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Colombia delays LTE auction until December

Colombia’s Ministry of Information Technology and Communications (Mintic) and the Spectrum Agency (ANE) have once again postponed the auction of spectrum licenses set to support LTE services. The delay was announced during the International Spectrum Congress held this week, when officials presented a document titled “4G Auction Analysis,” which sets new deadlines and responds to criticism from operators and senators.

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The LTE spectrum auction is now scheduled for December, and the ministry will receive comments from companies interested in biding until August 24. The auction draft is set to be posted the first week of September.

One of the auction’s main goals is to promote the entrance of a new player to stimulate competition. According to the latest active line data from the first quarter of 2012, América Móvil’s Claro has the greatest market share at 65.5%, followed by Telefónica’s Movistar with 23.2% and Tigo with 11.3%.

The government’s goal is to auction 300 megahertz of spectrum by 2014, of which 225 megahertz will be auctioned this year spread across different frequencies. The first sub-band is from 1710 MHz to 1755 MHz paired with 2110 MHz to 2155 MHz; the second sub-band is comprised of 2525 MHz to 2570 MHz paired with 2645 MHz to 2690 MHz (for FDD allocations) and 2575 MHz to 2615 MHz (for TDD allocations free of guard bands). The third sub-band is 1865 MHz to 1867.5 MHz paired with 1945 MHz to 1947.5 MHz.

The document was prepared by the Ministry of Information Technologies and Communications (ICT), the Communications Regulation Commission (CRC) and the National Spectrum Agency (ANE) to analyze possible scenarios based on comments on the draft resolution, which were submitted by operators at different times, such as at the Senate’s sixth commission public hearing, among others.

In addition, the document presents the general conditions of the process, coverage details, national roaming and mechanisms to foster the entry of a new mobile operator in Colombia. The 700 MHz or digital dividend was also mentioned, as the ministry pointed to a possible auction of 90 megahertz of spectrum in that band by 2013; however, this spectrum is not currently available.

The Colombian government noted that the auction’s main purpose is to promote greater Internet access in the country. Officials argued that it is necessary to assign more spectrum for 3G and LTE service penetration because under the infrastructure dimension of the Vive Digital plan, the government has mandated that 100% of municipal capitals must have 3G services and at least 50% of them must have LTE services.

Among the changes to the auction based on comments from sector players, the document listed the permission of the consortium and unions, fines for deployment delays, and optimization of antenna infrastructure to reduce visual impact.

>>> Check out 4G auction presentantion here—in Spanish.

Want to know more about the Colombian wireless market? Be sure to download the RCR Wireless feature report about the telecom market in Colombia.

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