Latin America looks to be well on the way to joining the Asia-Pacific region in designating the 700MHz band as the standard for offering LTE services, with Brazil and Chile both opting to use the frequency. The Chilean regulator Subtel has confirmed that it plans to sell LTE licences in this band, while Brazil’s Anatel is preparing the band for licence allocation.
The decision to use 700MHz is a boon for international spectrum standardisation, as it is already used by the Asia Pacific Telecommunity (APT) band plan. Brazil and Chile join the majority of Latin American countries in adopting the APT plan - Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama and Uruguay have all done the same.
Many Latin American countries are currently in the process of switching from analogue to digital TV. While this process will not be complete for a few more years, services can be offered on any spectrum that has been freed up by switching off the analogue signals.
The frequency band is already used or reserved for LTE services in several countries across the Asia-Pacific region, including Australia, India, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. China has also stated its intent to use the 700MHz band for TDD LTE technology, although Malaysia and Indonesia have not yet adopted the ATP plan.
According to Stefan Zehle, CEO of consultancy firm Coleago, Brazil’s commitment to the plan underlines the bright future of the 700MHz band. “Brazil’s decision means that the APT eco-system is gaining the scale which confirms it as a mainstream solution for LTE deployment,” he said. “This means the 700MHz APT band plan may appear in chipsets and more devices earlier rather than later.”
He also noted that the ATP plan is optimised far better than the US 700MHz plan, saying: “Not only is the US 700MHz plan inefficient in its overall use of spectrum, but matters are made worse because in part of the band the uplink and downlink are reversed. The device incompatibility issue with the US 700MHz band plan is that it splits the market into those who follow the AT&T device eco-system and those who follow the Verizon eco-system. These are mutually exclusive because the AT&T devices do not have the Verizon 700MHz blocks and vice versa. This means there is no harmonisation within the US.”