Chile orders three largest mobile operators to return spectrum

SANTIAGO – Chile’s Supreme Court has ruled in favour of consumer rights group the National Corporation of Consumers and Users (Corporacion Nacional de Consumidores y Usuarios, Conadecus), upholding its complaint that America Movil’s Claro, Telefonica brand Movistar and Entel had engaged in anti-competitive practices in the process of bidding for 700MHz spectrum in 2014.

The top court has demanded the country’s three largest mobile operators return spectrum holdings equivalent to blocks allocated in the country’s latest 700MHz band auction, following allegations of hoarding.

In a statement, regulator Subsecretaria de Telecomunicaciones de Chile (Subtel) said the companies had bid on the blocks without “respecting the limit of 60MHz that each incumbent can have in the advanced services market”.

It added the Supreme Court decision warned against spectrum hoarding and reiterated “radio spectrum is a national good for public use that belongs to all Chileans, and that it is within the powers of Subtel to ensure the efficient use of it”.

In 2015, 30MHz of 700MHz was allocated to Entel, while the other two operators were each awarded 20MHz. The trio will have to return the same volume of spectrum, though they are free to choose which band they surrender the allocations in.

Subtel suspends use of 3.5GHz during 5G spectrum studies in Chile

Last week, Subtel made separate spectrum hoarding accusations and subsequently suspended use of the 3.5GHz band. It stated the companies were not making efficient use of the band and it wanted to use the band to test 5G technology.