Movistar’s spectrum return schedule approved

19 Dec 2005

Argentine telecoms ministry SeCom has approved a timetable under which Telefónica Móviles’™ subsidiary Movistar Argentina must return 42.5MHz of spectrum to the authorities, reports BNamericas. Movistar must return the spectrum to comply with SeCom’s stipulations for TM’s merger of its two local units Movicom and Unifon. According to Argentine law, no mobile operator can have more than 50MHz of spectrum, and TM exceeded this limit when it acquired Movicom. The operator requested at least two years to return the spectrum, given the technological complexity of the process. SeCom’s new resolution requires Movistar to return the first 20MHz, corresponding to frequency used to provide services in the north and south of the country, before 31 December 2005. By 30 July 2006 the company needs to return a further 10MHz of spectrum in the extended metropolitan area, with the final deadline to return the remainder set for December 2008. The cooperatives association Comarcoop is set to pick up part of the spectrum in the 900MHz and 1900MHz bands free of charge. Comarcoop has already submitted its plans to launch mobile services to the regulator. It is believed that such a venture would require between USD150 million and USD200 million to get off the drawing board.