Telefónica signs national roaming, RAN sharing deal with Digi Spain

  • Digi plans to transition from an MVNO to an MNO and become a fourth player
  • Telefónica to provide it with national roaming and access to more 3.5 GHz spectrum
  • Telefónica also retains an important wholesale client following the Orange-Masmovil merger

One of the final pieces has been slotted into place in Spain’s mobile services market after new 5G entrant Digi Spain firmed up its choice of network partner for national roaming and wholesale services.

According to Romanian parent company Digi Communications, Digi Spain has entered into national roaming and RAN sharing agreements with Telefónica for a period of 16 years, effective from January 1, 2025.

The agreements replace an existing mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) deal between Digi and Telefónica and will also see them share spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band, which will be key for a 5G offering. In addition, Digi Spain signed a new fixed broadband bitstream wholesale agreement with Telefónica for a period of 10 years, with the possibility for a further extension.

The two partners had already signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding (MoU) on a long‑term mobile network agreement in May. The completion of the deal assures network coverage for Digi as it builds its own mobile network in Spain.

Indeed, the operator said the national roaming and RAN sharing agreements, combined with the recent purchase of spectrum licenses within the context of the Orange Spain and Masmovil merger, will enable it to “execute an efficient and timely transition of its mobile telephony business in Spain from a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) to a mobile network operator (MNO) and to roll out its own mobile network.”

For its part, Telefónica retains an important, longstanding wholesale partner and said it has ensured a “long-term revenue stream in line with the existing one.”

Digi Spain is the largest MVNO in Spain in terms of customer numbers. It reported 4.7 million revenue-generating contractual relationships in mobile and 1.4 million broadband users at the end of December 2023. It also began selling 5G services in February this year.

Changing landscape

Telefónica had faced the potential of a loosening relationship with Digi as a key wholesale client after new options opened up for the MVNO via the merger between Masmovil and Orange Spain.

The European Commission approved the merger transaction primarily owing to a package of measures or remedies that Orange-Masmovil agreed to in December 2023 with Digi.

As part of the merger remedies, Orange and Masmovil committed to sell 60 GHz of spectrum held by Masmovil to Digi across three frequency spectrum bands (1,800 MHz, 2,100 MHz and 3.5 GHz) to allow Digi Spain to build its own mobile network.

In addition, Digi had the option to enter into a national roaming agreement with the newly formed MasOrange, although it could choose to remain with its current wholesale partner, which is Telefónica, or pick another operator, such as Vodafone Spain. Telefónica made it clear it would do all in its power to retain Digi as a wholesale partner and bag any future roaming or network sharing deals.

Telefónica has clearly achieved its goal and it also now looks like Digi will not take up the option to form a national roaming agreement with MasOrange. The newly formed joint venture declined to comment on the matter, while Digi did not respond to a request for comment before publication.

In a wider context, the roaming agreement between Digi and Telefónica is one of several recent events that have reshaped the mobile operator landscape in Spain. Not only have Orange and Masmovil merged into MasOrange, but Digi is now in a position to become a new fourth player, while Vodafone Group has offloaded its Spanish operations to Zegona.

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