Latin America: Regulatory Mandates and LTE Driving Infrastructure Sharing and Tower Offloading Deals

From: Fast Market Research, Inc.
Published: Tue Jan 06 2015

"Latin America: Regulatory Mandates and LTE Driving Infrastructure Sharing and Tower Offloading Deals," a Telecom Insider Report by Pyramid Research, briefly describes the different types of mobile infrastructure sharing, and analyzes the operational motivations and the economic value these agreements deliver. It also identifies the key major barriers for mobile operators to engage in mobile infrastructure sharing, as well as the key triggers. Then it brings evidence from some of the most prominent infrastructure sharing developments that have taken place in Latin America.

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Key Findings

* While an exact computation of savings in absolute values would be misleading due to different contextual factors such as characteristics of physical landscape and the stage of mobile network deployment, mobile infrastructure sharing can lead to a reduction of operating expenses of up to 20-30% and capital expenditures efficiencies and savings of as much as 40%.
* In Latin America, most infrastructure sharing initiatives have been voluntary, and they have largely been led by runner-up players, with leading operators preferring to stay on the sidelines. For instance, in Colombia, second-placed Movistar and third-placed Tigo engaged into active RAN sharing for the deployment of their LTE networks to better complete with market leader Claro.
* In the majority of cases, regulatory authorities scrutinize voluntary infrastructure sharing deals to minimize the threat of any anticompetitive conduct or behavior. In Latin America, mandates around infrastructure sharing have revolved around imposing site sharing to incumbents where competitors lack viable alternatives and imposing tower sharing to address growing environmental and public safety concerns.
* Given its relative lower complexity and reduced cost exposure, passive infrastructure sharing is the preferred approach by regional mobile operators. The high level of investment required to deploy LTE and government-imposed coverage requirements to winning bidders in 4G spectrum auctions, have triggered active infrastructure sharing in Latin America. In Brazil and Colombia, mobile operators have sought to establish LTE infrastructure sharing agreements in order to reduce the cost of rolling out their LTE networks while meeting coverage guidelines.
* There is a growing acceptance of the tower outsourcing model by mobile operators in Latin America. As differences in network coverage diminishes and considering the high-level of investment required for the deployment of LTE networks, mobile operators in the region are increasingly considering tower offloading/outsourcing to achieve immediate operational benefits, and free up capital and resources that can be directed towards improving their debt position or other strategic investments.

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