The move comes as part of Telefonica’s wider strategy to monetise its infrastructure assets and shift its customers to fibre
According to reports coming from Spanish newspaper Cinco Dias, Telefonica has sold part of its copper infrastructure in Spain to Australian infrastructure fund Macquarie for around €200 million.
Exactly how much copper and where it is situated within Spain has not been revealed, though it is mostly extant in areas in which Telefonica has yet to deploy fibre-to-the-home (FTTH).
The divestment from Telefonica seems to tick many strategic boxes, not only reducing the company’s significant debt, but also removes a large chunk of legacy infrastructure that would ultimately have to be upgraded.
The operator has currently scheduled the shutdown of its copper network in Spain for 2025, suggesting that FTTH can not only provide a far higher quality of service, but is also greener with regards to energy consumption. According to Telefonica, FTTH is 85% more energy efficient than copper.
Telefonica has already closed over 1,400 of its asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) exchanges in the past five years, with plans to increase this figure to 2,200 by the end of 2022. Since 2016, the company has recycled 65,000 tons of copper cable.
Meanwhile, the operator’s FTTH network, continues to grow, currently providing services to around 4.8 million people.
But if FTTH is so clearly superior to copper infrastructure, why does Macquarie want to buy it?
The answer, it seems, is not so much the infrastructure itself, but its coverage and customers it includes.
Macquarie is the leading investor in the Spanish wholesale provider Onivia, which was set up in late 2019 and quickly purchased part of MasMovil’s FTTH network covering around 940,000 homes. Since then, the company has expanded its FTTH network serving around 2.1 million premises, with expansions plans targeting 9 million total premises by 2025.
Now, Macquarie intends to upgrade its newly purchased copper network to FTTH, seemingly to help achieve this coverage goal.
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