Ganzi’s Digital Colony adds UK small-cell operator to portfolio

29 April 2019 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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Infrastructure investment firm Digital Colony has added a UK small cell specialist, iWireless Solutions, to its portfolio.

Digital Colony will add the business to StrattoOpencell, its unit that installs mobile services inside buildings. iWireless specialises in outdoor coverage of venues such as Twickenham Stadium in west London (pictured), and it provides Wifi in places such as the financial centre of London.

“We have always championed small cells, and there is a growing industry consensus that they will be a crucial component in delivering mobile coverage, both inside and outdoors, for today’s networks and even more so as we enter the 5G era,” said Graham Payne, CEO of Digital Colony’s UK digital infrastructure platform.

Digital Colony did not put a price on the new acquisition.

The group, led by Marc Ganzi, is a key member of a consortium that is understood to have exclusive rights to bid for Zayo, with an announcement expected within days.

Earlier this month Vertical Bridge, part-owned by Digital Bridge and also headed by Ganzi, announced a 30% investment by Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), a Canadian institutional investor.

In February Digital Colony reached a definitive agreement with Cogeco Communications to acquire Toronto-based Cogeco Peer 1 for $574 million.

This latest acquisition, iWireless, was founded in 2006 by Ravi Mondair, a specialist in wireless infrastructure inside buildings and outside.

Mondair said: “In today’s world we expect to be wirelessly connected wherever we are. By joining Digital Colony’s neutral host team, we become part of a unique platform, enabling us to keep evolving as a company and further meet the ever-growing demand for connectivity.”

StrattoOpencell, the other UK wireless infrastructure member of the growing Digital Colony empire, operates 2,700 cells in 120 buildings.

“StrattoOpencell has an unparalleled reputation in the UK mobile industry for its pioneering approach and innovative model for bringing carrier-grade, multi-operator mobile signal to buildings and enterprises of all types and sizes,” said Mondair. “Our partnership makes for an exciting future as combined we have the skills, track record and now investment to disrupt the outdoor small cells market.”

iWireless says it has “delivered well over 2,000 wireless systems across a variety of sectors, namely, outdoor small cells and smart cities, transport hubs, stadia, airports, tunnels and large-scale campuses”.