Venezuela’s telecoms regulator Conatel has announced in a statement on its website that four companies have been pre-qualified to receive 4G mobile licences in the 1700MHz/2100MHz (AWS) and/or 2500MHz-2690MHz frequency bands, namely Movilnet (the mobile arm of state-owned incumbent CANTV) and Telefonica Venezuela (which operates cellular services as Movistar Venezuela) plus two would-be new entrants to the mobile sector, long-distance telephony provider Multiphone Venezuela and Galaxy Entertainment Venezuela (a subsidiary of satellite pay-TV group DirecTV). Specifically, only Movilnet and Movistar are in the running for AWS spectrum licences (blocks ‘G-G’ and ‘H-H’) while Movistar, Multiphone and Galaxy (DirecTV) are pre-qualified for the 2500MHz-2690MHz frequencies (B-B, C-C and D-D blocks). The regulator added that the final selection and awards of the spectrum allocations would be made ‘in ten working days’ from the pre-qualification announcement, after the Committee on Public Offering (a committee selected by Conatel to monitor the granting of frequencies), completes its technical analysis of the tenders received. Under licence conditions, frequency winners must then roll out 4G mobile services to at least the 20 most populous municipalities in Venezuela in the first year of operation; whilst within four years the 4G services must cover all state capitals; and by the end of the fifth year, 100 or more municipalities (representing over three-quarters of the population) must be covered.
The sole 4G LTE mobile operator in Venezuela is currently Digitel, controlled by Venezuelan media and telecoms tycoon Oswaldo Cisneros, while it is notable that the parent of one of the pre-qualified 4G bidders, DirecTV, is currently the subject of a takeover bid by US giant AT&T.