Conatel rejects Natcom, Digicel requests for four-year LTE exclusivity

21 Jun 2019

Haiti’s National Council of Telecommunications (Conseil National des Telecommunications, Conatel) has reportedly rejected lengthy LTE exclusivity requests from mobile incumbents Natcom and Digicel. Local news site Le Nouvelliste quotes Jean-David Rodney, director general of Conatel, as saying that the four-year exclusivity requests submitted by the cellcos were unjustified given the levels of profitability currently enjoyed by the two companies. Instead, the two operators have been granted a one-year exclusivity period. The development coincides with the government’s attempts to revamp the country’s telecoms licensing framework. Despite the exclusivity dispute, Mr Rodney added that the regulator will not be introducing a new 4G concession until the relevant frequencies have been freed up by the country’s broadcasters.

TeleGeography notes that Natcom launched its 1800MHz 4G network on a commercial basis in September 2016 and went on to take receipt of an additional 2×5MHz block of 1700MHz 4G spectrum in August 2018. Digicel has yet to switch on its LTE network, but in a press release last month – to celebrate the 13th anniversary of its Haitian launch – CEO Maarten Boute noted: ‘We are on the cusp of a new and very important investment phase to equip the country with a modern 4G LTE network.’ As recently as November 2018, Boute told L’Union that the cellco’s LTE plans had been derailed by the regulator’s 4G licence fee – which he said was four times the USD120 million figure it paid for a 2G concession (i.e. around USD480 million).