Cellcos predict 500,000 4G users by year-end

17 Dec 2014

Chilean cellcos Claro, Movistar and Entel expect to end the year with a combined total of more than 500,000 4G subscribers, blaming delays in the allocation of 700MHz spectrum for that number not being higher. Diario Financiero writes that Claro is predicting 4G subscriptions to reach 250,000 by 31 December 2014, whilst Movistar and Entel are expected to have signed up 200,000 and 170,000 respectively. The trio attributed a delay in the ‘massification’ of the 4G market to legal action brought by mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Telestar, which has delayed the allocation of 700MHz frequcies. Telestar claims that the auction process and rollout obligations prevented smaller operators from bidding for the frequencies. Movistar, Entel and Claro were named as the winners of the 700MHz spectrum blocks in March this year, but due to the legal challenge the frequencies have yet to be handed to the operators. As noted by TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the three named cellcos currently offer 4G services using frequencies in the 2600MHz band, but the propagation characteristics of those airwaves make them ill-suited for expanding coverage and the cellcos need access to the lower-band spectrum bands to affordably offer services across a wider area. According to the most recent statistics from telecoms regulator Sub-Secretaria de Telecomunicaciones (Subtel), Entel had signed up 76,607 4G users at end-June 2014 whilst Claro counted 14,787 – Movistar was not mentioned in the report but TeleGeography estimates that the cellco had 12,000 LTE customers at that date.