CALA news

A roundup of tower news across Central and Latin America

Brazil: TIM tests 5G in São Paulo

TIM’s Brazilian subsidiary has recently launched a new 5G trial in a shopping centre in São Paulo. The MNO has used a temporary 3.5GHz spectrum license that was awarded by the Agencia Nacional de Telecomunicaçoes (Anatel) and the company has partnered with Ericsson on the trial.

Brazil: President signs new telecom law

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro signed a law modernizing Brazil’s telecoms regulation in a long-awaited decision that aims to incentivize new investments and help struggling MNO Oi.

After five years of Congress discussion, the new law will support telecom players by lifting restrictions on the sale of their formerly State-owned assets and will also allow for a secondary market for trading mobile frequencies. Further, fixed line concession holders will be allowed to migrate their licenses to a private regime hence they will have more flexibility to allocate investments to expand broadband services.

Brazil: Telefónica considering Oi takeover

According to Spanish newspaper El Confidential, Telefónica is currently evaluating the acquisition of rival Oi’s mobile business on an operation that could cost around US$4bn.The Spanish telecom giant has hired New York based JP Morgan to advise on the transaction. Telecom Italia, AT&T and China Telecom have also showed interest in Oi’s assets, who is hoping to sell its cellular business to avoid another bankruptcy. On the other hand,  América Móvil has previously denied being interested in bidding for Oi’s assets.

Brazil: Algar starts 5G tests alongside Huawei

Regional MNO Algar Telecom has staged a 5G trial in association with Huawei and the Universidade Federal de Uberlandia (UFU). According to the operator, the tests used the 3.5GHz spectrum, following the issuance of a trial licence by the National Telecommunications Agency Anatel. For testing purposes, Huawei provided Algar with its Huawei Mate 20X 5G smartphone, which is not yet commercially available. Download speeds surpassed 1Gbps, while upload speeds reached 114Mbp.

Brazil: Anatel enlists Viavi for 5G spectrum test

Brazilian telecom regulator Anatel (Agencia Nacional de Telecomunicaçoes) has selected US-based Viavi Solutions to evaluate and test 5G-suitable spectrum ahead of the multi-band spectrum auction that will take place in 2020. The planned auction is expected to be the biggest in the history of Anatel, and involve the 700MHz, 2.3GHz, 2.5GHz and 26GHz frequency bands.

The government doesn’t plan to generate revenue from the bids but will instead demand investment commitments from bidders with deadlines for network implementation, as well as coverage and capacity goals that must be met.

Brazil: Vivo and TIM discussing infrastructure sharing

Telefónica’s Brazilian unit Vivo and TIM Brazil are currently discussing infrastructure sharing. TIM has announced that the MNOs would consider sharing 2G assets in a “grid model” alongside agreements related to infrastructure providing 4G over the 700MHz band in urban areas with fewer than 30,000 inhabitants. The statement added the initiatives were aligned with meeting sustainability goals, energy saving and optimising their use of public spaces.

Colombia: Spectrum auction set for 12 December but MNOs fail to register

The Ministerio de Tecnologías de la Información y las Comunicaciones (MinTIC) announced it would conduct the long-awaited auction of mobile spectrum in the 700MHz, 1900MHz and 2500MHz bands on December 12. However, as of November 13, only Claro registered to participate – a twist that is bound to further delay the auction.

Chile & Peru: Entel’s 2,000-towers sale moves forward

Chilean MNO Entel has formalized its “Proyecto Alba”, an initiative for which the operator will sell over 2,000 towers in both Chile and Peru in order to reduce its debt. Entel has hired Citi and Santander as financial advisor and over 12 international and national infrastructure developers and investors are reportedly interested. Citi will be leading the sale of its Chilean assets while the Spanish bank will focus on the transaction of the Peruvian assets.

Costa Rica: Sutel approves Millicom’s Movistar takeover

Costa Rica’s regulator Sutel (Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones) has approved the US$552mn takeover of Telefónica’s Costa Rican unit by Millicom International Cellular (MIC).

Ecuador: Telefónica considering sale of Ecuador’s unit

The Spanish telecom giant is currently exploring a potential sale of its Ecuador unit for US$881.8mn as part of the company’s ongoing debt reduction efforts as reported on Spanish financial newspaper El Economista. The company hasn’t started talks with potential buyers, but it is studying market conditions ahead of a potential sale that could attract interest from Millicom and Entel Chile. Telefónica Ecuador (operating under the Movistar brand) reported EBITDA of €75mn and revenue of €252mn in the first six months of 2019.

El Salvador: América Móvil seeks approval of Telefónica’s acquisition for the third time

Telecom giant América Móvil has requested approval of Telefónica’s assets acquisition in El Salvador for the third time as the regulator has already denied approval two times this year. The Superintendencia de Competencia hasn’t approved the operation yet as they claim both companies failed to submit the required documentation and the institution is currently analysing the paperwork that both entities have resubmitted.

Mexico: Movistar appoints new CEO, changes strategy

Telefónica has recently appointed Camilo Aya Caro as the new CEO of its Movistar Mexico unit, where he will replace Carlos Morales Paulín, who is leaving the company after 17 years. The MNO aims to accelerate growth and remain competitive in a market where the telco has been struggling for years. On a press release, Telefónica stated that the decision will consolidate Movistar’s position as a more aggressive player in the competitive Mexican telecom market.

Aya Caro has achieved relevant growth for Telefónica’s Colombian unit over the last two years and the executive has led the launch of the telco’s 4G network as well as the development of broadband, TV and fixed business in the Andean country.

The decision shows a notable switch in Telefónica’s strategy as the operator was seriously considering a sale of its Mexican unit after transferring its Central American subsidiaries to Millicom and América Móvil.

Mexico and the United States: AT&T towers on sale

US-based MNO AT&T is planning to sell some tower assets in both the United States and Mexico as part of the company’s ongoing effort to reduce its considerable debt. The operator has already cut US$6.8bn from its debt load in Q22019 and plans to eliminate another US$12bn by the end of the year through the sale of around 1,300 towers in the US and more than 1,000 sites in Mexico, as stated by the company’s CFO John Stevens during an earning call. Stevens also commented that those transactions will help the operator to finance its recent investment in spectrum in the Federal Communications Commission 24GHz auction, while the company continues construction of its FirstNet emergency service and 5G networks.

Panama: Millicom closes Telefónica acquisition in Panama

On August 29, Millicom announced that it has closed the acquisition of Telefónica Móviles Panamá, S.A. The acquisition was made through Millicom’s subsidiary Cable Onda S.A and the acquired unit will bring approximately 1.6mn new mobile customers to Millicom with a 4G network accessible to 80% of the population in the country.

Peru: ProInversion confirms 2020 spectrum auction

Peru’s Private Investment Promotion Agency (ProInversion) has confirmed that the auction of 1750MHz-1780MHz/2150MHz-2180MHz (AWS-3) and 2300MHz-2330MHz spectrum is taking place in the second quarter of 2020. The Ministry of Transport and Communications approved the auction earlier this year and the government will be awarding 20-year licenses to support the rollout of 4G and 5G technologies in a process that is expected to generate over US$291mn. MTC is also evaluating the use of the 3.5GHz band for 5G deployment and both Claro and Entel has already partnered with Huawei on the country’s first 5G trials.

United States and international: Mobilitie raises US$1bn for domestic and international expansion

Innovative infraco Mobilitie, whose portfolio includes towers, indoor and outdoor neutral host DAS, small cells, IoT and Wi-Fi networks, announced that they had raised US$1bn from an unnamed foreign investor to fuel the next five years of growth in 5G infrastructure.

United States: Zayo shareholders approve merger with Digital Colony and EQT

The mega-merger between serial digital infrastructure investors and innovators Digital Colony and Zayo, one of the most coveted fibre portfolios with 130,000 route miles in North America and Europe, took an important step closer to closure with shareholder approval having been gained in late July. The deal would value Zayo at $14.3 billion, inclusive of the assumption of $5.9 billion of debt, and closure remains subject to the usual conditions precedent and regulatory approvals.

Regional: 41% of Telefónica’s revenue came from Latam in 2019

Telefónica has registered a US$16.8mn revenue in Latin America since the beginning of the year, which adds for a 42% of the company’s global revenue. Brazil represents 21% of the profit. Argentina, Chile, Peru and Uruguay combined for a 21.27% of the company’s total revenue while Colombia, Mexico, Ecuador and Venezuela combined for an 8%.

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