Vodafone partners Altice to deploy fibre-to-the-home to 7 million German homes

LONDON, UK: Vodafone Group Plc and Altice are creating a joint venture (FibreCo) to deploy fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) to up to 7 million homes over a 6-year period.

Vodafone operates a leading next generation broadband network in Germany, currently offering up to 1Gbps connections to over 24 million homes.

This partnership with Altice is complementary to Vodafone’s clear upgrade plans for its existing hybrid fibre cable network. This includes bringing fibre connections closer to all connected homes through ‘node splitting’ and DOCSIS 3.1 ‘high split’, which enables download speeds of over 3Gbps.

These upgrade plans, coupled with next generation technology advances, such as DOCSIS 4.0, provide a path to 10Gbps speeds across our hybrid fibre cable network over time.

Key elements of FibreCo and its investment plans include:

·    FibreCo will be owned 50% by Vodafone Germany and 50% by Altice

·    FibreCo will construct and operate a FTTH broadband network available to up to 7 million homes (the “Roll-out”)

– approximately 80% of the Roll-out will be focused around large housing associations in Vodafone’s existing hybrid fibre cable network footprint which are interested in FTTH upgrades; and

– the remaining 20% of the Roll-out will be outside of Vodafone’s current footprint, focusing on neighbouring homes

·    FibreCo will offer wholesale access to all telecommunications service providers, to fully exploit the potential of the infrastructure

·    FibreCo will benefit from Vodafone’s commercial expertise and relationships with housing associations and Altice’s unique FTTH roll-out, wholesale and operational expertise

·    FibreCo has contracted Geodesia (a subsidiary of Altice) for the majority of Roll-out construction and maintenance

·    The creation of FibreCo is expected to be completed in H1 2023

FibreCo will offer wholesale access to all telecommunications service providers in Germany, exploiting the full potential of the fibre network. Vodafone Germany will act as the anchor tenant, entering into an agreement with the FibreCo upon closing of the Transaction. Within FibreCo’s footprint, Vodafone Germany has committed to market FibreCo’s network to new customers on an exclusive basis, whilst Vodafone Germany’s existing network will continue to service customers who do not wish to migrate to FTTH. Vodafone Germany is not providing FibreCo with any minimum revenue or volume commitment.

Nick Read, Vodafone Group Chief Executive, commented: “This partnership builds on Vodafone’s significant next generation network with Altice’s industrial expertise and proven Fibre-to-the-Home construction capabilities enabling us to bring gigabit connectivity to even more customers in Germany. We are proud of our long-standing relationships with housing associations and pleased as a trusted provider to bring more connectivity options for tenants. This significant infrastructure investment supports the country’s social, economic and digital development and the broadband ambitions of the German government as part of Europe’s Digital Decade targets.”

David Drahi, co-CEO of Altice, commented: “We are delighted and honoured to join forces with Vodafone to build and operate a FTTH network connecting up to 7 million premises in Germany. Altice’s existing presence in Germany through Geodesia, its unique track record in operating over 45 million homes with the latest very-high speed fibre networks across Europe and the US, together with Vodafone’s competitive position as anchor tenant will help us establish one of the largest FTTH ventures in Europe. We have pioneered fibre joint ventures in France and Portugal, and are thus thrilled to be able to replicate such a feat in Germany with such a partner.”

Financial information

As part of the Transaction, Vodafone is expected to receive cash proceeds from Altice of up to €1.2 billion, comprising:

·    An upfront payment of €120 million at closing;

·    Additional deferred payments of up to €487 million (in aggregate) to be paid as the Roll-out progresses (once the first 1.5 million homes have been passed and until the end of the Roll-out), and

·    An earn-out of up to €595 million (in aggregate) based on FibreCo’s performance.

Over the Roll-out period, FibreCo intends to invest up to c.€7 billion, of which 70% is expected to be financed by debt that will be non-recourse to Vodafone and Altice. Vodafone’s share of equity contributions is expected to be lower than the cash proceeds realised over time.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approval and is expected to close in H1 2023.

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