INTERVIEW: Marcelo Cataldo, CEO of Tigo Colombia (TigoUne), fears the country’s growth is being harmed by the regulator’s failure to deal with fast-paced transformation in the industry, as he urged stricter laws against OTT players.

Speaking to Mobile World Live at the recent M360 LatAm event in Bogota, Cataldo said the Colombian market was experiencing the same transformation the rest of the world is seeing, with its legacy voice business being transformed by data.

But he highlighted a number of challenges facing the market which are “diminishing Colombian growth”.

Cataldo said certain macro-economic factors, for example, made it difficult for consumers to upgrade their smartphones to capitalise on the availability of better networks, which could explain why penetration in the country lagged even in comparison to the rest of the Latin American region.

Despite pushing 4G networks to its customers, the country’s penetration for the technology stood at 15 per cent compared with 20 per cent to 25 per cent across LatAm and 60 per cent to 70 per cent in Europe.

As well as pushing 4G, Tigo Colombia is also bullish about 5G in the country, with plans for imminent trials.

The operator is the country’s third largest player with a 16 per cent market share according to GSMA Intelligence.

Another factor harming the industry, according to Cataldo, was the support of the regulatory landscape, or lack of, against new players, such as the OTT segment.

“We need a regulator that considers all these new ecosystem [players],” he said: “For example, Netflix has 1 million customers in Colombia but it’s not regulated at all. It’s not even included in the ecosystem, so the regulator has to understand that these new players, with different functionalities, should be considered across the entire ecosystem.”

In the interview, Cataldo also hit out at government fees in Colombia, which are higher than the rest of the region.