Governments in the Americas are responding to increasing demand by allocating and awarding more spectrum to IMT services with a special focus on 5G deployment 02 March 23 Alexandra Contreras Flores

The most recent update of Cullen International’s Americas Spectrum Profiles provides coverage of the regulatory frameworks and spectrum policies in 22 countries in the Americas.

Governments in the Americas are responding to increasing demand by allocating and awarding more spectrum to IMT services with a special focus on 5G deployment.

In January 2023, El Salvador launched the auction of 2x15 MHz of spectrum in the extended AWS bands to provide IMT mobile broadband services. In the same month, Panama awarded spectrum to Cable & Wireless Panama and Tigo in the 700 MHz and AWS bands.

Other countries in the Americas are planning spectrum awards during 2023, most of these awards including mid-range bands:

  • The Uruguayan Telecoms regulator, Ursec, is consulting on award rules to assign 3.5 GHz spectrum to mobile operators.
  • Costa Rica and Mexico are consulting on the conditions and proposals of their tender rules for forthcoming 5G spectrum auctions.
  • Colombia consulted on the technical rules for the 3.5 GHz band and possible use cases for the 26 GHz band. In addition, the Colombian Ministry of Information and Communications Technologies, MinTIC, published an action plan including milestones to award 5G spectrum in 2023.
  • Argentina is expected to auction 3.5 GHz spectrum during 2023, after Enacom approved a regulation applying specifically to 5G services.
  • Canada held a consultation related to a future award of the mmWave bands (26 GHz, 28 GHz and 38 GHz) to support 5G services and also approved rules to auction 250 MHz in the 3.8 GHz band in October 2023.

The latest spectrum awards in 2022 included:

  • In September 2022, the 2.6 GHz auction in the USA awarded 117.5 MHz to local and national operators.
  • In June 2022, Argentina awarded spectrum in the 2.6 GHz band to the three incumbent mobile network operators. The operators paid a total of US$27.7m for the local spectrum licences.

According to Cullen International’s research, by February 2023, countries in the Americas region have each assigned an average of 496 MHz in spectrum below 6 GHz to be exploited for mobile services.

The USA, Brazil and Canada have assigned the most spectrum for mobile services in the region, with the USA having assigned the largest amount of spectrum in the mid–bands and mmWave bands.

Five other countries have assigned more mobile spectrum than the regional average: Peru, Mexico, Chile, Dominican Republic and Costa Rica. Nearly all of these countries held auctions between 2020 and 2021, except Peru, where the Ministry is reportedly planning a new auction in 2023.

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