TDLC postpones hearings on spectrum cases

25 Apr 2019

Chile’s Antitrust Tribunal (Tribunal de Defensa de la Libre Competencia, TDLC) has postponed hearings relating to two ongoing cases over spectrum allocations this week, pushing back resolutions until late May/early June. The court was due to hold a consultation with the Department of Telecommunications (Subsecretaria de Telecomunicaciones, Subtel) regarding changes to the spectrum holding caps on 22 April but has now delayed the hearing to 27 May, enabling stakeholders to submit opinions for consideration until 14 May. As noted by TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in June 2018 the Supreme Court rules that cellcos Entel, Movistar and Claro had engaged in anti-competitive practices by participating in the 700MHz band spectrum auction in 2014, bidding for airwaves that brought their total holdings above the 60MHz limit previously set by the same court back in 2009. Following the decision, Subtel opted to revise the limitations on spectrum holdings, and submitted proposals to the TDLC for consideration in October 2018. Under the regulator’s proposed system, frequencies would be sub-divided into four brackets: ‘Low’ – consisting of the sub-1GHz band; ‘Middle-low’ – comprising the 1GHz-3GHz ranges; ‘Middle-high’ – 3.4GHz-3.8GHz; and ‘High’ – 27.5GHz-28GHz. Operators would be permitted to hold a maximum of 50MHz across bands in the Low bracket, 60MHz in Middle-low, 80MHz for Middle-high and 200MHz in the High range.

Separately, the TDLC was also due to hear a complaint from Movistar regarding Subtel’s handling of the 3500MHz band on 22 April but has now delayed the hearing until 13 June. Subtel suspended use of the 3500MHz band by several operators in June 2018 after it found that the spectrum was not being used efficiently and to allow it to study the band’s potential use for 5G technology. Claro and Entel – the companies worst affected by the order – challenged the decision and in October 2018 were allowed to continue using around half of their spectrum holdings in the 3500MHz band. Movistar has argued against the latter decision, however, claiming that it will grant the duo an advantage when 5G licences are tendered.