ANZ Broadband: Telstra’s deal; NZ to deploy LoRaWAN; Spark offloads stake

The current news on 5G, broadband, and telecommunications services that Australian IT relies on.

Wireless telecommunications tower encircled by concentric, virtual rings.

Telstra closes Digicel Pacific acquisition

Telstra has finalised the acquisition of Digicel Pacific, provider of communications services across Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Nauru, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu.

Telstra, which contributed with US$270 million, now owns 100% of Digicel Pacific, while the Australian government provided the remaining US$1.33 billion through a combination of non-recourse debt facilities and equity like securities.

Digicel Pacific had around 2.8 million subscribers and 1,700 employees generating US$466 million in service revenue for the financial year ended 31 March 2022, according to Telstra.

Digicel Pacific will continue to run as a standalone business with the same employees and operated by Telstra International.

NZ govt stumps for rural long-range WAN

New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) will contribute NZ$149,500 towards the deployment of a long-range wide area network (LoRaWAN) for rural communities.

The cash will come from MPI’s Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund and will be co-invested with WISPA Network Limited (WNL) to help with the commercial roll-out of a “collaborative delivery model” for a nationwide, rural-focused LoRaWAN.

WNL plans to deploy the LoRaWAN to its existing network of around 3,000 sites, which currently provide rural internet services. This will lower establishment and running costs, the company said in a statement, adding the network will open to any internet of things  solution providers for a reasonable price.

The company said it has already deployed a pilot-scale version of a rural wireless IoT network, which is now in the testing phase, adding that the partnership with the government will enable it to accelerate its roll-out.

MPI said improving connectivity in remote rural areas of New Zealand would help lift productivity and equip farmers and growers with tools to improve sustainability, citing poor network connection as a significant barrier to farmers looking to adopt agricultural technology.

Spark offloads 70% of cell tower arm

Spark New Zealand has sold a 70% stake of its cell towers business, TowerCo, to a Canadian pension fund for teachers for NZ$900 million.

TowerCo has around 1,263 tower sites across New Zealand, which Spark will have continued access to under a 15-year agreement, which also secures access to new towers, with TowerCo committing to build 670 sites over the next 10 years. Spark also retains right to renew the access agreement beyond the initial term.

Spark said in a statement it will continue to determine how its mobile network is developed, including where and when extra capacity is needed. TowerCo will design and deploy these build programmes.

The new standalone TowerCo business will have sole responsibility for passive mobile infrastructure and will be suited to deploy a future 5G network, which will require more, smaller sites, closer to end-users and greater overall densification, Spark said.

The NZ$900 million proceeds from the transaction will enable direct shareholder returns and investment in future growth opportunities to help Spark transition from traditional telecommunications to, what it calls, higher growth digital services. What this means is expected to be clarified on 24 August.

The deal is subject to approval from the New Zealand Overseas Investment Office and is expected to be finalised in the first half of FY23.

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