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International Digital Communications Infrastructure law firm

Digital infrastructure drives the future, making it an attractive area for investors, and an area of scrutiny for regulators

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How we help

At CMS, we have some of Europe’s leading legal specialists in the technology, media and communications sector. Our Digital Communications Infrastructure Team combines exceptional expertise in project and structured finance, competition regulation and large-scale investment, including joint ventures and M&A, while our market-leading telecommunications team has decades of experience in the technology and communications space, including strong expertise in the areas of fibre, towers, subsea cables, network sharing, data centres and satellite.

With full service offices in over 40 countries, we have the geographic reach, people and expertise to manage the biggest and busiest volumes of sector-specific work for our clients.

A safe pair of hands

Thanks to a diverse range of clients and our career backgrounds, CMS has looked at and advised on digital infrastructure issues from every angle, across our practice groups.

Some of our recent experience includes advising:

  • 4iG on their acquisition, with Corvinus, of Vodafone Hungary. 
  • ON*NET Fibra and KKR on M&A, telecommunication and acquisition financing matters related to the acquisition of the existing fibre optic network of Entel Chile. 
  • River and Mercantile on its £155m investment into UK wholesale fibre operator Spring Fibre. 
  • Macquarie Capital on a transaction to bring on-board Arjun Infrastructure Partners into Spain’s Onivia wholesale fibre network. 
  • Equinix in relation to licensing of fibre, lighting of dark fibre, telecommunications licences, and development and construction of new data centres in Asia Pacific. 
  • ING in respect of two data centre refinancings. 
  • Etisalat / e& on the corporate reorganisation of its business to create a new enterprise division providing data centre, cloud, cybersecurity, IoT and AI solutions to enterprise and public sector customers.  
  • Hamburg Commercial Bank on the financing of fibre optic rollout in various German municipalities. 
  • Ooredoo Group on the sale of its telecom business in Myanmar to Nine Communications Pte. Ltd, subject to regulatory approvals. 
  • 4iG on the indirect acquisition of Albanian telco, One Telecommunications, upon acquiring all the shares in the Bulgarian company Albania Telecom Invest. 
  • Sewikom, the German fibre network operator, on its acquisition by Northern Fiber Holding.
  • KKR on the acquisition of a majority stake in Telefónica Chile’s fibre optic network.
  • Telefonica Deutschland on the sale of its passive infrastructure to Telxius.
  • Macquarie Capital on the acquisition of a stake in MasMovil’s fibre-to-the-home network and a joint venture for rural fibre roll out in Spain.
  • Macquarie on the sale of a stake in Pentacom to Daiwa Energy & Infrastructure.
  • euNetworks on its acquisition of The Loop from Gamma.
  • Foresight Group on a long-term financing agreement with Lightning Fibre. 
  • CityFibre on the acquisition of FibreNation.
  • Horizon Capital and Datagroup on the leveraged acquisition of Volia.
  • Vodafone Ukraine on the acquisition of Vega Telecom.
  • Natixis on a EUR 180 million syndicated loan to Sipartech.
  • Marguerite on its investment in the next-generation Ellalink subsea cable system, connecting Portugal and Brazil with stubs going to Cape Vede and Madeira, including providing multijurisdictional due diligence, transactional and financing advice.
  • EllaLink on a number of commercial, financing (including both debt and vendor financing) and restructuring projects.
    The EllaLink system won the award for Subsea Project of the Year at the Capacity Europe Global Carrier Awards.
  • Fugro on Law of the Sea issues relating to surveys for submarine cable projects.

TMT Legal Adviser of the Year

TMT Finance M&A Awards 2019

Discover our work

International TMC - Technology, Media & Communications law firm
Digital communications have been connecting people for almost 20 years. But the digital era still poses a multitude of legal challenges as organisations – from startups, to mid-size enterprises to household names - try to keep up the pace. CMS advise
CMS Network Sharing 4.5
On the brink of a new generation
Digital Horizons
We are pleased to share with you our latest CMS thought leadership – Digital Horizons, a series of brief reports exploring CEE’s digital future.Based on a recent survey canvassing the views of our...
CMS Infrastructure Index: Accelerating transformation
The infrastructure market has remained resilient in the face of COVID-19. The CMS In­fra­struc­ture Index has ranked 50 countries by their attractiveness for infrastructure investment and it paints a very positive picture. Singapore tops the leader board, bolstered by the unveiling of its Green Plan 2030 which aims to advance sustainable development and reduce the country’s carbon footprint. There are big spending plans in every region as governments seek to close infrastructure gaps, recover from the pandemic and stimulate their economies.   Please click through the report or download the pdf version at the bottom of this page.
Investing in new technologies
CMS Chile advised KKR on the acquisition of a majority stake in the existing fiber optic network of Telefonica Chile, the largest in the country. The aim is to create the first independent and open access wholesale fiber optic infrastructure network available to all current and future telecom operators in the country.The deal will bring greater broadband access, creating a competitive marketplace that benefits consumers and businesses across the country. Fiber-to-the-home connectivity is considered a major technology upgrade as it is a necessary step for next-generation applications such as 5G deployment, HDTV streaming and symmetrical services.The company plans to expand broadband coverage in Chile from 2 million homes today to a minimum of 3.5 million homes by 2023, and provide wholesale service to more than 40,000 businesses, telecom towers and small cells. The transaction is valued at approximately USD 1bn. It was signed on 22 February 2021 and closed in July 2021.The CMS Chile team that advised KKR was led by partner Jorge Allende D. and included partner Ignacio Errazquin, senior associates Enrique Vergara and Sebastián Barros, and associates Ricardo Celedón, Tomás Barros and Pedro Allende. 

Key Contacts

Portrait ofJorge  Sánchez
Jorge Sánchez
Portrait ofElena Aguilar
Elena Aguilar
Portrait ofAnne Chitan
Anne Chitan
Portrait ofChris Watson
Chris Watson
Portrait ofMichelle Kirkland
Michelle Kirkland
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CMS Infrastructure Index: Partnerships, policies and geopolitics
The Infrastructure Index is designed to help investors understand the environment they may encounter in 50 different jurisdictions. Data from the 50 jurisdictions was analysed against nine key criteria to create a guide to the most attractive destinations for infrastructure investment. We also look at developments in some of the nations included in the Infrastructure Index, this year highlighting in particular the situation in our top-ranked country Germany and the need for reconstruction in Ukraine.
5G: A reality check
If you were to ask the average citizen or business executive about 5G, they would probably tell you it’s been rolled out across most developed markets and making money. But this is not the case: deployment tends to be partial and patchy, and telcos are yet to see return on investment on the hundreds of billions of dollars that have been invested globally.In compiling this year’s edition of our 5G report, we spoke to legal and technology experts in over 50 markets to learn the true state of last-generation roll-outs across the world. We asked which technology companies are offering, whether consumers and industry can access it, whether it’s being monetised, where regulation stands, which spectrum is being used and how it’s being auctioned, how networks are being shared, whether network-specific cybersecurity measures are in place, and what each country’s positions are on Chinese network equipment.North America had the highest 5G penetration (41%) as of the end of 2022, according to Ericsson’s June 2023 Mobility Report. Behind that region were North East Asia (30%), the Gulf Cooperation Council (18%) and Western Europe (13%). By December, the vendor predicts that there will be 1.5 billion 5G subscriptions globally.In terms of number of 5G subscriptions, China is in the lead, with more than 60% of the world’s total (644m, versus 417m outside the country) as of the end of 2022.Other markets are home to technical quirks that are delaying 5G. In The Netherlands, for example, the 3.5 GHz band is not yet commercially available because NATO is operating a satellite 'listening station' with Inmarsat using the 3.4 and 3.8 GHz bands, and Inmarsat is using the 3.5GHz satellite traffic band to provide emergency communications to ships and aircrafts.The US and Canada dealt with interference between air traffic control systems and consumer 5G by setting up exclusion zones around airports. Spectrum rights - award and duration Spectrum rights have tended to cost far less than they did for 3G and 4G, because governments have recognised that high licence prices may have hampered investment.They are mainly awarded via tender or public auction, though in China, 5G licences are assigned directly to the four main telcos (China Mobile, China Unicom, China Telecom and China Broadnet).The duration varies across markets, from 15 (eg France) to 30 years (Chile) - often with five-year extensions.   Network and spectrum sharing agreements Network sharing agreements are already a priority in large countries with vast swathes of low population density regions that are expensive to connect. The US, like Africa before it, is seeing mobile as more efficient in rural areas than fixed-line (in this case fibre), which takes longer and is more expensive to deploy. T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T are offering separate Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) 5G services they hope will replace wired internet access in those areas.  According to Ericsson1, by 2028 more than 25% of global mobile data traffic will be through FWA, part of it with passive network sharing.In Australia, some state governments have proposed funding active network sharing initiatives in areas with low population density. For example, New South Wales’ Gig State programme includes a trial to fund the design and build of Multi-Operator Core Networks (MOCN), which enable active sharing between carriers. In the US, T-Mobile as part of its agreement to acquire Sprint, had to offer 5G network access to Dish, in a deal lasting until 2027. Standalone vs non-standalone As of January 2023, there were 229 commercial 5G networks, according to the GSMA. But in most countries, the majority of services sold as 5G are in fact non-standalone (NSA), meaning that the radio access network (RAN) is 5G, but the core network remains 4G.The Global Suppliers Association (GSA) says that 36 operators in 21 countries and territories have launched public standalone networks, while 111 operators in 52 countries are running trials, planned or actual deployments.In the meantime, the GSMA is forecasting that of the new 5G networks deployed in 2023, 15 will be standalone (SA). It noted that some operators have blamed the limited number of mobile devices that support standalone as a reason for delaying deployment.A notable exception is Singapore, whose telcos now all provide at least 50% outdoor coverage using standalone networks, with Singtel hitting 95% as of July 2022. Monetisation - consumer vs industrial Experts in almost all markets noted that telecom operators are yet to monetise 5G, especially in the consumer segment, where prices have remained the same as 4G. In Sweden, however, Telenor Sverige and Telia Sverige buck the trend, but offer enhanced benefits such as insurance, streaming services or more/unlimited data. Tele2 Sverige and Hi3G Access, for their part, have stopped offering new 4G subscriptions altogether. In Europe and Asia, the industrial segment is showing more promise thanks in part to government subsidies, though more time is needed to demonstrate use cases. Industrial 5G In most countries, it is telcos that are setting up industrial 5G, enabling private networks that connect specific areas such as factories and campuses. But starting this year, industrial companies in Sweden can apply directly for local licences to use radio transmitters in the 3.7 GHz and 26 GHz bands, enabling coverage in mines, harbours and hospitals. This year, the Spanish government announced it would reserve part of the 26 GHz band for direct award to industrial players, without the need for intermediation by telcos. The German Federal Network Agency has already allocated frequencies in the 3.7 to 3.8 GHz and 26 GHz bands for local 5G, meaning that more than 140 companies are now able to operate their own local networks.Network slicing, which enables multiple virtual networks to sit on top of a shared physical infrastructure, represents another way to offer differentiated services to enterprise clients across industries - though it requires SA 5G. However, because slicing uses software and virtualisation, telcos will both compete and partner with cloud providers. According to the GSMA, operators outside China have so far shown limited interest in slicing deployments due to concerns about return on investment. China The tech decoupling between the US and China has left other countries caught in the middle when it comes to selecting which companies will provide network equipment. Many European governments have signed up to the US ‘Clean Network’ initiative, with Portugal in May becoming the latest to show signs it will ban “high risk” vendors. Some countries like Brazil, Mexico and Turkey are remaining neutral, while others such as Bulgaria and Angola are entering into explicit partnerships with high risk vendors.In June, the Financial Times reported that the European Union was considering banning all member states from using equipment from companies that might present a security risk to 5G networks. Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Markets, told telecom ministers he was disappointed that only one third of member states had banned high risk vendors from “critical parts” of 5G infrastructure, which risked “exposing the union’s collective security.” Germany was named as a key outlier. Conclusion By and large, most countries covered in the survey appear committed to launching 5G, but progress has been slower than hoped due to factors including Covid, regulatory delays, and high costs for operators whose investors want to see return on investment. Governments appear to be trying to ease the way by lowering spectrum costs and removing some red tape, while telcos generally aren’t charging customers more for 5G than 4G. As roll-outs continue, and providers upgrade core networks to proper 5G, it is likely that telcos will continue the trend towards seeking outside investment by selling off infrastructure and sharing networks.The GSMA estimates that there are 400 million people who lack access to mobile broadband. Looking ahead, it is unclear how the expected launch of mobile satellite services (MSS) by the likes of Starlink, Kuiper, Vodafone+AST Space Mobile, and Orange+OneWeb will impact the deployment and profitability of the 5G networks in less populated areas. It is possible that 5G operators could face hurdles to monetising rural networks, which are part of their coverage obligations, depending on the level of competition from MSS service providers.Based on our conversations with clients, we see 5G as an example of a long-term investment subject to the short-term technological and commercial landscape and other challenges. In future, there will be a range of competing technologies: optical fibre, Wi-Fi7 and SA 5G (with network slicing) in populated areas, and a mixture of SA 5G, FWA and satellite mobile services in rural areas.All of them will serve both humans - and increasingly, IoT.SA 5G will become not just a way for individuals to communicate, but an environment for digital ecosystems housed in different network slices.In all scenarios, these technologies will have to co-exist and cooperate, providing the fullest service to the client - now, and as we head towards 6G. 1 Eric­sson: https://www.ericsson.com/en/reports-and-papers/mobility-report/dataforecasts/mobile-traffic-forecast?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI5Y-qzby-_wIVQwgGAB3ZyAOVEAAYASAAEgI08PD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.dsSee also ht­tps://www.eric­sson.com/4a9aa7/as­sets/loc­al/cases/cus­tom­er-cases/2022/us­cel­lu­lar-bridging-di­git­al-di­vide.pdf.
CMS Expert Guide to 5G regulation and law
At the start of a New Year, most people agree that 5G will change our lives for the better. Unlike earlier mobile generations, 5G will not only mark a radical change in the way we communicate (low latency...
Emerging Europe M&A Report 2022/2023
The year 2022 started with various challenges, including rising inflation and energy prices. Then the Russian invasion of Ukraine added yet another one. Nonetheless, the M&A market in emerging European countries proved to be extremely resilient. The region saw M&A activity maintain a steady pace, though deal values were notably lower. Also, variations could be observed across territories and sectors. While 2022 brought a unique set of challenges, dealmaking largely compared favourably to pre-pandemic levels.Welcome to the 2022/23 edition of the Emerging Europe report.
TMT World Congress 2023
CMS lawyers are pleased to be attending the TMT World Congress 2023 held in London on 25-26 January.Below you can find an overview of our attending partners, representing a large range of jurisdictions and practice areas. To arrange a meeting, please contact the individual lawyers dir­ectly.Ad­di­tion­ally, the following CMS partners will be participating in these dis­cus­sions:Glob­al Co-Head of the TMC Group Dora Petrányi is participating in the CEO Fireside Chat - Strategies for the next wave of consolidation, convergence and competition, Thursday 26 January (10:25 – 10:40)Global Co-Head of Communications Anne Chitan will moderate the M&A Panel - Is there enough bandwidth for continued connectivity transactions?, Wednesday 25 January (11:30 – 12:10)Chair of Technology, Media and Communications sector group Chris Watson will moderate the break-out session - The Road to Responsible Data Processing - Improving Datacentre ESG outcomes, Wednesday 25 January (14:00 – 14:50)At CMS, we have some of Europe’s leading legal specialists in the technology, media and communications sector. Our Digital Communications Infrastructure Team combines exceptional expertise in project and structured finance, competition regulation and large-scale investment, while our market-leading tele­com­mu­nic­a­tions team has decades of experience in the technology and communications space, including strong expertise in the areas of fibre, towers, subsea cables, network sharing, data centres and satellite.To find out more about CMS Digital Communications Infrastructure cap­ab­il­it­ies, vis­it our Digital Communications Infrastructure section.For further information, please see our partners attending the congress in the gallery below and an overview of all our expertise areas.
CMS advises fibre network operator Sewikom on acquisition by Northern Fiber...
Munich – German fibre network operator Sewikom has been acquired by infrastructure company Northern Fiber Holding GmbH. The latter is part of UBS Asset Management Real Estate & Private Markets (UBS-AM)...
On*Net Fibra (KKR) acquires fibre optic network of Entel Chile
CMS Carey & Allende advised ON*NET Fibra and KKR on M&A, tele­com­mu­nic­a­tion and acquisition financing matters related to the acquisition of the existing fibre optic network of Entel Chile, comprising...
CMS advises River and Mercantile (R&M) on £155m investment in Spring Fibre
International law firm CMS has advised specialist investment management company River and Mercantile on its £155-million investment in wholesale fibre operator Spring Fibre.Well known as a provider of...
CMS advises Art-Invest Real Estate on investment by DTCP in maincubes
Cologne – Frankfurt-based data centre operator maincubes has gained Digital Transformation Capital Partners (DTCP) as a new strategic investor with a focus on digital infrastructure. DTCP made a substantial...
CMS advises Ooredoo Group on the sale of its telecom business in Myanmar...
CMS has advised Ooredoo Group, an international communications company operating across the Middle East, North Africa and Southeast Asia, on the sale of its telecom business in Myanmar to Nine Com­mu­nic­a­tions...
CMS Next
What’s next? In a world of ever-ac­cel­er­at­ing change, staying ahead of the curve and knowing what’s next for your business or sector is essential.At CMS, we see ourselves not only as your legal advisers but also as your business partners. We work together with you to not only resolve current issues but to anticipate future challenges and innovate to meet them.With our latest publication, CMS Next, our experts will regularly offer you insights into and fresh perspectives on a range of issues that businesses have to deal with – from ESG agendas to restructuring after the pandemic or facing the digital transformation. We will also share with you more about the work that we are doing for our clients, helping them innovate, grow and mitigate risk.To be able to provide you with the best support, we immerse ourselves in your world to understand your legal needs and challenges. However, it is equally important that you know who we are and how we can work with you. So, we invite you to meet our experts and catch a glimpse of what is happening inside CMS.Enjoy reading this publication, which we will update regularly with new content.CMS Executive Team
CMS Albania has advised 4IG on the acquisition of One Tele­com­mu­nic­a­tions...
CMS has assisted 4iG on the indirect acquisition of One Tele­com­mu­nic­a­tions, upon acquiring all the shares in the Bulgarian company Albania Telecom Invest. One Tele­com­mu­nic­a­tions is a major tele­com­mu­nic­a­tion...