Asia News

Summary of tower industry news across Asia

Australia: KKR offers to purchase Vocus Group 

KKR has offered to buy Vocus Group for approximately US$1.6bn. If the deal goes through, KKR would acquire a national fibre network connecting all Australian capitals and key cities in New Zealand.

Australia: Vodafone Australia and Telstra battle over technical barriers

Vodafone Australia is accusing Telstra of increasing its co-location prices and creating technical barriers. Telstra has been denying the accusation and claimed to Australian news outlets that “it is offering sufficient space on its towers and discounted pricing.”

Australia: the Coalition to deliver 765 towers

The Coalition Government’s AU$220mn Mobile Black Spot Program has released an indicative rollout plan for the 765 towers to be rolled out in phase one and two. The initial rounds will grant new or improved coverage to 32,000 households and businesses across an area of 68,000 sq. km.

Australia: New South Wales to invest AU$178mn in emergency radio network

The NSW government has approved the investment for the construction of a statewide radio network for 70 emergency service agencies which will see their services consolidated into one. Local news outlets have quoted a representative of the NSW Telecom Authority stating that “moving to a shared network will allow agencies to more easily communicate and coordinate responses during critical incidents. It also delivers a single platform to support the adoption of future technologies, such as public safety mobile broadband, as the technology matures.”

Australia: Telecom reform package under consultation

The Australian Government has initiated a consultation process for a new telecom bill to ensure access to high-speed broadband services to all Australians, regardless of their location.

Australia: Almost 50 new fixed towers connect rural areas

New fixed wireless towers have been activated during the months of June and July to cover small towns and rural areas from Jurien Bay in WA to Port Clinton in SA, through to Somersby in NSW to Lockyer Bay in Queensland, complementing 1,700 fixed towers already rolled out across the country.

Australia: Optus announces network expansion investments 

Optus has announced its plans to invest up to AU$1bn to deploy 500 new sites across the country, complete the 4G upgrade programme across 1,800 3G sites and add 4G capacity to more than 200 sites.

Bangladesh: Telecom regulator reduces MNOs’ revenue share percentage

Following an advice of the Adviser of ICT Affairs Sajeeb Wazed Joy, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has reduced the 4G revenue share percentage requested to mobile network operators from 15% to 5.5%.

Bangladesh: Regulator cancels Citycell’s license

BTRC has decided to remove the license of Citycell whose activities stopped in October 2016. The MNO’s spectrum will be put up in the upcoming 4G spectrum auction.

Bangladesh: Regulator to award three licenses to manage towers

The country’s telecom regulator has issued the guidelines for the assignment of three licenses to manage mobile towers in Bangladesh with the aim to separate the retail telecom business from the management of network infrastructure. Among the guidelines issued by the BTRC, a foreign company can hold a 60% share in a tower management company, while MNOs aren’t eligible to apply for a license.

Cambodia: Axiata sells 10% stake in Smart 

Axiata has sold a 10% stake of Smart Axiata to Mitsui for an approximate value of US$66mn.

Cambodia: edotco to deploy 600 sites by 2020

edotco Cambodia is looking at deploying 600 towers across the country over the next three years, as discloy by Phillip Wong, edotco Cambodia’s Managing Director, in an interview with the Khmer Times.

China: CTC invites bank to participate in upcoming IPO

China Tower Corporation invited investment banks to participate in its Hong Kong’s IPO planned for 2018. China International Capital Corp Ltd (CICC) and Goldman Sachs have been reported by Reuters to be the top picks, pending final board approval. The IPO is said to be floating a stake worth around US$10bn.

India: Cabinet approves BSNL’s tower divestment plans

State-run BSNL has received the green light to carve out its 66,000 towers into a separate, fully owned unit. A government notice on the matter stated that “An independent, dedicated tower company of BSNL with a focused approach will lead to increasing of external tenancies and consequently higher revenue for the new company.”

India: Indus Towers to deploy 26,000 sites at IOCL’s pan-Indian outlets

Indus Towers has inked a Memorandum of Understanding with Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) for the deployment of a mobile tower network across 26,000 IOCL’s outlets in India. The towerco plans to rollout various types of infrastructure including camouflaged palm trees, ground-based mast, roof-top tower and poles across IOCL retail outlets.

India: Implications of Vodafone and Idea Cellular merger for tower industry

The merger between Vodafone and Idea Cellular progresses after having received the approval of the Competition Commission, shaking loose the MNOs’ captive towers, bidders for which include American Tower, Brookfield and IDFC Project Equity. Bids range between US$1.1 and US$1.2bn. While merging, Vodafone is looking at divesting its 10,926 towers, valued around US$600-700mn, and Idea its 8,886-site portfolio, valued at US$500-550mn.

Speculation continues that the merger could also result in a restructuring of the ownership of JV-towerco Indus Towers.

Analysts have forecast the merger could result in the cancellation of up to 40,000 tenancies, albeit with cancellation charges applicable. The drop in tenancy ratios should be largely offset by Reliance Jio adding additional sites.

India: Reliance Jio’s network keep growing

Reliance Jio plans to increase its site count from 120,000 to 150,000 towers and tenancies over the next nine months. The final target for the MNO is to reach 200,000 sites.

India: MTNL looking at selling its towers

Government-owned mobile network operator MTNL is looking at monetising its assets, including its tower portfolio, to reduce debts.

India: Bharti Airtel reduces stake in Bharti Infratel

Bharti Airtel has released a 3.6% stake in Bharti Infratel, reducing its ownership to 58%.

India: GTL Infrastructure attracts buyers

In an interview with the Economic Times of India, GTL Infrastructure Chairman, Manoj Tirodkar stated that the towerco has as many as 19 investors interested in its ownership. GTL Infrastructure plans to induct a new investor by March 2018.

India: Indus Towers invests US$55mn on green energy 

Indus Towers’ CEO Bimal Dayal has been quoted by the Economic Times announcing investments up to US$55mn by end of March 2018 to reduce diesel consumption, as part of the company’s plan to convert 50% of its towers to green solutions.

India: Tribunal grants hearing for Reliance and Aircel’s merger

The Indian National Company Law Tribunal has agreed to an hearing for the merger between Reliance Communications and Aircel as well as Reliance’s request to sell a stake in Reliance Infratel. The Tribunal has agreed to hear the creditors’ petition as well. Creditors include Bharti Infratel, Indus Towers, GTL Infrastructure and Ericsson.

The Tribunal has also allowed Reliance to sell a 51% stake in Reliance Infratel to Brookfield. Negotiations between the two are ongoing.

India: New CEO of Brookfield’s Indian operations rumored

Sanjeev Chachondia, partner at New Silk Route (NSR) and former CEO of Loop Mobile is believed to have been appointed to lead Brookfield Asset Management’s operations in India. In his current role, Chachondia has been closely involved with NSR’s backed Ascend Telecom

Indonesia: Tower Bersama targets new tenants; Fitch assigns stable outlook 

Tower Bersama aims at adding 2,500 new tenants in 2017 and has already added 1,020 as of Q1 2017 (336 new sites and 864 new co-locations), reaching 41% of its total target. In the meantime, Fitch Ratings Indonesia has re-assigned an AA- rating with a stable outlook to the towerco.

Indonesia: Viettel plans investments in Indonesia

Military-run Viettel will expand to Indonesia and Nigeria, leading executives told the annual general meeting of Viettel Global. The MNO has operations in nine overseas markets: Laos, Cambodia, East Timor, Cameroon, Haiti, Mozambique, Burundi, Peru, and Tanzania, and is planning to launch operations in Myanmar in Q1 2018.

Indonesia: MNOs extend coverage to eastern Indonesia

Mobile network operator Telkomsel is extending its footprint into eastern Indonesia and reaching Papua, Maluku, Sulawesi and Kalimantan. In a similar move, XL Axiata is investing IDR1tn to expand its infrastructure to west Kalimantan.

Indonesia: Carlyle and Southern Capital to exit STP

The two private equity firms are looking at selling their combined 69% stake in STP, the third largest towerco in Indonesia.

Japan: NTT DOCOMO and Nokia test 5G-suitable band 

NTT DOCOMO and Nokia have been performing tests in the 4.5GHz band as part of the 5G launch studies. Nokia is conducting trials across Tokyo metropolitan area during this year to test the 4.5GHz frequency band, one of the possible candidates to be utilised for 5G deployment in the country. Japanese MNOs plan to invest a combined US$45.5bn to deploy 5G and NTT DOCOMO has announced it targets nationwide coverage by 2023.

Japan, Vietnam: JTOWER purchases IBS portfolio in Vietnam

JTOWER has agreed to purchase VinaCapital’s in-building portfolio in Vietnam. The portfolio of IBS comprises around 120 sites mostly in Ho Chi Minh city. The deal was sealed for a total value of US$10.2mn.

Malaysia: XL Axiata reaffirms growth plans

XL Axiata has confirmed its plans to deploy 17,000 4G base transceiver stations by the end of 2017. The project aims at increasing the company’s network coverage to 95% of the Malaysian population by year end.

Myanmar: Regulatory Commission Law being reviewed by industry players

The Ministry of Transport and Communications has released an official English version of the draft of the Myanmar Communications Regulatory Commission Law with the goal to obtain feedback from industry stakeholders. The law has been drafted with the aim to create an independent regulatory body, the Myanmar Communications Regulatory Commission (MCRC).

Myanmar: MNOs get spectrum via direct allocation

The Post and Telecommunications Department of Myanmar has assigned spectrum in the 1.8GHz band to the country’s four MNOs via direct allocation. MPT, Telenor Myanmar, Ooredoo Myanmar and Mytel were offered 2x10mHz of spectrum at a set price of US$80mn each.

Myanmar: Telenor launched 4G LTE

Telenor Myanmar has launched its 4G operations in Yangon and 29 towns across its municipal boundaries.

Myanmar: IFC finances Irrawaddy Green Towers

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has agreed to a US$95mn investment in Irrawaddy Green Towers (IGT), including a US$42.5mn parallel loan.

Myanmar: SMI fails to sell MIG to Shining Star

Singapore Myanmar Investco (SMI) hasn’t been able to sell its 97% interest in Myanmar Infrastructure Group (MIG) to Shining Star International Holdings as a result of the failed negotiations with the Myanmar Investment Corporation (MIC) with regards to tax benefits for the US$12.7 million proposed sale.

Under the conditions precedent (CP) SMI was required to obtain MIC’s approval for certain tax concessions under the country’s foreign investment rules for the buyer.

Myanmar: OCK seals deal with MyTel

OCK sealed a new agreement with MyTel in July for the construction of 300 sites to be delivered by the end of the year.

Nepal: Controversial provision in telecom regulation to be amended

The Ministry of Information and Communications announced that a controversial norm in the draft of the Infrastructure Development and Sharing Regulation will be reformulated. The provision stated that once a licence to provide telecom infrastructure services is extended, similar permission will not be granted to other providers for a period of five years.

Nepal: NTA works to enable Broadband Policy

The Nepal Telecommunication Authority has awarded a contract to Nepal Telecom to build a fibre network across the Mid-Hill Highway and another contract to United Telecom to lay a fibre network in other areas of the country.

Nepal: Nepalese MNOs accelerate 4G projects; Smart Telecom requests more time to launch

Ncell has extended its footprint to ten new cities and has so far reached 15% of the population with its 4G services. Ncell now covers a total of 17 cities across Nepal with its 4G LTE network. In the meantime, State-run MNO Nepal Telecom is working to extend its coverage to 175 new locations across the country via 138 new base transceiver stations.

In related news, the third MNO licensed with 4G spectrum, Smart Telecom, has requested more time to launch its 4G services in a letter addressed to the NTA. In fact, according to news outlet The Himalayan Times, out of 350 BTS Smart Telecom installed across Nepal, only 50 are 4G-compatible.

Pakistan: edotco seals deals with Towershare and Deodar

edotco Pakistan has entered into an agreement with Towershare for the acquisition of its subsidiary Tanzanite Tower Private Limited (TTPL). The transaction values TTPL at an enterprise value of US$90mn.”

Following the acquisition of TTPL, edotco has entered into an agreement with PMCL to buy its subsidiary Deodar Private Limited and its 13,000+ tower portfolio. As part of the deal, DH Corp is investing a 45% equity stake in edotco Pakistan while the remaining 55% is to be held by edotco.

The total transaction value is US$940mn, which will be funded through a combination of external local debt of US$600mn and an equity split of US$174mn by edotco and US$166mn by DH Corp for their respective stakes.

Pakistan: Jazz awarded 4G spectrum

MNO Jazz, formerly known as Mobilink, was awarded a 4G license as the only bidder in the 1800MHz spectrum auction. The MNO offered the minimum bid of US$295mn and will also be required to pay a 10% tax to the Federal Board of Revenue.

Pakistan: Awal Telecom to lease tower space to Ufone

Pakistani towerco Awal Telecom and Ufone have signed a passive infrastructure sharing agreement.

Pakistan: DMA starts investigation against illegal towers

The Directorate of Municipal Administration (DMA) of the Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) has started an investigation on several telecom towers and is seeking information regarding their NOCs, their GPS site code, GPS coordinates, BTS site colour, and Hostname, in an operation against unauthorised telecom towers. “Following the operation, 324 dry batteries of cellular towers have been confiscated while 90 sites where illegal towers were installed were also sealed” said DMA Assistant Director Karamatillah Khan. The Assistant Director noted that there are approximately 300 illegal and unlicensed towers in rural Islamabad.

Pakistan: Telenor Pakistan and PTCL confirm infrastructure agreement 

Telenor Pakistan and Pakistan Telecommunication Company Limited (PTCL) have confirmed for the second year a fibre backhaul and infrastructure sharing agreement. PTCL is due to deliver over 950km of fibre to the MNO.

Philippines: Feasibility studies of national broadband network kick off

The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is developing a feasibility study for the national broadband network and plans to tap into existing infrastructure and utilise existing facilities owned by PDLT and Globe. The DICT is said to be looking for foreign assistance of the United States and Japan to develop the project.

Philippines: Globe sues homeowners’ association

ICT Secretary Rodolfo Salalima is proposing a law that sanctions homeowners’ associations who lobby against the construction of cell towers. The move follows the news that Globe Telecom has sued an association for preventing the rollout of cell towers.

Philippines: TierOne to cover ARMM region

The Regional Board of Investments (RBOI) of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has given the green light to a US$60mn investment from TierOne Communications International to cover the area with 2G, 3G, 4G and LTE services as well as public WiFi hotspots.

Philippines: Smart on target with LTE plan

Smart is on target to reach 70% LTE coverage by the end of the year. According to the plan, the MNO plans to reach 95% of the company’s cities and municipalities with LTE by the end of 2018.

South Korea: SK Telecom launches 4.5G service

The leading MNO has announced the launch of its 4.5G network service in June.

Sri Lanka: Mobitel to be spun off from Sri Lanka Telecom

Mobitel, the second MNO in the country, will be separated from its parent company, State-owned Sri Lanka Telecom. Mobitel is currently rolling out its network and has 3,300 base stations across Sri Lanka.

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