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CMS Network Sharing 4.5

On the brink of a new generation

The 2021 edition of the CMS network sharing study includes summaries of some of the key network sharing deals taking place in 38 markets. We look at how policy, regulation, structures and financing, security and competition are evolving in order to encourage ubiquitous next-generation coverage, and fit ever more specific business cases.

We are moving on from an era in which telecom operators have needed to maintain ownership of their own networks in order to compete. Now, we are heading into a new, complex ecosystem of multifaceted partnerships combining new entrants such as private equity and platform operators.  

It’s hard to think of a time when demand, funding appetite, technological advance and human circumstances have all aligned to create so much opportunity yet such uncertainty.

Our aim is to help operators and investors enter the 5G era using the best tools and structures to tackle a myriad of different challenges and opportunities.

What emerges is an imbalance of regulatory guidance affecting consumer-facing actions and a lack of guidance for investors when it comes to network sharing agreements. There are now calls for an explicit change in regulatory approach, in order to overcome current uncertainty among market players.

At CMS, we believe that a shift from network-based competition to a more service-based approach will lead to a flourishing of next-generation connectivity that also makes good business sense.

The key challenges we have identified, and where we provide world-leading advice, are:

  1. Updating the regulatory framework and strategy to work towards service-level competition
  2. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) controls and digital assets
  3. Competition
  4. Financing and structuring a complex array of network sharing deals
  5. Establishing the business case for a very expensive undertaking
  6. New entrants - both platforms and start-ups

We are most grateful to Michel van Bellinghen (Chair 2021, BEREC), Juan Velázquez Saiz (General Counsel for Europe, Orange), Amy Wettenhall (SVP, Macquarie Group) and Ronan Kelly (CTO, EMEA and APAC, Adtran) for sharing their expertise in four thought-provoking interviews.

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