Chile’s regulator has defended its decision not to include rural coverage requirements in its 5G spectrum tender.
The country’s Department of Telecommunications - known as Subtel (Subsecretaria de Telecomunicaciones) - has come under fire for the omission from consumer rights group Conadecus, reports CommsUpdate.
A block of 700MHz spectrum is available in the upcoming 5G spectrum auction, and since this frequency is useful for providing coverage in remote rural areas, Conadecus advocates that the winning bidder should be obliged to use the airwaves for this purpose.
However, Chile’s Undersecretary of Telecommunications Pamela Gidi has countered that fibre will be more effective at delivering connectivity to more remote areas than 5G. Local news outlet Diario Financiero quoted Gidi as saying that: “5G is not a tool for closing the digital divide and the big problem is the fixed internet.”
Gidi noted that 54% of the country’s population has access to fixed broadband, but only a quarter of these are fibre connections. She added that affordability was frequently an issue, and noted that in order to redress the balance Subtel was considering a universal service bill as well as subsidies.
Movistar commended the omission of rural coverage requirements, with the operator’s Director of Strategy, Regulation and Corporate Affairs Fernando Saizb arguing: “5G is not a panacea, it is a super important technology for industrial uses, automating processes and applications such as IoT. It is useful for companies and entrepreneurs but not so much for people.”