Chris Bannister, the CEO of Colombian newcomer Partners, has informed La Republica that both Claro and Tigo have refused to sign interconnection agreements with it to date, meaning that Movistar is the sole national operator to agree terms. The executive added that ‘conflict meetings’ with the Communications Regulatory Commission (Comision de Regulacion de Comunicaciones, CRC) came to nothing, with Claro claiming that its only lawyer was otherwise engaged and unable to attend the talks.
It is understood that Partners infuriated its rivals by using its 700MHz spectrum allocation to bolster the networks of its recently acquired mobile subsidiary, Avantel. Bannister, however, has assured industry observers that the 700MHz spectrum has now been withdrawn, pending a full investigation by the National Spectrum Agency (Agencia Nacional del Espectro, ANE).
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in December 2019 Partners (representing Icelandic-owned, UK-based private equity firm Novator Partners) successfully bid on frequencies in the 700MHz band and 2500MHz bands in Colombia’s multi-band spectrum auction. In July 2020, meanwhile, Novator Partners acquired an unspecified majority stake in Colombian mobile operator Avantel and launched a restructuring of the business.