If 2020 will be remembered for COVID-19, 2021 will be the year when all telecom operators have sold their towers.
The mast is now set to expand to Malaysia, with U Mobile now considering selling its towers for $ 120 million.
Those who might be interested include Edgepoint Capital Advisors and Edotco Group.
Like any self-respecting telecom company, U Mobile is looking to boost its additional resources as it spends a lot on 5G, which it aims to roll out in Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya by the end of 2021, and nationwide. by 2023.
Meanwhile, U Mobile, which is based in Kuala Lumpur and is the nation’s fourth-largest mobile operator, is also putting its books in order ahead of a scheduled IPO where it hopes to raise around $ 500 million.
U Mobile has over 7 million subscribers and has 1,611 wireless towers. Shareholders include Straits Mobile Investments of neighboring Singapore and local tycoon Vincent Tan.
The news comes weeks after Dutch telephone company VEON agreed to cede 15,400 mobile towers in Russia for a princely sum of $ 970 million (70.65 billion rubles).
The company also signed a collaboration agreement this month to use fiber broadband from Allo Technology, a subsidiary of Tenaga Nasional.
This allowed U Mobile to launch its first fiber offering, in 100Mbit / s, 500Mbit / s and 1Gbit / s versions, as a pilot this month in selected residential areas in Melaka, Cyberjaya, Perak and Kedah.
As a bonus, and for the sake of a difficult economic environment, it offered customers 50% reduction on the fiber plan for two years, and the first month for free.
Meanwhile, Ericsson yesterday entered into a decade-long, $ 2.6 billion partnership with state-owned Digital Nasional Berhad to provide a nationwide wholesale 5G network for all of Malaysia.
Malaysia and Brunei are so far the only two countries in Asia that have chosen to form a single nationalized wholesale network, own tower, backhaul and spectrum assets, and wholesale access. to retail operators.
DNB hopes that adopting an end-to-end strategy using the Ericsson kit, including radios, spectrum sharing and support systems, will help it achieve its goal of bringing 5G to 80% of Malaysian population by 2024.
Malaysia formed the Digital Nasional Berhad Special State Vehicle in February, after Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s government came under fire for messing up the allocation of its 5G spectrum.
Spectrum was first allocated without an open tender to Altel, which is controlled by politically well-connected businessman Syed Mokhtar.
When the move drew much criticism, Yassin then rescinded the allocation and announced that the spectrum would be nationalized instead.
The GSMA later warned that “Malaysian operators have already made significant investments in infrastructure”, and while the country has a “thriving mobile economy and growing digital sector”, the model of single wholesale network “risk this”.
There was also no evidence of a “clear market failure to justify the proposed intervention in the 5G market,” said the GSMA, which represents mobile operators.
In other Malaysian telecommunications news, the Malaysian and Singaporean central banks announced on Monday that people in both countries by the last quarter of 2022 will be able to make real-time payments just using a mobile phone number.
The rapprochement is expected to allow travelers between the two countries – which numbered 12 million a year, before the coronavirus began – to make payments and spend money in each other’s jurisdictions.
Malaysia has also announced in recent weeks a similar tie-up with the Reserve Bank of India to link Malaysia’s PayNow to India’s unified payments interface for real-time payments between the two countries by July 2022.
Pdraig Belton, Special Editor Contributor to Light Reading