Telecom Argentina picked up approval from competition regulators for a merger with cable TV company Cablevision, creating a new leader in converged telecom and media services, although conditions have been imposed.
After a ten-month review, the Comision Nacional Defensa de la Competencia said it imposes obligations and makes recommendations on four levels: divestments; commercial offers; network availability; and spectrum.
In addition, the combined company will have to avoid bundling services for a period of either six or 12 months (depending on region), limiting its potential first mover advantage. By delaying combined offers, competitors have “more time to invest or partner to provide multiple services together with another provider”.
Argentinian regulators have been moving to allow multiplay services in the market.
For the mobile network, in line with earlier recommendations of communications watchdog Enacom, the merged company must return up to 80MHz of spectrum. It has also been recommended that regional internet and TV players be allowed to provide mobile services as MVNOs.
For fixed infrastructure, businesses in 28 regions must be transferred, which serve almost 150,000 customers. The client portfolio will be sold to a company which will be a new-entrant, with Telecom Argentina obliged to provide infrastructure, wholesale services and use of its Arnet brand for enough time to allow the new player to “make investments that allow it to consolidate its position in these markets”.
Telecom Argentina is also required to provide residential internet wholesale services through a reference offer, so other operators can provide services using the network without the obligation to install their own infrastructure.
Telecom Argentina and Cablevision announced the merger plan almost exactly one year ago.