Regulatory uncertainty may delay wireless liberalisation

7 Oct 2010

The Comptroller General’s Office has ordered the Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones (SUTEL) to correct its written guidelines for the liberalisation of Costa Rica’s mobile market. The order came in response to objections from seven companies, including Cable & Wireless, Claro and Centennial Towers, which complained of ‘insufficiencies’ in SUTEL’s 200-page document outlining regulations for the new market. In response to the order, SUTEL has said it will review the concerns and attempt to provide more clarity.

Costa Rica is one of the last countries in Latin America to open their telecoms markets up to competition. As a result of the country joining the Central American Free-Trade Agreement (CAFTA) in January 2009, state-owned incumbent ICE lost its monopoly on the wireless market, although technical snags concerning frequencies and unavailable cell towers have repeatedly stalled the arrival of alternative providers. According to a timeline presented by the regulator, three new wireless licensees will be operational by September 2011. However, if SUTEL is required to change the guidelines, that date could be put back again.

Costa Rica, Grupo ICE, Grupo ICE (Kolbi)