Telecom Argentina, Telefonica and Claro all expressed interest in a planned auction of 90MHz of 4G spectrum which could raise $800 million for Argentina’s government, Reuters reported.
The auction is likely to be made up of 60MHz returned by telecom company Arlink and 30MHz held by state telecoms company Arsat.
Argentina’s Modernisation Ministry told Reuters a change in regulation is required to allow the government to auction off Arsat’s spectrum. This will happen around mid-year through either a law or a presidential decree.
Telecom Argentina said in January it would invest $5 billion over two years to improve its infrastructure and communications service.
“We view a government spectrum auction as good and necessary, keeping in mind the huge growth in the use of mobile data, with permanent connectivity demand from users,” the operator told Reuters.
Telecom Argentina, which recently merged with cable TV provider Cablevision, must return 80MHz of spectrum as the merged entity exceeds the 140MHz limit. However, because the government wants to raise this cap, the operator will probably be alowed to participate in the upcoming auction.
Meanwhile Telefonica, which operates in the country as Movistar, plans to invest around $2 billion in the country over the next year. It said in a statement it would be interested in “an eventual auction”.
Claro, owned by America Movil, also plans to invest $400 million per year through 2020 and “has interest in growing and developing the networks that benefit service to its customers, be it through deployment or acquisition of spectrum,” the company told Reuters.
President Mauricio Macri sought to attract investment to the telecoms sector to boost competition and improve connectivity since coming into office in 2015. He also pushed a change to laws allowing companies to offer multiple telecoms services.
In January telecoms regulator Enacom approved rules which will allow companies to offer converged mobile, fixed, pay-TV and internet services, as part of a wider push to boost competition in the country.