Recent spectrum-related events in Ecuador appear to have worried the GSMA, the global association gathering the world’s biggest mobile operators. It has claimed that the ongoing suspension of spectrum renewals puts key investments at risk for the future of the country.
In May this year Ecuadorian regulator Arcotel decided to call off for 120 days the negotiations for spectrum renewals with operators Telefónica, whose license expires in November, and América Móvil, whose license runs out in August.
The BNamericas news service reports that one of the sticking points has been the valuations of spectrum. However, Arcotel argues there are other factors, notably a “comprehensive” valuation of the concessions. These, it says, include other "essential elements" such as quality of services, technology, the investments to be made and their deadlines, social benefits, the expansion of geographic coverage and technology for national security.
Arcotel has insisted that mobile services in the country will not be interrupted or affected. The GSMA, however, is evidently concerned. It says the interruption of this process, for reasons not attributable to the operators, so close to the end of the concessions, and without recourse to the legal mechanisms that allow the continuity of the negotiation within of an extended term, is a cause of uncertainty and instability for the sector.
It adds that the measure jeopardizes the legal certainty and predictability necessary to guarantee the continuity of the intensive investments required by the Ecuadorian telecommunications market. It calls for ‘sustained public-private dialogue’ to mitigate the lack of certainty.
With 5G on the horizon the pending renewal is, says the GSMA, one of the most important milestones in the national telecommunications portfolio in recent years.
The GSMA has made itself available to the authorities “to help reactivate the negotiations and reach a timely resolution adjusted to the reality of the market”.
It’s not clear who, if anyone, is at fault for this hold-up but it’s certainly a very late stage to be completing such negotiations given that according to the GSMA, this process began two years ago. Formally, however, negotiations started in January this year. They were due to be concluded in early June.