Colombia , Chile , Peru and Ecuador
Q&A

GTD's expansion plan for 2023: Data centers, fiber and investments

Bnamericas Published: Saturday, November 26, 2022
GTD's expansion plan for 2023: Data centers, fiber and investments

Chilean telco GTD plans to maintain its rate of investment in Latin America and continue to grow in digital transformation services for corporate clients and wholesale networks for telecommunications companies.

These are some of the things that CEO Fernando Gana shared with BNamericas in this interview, with focus on the plans for 2023.

BNamericas: GTD has a forecast investment of US$600mn over five years with more than US$100mn a year. Do you plan to maintain this pace in 2023?

Gana: The same pace. It is also necessary to see how the market behaves and how the countries of Latin America enter a process of reorganization of their economies. We invest in our clients and if the clients are not in a position to invest, we have to postpone projects, but we always evaluate it with the clients.

BNamericas: Have you seen any impact on clients from this year's economic problems?

Gana: Of course. In all countries we are seeing a contraction, especially as of the second half, but I would say with optimism because digital transformation in times of crisis is very important. We have seen great demand for our service of developing and implementing a digital transformation that implies a change in the cost structure of our clients.

BNamericas: In which areas do you see the biggest growth opportunity?

Gana: We have quite significant growth in the migration to the cloud and cybersecurity systems, and the monitoring of these two processes as companies go digital.

BNamericas: You have announced plans for new data centers in Peru and Colombia. At what stage are these centers in Barranquilla and Lurín?

Gana: We are still dealing with permission issues. The sites have been purchased and we expect to be able to start construction next year, but it will obviously depend on the tenders and delivery times. I would love to be operating in 2024.

BNamericas: What percentage of occupancy does the installed capacity have in those countries?

Gana: We are quite busy, we are running out of capacity and that is why these projects are important.

BNamericas: In the Chilean market, the joint venture between VTR and Claro was recently approved. What market changes are expected as a result?

Gana: These market moves will probably lead to a very competitive environment in terms of telecommunication services. We expect competition between 5G and fixed networks.

The market is being divided between infrastructure operators and service operators. The latter all have doubts about their growth plans. They know that they must invest in 5G but what we see in the world is that they are getting rid of their infrastructure, or sharing it with a large investment fund that takes control.

In our case, we see a major opportunity. We are an operator that is much more focused on infrastructure than services, and the great challenge is how to generate more income, value for the infrastructure. We therefore have an expectation of being able to develop new businesses and digital transformation solutions that will allow increased use of the infrastructure.

BNamericas: Can you comment on the development of fiber optics?

Gana: It is part of our core. We have around 80,000km of fiber optics that include residential and metropolitan networks.

These networks grow every year along with the demand from our clients. Two years ago we had close to 200km of network in Colombia and this year we are going to end with a little more than 2,000.

This year there was key deployment in Colombia. We are present in 10 cities and transforming our industry into shared infrastructure that serves mobile operators and the corporate world as well.

BNamericas: Do you have open networks in all countries?

Gana: Yes, in all countries.

BNamericas: Which companies are using the infrastructure?

Gana: I cannot say because of confidentiality agreements, but there are several operators that see a serious player in GTD.

BNamericas: And how many clients do you have for the wholesale service?

Gana: I would say that all the big operators are our clients in each of their countries. The big challenge has been to find a product for small and local operators, because in those cases it depends a bit more on their ability to sign long-term contracts. But small operators are also joining.

It is an area that has become very important for the company in the last five years.

BNamericas: The recent years have also seen many operators opening up their networks. How do you view this growth of open networks?

Gana: Well, we also entered in those same five years. I think it favors mobile operators as it has allowed them to get rid of infrastructure and be in a healthier situation than what they had projected. The challenge lies in the long term and we are going to see how the economic situation will turn out for a company without infrastructure. And there we have to be with the clients, looking at the opportunities with each of them, and how they can invest and work with an operator that specializes in having high-quality networks and good service - and who is not just a financier of infrastructure.

BNamericas: Going back to the outlook for 2023, in which Latin American markets do you see the greatest opportunity?

Gana: Our operations in Colombia and Peru are small so our opportunities are endless. We are very optimistic. We have signed projects in the banking and retail segments...we have done well in both, and also in Ecuador, where we bought Secure Soft.

BNamericas: In addition to the Ecuador purchase, you have made acquisitions in Italy and Chile. Do you plan more acquisitions?

Gana: You always have to be looking everywhere, see the opportunity. Obviously in times of economic contraction you have to be more cautious as the investments always have to be aligned with the needs of customers, whether it is geographic expansion or digital transformation.

BNamericas: GTD is looking for an investment partner. How is this process going?

Gana: It is going well, it is the best answer I can give you.

BNamericas: How much money do you expect to raise?

Gana: If I give a number, I will get an answer for that number. So I prefer to leave it in the competitive arna.

Bnamericas: Are several investors interested?

Gana: Yes, the way we do business has attracted many investment companies. I think it is an interesting opportunity for investors who place value on the long term and client relationships.

BNamericas: Finally, what kind of growth do you expect for next year?

Gana: We see a reasonable growth scenario that will obviously be influenced by the competition.

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