Chilean telecoms watchdog the Department of Telecommunications (Subsecretaria de Telecomunicaciones, Subtel) has unveiled plans for a 5G spectrum auction, with a total of 60MHz in the 700MHz and 3.5GHz bands available to potential bidders. The regulator made the announcement at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in an effort to attract new operators to the market. In a statement from the watchdog, it explained that the tender: ‘aims to increase number of participants nationwide in the future 5G network, and specifically in the 3.5GHz band, since today there are five operators with allocated spectrum, from which only two could provide these services.’ Subtel went on to claim that several foreign operators had already shown an interest in participating in the contest with a view to entering the market. Initial public consultation documents for the auction will be made available by the end of March.
As noted by TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in June last year Subtel suspended use of the 3.5GHz spectrum after finding that the frequencies were either underutilised or not being used at all. Following a legal backlash from the five operators affected by the freeze, the regulator relented in October and allowed the providers to continue using around half of their previously-allocated airwaves. Potentially complicating matters further, there is an ongoing legal dispute over the allocation of 700MHz frequencies in 2014 relating to spectrum holding caps. Subtel submitted proposals for new upper limits on spectrum holdings in October 2018, but the new measures have not yet come into effect.