Uruguay moves closer to ending Antel monopoly

Bnamericas Published: Saturday, October 08, 2022
Uruguay moves closer to ending Antel monopoly

After years of a virtual monopoly, Uruguay’s state-run telco Antel could soon lose its dominance in the internet segment.

The senate approved an amendment to article 56 of the country’s 2014 media law to allow cable-TV companies to offer internet services. 

Article 56 banned cable operators from providing internet, phone and data transmission services to prevent cross-ownership.

Congress is still debating some proposed changes to other areas of the media legislation. If approved and then signed off by President Luis Lacalle-Pou as expected, private operators would have the right to request a license to offer fixed broadband services starting in January 2023.

The amendment leaves out operators providing TV via satellite, in the DTH mode, affecting mostly Vrio’s DirecTV, which is controlled by the Argentine Werthein group.

The amendment comes after communications regulator Ursec authorized five cable operators to provide internet services earlier this year, on a case-by-case basis and after a legal dispute.

The firms receiving authorizations are Montecable, Nuevo Siglo, TCC, Korfield and Praimar.

Ursec also rejected similar requests from DirecTV and, more recently, Grupo Clarín.

Uruguay had 1.10mn fixed broadband lines at the end of last year, up from 1.06mn at end-2020, with 81% via fiber.

Antel commanded 99% of the segment with the remainder split between Enalur, Dedicado, Telefónica and Teslar, according to Ursec.

Pay-TV accesses totaled 607,000 at the end of last year, down from 644,620 at end-2020, with leading player DirecTV commanding 30% of the segment.

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