Turkcell renews offer to establish joint fiber infrastructure company due to skyrocketing costs
Sefer Levent - LAS VEGASTurkcell has renewed an offer to establish a joint fiber infrastructure company with other operators due to the high cost of acting separately, according to Chief Technology Officer İlker Kuruöz.
“Operators would need to invest a total of $16.5 billion if they decide not to establish a joint fiber infrastructure company. If they act together, this figure would go down to $3.9 billion, so that’s $12.6 billion that won’t go to waste. This amount is equal to one year of the national income of the world’s five poorest countries [Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Burundi, Somalia and Swaziland]. If we act together, we could allocate this amount to value added services and R&D activities,” Kuruöz said.
Kuruöz made the comments during a meeting with a group of journalists attending CES 2016 in Las Vegas. Kuruöz emphasized the importance of undertaking a joint investment in fiber given its importance for 4.5G performance.
In September 2015, Turkcell CEO Kaan Terzioğlu called on other operators to establish an infrastructure company and transfer all their fiber networks to the new entity. Vodafone CEO Gökhan Öğüt supported Terzioğlu’s call, but Türk Telekom Group CEO Rami Aslan said those who failed to make investments in the pre-4.5G period should not now be given a free ride, adding that such groups were becoming worried.
Moving together with Vodafone
Turkcell, however, has continued to insist on the issue of establishing a joint fiber infrastructure company.
“We are insistent on the issue that three operators should take a joint action. We don’t want to give up from the start, but we are in contact with Vodafone over fiber in provinces in which we are planning to invest. We have been discussing joint investments. If Turkcell and Vodafone act together, the amount of investment would be still high, totaling $8.5 billion,” Kuruöz said, underlining that providing fiber to every household should be perceived as a national matter, while suggesting that if Türk Telekom rejects the offer, Turkcell could collaborate with Vodafone.
Gov’t should take initiative
Stating that the government should take the initiative in fiber to bring “the Internet to every household,” Kuruöz cited the example of Spain. Recently, Spanish communications regulator CNMC ordered Telefonica to share its fiber network with other operators.
“The Spanish government got involved in the issue. It said to Telefonica: Digitalization is a national matter. If the government takes the initiative, then the issue would be solved. If there is no joint investment decision, then the government should facilitate the process of digging for fiber,” Kuruöz said.
Kuruöz said they had met with officials from the Transportation Ministry and the Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) in November 2015 to discuss models around the world, adding that investment in fiber was a must for 4.5G technology, which will be launched on April 1.
Turkcell has reached a total of 2.3 million households with fiber, Kuruöz said, while noting that its ultimate objective was 21 million households.