local investment group.

Axiata announced that a US$150mn sale had been agreed in a filing with the Malaysian stock exchange but did not disclose a buyer.

Two sources operating within the Myanmar towerco industry told sister telecom publication Capacity Media that Yoma Strategic Holdings (Yoma) is the anonymous buyer, with one source saying they anticipated a formal announcement soon.

The Philippines: Globe runs pilot program of 26 hybrid solar power sites

Filipino MNO Globe has successfully completed its innovative pilot program featuring hybrid solar power, marking a major step forward in greener network operations.

The program, which ran from 2022 to 2023, focused on integrating hybrid solar power across 26 diverse Globe sites – three in the National Capital Region (NCR), 17 in South Luzon, and six in Mindanao.

The sites include off-grid towers traditionally dependent on diesel gensets but can be fully powered either solely by renewable energy with battery energy storage system or a combination of renewables and diesel fuel. The technology was also tested in bad-grid tower sites experiencing frequent power outages and in good-grid tower sites that utilise a mix of coal and renewable energy sources from the power grid.

Traditionally, Globe’s cell sites have relied on electricity from the national power grid, a significant portion of which comes from coal, and conventional diesel gensets for backup power. But the shift to sustainable sources became an imperative, especially for sites without commercial power-grid connectivity or with unreliable grid conditions. They typically relied on traditional gensets operating continuously.

Vietnam: Viettel and VNPT scoop Vietnam 5G spectrum contracts

State-owned telecom companies Viettel and the Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT) have recently won Vietnam's first successful auctions for 5G spectrum licenses.

In March, Viettel secured the rights to utilise the B1 band (2,500-2,600 MHz), while VNPT is awarded the C2 band. This band offers Viettel a potential cost advantage compared to those acquiring the higher-frequency C2 (3,700-3,800 MHz) and C3 (3.800-3.900 MHz) bands. The C2 band is well-suited for deploying the most advanced 5G network capabilities currently available.

The beginning of this bidding race marks a historic moment for the Vietnamese telecom sector. The commercialisation of 5G does not only represent a new era of technological advancement but also an important opportunity for capitalisation for network operators. Moreover, it stands as a driving element in the realization of Vietnam’s Digital Infrastructure Master Plan for the period 2021-2030.


Saudi Arabia: PIF and stc Group merge TAWAL and GLIC (LATIS)

Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund PIF reached an agreement with stc Group for PIF to acquire a 51% stake in TAWAL from stc Group. Subsequently, PIF and stc Group will consolidate both firms into a new entity, 54% owned by PIF and 43.1% by stc Group, and GLIC minority shareholders owning the remaining issued share capital. The transaction is expected to be completed in the second half of 2024 after obtaining all required regulatory approvals and satisfying other necessary conditions under the agreements.


Regional: Europe discusses further telecom mergers

An EU report has called for more consolidation in the telecom market to enable operators to raise more capital for investment. The move may assist towercos if it promotes more network rollout, although the consolidation of four to three mobile networks in a market may work to reduce potential tenancies. EU competition chief Margrethe Vestager has disputed the report's finding and is arguing against further consolidation in the EU’s telecommunications industry, suggesting the fight over MNO consolidation is far from over.

Regional: Actis names new towerco

Actis has announced the name for its new towerco managing assets in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia: Connectis Tower. Connectis Tower has also announced the management team who will be supporting the new company - CEO Bogdan Djukic and CFO Jovana Nikolic. The towerco has confirmed it has tenancies from seven MNOs in the three markets in which it operates. TowerXchange understands that Actis is exploring further opportunities in Central and Eastern Europe.

Regional: DTCP closes Digital Infrastructure Vehicle II at €1.6bn, may raise another

DTCP has raised capital from new and existing institutional investors for its second-generation specialist Digital Infrastructure Fund. The Fund invests in digital infrastructure including data centers, fiber networks, and telecom towers. There are rumours the fund will open a new vehicle to attract more capital as it targets digital infrastructure investments.

Denmark: Sale of TT Network closes

The sale of Telia’s Danish business to energy and telecoms company Norlys for an enterprise value of DKK 6.25bn (USD$882.48mn) has closed. This includes the Telenor-Telia joint venture towerco in Denmark and its 4,300 towers. TT-Network has 1,200 ground based towers which are jointly owned by both Telia and Telenor. The balance is made up of rooftop sites which are all jointly owned. The JV also includes active sharing on 2G and 3G.

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