Uruguay’s Senate has approved an amendment to Article 56 of the Law on Audiovisual Communication Services to allow cable TV operators to also offer fixed broadband services. The move will enable other companies to compete with state-owned national telecoms operator Antel, which was previously the only operator permitted to supply broadband services over fixed telecoms networks, as Article 56 barred cablecos from providing internet, phone and data transmission services to prevent cross-ownership. Bnamericas reports that Congress is still debating some proposed changes to other areas of the media legislation, but if these are approved and then signed off by President Luis Lacalle-Pou as expected, then private cable operators will have the right to request a licence to offer fixed broadband services starting in January 2023. However, the amendment excludes operators providing TV services via satellite.
The development comes after the Regulatory Unit of Communications Services (Unidad Reguladora de Servicios de Comunicaciones, URSEC) authorised five cable operators to offer broadband internet services in June. Cable Montevideo (Montecable), Tractoral (TCC), Korfield, Praimar and Riselco (Nuevo Siglo) were permitted to offer broadband to consumers after filing a legal action challenging the constitutionality of Article 56. In 2016 the Supreme Court of Justice ruled in their favour but the article remained in place due to lack of political support for its elimination.