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Radio Spectrum in Latin America, Far From Ideally Allocated

Escrito por Redacción TNI el 19/04/2016 a las 21:11:04

None of the Latin American countries have reached 50% of the 1300 MHz suggested by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) for 2015 in its ITU-R M.2078 report. This report establishes the spectrum allocation requirements for IMT-2000 and IMT-Advanced technologies, commonly referred to as 3G and 4G, to work efficiently. These requirements are reflected in 5G Americas’ recently published white paper “Analysis of ITU Spectrum Recommendations in the Latin American Region


According to the white paper, only four countries in the region have allocated over 30% of the ITU’s suggestion for 2015: Argentina (31%), Brazil (41.7%), Chile (35.8%) and Nicaragua (32.3%), with all four having allocated the 700 MHz band. Furthermore, three markets stand below the 20% spectrum target suggested: El Salvador (16%), Guatemala (16.2%) and Panama (16.9%). These countries are yet to announce a date for their next spectrum licensing process. The remaining Latin American countries lie below the 30% compliance level but over 20%.


“The lack of sufficient spectrum for the development of mobile services has a negative impact on both consumers, who are deprived of innovative services with optimum performance, and the telecommunications industry, whose growth potential is limited,” explained José Otero, Director of 5G Americas for Latin America and the Caribbean. “Spectrum frequencies are necessary for technological development to materialize in the way of services that benefit society by meeting the growing need for broadband, a key element in the economic progress of communities. This document reveals that more internationally harmonized spectrum is needed throughout the region.”   


The ITU is not alone in having identified the need for more spectrum allocations. Among others, a 2007 study conducted by the Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN) Alliance establishes that the net spectrum requirements would range from 500 MHz to 1 GHz by 2020, depending on the world region. In addition, the 2010 National Broadband Plan developed by the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requested that 500 MHz of spectrum be allocated by 2020.

Listed significant conclusions from the white paper:


  • The white paper reflects on the efficient performance of mobile networks especially in densely populated urban areas. These areas experience spectrum constraints which are aggravated by other restrictions such as difficulties in installing new infrastructure or deploying new technologies.
  • The white paper touches upon the spectrum allocation in the Latin Americas. It explains how spectrum availability is equally important in rural and remote areas. The wireline telecommunication infrastructure is lacking and inadequate for coverage resulting in making wireless technologies the only feasible alternative for providing connectivity.
  • It is extremely important for the countries in the Americas to work jointly toward a harmonized spectrum plan for the region aimed at benefiting from economies of scale, encompassing the entire ecosystem of chipsets, devices and infrastructure, as well as LTE mobile broadband roaming.


“Latin American regulators must continue to be diligent in understanding the importance for their citizens of making more spectrum available in the market with the purpose of promoting economic growth and global connectivity in their countries. Fortunately, some governments are already stepping up their efforts in this connection for they have realized that spectrum is a key ingredient to societies’ development and progress, in much the same ways as water, sewage and roads were in the past,” concluded Otero.

For more information, you may download 5G Americas’ white paper “Analysis of ITU Spectrum Recommendations in the Latin American Region” here.