US-based neutral host and telecom infrastructure company Torrecom plans to expand its tower portfolio in Latin America with the help of multilateral development bank IDB Invest.
This expansion follows a ten-year, US$30 million loan from IDB Invest. The loan will help Torrecom to build, acquire, maintain and lease its telecom cell tower portfolio in Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay and Peru. IDB says the project is part of a regional credit facility including co-loans of up to US$40 million from development finance institutions Proparco and DEG.
The financing will support the deployment of mobile broadband infrastructure while increasing the productivity of existing telecom infrastructure through infrastructure sharing in the region.
Torrecom expects to expand its tower portfolio in the region to reach 1,700 towers by 2024 (from 1,400 today) but also plans to commercialise available space on existing and new towers with different mobile network operators (MNOs) to increase the utilisation rate of its tower portfolio.
Utilisation rate is important because, as IDB points out, in isolated rural regions, deploying infrastructure is costly. Sharing towers will address the need for hosting more antennas to deal with a higher demand for mobile broadband services.
Thus, the expansion project involves an innovative business solution where Torrecom provides the opportunity to increase the share of towers owned by neutral independent tower operators (ITOs).
ITOs are relatively new in Latin America and the Caribbean where MNOs and their controlled tower subsidiaries still own more than 50% of total existing towers. In countries where Torrecom operates, MNOs and their subsidiaries own 65% of total existing towers.
IDB Invest says this project is consistent with its strategic priorities since it will improve the levels of connectivity and digital adoption in the region.