Catel chief calls for free mobile spectrum

21 Jul 2008

Dario Oliver, the president of telecoms cooperatives chamber Catel, has told BNamericas that the government should award mobile spectrum to co-ops at no charge in order to make viable their mobile telephony project. ‘We believe that the government should award the spectrum to the cooperatives because when it awarded the initial spectrum to mobile companies it was also at no charge,’ he stated. The cooperatives require approximately 10MHz of spectrum in the 1900Mhz band, Oliver added. According to a local telecoms consultancy, however, the government cannot award spectrum directly to the cooperatives for the mobile telephony project because there is a law which stipulates that spectrum should be auctioned. Telephony cooperatives currently offer fixed services, although some of them also provide internet services. According to Oliver, there are approximately 320 cooperatives across the country. He also said that the government will allow co-ops to enter the cable TV segment ‘soon’ with the passing of a new law, as current regulations do not allow telcos to offer broadcasting services. Regarding the mobile telephony project, Oliver said that Fecotel and Fecosur already own wireless concessions, but lacked the spectrum to launch services.