Groups led by AT&T Corp. and Telia of Sweden are among those that recently purchased bidding packages from the Argentine government, which plans to award two 1900 MHz personal communications services licenses this fall.
Interested companies must present initial offers, including technology plans, by Aug. 14. Final offers and judging are scheduled for September and winners will be selected this fall, according to the Secretary of Communications.
The government expects to raise about $300 million through the tender, reported Argentine press, and an additional $600 million is expected to come from investors.
Fitelco, which owns Argentine cable operator VCC, also purchased a bidding package. Groups led by Deutsche Telekom AG and AirTouch Communications Inc. also are reportedly interested in the licenses, said the U.S. Department of Commerce.
AT&T has teamed with Argentine multimedia company Grupo Clarin and the country’s Banco De Galicia SA and Banco Frances SA.
A total of 120 megahertz has been reserved for PCS. Each of the two new operators will receive 30 megahertz licenses-with the option for an additional 5 megahertz-and the remaining spectrum eventually will be distributed among the PCS and cellular operators Compania de Radiocomunicaciones Moviles (Movicom) and Miniphone, said the government.
Operators will be required to start services within 18 months of licensing. Initial operations will be focused in the greater Buenos Aires region. The government is requiring at least 30 percent of the equipment used in the PCS networks be produced locally.
Argentina had about 653,000 cellular subscribers at the end of 1996, among regional operators Compania de Telefonos del Interior, Compania de Comunicaciones Personales del Interior, Movicom, Telefonica de Comunicaciones Personales and Miniphone, according to Washington, D.C.-based Strategis Group. Movicom is owned in part by BellSouth Corp. and Motorola Inc. Miniphone is a venture of Telecom Argentina and Telefonica de Argentina. Both operators provide services in the greater Buenos Aires region.
Most systems are based on Advanced Mobile Phone Service and Time Division Multiple Access technologies.
Pyramid Research Inc. expects Argentina to reach 2 million cellular subscribers by 2000. In all of Latin America, there were fewer than 150,000 cellular subscribers in 1990. Pyramid projects growth for the region to exceed 21 million by 2000.