Argentina’s federal government is planning to auction spectrum bands next year that will allow carriers to deploy LTE, according to local news reports, citing the planning minister Julio de Vido. The spectrum to be auctioned is 1700–2100 MHz (AWS).
Vido also said in an interview with television channel C5N that the government will probably keep an “important” quantity of that spectrum. Arsat, the state-owned satellite operator, would likely obtain a significant amount of LTE spectrum.
Argentinia’s spectrum allotment has been the subject of controversy. In September, the Argentinian government canceled its plans to auction wireless spectrum and instead allocated 25% of the 3G spectrum to Arsat. To justify the move, the government said it would prevent the creation of a monopoly.
Meanwhile, carriers have been asking the government to free up more spectrum so they can meet the increasing demand for bandwidth-intensive data services. Operators want the additional spectrum to improve their service quality.
As noted by Marceli Passoni, research analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, in her latest Analyst Angle column, despite the spectrum auction delay, the government’s granting of spectrum to ArSat was a setback for the mobile operators that had been waiting for seven years to acquire the spectrum that was taken back from Movistar after its acquisition of Movicom BellSouth in 2005.
“Claro, Personal and Movistar were considering launching 4G services using the spectrum granted to ArSat. Now, the limited spectrum cap and lack of new technologies will challenge mobile operators’ ability to deliver high quality services while at the same time coping with the ever growing demand for data services,” she wrote.
Even more emphatic on the subject, Jose F. Otero, president of Signals Telecom Group, said in a previous Analyst Angle column that “Argentina continues to be the only country in Latin America with a telecommunications law written in 1972.”