TDLC ‘lost opportunity’ to rule on secondary market for spectrum

15 Jun 2015

Chile’s antitrust watchdog the Court of Defence of Free Competition (TDLC, Tribunal de Defensa de la Libre Competencia) is in favour of the creation of a secondary market for spectrum, but claims that the matter should be decided by parliament, Diario Financiero writes. The competition authority had been asked by the National Economic Prosecutor (FNE, Fiscalia Nacional Economica) to draw up a set of recommendations to develop a legal framework for a secondary spectrum market in June 2014, but shortly afterwards the Ministry of Transport and Telecommunications (MTT) referred a bill to parliament which would allow sale of underutilised or unwanted spectrum from one operator to another, but maintaining the obligations of the original concession. As such, TDLC says it has now ‘lost its opportunity’ to act on the matter, as: ‘the executive has identified the competition problems that would justify a reform and has exercised its legal initiative to incorporate such changes into the General Telecommunications Law’.

As noted by TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, the issue of selling spectrum was brought to a head by full service provider VTR’s decision to move from a mobile network operator (MNO) model to a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) model in December 2013. Whilst VTR ceased using its spectrum holdings, it subsequently emerged that the telecom regulator lacked the necessary powers to force the provider to relinquish the unused spectrum, nor were there rules in place to allow VTR to sell its frequencies to other providers. More recently, in April 2015 wireless provider Nextel began lobbying for permission to exchange some of its AWS-band frequencies (i.e. 1700MHz/2100MHz) for unused spectrum in the 700MHz band, currently reserved by the regulator for an emergency network.