As Telkom makes plans to list its masts and towers business, Swiftnet, next year, the unit is actively preparing for the mass deployment of 5G in South Africa.
“We are in the final stages of negotiating with prominent property owners to provide access to thousands of sites for 5G roll-out on an open-access basis to our mobile network operator clients,” Telkom said about Swiftnet’s plans in its interim results for the six months to 30 September 2021, which were published on Tuesday.
Communications regulator Icasa has not yet announced plans to auction off 5G bands – it must still license bands suitable for 4G/LTE networks, which is expected to happen in the first half next year. However, an auction for 5G-suitable spectrum is expected to follow not long after the upcoming licensing process has been concluded. Also, some of the spectrum to be licensed in next year’s auction will likely also be used by telecommunications operators for offering 5G services.
5G is the next generation of mobile broadband and promises far higher network speeds and improved latency (network round-trip times), making the technology suitable for industrial applications and for advanced technologies such as autonomous driving.
Telkom said revenue from Swiftnet in the most recent six-month reporting period increased 7.3% year on year to R674-million, while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation – a measure of operating profit – grew by 9.9% to R532-million. The Ebitda margin expanded by 1.8 percentage points to 78.9%.
“Our growth is underpinned by increasing tenancy in our current portfolio, build of new towers, roll-out of new products and continuous preparation for 5G,” Telkom said.
“We remain resolute in the execution of our growth strategy on the masts and towers portfolio. Through our open-access model, we are a critical partner to all of our customers as they deliver connectivity services to their consumers.”
Telkom is hoping to conclude the spinoff and listing of Swiftnet on the JSE by the end of its financial year in March 2022. — © 2021 NewsCentral Media