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4G Americas notes benefits for ‘digital dividend’

Technology trade association 4G Americas has publicly stated that the 700 MHz ‘digital dividend’ plan is an excellent spectrum band opportunity for countries throughout Latin America.

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In a recent technical white paper, 4G Americas notes the APT digital dividend spectrum plan offers an alternative solution for the region with economies of scale that will eventually occur as the Asian regional countries begin to make commitments to this band and offer some global harmonization.

Last year, GSMA and AHCIET contracted a survey that was conducted by Telecom Advisory Services that claimed a $15 billion total economic value to the region, expansion of wireless coverage to 93% of the population and indicated that close to 11,000 new jobs would be created from freeing up spectrum in the 700 MHz band for wireless telecom services.

In the white paper, 4G Americas highlighted the status of the digital dividend spectrum in several countries. Check out some highlights below – and other countries in the white paper:

Argentina: The spectrum between 614 MHz and 806 MHz is allocated to broadcasting on a primary basis. Although the use of this segment is low and therefore appealing as a 3G or 4G candidate band, the fact that it is allocated for broadcasting implies a political conflict between two different enforcement authorities: The Federal Authority of Audio Visual Communication Services (AFSCA, a body replacing the Federal Broadcasting Committee, COMFER) and the Communications Secretariat (SECOM). Argentina has launched Digital TV under the ISDB-T standard and is expected to enforce analog blackout by 2020. Apart from this, channels 55 to 66 have been temporarily assigned to DTV (universities and municipalities in Buenos Aires province). Argentina plans to auction the 1.7/2.1 GHz (AWS) spectrum in 2013 and go on with an award of the 700 MHz band in 2014.

Brazil: In Brazil, the 700 MHz band is currently utilized for television although only 10% of the municipalities have their 700 MHz spectrum heavily used. Introduction of digital TV (ISDB-T) in 2006 is gaining momentum – by December 2010, it had coverage for 89.5 million people in 425 cities. Plans call for a 10-year transition from analog to digital broadcasting, which would indicate 2016 availability for spectrum. The Brazilian regulatory body, Anatel, has created a working group with the target of producing a study on 700 MHz by the end of 2012. Besides industry pressure, Anatel is facing pressure within government entities like the Ministry of Defense to expedite the release of 700 MHz prior to the 2016 target. The Brazilian minister has announced the possibility of auctioning the 700 MHz in 2013. The majority of rural areas would have the spectrum available. In those big cities where the transition to DTV might prevent use of the spectrum for mobile short term, the licenses should be given, considering the possibility of using the band only after 2016 (switch off Analog TV). The government is expected to present a study about the use of 700 MHz by December 2012. Decisions like the use of digital dividend for mobile communications, the channelization and time of license process are expected to be announced at that time.

Chile: The distribution of the 698 to 806 MHz band is allocated to digital TV broadcasting and fixed and mobile service. In April 2012, Chilean regulator body, Subtel, announced that it will auction 90 megahertz of spectrum in this band during the second half of 2013 and will adopt the APT band plan. The license will be assigned by the end of 2013, and commercial service are expected in 2014 to 2015.

Colombia: Colombia has changed the primary allocation of this band to mobile services and on May 30, government regulators ANE and MINTC announced the adoption of APT band plan. The license are expected to be assigned by end of 2013 and commercial service is expected in 2014 to 2015.

Peru: The Ministry of Transport and Communications allocated on a primary basis the 700 MHz band to mobile services in March 2011. The document addressed both APT and U.S. band plans without making a final decision. The 700 MHz band is currently utilized for broadcasting and radio communication. However, a portion of this band has been reserved. In April 2009, the Ministry of Transport and Communications selected the ISDB-T standard for terrestrial digital TV broadcasting. Since then, Peruvian regulator MTC has indicated that they plan to auction the AWS band by the end of 2012, before getting into the specifics of 700 MHz, although they have expressed their preference to adopt the APT band plan.

Uruguay: The 700 MHz band is currently being utilized for radio and TV (512-806 MHz.) In July 2011, the Uruguayan regulatory body URSEC allocated 700 MHz for IMT-Advanced and mobile services. Prior to the auction of the 700 MHz band, the Uruguayan government is scheduling the auction of spectrum in 900 MHz, 1900 MHz and AWS bands for the second part of this year. URSEC has unofficially stated they will follow the APT band plan.

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