Telecom Argentina to finish 5G core deployment in 2024

Bnamericas Published: Thursday, November 10, 2022

Telecom Argentina said it has begun the deployment of an autonomous 5G core in preparation for the spectrum auction that sector regulator Enacom plans to hold in the first quarter of 2023.

With the aim of ending the process in 2024, the company has been deploying 5G in dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS) mode and plans to end 2022 with more than 160 sites. The goal for next year is 200 5G sites, not counting those additional ones that could be deployed if spectrum is freed up.

Enacom plans to auction 5G spectrum in the 3.5GHz band.

"We will have to see the spectrum details, how the tender is designed and if that motivates us to invest...[this will determine] the deployment of the sites," CTO Miguel Fernández told reporters at local business chamber ATVC’s international conference in Buenos Aires. 

The 5G core network that the company is deploying is provided by Chinese giant Huawei, Fernández told BNamericas on the sidelines of the conference.

Telecom CEO Roberto Nobile said the company will invest US$350mn in the project.

Nearly 700,000 phones have been connected to the 5G sites that Telecom has activated, said Fernández. On average, around 55,000 devices are being connected daily to the operator's network.

The figure does not represent the total number of devices that could be connected since Apple phones are excluded due to that company's own restrictions until the 5G spectrum is released, according to Telecom.

Apple phones make up close to 7% of the Argentine market, according to figures from consultancy firm Carrier & Asociados.

5G tests

Telecom is in the process of making 5G network tests using temporary spectrum in the 26GHz band. The company is also performing tests in different industries to develop use cases for the new technology.

“We are testing image control solutions with some automotive companies in an alliance with Google. We are also looking at the mining industry, which has very complex Wi-Fi networks that do not fully meet their needs," Fernández said, adding that the tests are private network projects that have been implemented with Nokia, Cisco and Huawei.

3G blackout

Telecom is also moving forward with its 3G shutdown to reuse the spectrum for 4G and the speed of the process depends on phones being able to use voice services over LTE (VoLTE).

"We expect to have all the devices capable of supporting VoLTE in 2024," said Fernández.

Asked by BNamericas about a potential 2G shutdown, the executive said this process will take much longer because there are many devices, such as those for vehicle control, that operates with 2G.

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