Argentina is to launch a tender for 4G radio frequencies later in 2014, a contest open to foreign bidders as well as the country’s mobile incumbents.
The frequencies in the proposed auction are at 700 MHz and 1.7-2.1 GHz and the winning bidders have five years to complete deployment of their 4G networks.
In pole position for any bid are the country’s four existing operators: Telecom Argentina-backed Personal alongside the two stalwarts of Latin American mobile industry – Telefonica’s Movistar and America Movil’s Claro – and Nextel (NII).
In addition to the 4G spectrum, the government plans to sell off the remaining 3G spectrum blocks in the 1900 MHz and 850 MHz frequency bands, which were assigned to Arsat in 2012.
According to GSMA Intelligence figures, Argentina has a total of 63.9 million mobile connections (end Q1, 2014 figures), of which roughly one third are 3G.
The government is eager to see higher penetration of mobile broadband, firstly with 3G and then ultimately via 4G.
But the country’s Economy Minister Axel Kicillof said those who win spectrum “will have to commit to substantial investments in infrastructure,” and that ” [they] will have a strong regulation by the state because it is a service with few operators in the market. “