Monthly News Roundup: June 2024
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Monthly News Roundup: June 2024


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


Cameroon: Camtel partners with Camwater to share infrastructure

Cameroon Telecommunications (Camtel) and Cameroon Water Utility Corporation (Camwater) have signed an agreement to share infrastructure, improving cost-effective deployments of telecom and water services in Cameroon. Camtel’s CEO Judith Yah commented that infrastructure sharing is becoming a more common practice and has a host of benefits to support service reach, quality and cost-efficiency.

TowerXchange is currently looking into this partnership and hopes to share more information in the coming weeks.

Ethiopia: Ethiotel sale shifts focus to local investors

The Ethiopian government has shifted its focus on the sale of a 45% take of state-owned Ethio Telecom (Ethiotel) from foreign to domestic investors. The decision is a move to privatise the firm, bring in fresh investment into the country and create stronger competition against new market entrant Safaricom Ethiopia. The government had been hoping to bring in another international MNO to back Ethiotel, but the withdrawing of Orange earlier in 2024 and flaring of geopolitical tensions has meant there have been no willing buyers.

The process has now been halted, and instead a 10% sale is being sold to domestic investors in Ethiopia, although the bid to find a foreign investor will resume after the company lists on the Ethiopian Securities Exchange from October.

Ethiopia: Safaricom expands operations to Tigray

Safaricom Ethiopia has expanded its national coverage and launched commercial operations in the northern Tigray region. It is building out a 4G network that will be upgradeable to 5G. This involves the construction of 125 towers, with plans to add another 166 sites to reach urban areas in Northern and Western Tigray. The region has suffered from a prolonged civil war which it is still trying to recover from, but deployment of mobile networks will help drive economic and social development.

Regional: Helios Towers receives US$30mn backing from BII

The UK’s development finance institution British International Investment (BII) is committing US$30mn as a co-anchor investor in the public bond offering by Helios Towers alongside the International Finance Corporation (IFC), DEG and Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund, mobilising over US$700mn of private capital. The US$850mn public bond offering listed on the London Stock Exchange will help the firm refinance its existing debts and drive new organic builds to support 4G rollout.

Regional: NuRAN expands NaaS partnership with MTN

Rural Network-as-a-Service (NaaS) specialist NuRAN has signed a five-year NaaS agreement with MTN for the deployment of 250 rural sites. This follows the two signing a Group Framework Agreement back in 2022 and is the fifth agreement signed with the MNO totaling 2,150 sites across five markets. The latest deal represents an estimated US$27mn over the next 5 years assuming all 250 sites are completed. These towers will support 2G and 3G coverage with scalable technology upgrade capabilities and are on a revenue-share model.

South Africa: Vodacom boosts investment in wireless network

Vodacom is committing over ZAR 400mn (US$22mn) into the Free State and Northern Cape provinces in South Africa to improve capacity and resilience in mostly rural areas. The MNO has defined these regions as Vodacom Central Region and has upped its capex commitments from ZAR 340mn from the 2022/23 period.

ZAR 250mn will go towards RAN projects while ZAR 150mn will fund microwave and fibre backhaul capacity as well as some transmission upgrades. 30 new rural sites will also be deployed as part of this investment, in addition to some 5G sites too. ZAR 120mn will be spent on power equipment to improve energy resiliency during stages 4-6 of load shedding.


Regional: EdgePoint Infrastructure celebrates 15,000 tower milestone

EdgePoint Infrastructure continued its ascent as one of the ASEAN region’s major towercos by celebrating its 15,000th tower in operation earlier this month.

The landmark feat was achieved in Karang Wareng, a district located in Cirebon, West Java in Indonesia. EdgePoint is present in the region’s three key markets: Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.

The company launched in 2020, led by CEO Suresh Sidhu and backed by DigitalBridge, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). EdgePoint is focused on building and leasing shareable, fibre-integrated telecom structures which include small cells and in-building systems.

Sidhu said: “This achievement is not just a number but a testament to EdgePoint’s commitment to building a more connected, digital ASEAN. In just three and a half years since our inception, we have built 15,000 towers across three countries, significantly enhancing the region’s connectivity landscape. This reflects our dedication to providing the best infrastructure throughout ASEAN and creating equitable access to connectivity for all.” “In today’s digital age, connectivity is a vital catalyst for a country’s growth and development,” he continued. “EdgePoint will continue to support the region’s growth by providing the best infrastructure every step of the way, ensuring equitable access to connectivity. We are excited about the future and look forward to working with all stakeholders to further advance ASEAN’s digital landscape.”

Australia: Indara receives further Federal Government funding for network resilience

Indara has announced that it is one of the recipients of Australia’s Federal Government latest round of funding totaling A$14.2mn (US$9.4mn). It is aimed at helping to develop telecom infrastructure resilience through the government’s Mobile Network Hardening Program.

Indara will use the funding to develop two disaster recovery skids, providing critical network resilience in key regional communities across New South Wales, Tasmania, and Victoria, particularly during natural disasters. "During a natural disaster, a phone call can be the difference between life and death,” said Cameron Evans, CEO, Indara, “At Indara, our aim is to provide communities across Australia with reliable mobile connection, even when natural disasters hit. This is by no means a small feat. It requires significant investment, skill, resources, and government backing. ”Indara also received further government funding in May through the Telecommunications Disaster Resilience Innovation (TDRI) program. Indara will use TDRI funding to deploy eight solar panels to sites as part of a solution to keep telecommunications infrastructure operating in the event of a power failure in the local area. The work is in collaboration with Optus and NBN.

Laos: OCK marks first foray into Laos with Best Telecom tower lease deal

Malaysian tower builder OCK Group has signed a tower leasing agreement with Best Telecom, its first foray into Laos, according to regional reports.

Best Telecom will launch its 5G service by the end of this year, after it was recently awarded a license to operate 5G spectrum in the country.

OCK will build and lease towers to Best Telecom over a 15-year period, which will provide a long-term recurring revenue stream to the company. OCK Group has signaled its interest in wanting to operate at scale in the country, after it signed a shareholder agreement with Laos Ministry of Finance, in which OCK Laos TowerCo are a joint venture between the two parties, with OCK owning a controlling 70% stake. It therefore had become a springboard for OCK to be able to tap into the new 5G industry in the country.

Datuk Wira Sam Ooi Chin Khoon, managing director at OCK Group said: “This marks our maiden foray into Laos, this agreement further solidifies OCK’s position as a regional telecommunication tower company in the Southeast Asia region. Given OCK’s expertise as a regional tower company coupled with Best Telecom’s local presence and 5G ambitions, OCK is ready to unlock significant opportunities within the Laos market.”

Malaysia: 5G dual network set for rollout after MNOs ratify DNB stake

Malaysia government-owned 5G wholesale operator Digital Nasional Berhad (DNB) has canvassed the firm support and investment of four of Malaysia's mobile network operators to fulfil the terms of a share subscription agreement signed last December.

The latest development in the two-year long stalemate will pave the way for a 5G dual network model, with the four MNOs - Maxis, Telekom Malaysia (TM), U Mobile, YTL and CelcomDigi collectively taking a 70% stake in DNB, equating to each operator taking 14% shareholding. The Minister of Finance owns the remaining 30% stake in DNB.

The MNOs long had reservations regarding the "conditions precedent" under the SSA, but in a latest market filing, CelecomDigi stated their SSA were successfully met, with Maxis, U Mobile and YTL also following suit by the Minister of Communications' deadline of 21 June.

Only Telekom Malaysia, it appears, hasn't agreed to the SSA terms. Its shareholders need to approve the move, with the DNB giving the company until 21 August.


South Sudan: First ever 5G trial launched by Digitel

Digitel South Sudan has piloted the country’s first ever non-standalone 5G trial which was conducted in collaboration with ZTE. South Sudan has some of the lowest connectivity rates in the world, with just 35.5% mobile penetration rate and nearly 88% of the population remains unconnected. The trial is aimed at helping to bridge the digital divide, and the Secretary General of the Universal Service and Access Fund has called on Digitel to ensure 5G is deployed outside the capital Juba.

Egypt: OneOrder raises US16$mn in funding

Egyptian start-up telecom tower manufacturer OneOrder has raised US$16mn in series A funding. The telecom company was the first to supply towers to Safaricom Ethiopia, and the financing will support the firm's expansion into the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) later this year including Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.


Croatia: Hrvatski Telekom to evaluate tower spin off

Deutsche Telekom’s Croatian subsidiary Hrvatski Telekom (HT) has announced it will evaluate a tower carve-out of its passive infrastructure into a wholly owned subsidiary. The study should determine if a potential tower spin-off would generate more efficiencies and the MNO is yet to decide on next steps.

This is the second DT subsidiary in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) examining tower carve-out options, following Greek OTE’s announcement earlier in 2024.

Italy: INWIT to excercise option to buy majority stake in Boldyn Networks Smart City Roma

Italy’s largest towerco INWIT has formalised an agreement which gives it an option to purchase a 51% stake in Boldyn Networks Smart City Roma, the towerco has announced. Boldyn Networks Smart City Roma was awarded the concession to deliver 5G connectivity in the Italian capital which involves the construction, management, operation, and maintenance of a 5G and Wi-Fi infrastructure across Rome. The project entails providing coverage of all metro lines consisting of 83 stations and 68 km of tunnels, in all frequency bands for 4G and 5G services for all MNOs.

INWIT says the move follows a 2024-2026 business plan which envisages the towerco investing in neutral host networks, aimed at enabling the growing demand for integrated digital infrastructure.

Slovakia: Slovak Telekom Infra towerco starts operations

Slovak Telekom, the local subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom, has completed the carve-out of its passive infrastructure into Slovak Telekom Infra which started operations on 1 June. The new towerco is incorporated directly under Deutsche Telekom and manages 1,580 assets - a mix of macro towers and rooftop sites across the country. Initially Slovak Telekom will be its anchor customer with plans to lease space to other tenants in the future where possible.

The set up of Slovak Telekom Infra follows the carve-out and creation of T-Mobile Infra CZ earlier in the neighbouring Czech Republic. Both towercos are managed by General Director Dimitrios Kapoukranis.

Sweden: Telia Towers buys assets from European Connectivity Networks

Telia Towers Sweden has expanded its geographic footprint in the south of the country by acquiring 10 towers from the European Connectivity networks AB for an undisclosed amount.

“This acquisition aligns with our strategy to continue to grow our business with quality assets and diversify our customer base,” said Swedish CEO, Mattias Raubling.

The Netherlands: KPN and ABP to form a new towerco

Dutch MNO KPN and pension fund ABP have announced they will be merging their passive infrastructure into a new towerco. The yet unnamed entity will manage 3,800 sites which will comprise of 250 towers from KPN with the remainder from ABP-majority owned Open Tower Company (OTC), consisting of high voltage pylons, broadcasting and macro towers, and KPN’s rooftops, macro sites and third-party towers. KPN will hold a 51% consolidating stake in the yet unnamed towerco and ABP the remaining 49%. OTC’s minority owner TenneT will sell its stake as part of this transaction.

Romania: Competition body investigates Digi’s Telekom Romania acquisition

Romania’s Competition Council has launched an investigation into Digi’s indirect purchase of MNO Telekom Romania, the latter being owned by Greek OTE, which in turn is owned by Deutsche Telekom. In May it was announced that West Network Invest, an investment vehicle majority-owned by Digi Romania and minority-owned by Clever Media Group has signed an agreement in principle with OTE to by the local MNO with the smallest market share. "Competition-wise, it's more complicated because Digi is a large player in the market," Bogdan Chiritoiu, the head of the national competition body Consiliul Concurentei has said, quoted by local media.

Digi had earlier said once the deal is complete Telekom Romania will remain in the market as an independent telecommunications operator.


Brazil: Brazil Infrastructure Company launches operations

Brazil Infrastructure Company (BIC) has launched on Latin America's largest telecom market. Headquartered in Florianopolis, Santa Catarina, BIC aims to enhance connectivity across both urban and rural areas through strategic partnerships with major nationwide operators such as Claro, TIM, and Vivo.

BIC will be exploring innovative collaborations with technology companies like PadiTec to expand its reach into the agribusiness sector to facilitate digital transformation across diverse industries.

Founded by Brazilian industry veterans with extensive experience in telecom infrastructure, the company has ambitions to make an impact in the sector, it says in a statement on its website.

Brazil: Vivo in Talks to Acquire FibreCo Desktop, Advancing Market Consolidation

Brazil’s largest integrated operator, Vivo, is reportedly in discussions to acquire FibreCo Desktop, a fibre specialist based in São Paulo. This potential acquisition is expected to accelerate the consolidation of the country’s fibre market, significantly boosting Vivo’s fixed-broadband customer base by approximately one million. If the deal goes through, it will reinforce Vivo's strategic position in the broadband sector and strengthen its market dominance. The acquisition aligns with Vivo’s long-term growth strategy, aiming to expand its reach and improve connectivity for customers across Brazil.

Chile: América Móvil to Take Majority Control of Claro

In 2024 - América Móvil (AMX) will gain around 91% control of ClaroVTR, consolidating it into their operations after Liberty Latin America (LLA) chose not to match funding. This decision, pending approval from Chile's National Economic Prosecutor’s Office, shifts the joint venture from a 50:50 split to América Móvil having majority ownership. The change is expected to be finalised in the third quarter of 2024. Both companies' CEOs expressed optimism about ClaroVTR's future and the ongoing partnership.

Colombia: Tigo and ColTel sign network sharing deal

Tigo and ColTel have signed a network sharing deal, forging a partnership aimed at enhancing operational efficiency and extending coverage nationwide, reflecting industry efforts towards improved service delivery. After 2026, ColTel will benefit from a further decrease in capital expenditures (including spectrum), thanks to the mobile network-sharing agreement with Tigo. This agreement allows both Tigo and Movistar to create a new jointly owned mobile access infrastructure and share radio spectrum usage.

Mexico: América Móvil’s Carlos Slim Invests in BT

Mexican millionaire Carlos Slim has acquired a 3.2% stake in UK-based BT Group for £400mn (US$507.5 mn) just weeks after his drawn‑out exit from Dutch MNO KPN. BT welcomed the investment but remained otherwise tight-lipped about the development.

While speculation is rife, the predominant interpretation of Slim's move is that it represents a financial investment rooted in confidence in BT’s strategic direction. BT confirmed that entities controlled by the family of the Mexican telecom's magnate have indeed acquired a 3.2% stake in the Group.

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