Argentina’s communications regulator ENACOM approved on Monday the tender for bandwidth slots for 5G technology providers. According to the conditions sheet published in the Official Bulletin, the offer is for three slots at a starting price of US$350 million each. The winner of each bid will be awarded the slot for 20 years.
To ensure competition, companies will only be allowed to bid on one of the three 100 MHz slots located between the 3,300 MHz and 3,600 MHz bandwidth. Potential bidders have until September 29 to present the required technical information.
The approval comes as the final step of a process that began in 2021, when ENACOM started laying the groundwork by establishing which frequencies would be used and asking telecommunication companies to say how much of the infrastructure required for 5G they already have in place.
5G is the name given to the fifth-generation technology for broadband networks, which are capable of connecting several wireless devices to internet and cellphone networks with higher speed and lower response time than previous technology. In order to do this, 5G typically uses higher bandwidths than 4G, which increases a network’s efficiency.
This technology is crucial for the development of what is known as the internet of things, the data connectivity between appliances like refrigerators or laundry machines and the internet. 5G allows this to take place without slowing down or overloading the network.
Companies interested in bidding for Argentina’s 5G slots must meet certain requirements. These include having the relevant license, a net worth of over AR$10 billion, at least 50,000 access points declared. Additionally, they must already be operating in at least 10 cities across the country.
Once a telecom provider has been awarded a bandwidth and 50% of its customers are using 5G devices, the company must also offer a service plan for low-income users. Although there were no specific indications as to what the plan must look like, ENACOM said that it will be destined for people who make less than two minimum-wage salaries, as well as non-profit legal entities.
Although Argentine cities including Buenos Aires, Rosario and Córdoba already have 5G antennas, the technology has not been available yet mainly because the bandwidth required for its transmission is limited and expensive. Latin American countries with 5G networks in place include Brazil, Mexico and Chile.