Sutel rejects ombudsman’s appeal, ratifies declaration of competition

20 Oct 2017

Costa Rican telecoms watchdog the Superintendency of Telecommunications (Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones, Sutel) has ratified its decision to declare the nation’s wireless market competitive, rejecting an appeal from the Ombudsman’s Office of Costa Rica (La Defensoria de los Habitantesde la Republica, DHR). The declaration of effective competition in the wireless market eliminated certain tariff-setting regulations on operators, freeing cellcos to offer a wider variety of plans and offers. The DHR had challenged Sutel’s decision, claiming that price reductions in recent years were due to factors other than competition and accusing the regulator of omitting relevant information from its reports. Sutel has defended its findings, noting that its methodology was supported by anti-trust regulator the Commission for the Promotion of Competition (La Comision para Promover la Competencia, COPROCOM). Sutel added that its decision was based on a comprehensive analysis of the mobile market, and that the DHR’s chosen approach of focussing on a specific parameter was flawed.

Amongst the DHR’s other criticisms was the limited number of operators and the distribution of radio spectrum to just three mobile network operators; a situation which it claimed represented an unassailable barrier to would be newcomers to the market. In its response, Sutel pointed out that the number of operators present in Costa Rica’s wireless market is ‘comparable with that of similar countries’.