Govt considers Arsat-Nextel merger, report says

1 Jul 2013

The Argentine government is reportedly investigating a potential merger between state-owned telecoms company Arsat and digital trunking wireless operator Nextel, owned by US-based NII Holdings. According to Telesemana, which cites a report from local newspaper BAE, the negotiations also being led by the newly appointed head of communications ministry Secretaria de Comunicaciones (SeCom), Norberto Berner, and talks also include local business group Eurnekian. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that Arsat was handed almost 25% of the country’s 3G frequencies in September 2012, after an auction for 850MHz and 1900MHz spectrum was cancelled by the government, as only one of the six participants had met the financial requirements of the tender. The state-owned company already offers broadband and digital TV mainly in rural and underserved parts of the country, and also oversees the deployment of the government’s ‘Argentina Conectada’ national fibre-optic network project. It is understood that Arsat plans to use the mobile spectrum to provide wholesale wireless services to small- and medium-sized companies and local telecoms cooperatives under the brand Libre.com, although a launch has yet to take place. Meanwhile, Nextel’s parent NII Holdings, which also provides wireless services in Brazil, Mexico and Chile, said earlier this year that it planned to focus on its core operations in Brazil and Mexico, having agreed to sell its Peruvian unit to Entel Chile in April as a step towards realigning its business. Nextel Argentina had planned to take part in SeCom’s 800MHz and 1900MHz spectrum auction, which would have enabled it to move away from iDEN technology by rolling out W-CDMA services.

Argentina, ARSAT, FiberCorp (formerly Nextel Argentina)