TIM and Vodafone confirm Italian tower deal

Telecom Italia (TIM) and Vodafone Italy have signed an agreement to combine their respective mobile tower networks within TIM’s INWIT tower division. Both firms will hold 37.5% stakes in the enlarged INWIT, which will control more than 22,000 tower sites. Following on from their signing of a 5G infrastructure partnership in February this year, TIM and Vodafone plan to expand their passive network sharing arrangement and also share active 4G networks. Both companies say the arrangement will help them cut debt, with TIM expecting a benefit of up to EUR1.4 billion (USD1.56 billion) over time.

Luigi Gubitosi, CEO of TIM, said: ‘Completion of this transaction is key for the country’s infrastructure and technological development and will enable us to further accelerate the deployment of 5G, with Italy already among the countries taking a lead in trials of this new technology.’ Meanwhile, Aldo Bisio, CEO of Vodafone Italia, commented: ‘This agreement will enable us to step up the rollout of 5G for the benefit of our customers and the community as a whole … Network sharing reaps the benefits of 5G and at the same time reduces the impact on the environment and lowers rollout costs, allowing more investment in services for customers.’

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Reliance Jio becomes India’s number one mobile operator

Less than three years after launching Reliance Jio has overtaken Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel to become India’s biggest MNO by subscriber.

Jio announced it had hit 331 subscribers last week as part of its quarterly numbers announcement but, according to Ovum’s WCIS, that would still have left it just behind the recently combined Vodafone Idea group if the latter had even held onto its existing punters. Jio overtook long time Indian market leader Bharti Airtel in the first quarter of this year.

Vodafone Idea announced its own numbers late last week and they revealed that it continues to haemorrhage subscribers. “Our subscriber base declined to 320.0 million from 334.1 million in Q4FY19 primarily due to customer churn following the introduction of ‘service validity vouchers’ in the prior quarters,” opened the ‘operational highlights’ section of the report.

“We are delivering on our stated strategy although the benefits are not yet visible in our top line,” said Vodafone Idea CEO Balesh Sharma. “We remain focused on expanding our 4G coverage to over a billion Indians as well as expanding our data capacities by adding more sites on TDD and deploying Massive MIMO. We are well on track to deliver our synergy targets by Q1FY21. We expect these factors to increasingly contribute to our financial performance going forward.”

Returning to the WCIS numbers, the total number of mobile subscribers hasn’t increased that much in the three years that Jio has been operating, which means the third of a billion customers it now has have been largely taken from the incumbents. There has been a fair bit of consolidation, so it’s hard to make like-for-like comparisons, but it looks like Jio largely took subscribers from the smaller players initially, but in the past year has been hoovering up tens of millions of subscribers from its two big rivals.

Competition is obviously a good thing but if this trend continues Jio could become dangerously dominant in India and the country’s regulators and politicians may live to regret making it so easy for the country’s richest person to get off to such a flying start. The genie is out of the bottle now, though, and it’s hard to see how Vodafone Idea and Bharti Airtel are going to regain the initiative.

Original story: http://telecoms.com/498742/reliance-jio-becomes-indias-number-one-mobile-operator/

Bimal Dayal to lead merged entity of Indus Towers, Bharti Infratel

NEW DELHI: Bharti Airtel Ltd and Vodafone Group Plc on Tuesday announced that Bimal Dayal, who is currently chief executive officer, Indus Towers and Hemant Ruia, currently chief financial officer, Indus Towers, will be appointed as CEO and CFO, respectively, of the merged entity of Indus Towers and Bharti Infratel.

Dayal, who had joined Indus Towers as its chief operating officer in 2010, will now be responsible for the combined business and will take forward integration of the two companies in preparation of the merger. He has previously worked with Ericsson and Qualcomm.

Prior to his role at Indus, Ruia previously worked as chief financial officer at Reliance Retail.

The companies did not divulge details of other leadership roles. The existing leadership teams of both Indus Towers and Bharti Infratel will continue to manage their respective businesses till the merger becomes effective, Bharti Airtel said in a statement.

The two tower companies had in April last year agreed to merge their businesses to create the world’s largest tower company outside China. The combined entity will own more than 163,000 towers, second only to China Tower. The merged company will be listed on the stock exchanges as Bharti Infratel is a publicly traded company. Its nearest rival in India will be ATC which has 78,000 towers.

The merger is at an advanced stage of completion and is expected to be closed by June. It will help Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Group to sell their stake, bring down debt and invest in their wireless operations in India, which has been facing the heat of a tariff war started with the entry of Reliance Jio in September 2016.

Bharti Infratel and Vodafone Group own 42% each in Indus Towers, while Vodafone Idea, the merged entity of Idea Cellular and Vodafone India, holds 11.15%. The remaining 4.85% is held by private equity firm Providence.

Once the merger is completed, Airtel, which currently owns 53.5% stake in Bharti Infratel, will hold between 33.8% and 37.2% in the merged entity, while Vodafone Group will own between 26.7% and 29.4%. Airtel and Vodafone Group will have equal rights in the merged entity.

As part of the proposed merger, Vodafone Idea has the option to either sell its 11.15% stake in Indus Towers or get a 7.1% stake in the combined company if Providence also opts to receive new shares in exchange for its shareholding in Indus Towers.

Providence has the option of choosing cash or shares for 3.35% of its 4.85% shareholding in Indus Towers, with the balance exchanged for shares.

Axiata, Telenor talk massive merger

Telenor and Axiata Group opened talks about a potential non-cash merger of their telecom and infrastructure assets in Asia, in which the Norway-based operator would take a majority stake.

Based on equity value, Telenor would own 56.5 per cent of the merged company, with Malaysia-headquartered Axiata taking the remaining 43.5 per cent.

In separate statements, the companies acknowledged discussions are preliminary and subject to adjustments and due diligence. While they emphasised there is no certainty of an agreement, if a deal can be struck, they aim to complete in Q3.

Any transaction would be subject to approval by shareholders, receipt of regulatory approvals and other customary terms and conditions.

The merged company, to be headquartered in Kuala Lumpur, would have operations in nine countries, nearly 300 million customers, and about 60,000 towers across Asia, making it one of Asia’s largest mobile infrastructure companies.

Telenor’s Asian footprint includes operations in Thailand; Malaysia; Bangladesh; Pakistan; and Myanmar. Axiata has operating companies in Malaysia; Bangladesh; Cambodia; Nepal; Sri Lanka; and Indonesia; along with tower business edotco.

Axiata would continue to run Bangladesh mobile unit Robi.

New listing

The companies plan to list the entity on an international stock exchange, as well as Bursa Malaysia.

In Malaysia, they intend to merge Celcom Axiata and Digi, with the new company the majority owner in the combined business.

Sigve Brekke, president and CEO of Telenor, said “considerable synergies” would be created through the “scale and competence” achieved by the merger: Telenor cited a preliminary estimate of $5 billion in this regard.

Axiata president and CEO Jamaludin Ibrahim, said: “With the dynamic combination of breadth, experience and knowledge of Asia’s two regional champions…we bring the best of Asian and European cultures”.

“Leveraging on the synergies of our combined assets, organisations, talents, best practices, scale and financial firepower, we would create the largest telecom operator in the region. Additionally, we would also intend to create the largest mobile operator in Malaysia, one of the largest towercos in the world and the largest innovation centre in the region.”

The companies also plan to establish an R&D centre in Malaysia to develop technologies including 5G, IoT and AI.

Citi is Telenor’s financial adviser, while Axiata retained Morgan Stanley to work on the proposed transaction.

Original story: https://www.mobileworldlive.com/featured-content/home-banner/axiata-telenor-talk-massive-merger/

Reliance Jio overtakes Airtel to become India’s No.2 telecom

Nearly two-and-a-half years after launching mobile phone services, Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Jio has overtaken Bharti Airtel’s subscriber base to emerge as the second-largest telecom company in the country.

Jio, which has a customer base of 30.6 crore, now trails only Vodafone-Idea. Airtel has 28.4 crore subscribers while Vodafone-Idea had announced that it had 38.7 crore subscribers in December 2018.
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Airtel’s numbers were confirmed by a company spokesperson after TOI sent a query on Tuesday evening.

A telecom industry analyst said that the pace of growth of Jio’s subscriber additions may see the company overtake Vodafone-Idea in the coming quarters. “Vodafone-Idea is the most vulnerable of the three private players in the market, and it may just be a matter of few more quarters, may be three-four, before it is overtaken by Jio,” the analyst said, requesting anonymity as he advises many telecom companies.

For Sunil Mittal’s Airtel, which dominated the Indian telecom space for almost two decades, the fall has been dramatic – it used to be the market leader till the middle of last year before being edged out by the new entity that formed after the merger of Vodafone India and Idea Cellular.

The meteoric growth in Jio’s business since it launched services in September 2016 has been fuelled by aggressive and dirt-cheap consumer tariff plans with the company launching operations with free voice call facility.

“The remarkable growth of Jio has been unprecedented and the company is expected to dominate the customer acquisition space through aggressive and innovative tariff plans, including bundling of content packages,” said Mohan Shukla, CEO of FinXPros, a consultancy firm.

Jio has been adding subscribers at breakneck speed at a time when Airtel and Vodafone-Idea have been weeding out low-paying users. According to a report by JP Morgan, Jio added 2.7 crore new customers between January and March 2019, after logging in 12 crore new members through 2018.

Importantly, the company continues to lead the data space through its 4G-only business, and is actively scouting for more customers with cut-throat tariffs. “… we see no prospects of a tariff hike in FY2019-20, unless Jio’s net-additions (of subscribers) come down,” JM Financial said in a just-released report.

Jio’s aggressive entry into the telecom business – in Mukesh Ambani’s second avatar in the mobile space – had unshackled the financials of the industry completely. Airtel, which had initially accused Jio of engaging in “predatory pricing” to gain market share, has seen its domestic operations slip into losses, while Vodafone India and Idea were forced to strike synergies and lower operating costs.

Jio, however, continues to be profitable in its operations and also had the highest adjusted gross revenue (AGR) in access services amongst all the telecom companies in the December quarter. While Jio’s AGR was Rs 9,482 crore, Vodafone-Idea was at Rs 7,224 crore and Airtel at Rs 6,440 crore, according to a report released by telecom regulator Trai.
Top CommentVodafone is robbing Indians for years. Glad that Jio is gaining ground in India! good prices, good service. Way better than all of its competitors. Abhishek Das
Ambani had made it clear from the very beginning that his business would not be a pure-play mobile telecom company, but would aim at creating a digital eco-system that – among other areas — would focus on high-speed internet, news and entertainment content, movies, music, chat, and financial transactions.

Jio has been the strongest in terms of bagging internet customers, especially as it also offers mobile handsets bundled with its services. In 2018, Jio captured 60% share of new 4G subscribers, and accounted for 65% of industry 4G customers as of end December 2018. Further, it carried 70% of 4G data traffic in 2018, and 61% of overall data traffic.

Bharti Airtel to sell off stake in Infratel

Airtel will reduce its stake in the towers business, in order to free up cash for its 5G network rollout
Indian mobile network operator, Bharti Airtel, is to lower its stake in towers firm, Bharti Infratel, downgrading its stock holding from 50.33 per cent to just 18.33 per cent.

Markets reacted positively to the news, with Bharti Airtel’s share price surging 15 per cent since news of the divestment broke, two days ago.

A statement released by Bharti Infratel said that the transaction was expected to take place on or after the 18th March 2019.

The stake will be purchased by Airtel’s subsidiary, Nettle Infrastructure Investments.

With Indian telcos desperately trying to mitigate costs and free up cash for their impending 5G rollouts, Airtel has announced a series of cost saving strategies in recent months.

Earlier this month, Airtel announced that it was considering launching a joint venture with the newly formed Vodafone Idea, to oversee the company’s FTTH and fibre backhaul offering.

India’s telecoms sector remains one of the most competitive in the world, with operators trading on wafer thin margins.

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Airtel, Vodafone-Idea fibre JV a business opportunity for PE funds

The firms would want to demerge their fibre assets and give it to a third company, making their balance sheets lighter and providing an annuity stream for investors.
Bharti Airtel’s decision to partner Vodafone Idea has come as a business opportunity for private equity funds keen on investing in the optical fibre space for leasing assets to earn rentals in return.

The optical fibre synergies will be on the lines of the tower business where the two companies will hive off the fibre assets to a third company, which will in turn lease them out.
Analysts believe that it is a balance sheet light approach for the companies which are under financial stress at the moment. In the current environment, the companies would want to demerge their fibre assets and give them to a third company for making their balance sheets lighter. As far as PE funds are concerned, it would be an annuity business for them.

Bharti Airtel chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal said on Tuesday that his company was looking at an optical fibre joint venture with Vodafone Idea to take on Reliance Jio.

“We made an invitation. We did that in towers – if you remember, Indus Towers was created. And on the same lines, we have asked Vodafone Idea to come and join the fibre company,” Mittal told reporters on the sidelines of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona (Spain).

On January 7, 2008, Vodafone Essar, a subsidiary of Vodafone Group, Bharti Infratel and Idea Cellular, said it formed an independent tower company, Indus Towers Limited, to provide passive infrastructure services in India to all operators on a non-discriminatory basis.

The three companies merged their existing passive infrastructure assets at 16 circles in the country. Vodafone and Bharti own approximately 42% each in the company, Idea Cellular holds 11.15% and the remaining 4.85% is held by private equity firm Providence. Indus Towers is an independently managed and operated company, offering services to all telecom operators and other wireless service providers such as broadcasters and broadband services providers.

The idea behind the formation of Indus Towers was enabling telecom operators to reduce operating costs through economies of scale.

In April 2018, Bharti Infratel Ltd, the tower arm of Bharti Airtel and Indus Towers, agreed to merge its businesses to create the world’s largest tower company after China.

The combined entity will own more than 163,000 towers.

Original article: https://www.afaqs.com/news/story/54545_Airtel-Vodafone-Idea-fibre-JV-a-business-opportunity-for-PE-funds

Now, Reliance Jio set to disrupt telecom tower industry

After creating disruption in the telecom sector, new player Reliance Jio’s unit may become a potential competitor for the tower industry, especially Bharti Infratel, analysts say.

Jio has around 2,20,000 towers and 3,00,000 kilometres of optical fibre. The company’s Board of directors had given the approval for hiving off these assets in December.

“Jio is in the process of demerging its tower and fibre into a separate company. Jio will lease the infrastructure and will look to raise funds in these companies… assets and part of the debt will move to these companies, making Jio asset-light. Part of the future capex will also move. Jio is also open to sharing its tower and fibre with the competition. While we look forward to more details, this can be a potential competitor for Bharti Infratel,” BNP Paribas said in an analyst note after the telecom firm announced its third quarter results last week.

Bharti Airtel along with incumbents Vodafone India and Idea Cellular – now Vodafone Idea after their merger – have been impacted financially after the arrival of Reliance Jio that disrupted the market its free voice calls and dirt-cheap data tariff offers.

An increased user base coupled with a surge in data usage had helped the newest telecom player Reliance Jio Infocomm (Jio) post a 65% increase in its net profit at Rs 831 crore for the third quarter ended December 2018.

Jio has also set its eyes on the broadband and enterprise segment as they offer huge opportunities. It has announced the acquisition of three multiple system operators (MSOs) which is awaiting regulatory clearances and will provide it infrastructure and manpower.

Credit Suisse in a note said Jio intends to hive off tower and fibre assets and get outside investors in to reduce overall debt levels. “This effectively punctures hopes of tariff increases for other telecom players.”

Though Jio has indicated its tower footprint is potentially larger than the largest tower operator in the country (Indus at around 1,20,000), in a three-player market, there is little strategic merit for three large independent tower companies to co-exist, Goldman Sachs analysts said.

The other two companies are Bharti Infratel and American Tower Corporation. Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea also jointly own tower company Indus Towers, which is in the process of merging with Bharti Infratel.

“Entry of a new tower co could potentially result in pressure on Infratel’s rentals unless we see further consolidation in the tower space,” it said.

Recently, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea also hived off their fibre assets, 2,46,000 route km and 1,56,000 route km respectively, into separate units. While Vodafone Idea plans to monetise the fibre assets, Airtel is looking to form an independent fibre company and could also monetise its holdings in the unit.

Analysts say Jio is not in a hurry to raise tariffs until it meets its target of 400 million users. At the end of December, its subscriber base stood at 280.1 million.

“Jio’s focus in the near term remains on adding subscribers and it said it would not tinker with tariffs and risk disrupting their strong subscribers’ momentum. For incumbent telcos, this could mean revenues staying stagnant until Jio reaches its earlier stated target of around 400 million users… the Rs 501 JioPhone plan could continue being offered for the foreseeable future and we forecast 302 million subscribers for Jio by end of FY19,” analysts at Goldman Sachs said.

Original story: https://www.dnaindia.com/business/report-now-reliance-jio-set-to-disrupt-telecom-tower-industry-2710236

Interference Mitigation Filters Market to Register Steady Growth During 2018-2028

Future Market Insights has announced the addition of the “Interference Mitigation Filters Market: Global Industry Analysis and Opportunity Assessment, 2018-2028″report to their offering

In today’s highly competitive marketplace multiple sectors, industries, and business process are undergoing with new technologies and innovations, such factors are positively supporting the growth of interference mitigation filters market. With the aid of modern telecom technologies, the interference mitigation filters are becoming popular among the several industries. The growing penetration of automated network filtering is towering the growth of interference mitigation filters market. Interference mitigation filters provide a simple, cost effective and low loss solution for minimizing spectral emissions and attenuating interference signals preventing them from limiting receiver performance whilst retaining the maximum use of the spectrum available. In order to improve densification of radio spectrum, network services providers are adopting interference mitigation filters. Such factors are projected to fuel the growth of interference mitigation filters market across the world.

Interference mitigation filters are generally used to eliminate radio interference with co-located transceivers. Interference mitigation filters are generally installed in telecom, IT, automotive, and healthcare industries. In parallel, integration of industry 4.0 across the world is anticipated to drive the growth of interference mitigation filters market. In many industries IoT and other process optimization equipment are taking place. These factors will create potential growth opportunities for the interference mitigation filters market in near future. Apart from this, rising industrial automation and advancements in telecom industry are also key growth factors of interference mitigation filters market across the world.

Interference Mitigation Filters Market: Drivers and Challenges


The major growth drivers of the interference mitigation filters market include increasing demand of high speed broadband connectivity and advancements in telecom industry. In addition, Use of interference mitigation filters in various industry verticals shall drive the growth of interference mitigation filters market. Advancements in various industries across the globe has led to growth of the interference mitigation filters market. Furthermore, the global push for efficient and optimize network connectivity is one of the primary factors fuelling the growth of interference mitigation filters market.

Apart from this, the rising trend of industrial automation is the major factors driving the growth of interference mitigation filters market.


However, issues such as lack of technological development in developing countries, acts as a restraining factor for the interference mitigation filters market. Moreover, the high integration cost of an interference mitigation filters is one challenge for the growth of interference mitigation filters market.

Interference Mitigation Filters Market: Segmentation

Segmentation of Interference Mitigation Filters Market on the basis of Product Type

Field reconfigurable Interference Mitigation Filters
Switchable Interference Mitigation Filters

Segmentation of Interference Mitigation Filters Market on the basis of Vertical:

Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance (BFSI)
Government and Public Sector
Healthcare and life sciences
Retail and consumer packaged goods

Interference Mitigation Filters Market: Competition Landscape

Key Players

The Prominent players in interference mitigation filters market are Radio Frequency Systems, TTI, Inc., API Technologies Corp, Radio Design UK Ltd, Filtronic plc, and others interference mitigation filters manufacturers.

Interference Mitigation Filters Market: Regional Overview

On geographic basis, North America is anticipated to capture the largest market share in terms of revenue, owing to the early adoption of 5G in the region. APAC is expected to exhibit high growth rates in terms of revenue in interference mitigation filters market due to rapid digitalization and rise in technologies and telecom organization which offers better customer experience. Europe and Latin America also offers potential growth opportunities in interference mitigation filters market due to the increasing demand for interference mitigation filters in various enterprises in order to improve network connectivity.

Original story: http://www.sbwire.com/press-releases/amp/interference-mitigation-filters-market-to-register-steady-growth-during-2018-2028-1123858.htm

Jio may surpass Airtel’s India mobile revenue for first time

While Jio may log profit growth for 5th quarter in a row, VIL & Airtel may post losses: Analysts

Reliance Jio is expected to surpass Bharti Airtel’s India mobile revenue for the first time, in the quarter ended December 2018, while posting yet another net profit growth, boosted by strong subscriber additions, say analysts.

In contrast, India’s new telecom market leader Vodafone Idea and second-largest Bharti Airtel are likely to report sizeable losses on higher costs, despite a slower decline in revenue, helped by an expected turnaround in average revenue per user (ARPU) as their minimum recharge plans start to take effect, analysts add.

For Vodafone Idea, brokerage ICICI Securities estimated a net loss of ₹4,001.7 crore in the fiscal third quarter, narrower than the ₹4,974-crore loss in the July-September period, as benefits of synergies start to kick in. The newly-formed telco—born out of the recent merger of Vodafone India and Idea Cellular—will present consolidated earnings the second time.

VIL’s revenue in the December quarter is estimated to be in the ₹11,414-11,703 crore range by brokerages Credit Suisse and ICICI Securities. This compares with over ₹12,000 crore revenue in the July-September period.

Brokerages expect Sunil Mittalled Bharti Airtel to report a net loss in the range of ₹649 crore to ₹1,141 crore—a first in nearly 16 years. The company eked out a surprise ₹119 crore net profit on a consolidated basis in the September quarter, helped by a one-time exceptional gain, but its India losses had worsened.

Bharti Airtel’s revenue is estimated to be in the ₹20,428-20,447 crore range for the December quarter.

Jio is estimated to report its fifth successive quarter in the black, with ICICI Securities pencilling in a 49% on-year jump in the company’s net profit to ₹751 crore, driven by an “estimated 30.7 million subscriber adds”. The brokerage estimates Jio’s December quarter revenue to grow nearly 12% sequentially to ₹10,327 crore, which, it said, would for the first time be higher than Airtel’s India mobile revenue.

Brokerages Credit Suisse and Kotak Institutional Equities have estimated Bharti Airtel’s India mobile revenue to be in the ₹997-10,148 crore range in the fiscal third quarter. “Wireless revenue (for Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea) will continue to decline in Q3 albeit at a slower rate in wake of steps taken by companies to improve their ARPU by improving ARPU from low-end customers,” said brokerage Axis Capital.

India’s two older telcos’ October launch of minimum recharge plans—aimed at weeding out nonrevenue generating low-end users and improving ARPU—will start showing some positive impact though the full effect will be visible in the January-March quarter, analysts said.

ICICI Securities estimates Airtel and VIL’s monthly ARPU, a key performance metric, to rise 3.3% and 1% on-quarter to ₹103 and ₹89, respectively, in the third quarter FY19. Jio’s ARPU, it estimates, will fall 2.3% on-quarter to ₹129, due to a higher mix of 4G feature phone users.

Axis Capital expects Airtel to have lost around 10 million subscribers in the fiscal third quarter. Vodafone Idea has lost nearly 14 million customers in October and November 2018 alone, according to latest subscriber data collated by the telecom regulator and Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI).

“Stagnant industry revenue, market share gains by Jio coupled with increase in network expansion costs should hurt mobile Ebitda for Bharti, although this will be largely offset by strong Africa numbers,” Credit Suisse said.


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