24 Mar Bouygues Telecom signs tower deal with Phoenix | Light Reading
Bouygues Telecom is to gain a further 4,000 mobile towers over the next 12 years to improve mobile network coverage in sparsely populated regions.
The France-based operator signed an agreement with Phoenix Tower International, which will be responsible for developing the new towers. The two companies have formed a Phoenix-controlled joint venture that will own and operate the sites. The precise shareholdings of each partner were not disclosed.
The deal represents Bouygues Telecom’s second deal with a mobile tower operator in a month: In late February 2020, it formed a joint venture with Cellnex Telecom to deploy a national fiber optic network in France to support 5G. (See Cellnex and Bouygues Telecom seal fiber deal to support 5G.)
Like rivals Free, Orange and SFR, Bouygues is under pressure to meet mobile coverage targets set out under France’s “new deal mobile” announced in January 2018 and subsequently written into mobile licenses. The obligations include providing “4G for all” by the end of 2020. According to regulator Arcep’s mobile coverage map, 4G population coverage ranges from 95% (Free) to 99% (Bouygues Telecom, Orange and SFR), while 4G geographical coverage is still somewhat lower at between 77% (Free) and 88% (Orange).
Phoenix said some of the new sites will be deployed as part of Bouygues Telecom’s “regulatory obligations for targeted coverage improvements and accelerated rollout alongside transportation routes.”
Phoenix and Bouygues Telecom are also looking ahead to 5G: Dagan Kasavana, CEO of Phoenix Tower International, said his company believes “the French market is well positioned for significant wireless growth throughout the country as further 4G and 5G deployments are made over the coming years and we are proud of our participation in these deployments.”
The tower company added that the agreement with Bouygues Telecom “solidifies” its existing position. Phoenix owns and manages over 8,000 towers, 986km of fiber and over 80,000 “other” wireless infrastructure and related sites in Europe, the US, Latin America and the Caribbean.
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Anne Morris, contributing editor, special to Light Reading