Argentine ICT infra deployments stuttering under lack of imports

Bnamericas Published: Thursday, February 02, 2023
Argentine ICT infra deployments stuttering under lack of imports

Argentina's telecommunication infrastructure deployments are being delayed due to import restrictions. 

"The authorizations aren't sufficient for the demand for materials to deploy fiber optics," Marcelo Tulissi, president of the local chamber of SME cable and internet operators (Cacpy), tells BNamericas.

"There is a lack of basic inputs such as optical network units, switches and routers, and those that can be obtained have prices well above the market value. There has been an increase in the cost of merchandise due to the restrictions." 

Some ICT SMEs and cooperatives have run out of stock for these products.

Tulissi said that fiber optic deployments will be delayed or even halted if this situation continues, pointing out that deployments have "significantly slowed down" in the last three months.  

Cacpy is one of the organizations that participates in the ICT industry roundtable, a forum created by the operators to promote the digital transformation of the country and which also includes the chamber of SME operators (Cabase), the federation of southern telecom cooperatives (Fecosur) and companies like Telecom, Telefónica and Vrio.

This week the roundtable issued a statement expressing its concern about the restricted access to imported goods and its impact on the industry.

Last October, a new import authorization system was implemented in a bid to stem outflows of dollars from the central bank's reserves. Under the system, the authorities must review each import order, give approval for the transaction and provide access to foreign currency in the single exchange market.

“The new scheme established by [tax authority] AFIP and the trade ministry creates an insurmountable barrier for telecommunication operators and their providers to import the essential and necessary equipment to keep communications and connectivity infrastructure in Argentina working,” an ICT roundtable statement read.

The measure not only affects the import of ICT equipment, but all payments abroad are complicated by the lack of access to foreign currency.

The ICT roundtable also mentions imports of critical equipment that are halted, goods retained in customs, the impossibility of making international connectivity payments and various other problems due to the capital restrictions.

Although both sector regulator Enacom and the trade ministry have held meetings with representatives of the industry, the problems have not been resolved and the situation has become critical.

"They say that you have to deploy 5G, but if you can't deploy fiber optics – it's impossible," says Tulissi.

Argentina plans to hold a spectrum auction for 5G services in the first half of the year.

The complaints from the ICT roundtable come on the heels of a public letter sent in December by the chamber of telecom cooperatives (Catel), Córdoba telecom service provider Colsecor and the Buenos Aires province federation of electricity and public services cooperatives (Fedecoba) asking the government to reduce the import restrictions.

"We understand that the reviews are done case by case, but the truth is that our work to expand networks and carry out maintenance is practically halted, so we are obliged to call for the preservation of the value chain of ICT services," the letter read.


The scarcity of essential equipment and goods and their rising costs have aggravated the situation created by decree 690, which imposed price controls on the sector. The average revenue per user has declined significantly in dollar terms, exerting considerable pressure on investments by operators.

“One problem is renewing stocks because we can't pass the costs to the user,” adds Tulissi.

"By not having the economies of scale of certain national or global providers, we make great reinvestment efforts when it comes to maintaining service conditions, and we have serious problems sustaining reasonable prices below the cost update," read a letter from Catel, Colsecor and Fedecoba released in December.

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