WOM fends off Claro, Borealnet to win second tiebreaker auction

12 Feb 2021

Chilean cellco WOM has won its second tiebreaker auction for 5G spectrum with an economic offer amounting to around CLP16.26 billion (USD22.4 million) sector watchdog the Department of Telecommunications (Subsecretaria de Telecomunicaciones, Subtel) has confirmed. The bid secured the single licence for the available AWS spectrum, a 2×15MHz tranche at 1755MHz-1770MHz/2155MHz-2170MHz, seeing off competition from Claro Chile and would-be newcomer Borealnet. The development follows WOM’s success in the tiebreaker auction for the available 700MHz spectrum – a 2×10MHz block of airwaves – earlier this week, which saw it compete with Borealnet for the frequencies. News portal TeleSemana reports that WOM’s bid far outstripped its competitors, with Claro having submitted an offer worth CLP1.10 billion and Borealnet just CLP2.5 million. According to Subtel, meanwhile, the AWS auction generated 300% more on a per MHz basis for state coffers than the original AWS tender in 2009. The regulator added that WOM has committed to providing 90% coverage as part of its technical bid, though TeleGeography notes that the two bands in which the company has won frequencies so far may be used for mobile networks using LTE-A Pro or 5G (and above) technologies, whereas the 3500MHz and 26GHz frequencies that are being allocated as part of the current series of 5G tenders are to be used exclusively for 5G or better.

Commenting on the development, Minister of Transport and Telecommunications, Gloria Hutt was quoted as saying: ‘The interest we are seeing in the tiebreaking bids of the 5G Public Contest is relevant, which speaks of the great attraction of the Chilean telecommunications sector. The enthusiasm that the companies have shown will undoubtedly translate into connectivity benefits for all users in the country once the new network is implemented.’

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, the regulator began tender processes for the award of spectrum in the 700MHz, AWS, 3500MHz and 26GHz ranges for 5G services last year, and in January 2021 announced that it had received interest in the airwaves from a total of five companies. For the 26GHz range, there was sufficient spectrum to meet the requests of the three companies that had submitted offers, but for each of the other three bands there were more offers than available concessions. With the initial technical submissions scoring too closely to declare a winner, the tenders have proceeded to a tiebreaker phase. The final auction, for a total of 150MHz in the 3500MHz is due to be held next week.