Chile, Peru to end roaming charges; Chile looks to tax OTT firms

25 Jun 2018

Chile and Peru have signed an agreement to work towards the elimination of international roaming charges for travellers moving between the two countries by 2020, Diario Financiero reports. Pamela Gidi and Rafael Eduardo Muente, the heads of the two nations’ telecoms watchdogs – Chile’s Department of Telecommunications (Subsecretaria de Telecomunicaciones, Subtel) and Peru’s Supervisory Agency for Private Investment in Telecommunications (Organismo Supervisor de Inversion Privada en Telecommuniciones, Osiptel), respectively – signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) expressing their intention to strengthen cooperation, with the intention of facilitation economic and social development in both countries. Undersecretary Gidi noted that the move would provide a direct benefit to some 300,000 users that travel between Chile and Peru each month, adding: ‘The elimination of roaming [charges] contributes to the development of an ecosystem that, through communications, promotes economic activity, social and cultural integration and tourism [that] both countries need to boost and increase their digital economy.’

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, Subtel also entered talks with Argentina’s authorities in May this year with the aim of eliminating roaming charges by the end of 2019.

Meanwhile, Chilean lawmakers are considering introducing legislation to levy taxes on digital service providers that have no physical presence in the country. Finance Minister Felipe Larrain was quoted as saying that online companies – such as over-the-top (OTT) firms – would have to pay VAT and tax on their earnings in Chile unless their country of origin has a free trade agreement with Chile. ‘We are not trying to resist modernity … but we can try and ensure that everyone competes on a level playing field,’ the official explained. The move targets companies such as Uber, Netflix and Spotify but the minister acknowledged that it was a ‘challenge’ to find a way to tax such companies, with potential methods including an indirect transaction tax or a surtax charged to credit cards used for their services.