Argentina fast tracks 4play legal framework

The Government of Argentina issued a decree that introduces changes in the telecommunications market in order to increase competition and move towards “full convergence”. The decree enables the telecom companies to provide pay TV services from 2018 onwards. It also authorizes DirecTV to provide satellite broadband while Grupo Clarín will be able to offer 3G and 4G mobile services through Nextel.

According to decree 1340/2016, published in the Official Gazette, Telefónica, Telecom and Claro will be able to offer pay TV, “by physical or radioelectric link”, from January 1, 2018, in the city of Buenos Aires, Greater Buenos Aires And the cities of Rosario and Córdoba. For the rest of the country, the start date of the service will be determined by the National Entity of Communications (Enacom). This way, telecom companies cannot provide DTH so the current restriction is maintained.

The decree also authorizes Enacom and the Ministry of Communications to issue “rules for administration, management and control of the radio spectrum” in order to implement procedures to ensure the reuse of spectrum frequencies previously assigned to another service, to provide mobile or fixed wireless services with LTE or higher technologies. In this way, Nextel will be able to use its spectrum in 900 MHz and 2.5 Ghz bands –acquired through the purchase of other companies– to offer 4G services.

In turn, DirecTV (AT&T) can move forward with its satellite internet service, which the company is already offering but with a “precarious and experimental” license.

According to the Minister of Communications, Oscar Aguad, the decree “adopts transcendental decisions for the world of telecommunications, since convergence is anticipated one year, to January 2018, and opens the possibility that new operators can enter this market”.

Currently, the Argentine Government is preparing a new official Communications Law project, which will be presented in March. The decree 1340 was issued as a way to accelerate the legal framework while the Government finishes writing the project.