Asia News

Summary of tower industry news across Asia

Regional: Axiata reignites edotco’s IPO talks

Various news outlets including Bloomberg announced that Axiata is re-evaluating a potential IPO of edotco. According to Bloomberg: “Axiata aims to list the unit in Kuala Lumpur as soon as this year and may seek a valuation of around US$2.5bn for the company.” 

Regional: Telenor being pushed to spin off its towers 

Constructive Capital, an activist investor in Telenor, is pushing the MNO to spin off its telecom tower portfolio. According to the investor, the move would increase the MNO’s share price by as much as 84% as well as reduce its debt. 

Australia: 5G auction obtains US$616mn 

The four Australian MNOs have collectively paid A$853 million (US$616.02 million) for 3.6-GHz 5G spectrum in the country’s latest auction. The Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) has confirmed the successful completion of the auction, with all 350 available lots sold. The licenses will commence in March 2020 and run until December 2030.  

Market leader Telstra led the bidding and secured 143 lots, while Optus obtained 47. A joint venture established between Vodafone Australia and TPG won 131 lots and the final successful bidder was UK operator Dense Air Australia, which has revealed plans to offer carrier neutral 5G densification services. 

Australia: TPG suspends network rollout due to Huawei ban

TPG Telecom is stopping its planned mobile network rollout following Australia’s ban on MNO infrastructure partner Huawei. In August 2018, the federal government blocked the telecoms supplier from rolling out Australia’s 5G network saying the involvement of any companies “likely to be subject to extrajudicial directions from a foreign government that conflict with Australian law” presented too much of a risk. Previously, TPG had selected the Chinese vendor as its supplier for the network, as the company believed doing so would allow for a simple upgrade path from 4G to 5G technology.  

Australia: Telstra enables 5G in Sydney and Melbourne

Right after Australia’s 3.6GHz spectrum auction in December, Telstra has enabled 5G for the first time at its cell sites in Melbourne and Sydney. The MNO started switching to 5G technology at its towers back in August, and it has now become the first Australian MNO to have 5G-enabled sites in all major cities. The company has enabled 5G at a total of 187 mobile base stations. 

Cambodia: edotco buys 325 towers 

Regional infrastructure leader edotco has recently announced the acquisition of 325 towers in Cambodia. The assets were acquired from South East Asia Telecom (Cambodia) Co Ltd, in line with edotco’s expansion strategy. The deal, which was approved by the Telecommunication Regulator of Cambodia in late December, strengths edotco’s position as the leading independent tower company in the country. 

India: Jio creates fibre and tower units 

Reliance Jio is considering a spin off its tower and fibre portfolios to reduce its debt. The Economic Times have reported that the MNO is demerging its towers and fibre assets as part of a company-wide modernisation plan and to reduce its capex while getting closer to completing its network rollout. The newly formed entities are being created and called Jio Digital Fibre and, for the tower unit, Reliance Jio Infratel. Jio owns and operates over 300,000km of fibre and around 220,000 towers.

India: Vodafone Idea in talks to create fibre JV with Bharti Airtel 

Vodafone Idea is in talks with Bharti Airtel to create a joint venture for their fibre infrastructure. In a recent Economic Times article, Airtel’s Chairman Sunit Mittal was quoted stating “We have asked Vodafone Idea to come and join the fibre company… We are starting with our own fibre company and if Vodafone Idea brings its fibre assets, then they will get appropriate shares.”  

Indonesia: Indosat evaluates tower sale 

The Wall Street Journal reports that Indosat could be assessing additional tower sales following the 2012 sale of 2,500 sites to Tower Bersama. The operator owns a portfolio of over 8,500 sites in the country. 

Indonesia: Tri is building more than 8,000 4G and 4.5G BTS 

PT Hutchison 3 Indonesia (Tri), who aims to become the leading MNO in the country, is massively investing in its infrastructure improvement. At the end of 2018, the operator started an aggressive expansion initiative and is now building more than 8,000 4G and 4.5G-enabled base transceiver stations. Tri’s CEO Cliff Woo stated that the operator’s 4G and 4.5G networks has connected more than 7,900 villages, in 281 cities and districts across the country and the company’s CEO also mentioned that its BTS infrastructure is ready to adopt 5G technology. 

Indonesia: Indosat Ooredoo expands it LTE-A network 

Ooredoo’s Indonesian subsidiary has announced its plan to expand its LTE-A network (branded ‘4G Plus’) in North Sumatra. The operator has already deployed 586 new cell sites in the region and is now set to deploy 244 sites by February 2019.  

Indonesia: Smartfren will take over Bolt!’s 4G operations 

Indonesian MNO PT Smartfren Telecom is taking over the operations of 4G LTE mobile internet provider Bolt PT Internux,  whose frequency permit was recently terminated by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) after the company failed to pay the fees to operate for more than two years. 

Laos: edotco enters Laos 

edotco has filed an announcement with the Bursa Malaysia (the national Stock Exchange) regarding its entrance into Laos in light of the growth potential of the market over the next three years. edotco has acquired an 80% stake in local company Mekong Tower Company Limited (MTCL) as part of its entrance strategy. 

Myanmar: Ooredoo and Nokia set up a 5G centre for Myanmar University

Myanmar’s Ooredoo has partnered with Nokia to set up the first 5G-ready Technology Centre in Myanmar. The Centre is the result of a joint project with Yangon Technological University (YTU), which will be utilised by the students of Myanmar’s first diploma program in telecommunications. 

Myanmar: edotco keeps pushing sustainable solutions

edotco is developing two renewable energy initiatives in Myanmar that aim to increase operational and energy efficiencies as well as reduce opex while reinforcing the company’s environmental commitment.  

The Malaysian infrastructure innovator has recently launched the first hybrid solar-wind turbine energy solution in the country, a home-grown innovation that provides complete off-grid reliability, serving as an efficient way to power up towers located in remote areas with low electricity access.

Additionally, edotco Myanmar has collaborated with local solar provider Mandalay Yoma on an initiative that is connecting towers with mini solar grids to reduce diesel generators dependence, carbon emissions and noise pollution. 

Pakistan: PTCL and SCO to start fibre roll out in FATA 

Pakistan Telecommunications Company Limited (PTCL) and the Special Communications Organisation (SCO) are partnering to deploy 600km of fibre-optic infrastructure in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The deployment is part of the government’s universal service programme that aims at facilitating access to basic telephone and data services in the area. 

Sri Lanka: Dialog Axiata completes 5G pilot 

Sri Lanka’s Dialog Axiata has successfully completed South Asia’s first fully functional 5G pilot transmission over commercial grade base stations and end-user devices. 

The pre-commercial 5G trial was conducted alongside the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL), using spectrum in the 3.5-GHz band that was assigned by the regulator for 5G trials. The trial achieved pilot speeds of over 2Gbps. 

In August 2017, Dialog Axiata conducted a 5G demonstration in a laboratory environment, in conjunction with Huawei and Ericsson. The company said that 20% of its base stations are now 5G ready due to the deployment of Massive MIMO technology. 

Thailand: NBTC will shut down 2G by October 2019 

The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) is set to shut down the existing 2G networks by 31 October 2019 to give mobile operators more efficient network capacity and pave the way to 5G wireless broadband service by 2020. 

Thailand: NBTC will auction 2.6GHz spectrum next year 

Thailand’s National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) is planning to auction spectrum in the 2600MHz band in the second half of 2019.  

The Philippines: Telecommuting Act pushes MNOs to improve service 

The national government has approved a new law to allow telecommuting to ease the congestion in metropolitan areas. The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) acting secretary Eliseo M. Rio highlighted that “The ball is now on the telcos’ court to gear up for the possible increase of demand for faster and more reliable internet connection. The government is upping the ante when it comes to investing on ICT projects, but if we wish for impact to be felt by the people sooner, we expect the telcos to do the same.” 

The Philippines: Five new towercos enter the market 

DICT has added five towercos to its common tower provider programme. IHS Towers, edotco Group, China Energy Engineering Group, RT Telecom and Aboitiz InfraCapital have joined ISOC Infrastructure and ISON ECP Tower as the seven entities allowed to operate in the country. Eliseo M. Rio, DICT acting secretary, was cited by local news outlets stating that “We will welcome more parties in this venture as it will address the country’s backlog on telecommunication towers, […] as with less than 20,000 towers, the Philippines has the least amount of mobile infrastructure compared to its neighbours.”  

The Philippines: Mislatel to start operating in 2020 

Newly licensed Mislatel has announced its plan to launch commercial service in late 2020 – pending various required approvals – and cover at least 17 key cities within the first two years of operations. The MNO will target 37% population coverage after one year of operations and 84% after five years. 

The Philippines: PLDT, Globe rumoured to sell off their towers 

Earlier this week, House Representative Luis Campos Jr. suggested that the country’s incumbent MNO’s PLDT and Globe will likely end up selling off their tower assets to any one of the seven independent tower companies currently involved in the country’s common tower initiative. ‘We see both PLDT and Globe eventually assigning their 16,000 towers to any or all of the non-aligned firms providing shared towers, now that the government has permitted at least seven of them to operate,” Campos Jr. stated. 

The Philippines: Globe to invest in data centres 

Through its ICT division Globe Business, Philippines’ operators Globe Telecom has entered a new joint venture with TechZone Philippines to provide data center services to local IT gaming enterprises.

TechGlobal Data Center will provide services from TechGlobal’s carrier-neutral data centre in the Philippines, which is currently being operated and maintained by Globe Telecom’s Data Centre Operations team. 

The Philippines: Globe gets US$40mn loan from BPI 

Globe Telecom Inc. has recently signed a US$40mn loan facility with the Bank of the Philippines Islands (BPI). “The loan shall be used to partially finance the company’s maturing obligations, capital expenditures, and general corporate requirements,” Globe said in a regulatory filing submitted by its director Jose Mari Fajardo.

Vietnam: Viettel considering North Korea expansion 

Vietnamese telecoms giant Viettel is reportedly exploring an entrance into North Korea. The operator initially requested permission to build its network in the county back in 2010 and it’s now waiting for some sanctions to be lifted while expecting the country to be opened to foreign investors. After successfully launching operations in Myanmar last year, the global operator is also in talks to buy stakes in existing MNOs in Malaysia and Indonesia.  

Vietnam: Viettel to start testing 5G 

The Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) has granted Viettel with the country’s first license to test 5G mobile communication services.  

The trial period is valid for one year until 21 January 2020 and allows the military-owned operator to test the technology in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, the country’s two major cities. Viettel is permitted to test 5G at up to 73 locations but they can’t charge users testing its service.

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