Movistar Uruguay, a subsidiary of the Telefónica group in that country, will participate in the auction of 5G frequencies that will be launched in Montevideo in the coming days -before the end of April-, in a tender in which the public operator Antel (National Telecommunications Administration) will also participate. and Claro, owned by América Móvil.

The three companies are the only ones that have an international mobile telecommunications license in Uruguay, a standard established by Ursec (Unidade Reguladora de Serviços de Comunicações) to participate in the auction. The initial tender price is estimated at US$29 million, once reduced compared to the initial proposal of US$50 million, with a frequency exploration period of 25 years.

The goal of the Uruguayan government is that the activation of 3.5 GHz frequencies for 5G uses takes place in the middle of the year, between the next months of July and August, although the initial technology corresponds to 5G NSA (non stand alone), that is , on 4G infrastructures. This means that the performance of speed, capacity and latency will not reach the expectations of 5G Stand Alone.

A block, assigned to Antel

In the selection process, the highest bidder will be sought for three 100 MHz blocks, included in the 3.5 GHz band, ideal for offering 5G services. For now, it is known that one of the blocks is reserved for Antel, so the other two will be decided between Movistar and Claro. Everything indicates that there will be a distribution between the two, although nothing prevents an operator from winning both blocks in the auction.

The Ministry of Industry, Energy and Mining provided that the payment for the new frequencies will be flexible, with the payment of 25% within 30 days after the end of the auction, while the remaining 50% will be paid before the next 12 months and the 25% remaining two years later.

The tender specifications for the auction include the fact that not only Montevideo has 5G base stations. but also that coverage be extended to around half of the country’s provinces, with 70 base stations, to reach the entire territory in 36 months, with at least two base stations in each of them. In the event of non-compliance with this deadline, sanctions include a fine of US$10,000 for each base station not installed. In the same specifications, the use of between 80 and 100 MHz of contiguous spectrum per operator in the 3.5 GHz band is noted.

guarantee of neutrality

A little over a year ago, the Spanish operator asked the Uruguayan government for the auction of new frequencies to preserve the neutrality of the service for the development of the future telecommunications sector in that country. In an implicit reference to Antel, the Spanish group indicated through a statement that “there are no mechanisms that guarantee the non-existence of transfers of resources” in favor of a monopoly that operates in a competing sector.

As an example, tele alluded to the direct contracting of mobile telephone services to the state-owned company by public bodies. Speaking to the local press, the president of Movistar Uruguay insisted that it is “essential to guarantee neutrality in the rules, establishing conditions that do not privilege a certain operator so that they can obtain more and better spectrum at a lower price”.