Arlink, the wireless start-up backed by Argentine media conglomerate Grupo Uno, has seen its hopes of entering the country’s mobile market dashed by the government’s refusal to extend the deadline by which it must pay its 3G/4G spectrum fees. According to local press reports, the deadline for payment was 30 June, but new regulator Autoridad Federal de las Tecnologias de la Informacion y las Comunicaciones (AFTIC) refused Arlink’s request for a 180-day extension after the company struggled to raise the required funding from local banks. The would-be wireless operator is believed to owe USD506 million for the frequencies, which span the 1900MHz, 700MHz and 1700MHz/2100MHz (AWS) bands. It remains unclear as to whether or not the frequencies will now be re-auctioned.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database in November 2014 former watchdog Secretaria de Comunicaciones (SeCom) confirmed that it had received bids totalling USD2.23 billion for its multi-band wireless spectrum auction – a 13% premium on the reserve price of USD1.97 billion. Telefonica, Telecom Personal and Claro went on to settle their respective bills, but Arlink has dragged its heels.