According to La Nacion, Paraguayan regulator Consejo Nacional de Telecomunicaciones (Conatel) has granted its approval for Tigo Paraguay, the country’s largest mobile operator by subscribers, to purchase unused cellular frequencies held by Compania Privada de Comunicaciones (CPC), which is itself owned by diversified local conglomerate the Rieder Group. Citing unnamed sources at Conatel, the newspaper reports that Tigo intends to use the spectrum to deploy a 4G network based on Long Term Evolution (LTE). However, the precise frequencies up for grabs remain shrouded in mystery: a number of local press sources have indicated that the deal is for spectrum in the 900MHz band, whilst TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that the Rieder Group was awarded 1900MHz frequencies in September 2001, going on renew its national PCS concession in October 2007 for a further five years. Whilst neither band is commonly used for LTE, refarmed spectrum in the 900MHz band is suitable for 4G if the operator in question possesses sufficient capacity. Previously, the Rieder Group intended to bid in the (failed) privatisation of state-owned operator Copaco in 2002, via a consortium with Germany’s DeTeCon.
According to NextWirelessLatAm, the development has been met with scepticism by Tigo’s rivals; Mario Esquivel, CEO of Vox, the market’s smallest player, admitted that his company contacted Conatel in September 2010 with a view to cancelling Rieder’s licence in order to ‘distribute the frequency equitably’. Esquivel states that his legal advisors will now analyse the issue before Vox takes any further action.