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Sutel concludes 5G consultation; recommends spectrum retrieval and auction

27 Feb 2023

Costa Rica’s Superintendency of Telecommunications (Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones, Sutel) has advised the Ministry of Science, Technology and Telecommunications (Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnologia y Telecomunicaciones, MICITT) to proceed with a 5G spectrum auction ‘in the shortest possible time’ following the conclusion of its recent consultation. 19 interested parties took part in the consultation, which commenced on 13 January 2023, with Sutel urging the MICITT to ‘continue with the necessary actions to recover unused and underused spectrum in the 2600MHz and 3500MHz bands’. In presenting his findings, Federico Chacon Loaiza, President of the Council of Sutel, commented: ‘The instruction of the bidding process would allow market operators to satisfy, at least partially, their demand for radioelectric spectrum, and mitigate the imbalance in terms of possession of radioelectric spectrum for 5G.’

TeleGeography notes that state-backed utility provider/telco Grupo ICE (Kolbi) is currently the only operator in possession of 5G-capable spectrum and attempts to retrieve its underused frequencies have been underway for some time. In May 2022, in one of his first notable acts since assuming power, President Rodrigo Chaves Robles ordered Marco Acuna Mora, the executive president of Grupo ICE, to return all of the state company’s 5G-suitable spectrum holdings to the MICITT within six months. Sure enough, on 7 September 2022 the new president announced that Grupo ICE had agreed to return its unused 5G-suitable spectrum in the 3400MHz-3500MHz and 3600MHz-3625MHz bands. In October 2022 Sutel urged the government to help it recover unused and underused spectrum in the 2.6GHz band; as with the 3.5GHz band, Grupo ICE was named as the culprit.

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