Subtel proposes solution to 3.5GHz use dispute

26 May 2022

Chile’s Department of Telecommunications (Subsecretaria de Telecomunicaciones, Subtel) has set out plans to resolve the ongoing dispute regarding the use of spectrum in the 3.5GHz band. Diario Financiero cites Subsecretary of Telecommunications Claudio Araya as saying that the regulator aims to enable operators with spectrum licences for fixed wireless services to change how those concessions so that the frequencies can be used for advanced mobile services. Of the six providers with spectrum in the band, three – WOM, Entel and Movistar – paid substantial fees for 5G licences in last year’s tender whilst the other three (VTR, Claro and GTD) were allocated fixed wireless licences in 2001 at no cost. The official explained that the latter trio hold spectrum that is not being put to effective use and the additional capacity from the airwaves will be of growing importance as more users migrate to 5G services. Mr Araya went on to say that to address the matter quickly and without impacting competition, the older concessions should be upgraded to permit the use of the spectrum for mobile services.

To that end, executives from the six companies along with regulatory officials and other experts are set to conduct a series of meetings over the next two weeks to agree on a value for the spectrum holdings and a fair price for the change of the concession. Once this has been completed, Subtel must take the matter to the Antitrust Tribunal (Tribunal de Defensa de la Libre Competencia, TDLC) as an earlier ruling on the matter from the body mandated that 3.5GHz spectrum be allocated via a public tender.