A few days before the end of 2022, one of the points that is put back on the table in the telecommunications sector is the value of the spectrum.
The foregoing, after the Development Research Center (CID) of the National University, published a new analysis in which it highlights that the National Government must take into account the deterioration of various macroeconomic indicators, such as high inflation and the devaluation of the peso against the dollar, when defining prices in 2023.
Now, according to the investigation, the cost of spectrum in the renewals of 2019 and 2021 doubled the value of the 2011 allocation in real termsthat is, discounting inflation.
“They also represented more than twice the values shown by international price comparisons of spectrum prices. Specifically, in the 1,900 MHz band at $36.25 per MHz, per population per year, this adjustment continues 1.7 times above the CID reference prices, which coincide with international price comparisons made by other specialized consultants.”, said the entity.
It should be noted that the 2,500 MHz band also has a high cost of $24.31 per MHz per population per year, compared to other reference values.
For Karoll Gómez Portilla, main researcher of the analysis, “spectrum prices in Colombia are between 2 and 3 times higher than international prices”, so an adequate price setting, consistent with the macroeconomic conditions of the country “It is essential for the achievement of socioeconomic development objectives for the countryGomez said.
But not everything in the study focuses on negative points, according to this CID analysis, there is a positive relationship between increased coverage of mobile services (voice and data) and improvements in socioeconomic variables such as employment, health, education and production. In addition to the fact that the greater coverage of mobile services would have a positive impact on employment, health and education in the country.
“The positive impact has to do with the relationship that mobile coverage has with the country’s productivity and, above all, with the closing of socioeconomic gaps that are still present in the country. For example, if Colombia achieves an additional increase of 350,000 mobile service subscribers, this could generate an additional increase of 4,000 health contributors. Likewise, the same increase in voice and data users could mean an increase in formal employment of almost 2 percentage points.”, highlighted the CID study.
After knowing this CID analysis, the reactions were not long in coming from the telecommunications companies and the Association of the Mobile Industry of Colombia, Asomóvil.
Samuel Hoyos, president of Asomóvil, affirmed that the main conclusion evidenced by the study by the National University is that the value of the spectrum should not be measured in money, “but in how much we can close the gap in education, in access to health, in how many jobs can be generated and in terms of social well-being that connectivity represents”.
Along these lines, Marcelo Cataldo, president of Tigo Colombia, pointed out that in order to advance operations in the sector The values of the spectrum must be known by the Government.
“In Colombia we have more than 76 million active lines, but we barely have 37 million mobile internet accesses: we consider this as digital poverty. The government should review the value of the spectrum, since it is one of the most expensive in the region. We must follow the path of closing the digital divide. In 2023, the most important thing will be the spectrum renewal. But if it is not known how much the Government is going to charge, it will be difficult to plan the operationCataldo added.
Finally, Ramiro Lafarga, president of WOM Colombia, specified in an interview with Portafolio that “spectrum prices must be leveled to make it more attractive to invest.”
“Historically in Colombia, the issue of spectrum auctions or spectrum renewal was seen as an opportunity to make cash. Today there is an open agenda and we are waiting to find out what the new proposal is, ”he said.
MinTIC opens bases for the use of the spectrum
Through Resolution number 4543 of December 21, 2022, the ICT Ministry invited telecommunications operators to express their interest in obtaining permits for the use of the radio spectrum, so that they can operate and provide land mobile services in the following frequency bands: 10 MHz of radio spectrum in the 700 MHz band. Up to 10 MHz of radio spectrum in the 1900 MHz band.Up to 30 MHz of radio spectrum in the 2500 MHz band. Up to 400 MHz of radio spectrum in the 3500 MHz band. Up to 2.8 GHz of radio spectrum in the 26 GHz band.
The operators will have a term to present their expressions of interest until December 29, 2022.