Totem begins standing for Orange network sharing strategy

Leading comms operator switches on European TowerCo subsidiary, which will aim to derive value from passive mobile infrastructure and open up these assets to other operators

Orange has announced that Totem, its European TowerCo subsidiary, is now operational, strengthening its position as a manager and operator of passive mobile infrastructure.

First announced in February 2021, Totem starts life with a mission to unite all stakeholders – operators, local authorities, institutions, companies and landlords – offering a response to growing demand for connectivity and contributing to shared growth and development.

Network sharing of 5G assets is set to be a huge phenomenon on a global basis, easing the roll-out of 5G infrastructures and accelerating the adoption of 5G services.

Nokia recently revealed that it had been selected to support the first 5G standalone (SA) radio access network (RAN) sharing network in Southeast Asia.

In this regard, Totem as a neutral and independent player will propose mobile infrastructure sharing offers to operators and sell coverage services to improve connectivity in dense and enclosed environments such as stadiums, underground stations, trains and offices.

Initially operating in France and Spain, the two largest countries where Orange is present, Totem manages a passive mobile infrastructure portfolio comprising 26,000 tower sites, flat roofs and other mobile sites in the two countries, and the company aims to become a leader of the TowerCo market in Europe.

Totem France will manage 18,500 macro-sites with a mix of 58% tower sites, 30% flat roofs and 12% in other locations. Totem Spain will manage 7,900 macro-sites, distributed equally between tower sites and flat roofs.

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At launch, Totem has around 100 employees in France based in seven cities (Lille, Nantes, Toulouse, Marseille, Paris, Lyon and Donges), around 50 employees in Spain based in eight cities, and approximately 20 people working for Totem Group. After France and Spain, Totem will consider the option of incorporating other European passive mobile infrastructure assets from the Orange group, which could create value.

Acting as, says the company, “a neutral player”, Totem intends to provide coverage services wherever pooling between operators is desirable or made compulsory by the constraints of the location, acting as a partner of operators, regional authorities and businesses. Orange stressed that connectivity for everyone, everywhere, would be a major priority for Totem, and assured that its management and operation will be completely independent following the transfer of all key passive mobile infrastructure assets – such as sites, land, leases and leases – to third parties.

Totem is said to be well-positioned to capitalise on the value of its passive mobile infrastructure by taking advantage of a portfolio of assets that Orange claims has “proven operational excellence”, significant team expertise, a thorough understanding of the digital needs and uses of operators and their clients, and a recognised role as an advisor and supplier of solutions for network construction and maintenance.

Orange also said that Totem already has a strong, longstanding relationship with landlords and is a user of sustainable energy sources, adding that as a neutral player in the TowerCo market, it will have the required in-house skills required to manage its tenants’ operations and deploy new infrastructure such as “build-to-suit” construction programme and turnkey deployments.

Commenting on the launch, Orange chairman and CEO Stéphane Richard said: “Totem’s operational launch is an important milestone in our European infrastructure strategy. The creation of this entity will allow us to derive value from our passive mobile infrastructure, for which we have exceptional operational expertise. By opening up these assets to other operators, we will optimise its use.

“We are determined to support Totem on both a strategic and financial level, to make it an undisputed leader on the European market and to keep control of this strategic asset as part of a long-term industrial vision,” he said. “By retaining control of our infrastructure, we have made a crucial decision for our future growth.”

Nicolas Roy, CEO of Totem Group, added: “Totem will create value for all stakeholders – operators, landlords and real estate players, regional authorities, and companies – thanks to its connectivity solutions and equipment sharing. Totem’s teams will rely on the excellence of its mobile infrastructure and a thorough understanding of its customers’ needs to develop connectivity services everywhere, in both rural and urban locations.”

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