Argentine ISP Iplan’s longstanding goal of entering the mobile market depends more on the conditions under which incumbent operators allow roaming on their networks, than the operator’s success in obtaining spectrum, the company reports BNamericas.
Earlier this month modernization minister Andrés Ibarra said that by early September, Argentina would be ready to auction 170MHz of spectrum formerly owned by Arsat and Telecom-Cablevisión, of which 20% would be reserved for operators that do not have national coverage.
In March, Iplan regulatory affairs director Franco Cecchini confirmed to local press that the company would be among those bidding for the 20% block.
However, “If the roaming conditions set by the government don’t allow effective competition, as defined by the FCC and ITU, we won’t invest in the mobile market,” Cecchini told BNamericas this week.
Iplan believes there is an opportunity for newcomers in mobile because the three incumbents – Telecom, Claro and Movistar – amount to an oligopoly, which has led to high prices, as well as coverage and quality issues.
Cecchini said Iplan would address this by launching 4G services in its existing coverage area of Buenos Aires city, later adding 5G capability. At the same time, Iplan is well positioned to provide backhaul services for the incumbent operators, he added.
For the time being, however, Iplan’s investment plan is focused on residential fiber services, with the goal of having availability across two thirds of the capital by the end of 2021, whereas today the network covers 30% to 40%, the executive said.
This equates to roughly 250,000 home passes, of which some 12,000 have subscribed to the residential offering LIV. Iplan expects to end 2019 with at least 20,000 residential accounts signed up.
Iplan launched residential services in 2017, to complement its core business of enterprise services, and last year said it would incorporate IPTV into the offering. On this point Cecchini said the firm has had several good supply offers from Argentina’s most important Set-Top Box vendors and the service should be ready for launch in early 2020.