Chilean industry watchdog the Department of Telecommunications (Subsecretaria de Telecomunicaciones, Subtel) has provisionally authorised Claro Chile to use a portion of its 3500MHz airwaves to offer commercial 5G services. Claro’s frequencies had previously been issued for fixed wireless use only, and to prevent Claro from gaining an advantage in its cost structure over operators that purchased their 5G spectrum in the 2021 auction, Subtel has ordered the provider to present technical plans – similar to those submitted as part of the auction – before it begins offering commercial 5G services. Further, Claro must also present Subtel with an additional investment plan to roll out 5G unserved or underserved locations across the country. The regulator noted that the decision to permit Claro to use the spectrum for mobile 5G services followed recommendations from both the Supreme Court and the Antitrust Tribunal (Tribunal de Defensa de la Libre Competencia, TDLC) which argued that Subtel must ensure that there are at least four players in the market to ensure effective competition.

Undersecretary of Telecommunications Claudio Araya said of the decision: ‘As a regulatory entity we are mandated to make decisions where the national interest is paramount, such as seeking the optimal use of the spectrum, which is a national asset for public use. And this authorisation, which is provisional, is taken with the objective of optimising the use of the spectrum, so that it can be operated for the benefit of the citizenry. When there is greater competition, the plans are more attractive, prices drop and people have more options to decide.’

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