Costa Rican service provider ordered to give back 5G spectrum

Costa Rican service provider ordered to give back 5G spectrum

The past week has seen some strong measures from Costa Rica’s incoming president directed at Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (Grupo ICE) the Costa Rican government-run electricity and telecommunications services provider.

President Rodrigo Chaves Robles has signed decrees and issued guidelines calling for a reform in the financial management of ICE; these relate to data transparency and electricity tariff costs. But he has also decreed that ICE must hand over 5G spectrum the Ministry of Science, Innovation, Technology and Telecommunications (MICITT) had awarded to its subsidiary Radiografica Costarricense SA. The spectrum must be returned within six months. It may then be reauctioned.

According to TeleGeography's CommsUpdate this issue has been dragging on since at least June last year when MICITT told Grupo ICE of its intention to retrieve the operator’s 5G-suitable frequencies. There appears, however, to have been no plan to reimburse ICE for its unused frequencies, so ICE did not cooperate.

Indeed unused frequencies seem to be the issue here. ICE has been accused of ‘under-use and non-use’ of 5G-suitable spectrum in the 1400MHz, 2600MHz, 3500MHz and 26GHz bands. This may be in contravention of the General Telecommunications Law.

ICE has tried to reassure the authorities that it has plans for the spectrum. Its executive president Marco Acuña, has been quoted in local press outlets as saying: "The Group will contribute to the rapid and effective implementation of 5G in Costa Rica, with a comprehensive approach that benefits national interests and promotes the participation of all sectors."

Whether this guarantee will resolve the situation, however, is unclear.

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