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Research by Country/Region January 16, 2018  
Argentina: Broadband Fixed Wireless Access

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A. CURRENT GOVERNMENT POLICY GOVERNING ACCESS TO WORLDWIDE/BROADBAND FIXED WIRELESS ACCESS BAND (3.4 TO 3.7 GHZ), LMDS (28 TO 31 GHZ) AND UNLINCENSED BANDS

Decree 764/2000 provides the current regulatory framework for the Argentine telecommunications market. This decree, which fully opened the telecommunications market to competition effective November 9, 2000, includes policies for broadband fixed wireless services. It opened a full range of telecommunications services, including local telephony, national and international long distance, cable, wireless, satellite, IP telephony, cellular and internet, to competition. The decree approving the regulatory framework for the deregulation of the sector, included four regulations: interconnection rates, a licenses regime, spectrum allocation, and universal service.

Resolution 235 provides the basic rules for frequency allocations. This resolution states that the general principle of spectrum allocation is through auctions. However, in certain cases spectrums can be allocated by request such as when there is no other company interested in a frequency, when equitable distribution is required or when in the public interest. The resolution provides for one frequency auction to be held every 6 months with a minimum base price assigned per auction.

At the beginning of the De la Rua administration (1999-2001), the Government of Argentina declared the spectrums to be in state of emergency. The government froze all new spectrum allocations and sought to revise the LMDS allocations granted by the previous administration to investigate questionable issuances. Some of those frequencies were reviewed and returned to the original company. Other frequencies were not returned to the original buyers for not having complied with the minimum requirements imposed by the original contract. Other companies voluntarily returned their frequencies to the government for not using them. As in many other countries, initial hefty investments made in 1999-2000, particularly for LMDS technology, were not profitable. Many companies went bankrupt or were sold.

B. DEMAND OR NEED FOR BFW SERVICES

There is a growing demand for broadband access in general. Despite the severe economic crisis experienced in Argentina in 2002, broadband access to the internet was one of the few telecom services which increased in demand when compared with 2001. Fixed wireless services are offered in the most important cities of the country including Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Mendoza, and Rosario.

C. LICENSING

Yes. Any company that offers or intends to offer telecommunications services in Argentina requires a license. Decree 764 provides for a single license costing US$ 5,000 to offer all telecommunications services. The prospective provider must declare the services to be offered and present a technical and financial plan. Telecom license requests should be directed to Argentina’s Secretariat of Communications - SECOM. Contact:
Secretariat de Comunicaciones
Address: Sarmiento 151 office 531
(1001) Buenos Aires, Argentina
Phone: (54-11) 4318-9410
Fax: (54-11) 4318-9432
Web page: http://www.secom.gov.ar

To obtain technical and regulatory information, the government regulatory agency is the CNC – National Communications Commission.
Address: Peru 103
(C1067AAC) Buenos Aires, Argentina
Phone (54-11) 4318-9427/4347-9540/9542
Fax: (54-11) 4318-9408/4347-9546
Web page: http://www.cnc.gov.ar
E-mail: lawalos@cnc.gov.ar
Comments: Obtaining a license does not guarantee that frequencies will be granted.

D. FOREIGN OWENSHIP LIMITS

No. There are no restrictions to foreign capital or companies. Decree 764 provides for equal treatment for domestic and foreign investors/companies. No local partner is required -- only a local registration/incorporation of a company or branch. There is freedom of technology (any company can choose the technology of their preference to render its services)

E. INTERCONNECTION TARIFFS

Interconnection regulations (RNI) let the parties involved agree on an interconnection rate/price based on maximum reference value of 1.1 cents per minute (for cities of more than 5,000 inhabitants) and 1.3 cents (for the remaining cities). Interconnection is mandatory for all service providers when requested. Interconnection agreements are public and are available on the CNC website.

F. CURRENT LIST OF BFW ACCESS PROVIDERS

The current operators of BFW in Argentina are:
-- Millicom (Luxemburg/Argentine JV) offering services in Buenos Aires, Mendoza, Cordoba and Tucuman;
-- Netizen, owned by Skyonline, a Virginia based company of European capital (Suez and Pequot investment funds), offering services in Buenos Aires and Cordoba;
-- Velocom (originally US-owned, sold to the Argentine group Datco), offering services in Buenos Aires (Federal Capital and Greater Buenos Aires), La Plata, Cordoba and Rosario;
-- Impsat (Argentina/U.S.) offers services in Buenos Aires, Cordoba, Rosario and Mendoza (only targets the corporate segment); and
-- Techtel (Argentina/Mexican-Telmex) - has the largest LMDS deployment at 10 and 28 GHZ with 24 radio base stations. It offers service in Buenos Aires, Mar del Plata, Bahía Blanca, Neuquen, Mendoza, San Luis, Cordoba, Rosario and San Nicolás.
-- In addition, Telefónica and Telecom, the two major incumbents from Argentina’s original telecommunication privatization, have deployed wireless networks in the interior (3 GHZ). After the January 2002 devaluation of the peso, these two companies stopped expanding their networks. They are currently offering limited services using already existing infrastructure capacity.

Spectrum allocations can be found at http://www.cnc.gov.ar/espectro/atribucionbandas/index.asp
Other LMDS deployments failed reportedly due to technological limitations related to operating at very high frequencies. This technology is considered to be in its very early stages of operation and still under development. LMDS operates at 24 to 38 GHZ. Some equipment suppliers have already announced plans to discontinue new equipment development related to this technology. Local perception is that there are few LMDS operations in the world. There are some frequencies assigned in Argentina. However, equipment suppliers expect new service providers to purchase equipment for those frequencies (point to multi-point microwave radios) as soon as the economy picks up. The interior and some rural areas active in agribusiness are a good target for these services due to the agricultural sector’s increased purchasing power. The main equipment providers for BFW services in Argentina are Lucent, Harris, Alcatel and Nortel.

G. CERTIFICATION PROCEDURES, AND IMPORT DUTIES

The regulatory framework for deregulation intended to abolish obstacles to market access. Entry barriers and requirements have been lowered significantly to facilitate market entry. The National Communications Commission of Argentina must approve all equipment. U.S. FCC approval generally ensures CNC approval for imported products. The equipment has to be tested in one of five authorized laboratories which will then issue a report. A certified engineer must sign a certificate to present to the CNC. The CNC issues the final approval (Certicado de Homologación). Import duties for broadband wireless equipment vary depending on HS code however are generally 3.5 percent, 13.5 percent or 17.5 percent. A specific HS code is necessary to identify the appropriate import duty.


RESPONSE INFORMATION

This response was prepared by the U.S. Department of Commerce/Commercial Service in Buenos Aires, Argentina in June 2003. For further clarification please contact:

Silvia Yaber
Commercial Specialist
U.S. Embassy, Buenos Aires
Silvia.yaber@mail.doc.gov

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