It has only been a matter of weeks since the date for the Colombian 700MHz, 1900MHz and 2500MHz auction was finally agreed. Now, however, it is in doubt.
Colombia’s Ministry of Information Technologies and Communications decided on 12 December this year as the preferred date for the licence bidding. So far, however, only Claro, the largest provider of mobile phone services in the country, has registered to participate. Claro is part of América Móvil, a telecom group serving clients across more than a dozen countries in the Americas.
The Ministry remains keen to stage a sale before year-end, but it is thought that the lack of a reserve price has made not just smaller operators but the other big names – Movistar and Tigo – think twice about taking part.
Movistar is a major telecommunications brand owned by Telefónica. It operates in Spain and in a number of Spanish-speaking countries in the Americas. Tigo, a Millicom brand, operates in 11 markets in Africa and Latin America.
All may not be lost, however. The ICT minister has indicated a willingness to provide a reserve price – not too surprisingly perhaps, as the government has high hopes for an eventual rollout that will benefit underserved areas across Colombia that lack mobile broadband connectivity.
Given the ongoing controversy in a number of countries – notably India – about the affordability of spectrum reserve prices and the effect of high prices on rollout, it will be interesting to see if – and how quickly – the situation in Colombia can be resolved.