Tower Talk: a guide to the week’s major cell site developments

24 May 2016

Malaysian infrastructure group edotco has announced plans to build a total of 1,000 to 2,000 new towers across its six markets of Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Pakistan and Myanmar this year. The Sun Daily cites the group’s CEO, Suresh Sidhu, as saying that the company rolled out 1,700 new network sites across five of the countries in which it operates (all except Myanmar) last year, including 250 in Malaysia. The official went on to say that edotco is aiming to build 2,000 sites in all six countries this year, including 200 to 300 in Malaysia. Further, the group will invest MYR5 million (USD1.2 million) to build 22 shared network connectivity sites in Cyberjaya. The solution, described as ‘base transceiver station (BTS) hotel,’ aggregates fixed and wireless traffic resources into a single location to provide share network connectivity to operators. edotco claims the solution enables faster deployment through a plug and play model, as well as enhanced network coverage and capacity and savings of up to 35% compared to traditional sites. Mr Sidhu noted that the project was already 40% to 50% complete and the sites should be ready by the end of June, following which network operators will be able to quickly launch LTE services in the city with minimal investment. edotco plans to roll out the solution in Johor and Nusajaya (both Malaysia), whilst similar deployments are expected in Pakistan and Bangladesh by late 2016/early 2017.

Also in Malaysia, Singapore-backed cellco U Mobile has signed an agreement with SACOFA, which holds exclusive rights to construct, own and manage communication infrastructure in Sarawak, under which U Mobile will leverage SACOFA’s footprint of more than 700 sites across the state, as well as its bandwidth leasing service. The agreement will also see SACOFA deliver a number of built-to-suit sites over the next ten years. Commenting on the deal, U Mobile CEO Won Heang Tuck said: ‘U Mobile will have the ability to expedite the expansion of our network footprint…whilst also saving operational costs and reducing environmental impact. The partnership is also timely, as SACOFA will be a key facilitator for our network expansion using the new 1800MHz and 900MHz frequency spectrum which was allocated…early this year. We expect to switch on these frequencies on 1 January 2017 and 1 July 2017 respectively.’

The World Bank’s International Finance Corporation is considering investing up to USD60 million in Myanmar infrastructure firm Irrawaddy Green Towers (IGT). The investment would consist of two injections of up to USD30 million apiece into IGT’s Singapore-based owner Irrawaddy Towers Asset Holding for equity and debt, whilst a further USD30 million would be made available in senior debt financing. IGT has installed more than 2,000 towers in Myanmar to date and aims to roll out an additional 3,000 by the end of 2018, with the project expected to cost around USD490 million. The investment would help develop Myanmar’s telecom sector by boosting mobile coverage and encouraging tower sharing, whilst also aiding with job creation in the country, a note from the IFC explained.

Shareholders in PT Tower Bersama, a division of Indonesian tower management company Tower Bersama Group, have approved a USD500 million bond issue to repay debts and fund expansion, Dealstreet Asia reports. The notes will be issued to limited investors, registered in the Singapore Stock Exchange.

US-based wireless and cable infrastructure provider SQUAN has purchased the cell tower assets of Strong Tower Communications, which provides wireless macro services including new site builds, fibre delivery and testing, maintenance, and programme management to cellcos, for an undisclosed sum, Inside Towers writes. SQUAN CEO Leighton Carroll commented on the takeover that: ‘This acquisition allows us to strengthen our capabilities, building upon our recent acquisition of Osmose Communications Services (OCS).’ SQUAN took control of OCS in March, allowing it to branch into fibre-optic services. Mr Carroll noted at the time that: ‘Fibre is the backbone of our three-pronged approach. Fibre is not only important to wireless but it is booming for wireline services. Google has started an arms race between the cable companies and the legacy wireline telcos.’

Innova Capital Partners and a subsidiary of the Goldman Sachs Group have announced a joint venture to support the development of telecommunication assets in Colombia, Business Wire reports. The JV will provide financing to Colombian mobile infrastructure designer and developer Golden Comunicaciones for the construction of cell towers across the country. ‘Golden offers our wireless customers a significant footprint of high quality tower assets across Colombia,’ Golden’s CEO Herman Torres was quoted as saying, adding: ‘Today, the investment made by Goldman Sachs and Innova will enable us to reduce the digital divide that exists in our country and undoubtedly will enable us to improve our current network infrastructure.’

We welcome your feedback about Tower Talk. If you have any questions, topic suggestions, or corrections, please email editors@commsupdate.com

Bangladesh, Cambodia, Colombia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, United States , edotco, Golden Comunicaciones, Irrawaddy Green Towers (IGT), SQUAN, Tower Bersama Infrastructure, U Mobile (Malaysia)

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