Colombia, Peru, Uruguay could be first to award spectrum in 700 MHz band

Monday, September 26, 2011

Peru, Uruguay and Colombia are likely to be the first Latin American countries where spectrum in the 700 MHz band is awarded to operators for providing mobile broadband, GSMA director for Latin America Sebastián Cabello told BNamericas.

Uruguay's government recently indicated that this band is being freed up and could be ready for auctioning next year. According to Cabello, Peru is in a similar position. "The government had initially said it was expecting to auction this band by the end of the year, but I think it will actually be awarded next year," he said.

In Colombia, the government could award spectrum in the 700 MHz band by end-2012 or the beginning of 2013, Cabello added. Mexico could also award spectrum in the band if a dispute between the executive and parliament is resolved.

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Last year, Mexican President Felipe Calderón issued a decree to speed up the transition to digital TV and to award the 700 MHz band. But congress asked judicial authorities to revoke the decree, saying that Calderón had superseded telecoms watchdog Cofetel's authority.

"This issue will probably be resolved by the supreme court," Cabello said.

Meanwhile, the outlook is different for Brazil's market, where the 700 MHz band is occupied by several television broadcasters.

According to a new study commissioned by the GSMA and the Ibero-American association of research centers and telecommunication enterprises (Ahciet), allocating spectrum in the 700 MHz band to deploy mobile services could contribute almost US$15bn to Latin America's economy and would expand mobile broadband coverage to nearly 93% of the population.

The US$15bn figure represents the total economic impact of licensing the digital dividend spectrum for mobile broadband services in Latin America, as well as purchasing network infrastructure, support and commercial services. This contrasts with a gain of US$3.5bn across the region if the band remains reserved for broadcasting.

If the spectrum goes toward providing mobile broadband, the five major economies in the region - Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Peru - will receive positive impact of US$11bn, compared to just under US$3bn if the band is kept for broadcasting services, the study said.

Deploying the 700 MHz spectrum for mobile broadband across will result in an additional US$3.1bn in GDP growth, 5,540 more jobs and US$2.6bn further tax revenue than would be created through broadcasting services, according to the study.