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Brazil may not be the first country in Latin America to launch LTE but could well lead the region as regards speed and development of its rollout, given that it is under pressure to meet the wireless broadband demands of the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016, Erasmo Rojas, Latin American director for wireless industry trade association 4G Americas, told BNamericas.
"If there is one country that needs LTE sooner than others due to its commitments, it is Brazil. Brazil has the World Cup in three year's time," Rojas said.
Colombia looks as though it will be the first to launch LTE in the region, but that is almost by accident, Rojas said. Colombia was slow in its adoption of 3G and is leapfrogging to 4G. The government auctioned off spectrum in the 2.6 GHz band, which is widely regarded as one of the main bands used for LTE.
UNE-EPM won 50 MHz and said it will launch LTE later this year.
Though 2.6 GHz will be widely used for LTE, 4G Americas is keen to press on telecoms regulators like Chile's Subtel of the need to consider lower frequency bands - such as 700 MHz - that are better for general coverage, while the higher bands are better for capacity. The US has opted for 700 MHz.
However, Subtel head Jorge Atton told Rojas that Chile would be waiting to advance in its rollout of digital TV first to free up spectrum in 700 MHz. The government is in the final stages of approving legislation for digital TV.
The so-called digital dividend (the amount of spectrum that will be freed up in the switchover from analogue to digital terrestrial TV) will be one of the main topics of discussion at the 17th annual meeting of Latin American regional ICT policy coordination agency Citel, being held in the Dominican Republic's capital, Santo Domingo, this week, Rojas said.
Brazilian telecoms regulator Anatel has said bidding conditions for the 2.6 GHz band will be ready by the end of September 2011.
Digital trunking operator Nextel has a wealth of spectrum with 60 MHz, for which it could use 20 MHz for 3G and the remainder for LTE, Rojas said. Cable operator VTR has 30 MHz of spectrum in the same bands, but also already has spectrum in 2.6 GHz that it could use.