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PCS BIDDING ON HOLD IN CHILE AS REGULATIONS ARE PUT IN PLACE

Discord among potential bidding parties and the government’s plan to refashion telecommunications regulations resulted in Chile postponing the March 1 deadline for personal communications services bids, reported Isabel Valenzuela, a telecommunications specialist at the U.S. Embassy in Santiago, Chile.

The government has not set a new deadline, said Valenzuela. PCS licenses will be awarded through public contest whereby interested parties must indicate to the undersecretary at the Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications their investment capacity, expertise and planned scope of wireless coverage, explained Valenzuela. But the government has provided interested parties only with minimal specifications, which concerns the PCS candidates who face tremendous costs if licensed, said Valenzuela. “Regulations need to be but in place,” she added.

Further, there is discord among some contenders, said Valenzuela. Cellular operator VTR, owned by Chilean conglomerate Luksic Group, “is opposing some of the participation of other companies,” said Valenzuela.

The ministry indicated it will license no more than three operators, said Valenzuela. She said the government believes three operators are enough to generate competition and provide the state significant revenue, while still providing benefit to end users.

Current cellular operators include VTR, in which SBC Communications Inc. holds a stake, CTC of Chile, BellSouth Corp. and Telecom, of which Motorola Inc. and Mobile Telecommunication Technologies Corp. are partners, said Valenzuela. Despite big U.S. investments, the combined companies have achieved only .84 percent mobile phone penetration in the country of 12.5 million, reported Valenzuela.

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