Argentina’s telecoms regulator the National Communications Agency (Ente Nacional de Comunicaciones, ENACOM) has approved the conditions for a long-awaited 5G spectrum licence auction including the 3300MHz-3600MHz frequency range. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that the 3.5GHz 5G auction – projected by the government to raise as much as USD1.4 billion – has already missed proposed target launch dates of February and June 2023. ENACOM has now approved the 300MHz tranche of 3.5GHz spectrum to be auctioned in three 100MHz TDD blocks, each with a base bidding price of USD350 million, under licences permitting both mobile and fixed 5G network services. Qualifying applicants must submit bids by 29 September 2023.

The 3.5GHz 5G range is officially categorised as ‘frequency bands for Reliable & Intelligent Telecommunications Service (Servicio de Telecomunicaciones Fiables e Inteligentes, STeFI)’, and ENACOM’s resolution (issued 28 August 2023) states that a single licensee may acquire no more than 200MHz of SteFI bandwidth in any given geographical licensing zone (‘Exploitation Area’). ENACOM underlined that ‘one of the objectives of this [5G auction] procedure is to avoid the concentration of spectrum and the configuration of a dominant position, to guarantee fair competition between providers and affordable options for users.’ The watchdog stated that its decision is framed within regulatory guidelines ‘which aim to maximise and increase resources for the provision of mobile and next-generation communications services in Argentina’ and ‘guarantee quality and coverage standards’.

The watchdog’s latest announcement added: ‘The deployment of 5G in Argentina constitutes a medium and long-term State policy, which will require collaboration between the public sector and the private sector: companies must make investments to renew the network infrastructure; and governments, allow marketing at affordable prices and certainty for fair competition.’ The government has reserved spectrum in the 3600MHz-3700MHz band for state-owned telecoms firm ARSAT for the adoption of 5G by the public sector or by signing agreements with cooperatives and SMEs, a report from RCRWireless noted.

GlobalComms says that the country’s current sole 5G mobile network operator, Telecom Argentina (Personal), has provided the service since 2021 by utilising existing 4G frequencies via dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS) technology.

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