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Novator plots 2Q21 Colombian launch; ‘Uncle WOM’ takes the helm

15 May 2020

Novator Partners, the Icelandic-owned, London-based backer of Chilean upstart operator WOM, hopes to launch its Colombian business in the second quarter of 2021, El Tiempo reports. The launch will be overseen by Chris ‘Uncle WOM’ Bannister, the flamboyant executive who shook up the Chilean mobile market with his lurid promotional strategies. Since stepping down at the Chilean cellco, Bannister relocated to Bogota, where he has been studying local market conditions.

Discussing the company’s rollout schedule, Bannister told the news site: ‘I have spoken with four major global suppliers and they have all said that they are able to reach the rural areas that we need [to cover] and have made good offers. Previously, these multi-million-dollar businesses required the movement of teams of people from China, Europe and various countries to analyse proposals. Now, I am going to make a million-dollar decision based on video conferencing. Added to this is the consideration that the global equipment production chain is affected by the coronavirus.’

TeleGeography notes that Partners successfully bid on 20MHz of spectrum in the 700MHz band and 30MHz in the 2500MHz band in December 2019. The 700MHz spectrum licences include obligations to bring 4G connectivity to 3,658 rural locations across 32 departments of the country, including the San Andres archipelago; all rural 4G networks must be operational in less than five years. Post-auction, Partners asked for its 2.5GHz bid to be retracted after an administrative gaffe saw it accidentally enter a bid ten times higher than the going rate. While the outcome of this situation was unclear, the watchdog confirmed that Partners took receipt of its 2.5GHz licence earlier this week.

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