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Chris Dziadul Analysis: Digi’s Iberian breakthrough

This is proving to be a hugely important week for Romanian owned Digi Communications.

In Spain, its local subsidiary has just agreed to buy spectrum licences from Xfera Móviles, which is part of MásMóvil, for €120 million.  The fee includes a conditional component of €20 million, which is referred to as the “Spectrum Transfer Agreement” and has been concluded in the context of MásMóvil’s proposed merger with Orange Spain, currently being investigated by the European Commission.

At the same time, Digi’s and Orange’s Spanish operations have reached a deal which will see the latter grant the former the option to enter into a national roaming service agreement at some stage in the future. This would effectively give Digi Spain access to all available technologies in Orange’s mobile networks across the country.

Meanwhile in Portugal, Digi’s and Vodafone’s local subsidiaries have entered into a framework agreement which, if approved by the competition authority, will give the former spectrum usage rights to two frequency bands. In addition, Digi has been granted wholesale bitstream access to Vodafone’s fibre-optic network as part of a “remedy package” submitted by Vodafone in connection with its acquisition of Cabonitel/NOWO.

Digi is already an important player in Spain’s electronic communications market and its position will be further strengthened by the two agreements, both of which are subject to the MásMóvil/Orange merger receiving approval at the European level.  Indeed, it has already indicated its willingness to invest €2 billion in the country if allowed access to assets freed up by the proposed merger, a final decision on which is now expected by February 15 next year.

In Portugal, on the other hand, Digi secured 5G licences in 2021 and is now on track to launch commercial services early next year, reportedly in partnership with Ericsson, Nokia and ZTE.

Looking at the bigger picture, Digi also has a presence in Italy, where its MVNO Digi Mobil is expected to shortly enter the country’s FTTH market, and Belgium, where it is in a mobile partnership with Proximus and Citymesh Connect. While Romania remains its main market, it has successfully shifted the focus of its business activity from CEE to Western Europe and this strategy is likely to prove highly lucrative in the long term.

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© Chris Dziadul, 2023

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