Vodafone and TIM offer telecom sites sharing with rivals

Vodafone and Telekom Italia have offered to allow rivals access to sites in some cities for up to nine years, a proposal aimed at allaying EU antitrust concerns over the creation of Italy’s largest mobile tower company, Reuters reported.
The companies announced the deal in July which will see Vodafone transfer its Italian mobile masts to INWIT, TIM’s 60 percent-owned subsidiary.

They will each have a 37.5 percent stake and equal governance rights in the enlarged INWIT.

For the telecoms industry, combining towers or sharing networks to reduce debt and share costs are seen as an alternative to counter EU antitrust regulators’ tough line on telecoms mergers that reduce the number of players in a market from four to three.

Under Vodafone and TIM’s proposal, INWIT will make available around 630 sites in towns with more than 35,000 people, allowing rivals to provide current and future mobile and fixed telephony services.

Access will be between 6-9 years and renewable up to six years. The number of telecom sites made available will decrease to below 400 during the fifth year of the companies’ proposal which will be valid for eight years.

Access will be granted on reasonable and non-discriminatory terms while a fast track system will allow companies to resolve disputes.

The Commission is now seeking feedback from the companies’ rivals and from consumers before deciding whether to accept the offer, demand further measures or open a full-scale investigation.

Mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) in Italy want the companies to provide access to their network once the deal is completed, especially as they roll out 5G infrastructure.