CALA news (Apr 2015)

A roundup of tower new across Latin America


América Móvil creates Telesites

On April 1, América Móvil has filed a report with the plan for the creation of its spin off towerco Telesites, to which it will transfer 10,800 towers. Industry news suggest that other Mexican carriers will have access to 90% of these sites, compared to the current 45%. Telcel will of course be the anchor tenant. The restructuring plan is expected to be approved at the company’s shareholders meeting scheduled for April 17 and the spin-off should be concluded before the end of June 2015.


Digicel on the new Bahamian network

Frank O’Carroll, Digicel’s Head of Business Development, has recently stated that the six-month deadline set by the Bahamian government to rollout and launch network services was tough to achieve. Another requirement set by the government refers to the wide ownership, according to which new operators must be majority Bahamian-owned. In the meantime, Digicel is planning to build between 200-300 new towers and invest approximately US$200mn for the new network.


Second Bahamian operator to be partially State-owned

In recent news, Telegeography reported that the new licensee, called NewCo, is 51% owned by the government and it will do so until a sale to private Bahamian investors can be organised. The Chairman of the opposition party FNM Michael Pintard stated that “It is conceivable that the government, [which] has a huge stake in the present telecommunications company and…will be the majority shareholder in the new company, can fix prices and disadvantage the consumer…It opens the doors for any number of backdoor deals and the government ought to ensure there is transparency in this entire process.”


Claro Honduras launches 4G LTE

The Comision Nacional de Telecomunicaciones (Conatel) has celebrated the launch of the second 4G LTE network by Claro Honduras. The new network will be available in large cities such as Tegucigalpa, San Pedro Sula and La Ceiba. According to license conditions, the coverage is expected to reach fourteen cities in 2016.


Telefonica not entering Honduras, Paraguay or Bolivia

In a recent conference call with investors, Telefonica’s CEO Cesar Alierta has denied any interest in entering new LatAm markets. The CEO stated that Telefonica is not entering Honduras, Paraguay or Bolivia and that the current focus is on growing the company’s presence in existing markets.


Nokia involved in VoLTE and small cell for Avantel

Avantel has appointed Nokia Solutions to develop VoLTE services with initial rollouts expected in Bogota, Medellin, Cali, Barranquilla and Bucaramanga. Nokia has also developed Avantel’s Flexi Zone LTE small cell solution which is considerably improving the operator’s capacity and coverage.


Une-EPM/Tigo expanding LTE footprint

Une-EPM and Tigo Colombia, which merged a few months ago, have reached LTE coverage of 75 cities in Colombia. According to a recent statement by the CEO, Esteban Iriarte “In 2014 we invested in the improvement, modernisation and expansion of our fixed and mobile telecoms infrastructure … we deployed more than 2,800km of fibre and expanded the capacity of our submarine cables and national transport network.”


Telefonica de-values its Venezuelan assets

Telefonica is writing down the value of its Venezuelan assets in light of the crisis of the Bolivar Fuerte, the national currency. Profits will be written down for as much as €1.23bn. The assets include considerable profit that the national government isn’t allowing Telefonica to take out of Venezuela, as reported by the Wall Street Journal.


Movistar to invest in 4G LTE 

Movistar Ecuador will invest as much as US$150mn to deploy 3G infrastructure as well as its 4G LTE network. The company has recently been awarded extra spectrum which includes frequencies in the 1,900MHz band.


New regulator starts acting

Ecuador has a new telecom regulator which was formed earlier this year, the Agency for Regulation & Control of Telecommunications (Arcotel). Arcotel will combine functions of various existing regulatory bodies and will operate in cooperation with the Ministry of Telecommunications & Information Society. The Agency is responsible for managing, regulating and controlling telecoms and radio spectrum in Ecuador.


Movistar Peru ordered to pay past taxes

Movistar Peru has been ordered to pay US$500.9mn to SUNAT, the national tributary agency, in taxes dated 2000-2001. The operator is looking at appealing the decision, according to national news.


US$1.16bn to be invested in fibre-optic

The Minister of Transport and Communications, Mr José Gallardo Ku, recently stated that over five million citizens will benefit from the fibre-optic project currently being developed, which will read 6,411 locations thanks to 31,716km of fibre. Twenty-one tenders are scheduled over the next two years with an estimated investment of US$1.16bn.


Claro expands footprint to rural areas

Claro is extending its 3G footprint to 181 remote areas in Chile, reaching out to as many as 46,880 people. The move is complying with the minimum requirements set in the LTE license granted to the operator. According to Claro’s General Manager, Mr Mauricio Escobedo, the company is now embarking “on a new phase with the delivery of voice services in rural locations throughout Chile.”


PT transfers millions of Oi shares to new entity

Portugal Telecom SGPS has recently transferred 47.435 million common shares and 94.87 million preferred shares issued by Oi to a company registered in the Netherlands under the name of Portugal Telecom International Finance BV. The transfer was approved by the Board of Directors in March and Oi has released a statement announcing that “PT Finance is an indirect wholly owned subsidiary of Oi and, therefore, the shares transferred by PT SGPS to PT Finance will be considered, as the case may be, treasury shares.”


Vivo plans public share offering

After receiving approval to acquire Global Village Telecom (GVT), Vivo is planning to hold a public share offering which will help finance the deal. Telefonica has recently purchased GVT for US$9.83bn and, as requested by Anatel as a condition to approve the acquisition, has waived its voting rights linked to its stake in Telecom Italia.

Telegeography recently reported that Telefonica has lined up nine banks to run its US$3.25bn capital increase. The institutions involved in the deal are UBS, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays, HSBC, BBVA, CaixaBank and Santander.


Oi and TIM to share 2G/3G network

A 2G and 3G network sharing agreement between Oi and TIM Brasil has been approved by the Brazilian regulatory authority Conselho Administrativo de Defesa Economica (CADE). The deal will allow the operators to share networks in areas with population of less than 30,000 people.


NII Holdings agrees to sell Nextel Argentina

Private equity firms Kingsley Capital and Optimum Capital have reportedly reached an agreement with NII Holdings for the acquisition of Nextel Argentina. Details of the deal are yet to be announced.

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