Argentina
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Argentina cable operator seeks more time to prepare for telco incursion

Bnamericas Published: Monday, April 18, 2016

Red Intercable, one of Argentina's largest local cable TV companies, has asked the government to consider delaying the entrance of telcos into the pay TV market for five years, claiming they will not be ready to compete in the two-to-three-year period currently provided for by law.

Jorge Di Blasio, president of Red Intercable, was quoted by local press as saying that three years "are not enough for cable companies, especially in the country's interior...to carry out the necessary investments to compete against international telecom giants."

Argentina has three main telcos: Claro (América Móvil), Movistar (Telefónica), and Personal (Telecom Argentina). Media group Clarín this year completed its acquisition of trunking player Nextel but is a long way off from becoming a real competitor as it lacks both additional spectrum and significant investments in network infrastructure.

Small cable operators account for some 18% of the pay TV market. According to Di Blasio, it is essential that those companies are first allowed to offer mobile services if they are to compete with the converged services offerings of the big players.

Argentine state satellite company Arsat currently holds a portion of spectrum in the 700MHz band, which it has been rumored it could auction off.

Argentina's telecom reform law, approved in 2014, enables telecom players to apply for TV licenses. The law gives the cable operators a three-year grace period to get up to speed to compete with large players.

On April 13, telecommunications regulator Enacom took the first step toward making that a reality by establishing a mechanism for streamlining applications for pay TV licenses and radio spectrum through what it calls a digital single license.

The new norm is due to go into effect 60 days after its publication in the official gazette.

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