Ecuador , Chile , Colombia , Peru , Brazil and Argentina

Telcos breathe sigh of relief with suspension of taxes, payments

Bnamericas Published: Wednesday, April 01, 2020
Telcos breathe sigh of relief with suspension of taxes, payments

Telecom operators across Latin America are beginning to breathe more easily as regulators and tax authorities authorize delays in the payment of fees, duties and taxes due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In Brazil, telecom regulator Anatel responded to a request from the telecom industry by suspending the payment of fines, interest on late payments and taxes whose due date falls between March 20 and April 10.

The suspension will be in force until April 15 and mainly affects payment to the Fistel fund, which were due by the end of March.

The regulator argues that the restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic meant there had been a suspension of face-to-face services at banking institutions.

The Fistel fund includes an installation fee (26.8 reais or around US$5), which is paid by telcos for each installed terminal (a phone, for example) and the operating fee (13.4 reais), which applies to all terminals in operation on the networks. 

These fees are payable annually, and the due date is March 31.

In 2019, telcos paid nearly 3bn reais into the Fistel fund, according to telco association SindiTelebrasil 

Anatel’s suspensions benefit not only major telecoms firms, but also thousands of small operators and regulated service providers.

Meanwhile, in Peru, the board of directors of watchdog Osiptel postponed for a month the payment of the regulatory contributions that the telecom companies are required to make on a monthly basis. 

According to the regulator, the March payment will now be due on May 10. 

The watchdog argued that the delay was necessary to bring relief to carriers’ cash flows and avoid systemic payment problems.

Similar initiatives are also being mulled by authorities in Colombia and Ecuador, among other nations.


Operators are also easing terms and conditions for customers to pay bills for telecommunications services to minimize the financial impact caused by the pandemic, maintain the provision of services and retain their client bases.

In some cases, the initiatives came from the operators themselves, while others were imposed by regulators.

Even the indebted Brazilian firm Oi, which has been in a judicial reorganization process for almost four years, announced that it was pushing back the due date for April payments by 15 days. The carrier also announced lighter terms for payment of installments.

The measures go into effect on April 6 and may be extended if the pandemic restrictions continue.

In Argentina, regulator Enacom decided to freeze the prices of prepaid plans and fixed telephony. The ruling was reportedly agreed with service providers.

In Chile, telecom operator VTR announced that subscribers who lose their jobs between March 15 and April 30 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic will be offered a reduction of up to 80% in the price of their monthly subscription.

VTR said customers who have been with the company for at least six months will be able to continue accessing their plans for a maximum of 9,990 pesos a month (US$11.5). They may also request an additional three-month grace period if they remain unemployed at the end of the term. 

In Colombia, a decree issued by President Iván Duque declared telecommunications and postal services "essential", which means no provider can suspend their operations and must guarantee installation, maintenance and operation of the networks.

In addition, the decree also states that indebted users must have an additional grace period of 30 days to pay their debts.

In Peru, the transport and communications ministry (MTC) began talks with mobile operators to allow users to postpone their payments.

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