Uruguay confirmed that a block of 5G spectrum had been reserved for state-run telco Antel
Uruguayan operators Claro, owned by Mexican telecom group America Movil, and Movistar, owned by Spanish telco Telefonica, secured 5G frequencies in the country’s first auction of 5G spectrum.
The operators, who were the sole bidders in the process, each acquired a block of 100 megahertz in the 3.5 GHz band for a total of $56 million.
The government had set a minimum price of $28 million for each block of spectrum. Claro offered US$28.1 million for the frequencies, while Movistar offered $28.05 million.
The country’s telecommunications services regulator, Ursec, had offered three blocks of 100 megahertz in the 3.5GHz band, one of which was reserved for state-owned telco Antel.
Ursec stipulated that the operators will have to deploy a total of 70 antennas across the country and at least two base stations in at least 10 geographic “departments”, excluding the capital Montevideo, in the first two years of the contract. In the following 36 months, Claro and Movistar will have to install at least two base stations in each of the 19 departments.
The regulator also noted that the 5G licenses will be valid for 25 years.
“This acquisition is part of an ambitious investment plan, which includes the deployment of specific infrastructure for this technology throughout Uruguay and the incorporation of technological platforms to continue strengthening the company’s digital offer,” Movistar said in a statement.
The carrier said it has invested nearly $700 million since it launched mobile telephony in the country over 30 years ago, including the licenses for the 5G auction.
The 5G auction had raised controversy because Ursec decided to exclude local operator Dedicado, who had showed interested in the spectrum. Also, local carriers considered that the base price set by the watchdog had been high. Movistar as well as Claro and Dedicado had filed appeals regarding the price for the 5G frequencies.
In Latin America, Chile, Brazil and the Dominican Republic has already auctioned 5G spectrum.
According to a recent study published by 5G Americas, 4G LTE is expected to remain strong in Latin America and the Caribbean through the end of 2023. In Q4 2022, there were 537 million 4G LTE connections, representing 9.3% annual growth with the addition of 46 million new LTE subscriptions. Latin America and the Caribbean had a total of 12 million 5G connections by end-2022 and is expected to have 400 million 5G customers by 2027, according to the report.
“5G and LTE continue to make significant progress throughout the region. Longer term, 5G has an opportunity to foster productivity and industrial development in the region,” said Jose Otero, VP of Caribbean and Latin America for 5G Americas.