Spain Onivia doubles wholesale FTTH coverage with Macquarie

Spain’s Onivia doubles wholesale FTTH coverage with second MásMóvil acquisition

04 May 2021 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

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Spanish broadband operator MásMóvil has sold the rest of its fibre infrastructure to the same trio of private equity investors that previously bought its urban fibre network.

Today’s deal follows an earlier acquisition in late 2019, by which Macquarie Capital, Aberdeen Standard Investments and Daiwa Energy & Infrastructure bought the fibre network in five Spanish cities. This latest deal includes MásMóvil’s rural fibre, covering 1.1 million households.

Last year the acquirers relaunched their wholesale fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) business as Onivia Network, giving access to 966,000 homes, supporting symmetrical transmission speeds of up to 1.24Gbps.

No price has been stated for either the 2019 acquisition or the latest deal. The rural fibre acquisition does not affect the MásMóvil’s bid in late March for Euskaltel, a Spanish operator based in the Basque country. MásMóvil is also owned by private-equity shareholders — in this case Providence Equity Partners, Cinven and KKR.

Today’s MásMóvil/Onivia deal will double the size of Onivia’s wholesale-only network, said Mark Bradshaw (pictured), head of infrastructure projects for Europe and Americas at Macquarie.

“The project provides us and our partners with another opportunity to deploy flexible balance sheet capital to grow this business — to help meet the constantly growing demand for reliable, ultra-fast internet connectivity across Europe, especially from rural communities,” said Bradshaw.

MásMóvil, Spain’s fourth largest internet service provider (ISP), will continue to use the fibre network to serve its own customers. Another major Spanish ISP, Orange, is also an anchor customer of this independent fibre network.

Onivia’s CEO, Jose Antonio Vázquez Blanco, said earlier that “we are bringing the Spanish market a disruptive telecom proposal, an independent fibre operator that will create growth opportunities for traditional telecoms players and new partners coming from other ecosystems, interested in having access to a secure, flexible and first quality broadband proposal”.

The shareholders said today that Onivia “provides an alternative, independent source of wholesale fibre capacity for all internet service providers and smaller broadband businesses”.

The 2019 acquisition from MásMóvil was in Spain’s five largest cities — Madrid, Seville, Valencia, Barcelona and Malaga — and the new purchase, of mainly rural infrastructure, will provide Onivia with a national presence.

Spanish fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) coverage is now 85% and is expected to grow to 95% by 2022, driven by rural deployments.

The Spanish government requires operators to guarantee coverage of 30Mbps or higher for at least 90% of citizens living in population units of less than 5,000 inhabitants.

Gershon Cohen, global head of infrastructure at Aberdeen Standard Investments, said: “The pandemic has accelerated the need to ensure that people and businesses are connected, particularly in more rural communities. Investing in fibre optic projects is crucial not only as we drive towards economic recovery, but also in seeking to redress the imbalance of social inequality.”