3G killed the radio stars; Vox postpones UMTS launch due to spectrum interference

23 Sep 2011

Paraguayan state-owned telecoms operator Copaco has postponed the 3G launch scheduled for its mobile unit, Hola Paraguay (Vox), due to technical problems with spectrum in the 955MHz to 960MHz band. According to Paraguay.com, during Copaco’s final batch of tests last week, a total of 14 radio stations suffered interference from Vox’s 3G network. The USD20 million deployment was expected to launch on Wednesday, but has now been postponed until October at the earliest, in order to allow the necessary technical tweaks; the adjustments are expected to cost Copaco around USD500,000. Back in 2005, telecoms regulator Conatel established that all radio links in the 955MHz to 960MHz band must be migrated to the 932MHz to 940MHz band in order to accommodate the future deployment of mobile broadband networks in the country, but it now appears that the process was never satisfactorily completed.

Despite securing a W-CDMA licence in August 2008, Vox found its 3G aspirations frustrated by the attitude of its former Japanese parent company KDDI Corporation, which distanced itself from the struggling Paraguayan unit, preferring to concentrate its focus on its more profitable operations closer to home. However, Vox has undergone something of a resurgence since Copaco’s USD3 million takeover in July 2010, and is now set to join rivals Tigo (formerly Telecel), Nucleo (Telecom Personal Paraguay) and Claro Paraguay (formerly CTI Movil) in the mobile broadband sector. Confirming the delay yesterday, Vox spokesman Abelardo Martinez admitted: ‘We are operationally ready, not commercially’.

Paraguay, Copaco, Hola Paraguay (Vox)