CALA news

A roundup of tower news across Central and Latin America

Regional: Liberty-Millicom’s merger talks fall apart 

The two regional MNOs briefly negotiated a merger deal that was later scrapped due to Millicom’s concerns regarding the cash involved in the bid (US$7.6bn). Millicom operates in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Bolivia, Colombia and Paraguay while Liberty (established in 2017 following the split from Liberty Global) is active in over twenty markets across CALA. 

Argentina: ARSAT to release frequencies in favour of telecom players 

ENACOM is looking at repurposing some frequencies that were exclusively reserved to ARSAT to promote the competition among telecom players. The new Decree 58/2019 will require ENACOM to ensure ARSAT still holds enough frequencies to fulfil its purposes. 

Bolivia: Phoenix Tower International acquires Trilogy International Partners’ towers

PTI has agreed to purchase 600 towers from Trilogy’s subsidiary NuevaTel. 400 sites have already been transferred and the total value of the transaction is US$100mn. 

Brazil: Oi looking at divesting more non-core assets 

The troubled Brazilian MNO hired Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML) to divest more telecom towers and data centres. The company looks at raising between US$404-538mn to finance improvements across its mobile and broadband operations. 

Brazil: Oi to partner with Nokia to increase FTTH connectivity

Brazilian operator Oi has signed a long-term technology partnership with Nokia that will enable the MNO to meet increasing demand for fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) in the country. The agreement will also expand Oi’s mobile broadband coverage and capacity ahead of 5G implementation. The Finish vendor will extend Oi’s FTTH network to cover ten million homes by 2021 as well as deploy its AirScale single RAN solution to support 2G, 3G and 4G services, while preparing for the delivery of 5G. 

Brazil: Surf’s up! starts LTE rollout in Sao Paulo 

Mobile virtual network enabler EUTV (Surf Telecom) has started the deployment of its 4G LTE network in Sao Paulo. Surf Telecom, which has held a 15MHz block of 2.5GHz spectrum since 2016, aims for its network to be operational in the next few months, starting in the municipalities of Diadema and Maua Maua. Connectivity will not be offered to end-users but will be used to support Surf’s existing MVNO clients.  

Surf’s CEO Yon Moreira da Silva confirmed to a local media outlet that 20,000 antennas will be installed on cell sites owned by American Tower and Phoenix Tower International between now and the end of 2020. 

Central America: Telefónica sells CAM units

Telefónica has announced the sale of the entire share capital of Telefónica Moviles Panama, Telefónica de Costa Rica and Telefonia Celular de Nicaragua to Millicom for a combined enterprise value of US$1.7bn. The MNO had previously announced the sale of its business units in Guatemala and El Salvador to América Móvil for US$500mn. The Spanish giant is still assessing the future of its Mexican operations.

Chile: regulator announces 5G auction plans 

Chilean regulator Subcretaria de Telecomunicaciones (Subtel) has announced plans for a 5G spectrum auction, with a total of 60MHz in the 700MHz and 3.5GHz bands available to potential bidders. 

During MWC, Subtel stated that several global operators had already shown an interest in entering the market through the contest and the initial public consultation documents for the auction will be made available by the end of March. 

Colombia: MinTIC announces long-delayed 700MHz auction 

The Ministerio de Tecnologias de Informacion y las Comunicaciones (MinTIC) has announced that the much awaited 700MHz spectrum auction should take place in October this year.  

Colombia: ETB sale blocked by court 

An administrative court has prohibited the Capital District of Bogota from selling its 88.4% stake in local MNO Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Bogotá (ETB), which reaffirmed an initial decision handed down by the country’s Fourth Administrative Court in July 2017. 

Cuba: ETECSA launches 3G

Cuban state-owned operator Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Cuba (ETECSA) has officially launched 3G mobile internet access for pre-paid customers. The network utilises the 900MHz frequency band and is accessible for subscribers with compatible handsets.  

Cuba: Telefónica offers to connect Cuba 

Telefónica has offered to connect Cuba to its international cable system, aiming to improve the country’s internets access. The company has made the announcement during an official visit to the country by Spain’s president Pedro Sanchez, who was accompanied by a delegation of Spanish companies interested in expanding their businesses in the island.  The Spanish multi-country operator offered to connect Cuba via branch line to its submarine cable network

Honduras, Paraguay: Millicom to partner with Ericsson for network upgrades 

Millicom International Cellular (MIC) has selected Ericsson to modernise Tigo’s RAN infrastructure in Paraguay and Honduras. MIC has signed a multi-year deal with the Swedish vendor, who will implement its Ericsson Radio System portfolio into approximately 1,000 cell sites across the two countries.

Additionally, Ericsson will expand Tigo’s existing networks on both markets, modernising the existing 2G, 3G and 4G sites, as MIC prepares for the future implementation of IoT and 5G. The upgrade will also improve indoor coverage by deploying Ericsson’s Radio Dot System as well as enable full 4×4 MIMO capabilities.  

Mexico: Movistar sells fibre assets in Mexico 

Movistar Mexico has sold off certain non-core fibre-optic assets at the end of last year. According to an article on Spanish newspaper El Economista, Movistar’s subsidiary Pegaso PCS has transferred unspecified network assets to Even Telecom and Neutral Networks, companies owned by Latin American private equity firm Southern Cross Group. 

Mexico: Televisa buys Axtel’s fibre business 

Mexican broadcaster and cable TV provider Grupo Televisa has acquired some of Axtel’s fibre assets for US$234mn, adding 4,432 km of fibre and 227, 802 commercial and residential clients to its portfolio. 

Axtel is selling its fibre assets in Monterrey, San Luis Potosí, Aguascalientes, Ciudad de México, Ciudad Juárez and Zapopan, as the company will keep looking for potential buyers for its remaining fibre portfolio in the country. 

Mexico, Nicaragua, Colombia: Uniti Towers sells assets to Phoenix Tower International 

PTI has agreed to purchase Uniti Towers’ LatAm business, including around 500 towers across Mexico, Nicaragua and Colombia, for US$100mn. 

Peru: Telefónica launches “Internet para todos” 

The Spanish telecom group is launching an open-access, wholesale broadband mobile internet service in Peru that aims to expand coverage in rural areas. The project, Internet para todos (IPT), is supported by Facebook, the Inter-American Development Bank and the Development Bank of Latin America and aims to bring a new, open approach to network deployment that can be replicated across Latin America to deliver mobile broadband to remote areas. 

Venezuela: Movistar won’t leave the country 

Movistar’s President in Venezuela, José Luis Rodríguez Zarco, confirmed last December that the Spanish MNO will continue operating the 2,700 sites that the company owns in Venezuela despite the country’s difficult social and political situation. During the current power crisis, the MNO has granted free SMS service to all subscribers.

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