A war of words seems to have begun between Angola’s mobile market leader Unitel and new entrant Africell Angola over infrastructure sharing.
Citing disappointing negotiations on infrastructure sharing with Unitel that have led it to invest more heavily in its own cell sites in the capital than anticipated, Africell Angola has reportedly pushed its launch target date back from the first quarter of this year to April 2022.
A source quoted by local news service Expansao cites outdated equipment and "extortion” in these negotiations, involving “unjustifiable” access rates. Unitel denies overpricing, pointing to rates paid by the likes of Helios Towers and IHS in the region as well as local rentals Unitel has paid.
Infrastructure sharing is mandated by Angolan telecoms legislation, although, as Unitel has pointed out, sharing requests may be rejected when ‘technically and physically unfeasible’, which seems to be its view in this case.
Africell apparently concluded in August on the specification of the equipment to be implemented in Unitel's towers including weight, energy required and space needed. Unitel responded in October that it had 87 sites in the requested locations, but some did not have enough energy and none of the sites had the technical capacity to support Africell's equipment.
It therefore, says Expansao, "proposed that Africell should invest in adjusting the towers to accommodate the weight of its equipment".
The source quoted by the news service suggests Unitel is making access to infrastructure as difficult as possible to stop competition. Unitel has pointed out that to accommodate the weight of Africell's equipment it would have to rebuild a number of sites.