CALA news

A roundup of tower news across Central and Latin America

Cuba & UAS: U.S. and Cuba reinstate diplomatic relationships. Cuba removed from sponsors of terrorism list

The United States have formally deleted Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism. In a recent statement, the U.S. Secretary of State announced that it “has made the final decision to rescind Cuba’s designation as a State Sponsor of Terrorism” effective on May 29, 2015. This past December, President Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro issued statements announcing the normalisation of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Mexico: AT&T plans to extend LTE beyond urban sites

The CEO of AT&T, Randall Stephenson, has recently spoken at a JP Morgan conference about the company’s plans in Mexico. He stated that it will take approximately 18 months for AT&T to be able to cover suburban and rural areas with a good LTE service. In the meantime, the company is already involved in the deployment of LTE in key urban sites. Stephenson went on to comment that the frequencies the company acquired via Nextel Mexico and Iusacell enable AT&T to have a stronger spectrum position that any other carrier in the country.

Mexico: 700MHz wholesale mobile broadband investment reduced

The Mexican government has announced a considerable cut to the investment needed for the planned wholesale mobile broadband network.a The original investment was calculated at around US$10bn and is now being reduced to US$7bn, mainly because the number of cell sites needed to enable to network has been cut from 20,000 to 12,000. The reduction is partially due to the entrance of AT&T in the Mexican market. In a recent statement, Monica Aspe, the Undersecretary of Communications at the Secretario de Comunicaciones y Transportes (SCT), declared that: “Mexico’s telecommunications sector is different today to two years ago, and the tender for the shared network has to recognise that… The network shouldn’t be designed as or perceived as a competitor to the operators that have their own infrastructure, but as an enabler.”

Mexico: Movistar extends LTE footprint

Movistar has launched its 4G LTE services in the cities of San Luis Potosi, Leon and Queretaro. This recent LTE investment was estimated around US$9.7mn and is enabling Movistar to extend its footprint to over five million customers in the western region of Mexico.

Mexico: AT&T to become Telesites tenant

New market entrant AT&T is in talks with Telesites to become a tenant on its towers. Telesites owns 10,800 sites in Mexico and is the largest towerco in the country. Bloomberg reports that Fletcher Cook, AT&T spokesman, has stated that “Our priority is to begin work to expand our network and enhance our mobile Internet offering. As we assess our options, we expect fair pricing, an expedited process, and efficient access similar to other tower companies.

Bahamas: Digicel pulls out of license auction

According to Tribune 242, Digicel group has pulled out of the Bahamas’ second mobile license and hasn’t provided any explanation yet for the exit move, which leaves Cable Bahamas and MVNO Virgin Mobile to compete. The auction will determine which company is going to compete against the monopoly holder Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC).

El Salvador: Millicom might sell its towers

The carrier is rumoured to be in talks with advisors and banks and planning to divest its towers. Millicom, operating in Central America under the Tigo brand, might reach a decision on the sale before the end of the year. Tigo own about a third of El Salvador’s 1,200 towers.

Honduras: Tigo Honduras obtains credit for further network investment

Bank of Nova Scotia and Itau BBA Investment and Institutional Treasury, along with other banking institutions, have granted Tigo Honduras a US$250mn syndicated credit to facilitate its 3G and 4G LTE upgrade and expansion plans.

Colombia: Is AT&T entering Colombia?

Although primarily focused on Mexico, AT&T is reportedly considering a move into Colombia. Sources such as Telegeography suggest that AT&T could place a bid of the 700MHz Digital Dividend spectrum in an auction which should take place sometime in 2015.

Colombia: 4G hits 50% coverage

Signals Telecom reports that LTE networks in Colombia have reached 50% of the population by the end of Q4 2014. According to the news outlet, Claro is the leading LTE provider and covers 200 towns as well as 28 capitals.

Movistar is serving five main cities and 77 municipalities while Tigo/Une-EPM has extended coverage to Bogota, Medellin, Cali, Barranquilla, Cartagena, Santa Marta, Bucaramanga, Valledupar, Ibague and Cucuta. Tigo has recently announced plans to extend its services to Monteria, Riohacha, Sinceljo, Villavicencio, Neiva, Pasto, Popayan, Tunja, Pereira, Manizales and Armenia.

Colombia: Spectrum auction delayed to the end of 2015

The Agency Nacional del Espectro (ANE) – or National Spectrum Agency – recently announced that the 700MHz frequency band is likely to be cleared by the end of August. Therefore, the auction planned for the first half of 2015 has been delayed to the second half of the year.

Ecuador: Telefónica’s MVNO launched in Ecuador

MVNO Tuenti Movil launched its services in June after starting operations in Spain, Mexico, Argentina and Peru. Tuenti is a sub-brand of Spanish giant Telefónica and is the first MVNO to launch in Ecuador.

Ecuador: Movistar starts 4G in Quito

Movistar Ecuador has launched 4G services in Quito. The launch follows the acquisition by Movistar of 50MHz in the 1900MHz band for LTE, which took place just three months ago.

Peru: Government finances four fibre-optic projects

The Peruvian government plans to finance regional programmes to deploy fibre-optic infrastructure in four areas of the country. According to Telegeography, the programmes will bring fibre-optic to 1,344 villages, connecting 1,607 schools, 812 health centres, 97 police stations and 93 other public entities and benefiting around 750,000 Peruvians. Gilat consortium will deploy the project in Apurimac, Ayacucho and Huancavelica while Movistar won the bid for the project in Lambayeque.

Peru: Entel plans 100% coverage 

Entel Peru is planning to invest as much as US$260mn to cover the entire national territory by the end of 2015. The plan includes the expansion into six uncovered regions and an increase in sites from 1,590 (Q4 2014) to 2,400 by Q4 2015.

Paraguay: Paraguayan regulator plans telecom reform

According to local news, the President of the Paraguayan regulator Conatel, Eduardo Neri Gonzalez, is planning a public consultation ahead of the reform of the twenty-year old Telecommunications Act N. 642/95. In a recent statement, he declared that: “The main objective of this project is to update the regulatory framework of Act N. 642/95 to fit the current dynamics of telecoms sector. Considering the current legislation dates back to 1995, there was no talk of the internet. Today’s reality is that data traffic exceeds voice traffic, and the same operators are licensed for different services.”

Brazil: Oi to sell more towers to cut its debt

After selling Portugal Telecom to Altice, Oi is reportedly considering selling more telecom towers to cut its debt. Oi’s CEO, Bayard Gontijo, was recently interviewed by the Financial Times and said that Oi “would need to take further steps including asset sales to restore its balance sheet even after raising EUR7.4bn from the Portugal Telecom sale.”

Oi is seeking government approval to sell 1,000 telecom towers as well as further real estate including their call-centre company. Gontijo stated that Oi owns as many as 7,000 properties beyond their tower portfolio.

Brazil: Phoenix Tower International acquires T4U

On June 15, PTI announced the acquisition of T4U Holding Brasil, which will be structured as a merger of T4U into PTI’s Brazilian operations. The entity, Phoenix Tower do Brasil, will own and operate 529 sites with a pipeline of 250 towers under construction.

Brazil: Telebras to deploy 200km of fibre in São Paulo

Telebras is planning to develop a 200km fibre network in São Paulo at an estimated cost of US$6.3mn. The company, which is controlled by the Ministry of Communications, recently stated that the deployment has been slower than expected and that bottlenecks have been both on the financial and permitting sides.

Brazil: Telefónica and Vivendi complete GVT deal

Telefónica has completed the acquisition of Global Village Telecom (GVT) from French group Vivendi for US$8.2bn, which includes a 12% stake in Vivo, of which the operator will exchange 4.5% in return for Telefónica’s shares in Telecom Italia. At the end of the deal, Vivendi will have acquired an 8.3% stake in Telecom Italia.

Brazil: Antenna Law enters into force

The Antenna Law (Law 13,116/2015) has been signed by President Dilma Rousseff and published in the Official Gazette on 22 April 2015. TowerXchange reports on the key points of the law in a separate news article in this issue of the Journal.

Brazil: 2.5GHz spectrum auction delayed. AT&T interested in bidding

The auction of unsold spectrum in the 2.5GHz band won’t take place until Q4 2015, according to João Rezende, President of Anatel. Frequencies will be sold in 4,600 municipalities and the auction could see Sky Brazil, which is about to be acquired by AT&T, bidding to expand its 2.5GHz networks into metropolitan areas such as Rio de Janeiro, Recife and São Paulo. In a recent statement, Rezende added that the auction will include frequencies in the 1,800MHz and 3.5GHz bands.

Brazil: Macquarie Group and American Tower to bid for Grupo TorreSur

Seeking Alpha reports that Macquarie Group is in talks with Grupo TorreSur for its acquisition with a bid in excess of US$1bn. American Tower is another potential buyer of the Brazilian towerco which owns a portfolio of approximately 6,300 sites in the country.

Argentina: New regulatory body created while SeCom assigns outstanding frequencies

A Presidential Decree published on 29 April 2015 introduced a new telecoms regulator which will replace the CNC and its supervisory body, SeCom. The new body, the Federal Authority for Information Technology and Communications, or Autoridad Federal de las Tecnologias de la Informacion y las Comunicaciones (AFTIC), should be operational before the end of June 2015.

In the meantime, SeCom announced that all outstanding frequencies that were assigned during the 2014 auction have been allocated. According to Telegeography, Telefónica has been issued with frequencies in the 703MHz-713MHz and 758MHz-768MHz bands; Telecom Personal received spectrum in the 713MHz-723MHz and 768MHz-778MHz; and Claro took receipt of frequencies in the 723MHz-738MHz and 778MHz-793MHz bands.

Argentina: Brazil to be retained but Nextel Argentina for sale?

In a recent interview with Reuters, Nextel Brazil president, Gokul Hemmady stated that: “We have no intention of selling our operation in Brazil. We will have left five countries, when we sell Argentina, to stay in one … Having said that, there is always a price for every sale.”

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