The board of Argentine telecom regulator Enacom (Ente Nacional de Comunicaciones) has approved the tender for spectrum for the provision of 5G services, albeit two opposition representatives voted against the approval.
However, that should still mean the auction will take place. We reported in May that Enacom aimed to hold the country’s long-delayed multi-band 5G spectrum auction in June 2023. Numerous delays and postponements followed.
This time it does look like plans to auction the 3300-3600MHz band – composed of three 100MHz blocks for 20 years – are likely to go ahead. The three blocks are going, in all likelihood, to the three main operators, Movistar, Telecom and Claro, and are expected to raise about US$350 million per block when the auction takes place – possibly, Enacom suggests, in November.
Unsold lots could go to state operator Empresa Argentina de Soluciones Satelitales SA (Arsat), which also gets the 3600-3700MHz band, though this has upset some commentators who have complained about a competitor being able to access a 100MHz block without payment conditions.
The “excessive" price demanded for the spectrum has also been an issue – and there’s a question mark over how the payments can be made given limitations on access to foreign currency. Another worry is the potential imposition of a social tariff once 5G technology is widely adopted.
Movistar, Telecom and Claro now have until 29 September to present their offers. We’ll see then whether, despite the delays and complaints, the auction is likely to be a success.