There’s been some controversy reported in Uruguay in the run-up to operators Claro and Movistar prequalifying for 5G spectrum in an auction scheduled for 9 May.
Regulator URSEC has announced the prequalification of both operators for the assignment of radio frequencies in the 3.5GHz band (3,300-3,400MHz and 3,600-3,800MHz).
However, the newspaper El Observador reports that there had been an issue involving a number of administrative appeals related to the tender from Movistar, Claro and a third operator, Dedicado.
Dedicado was apparently challenging its exclusion. There was also unhappiness about the price set. The reference price of each 100MHz block in the 3.5GHz band amounts to US$28 million. In total, three 1×100MHz lots of spectrum will be allocated by URSEC: 3300MHz-3400MHz; 3600MHz-3700MHz (reserved for state-owned operator Antel); and 3700MHz-3800MHz. Each 100MHz spectrum package has a minimum initial price of US$28 million and will be valid for 25 years.
In addition, a portion of the spectrum has been, as we have noted, reserved for Antel. Movistar felt Antel could have a competitive advantage by being able to launch the 5G service before its competitors, so apparently wanted access to Antel's fibre optic network.
The BNamericas website explains that in the first 24 months of the contract, the winners will have to deploy 70 antennas throughout the country and at least two base stations in at least ten departments of the country, not including Montevideo. In the following 36 months they must install at least two base stations in each department.
The tender attracted no interest from new international operators, even though was the first open tender since the opening of Uruguay’s telecommunications market.
As for Movistar, Claro and Dedicado, it’s not clear yet whether they feel their complaints have been adequately dealt with.