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Colombia announces winners in 'historic' 5G data services auction

BOGOTA : Colombia picked four telecommunications firms as winners of a fifth-generation (5G) data services auction on Wednesday in a bid to attract investment and join regional peers like Argentina and Mexico, where 5G is already available.

Claro, Telecall Colombia S.A.S., WOM and Union Temporal Colombia Movil-Telefonica, a partnership between the operators of Movistar and Tigo, won concessions up for grabs in the auction, the communications ministry said in a statement.

The ministry added that the auction will raise more than 1.5 trillion pesos ($381 million), coming in below a prior government estimate that the South American country’s first-ever 5G auction would raise about $500 million.

“Historic! 5G is a reality for Colombians,” said Mauricio Lizcano, the information technology and communications minister, in a post on X, adding that the roll-out would begin next February.

Investment in Colombia’s 5G over the next decade should now reach some 28 trillion pesos (around $7.11 billion), said Lizcano.

The frequencies up for auction included 700 megahertz (MHz), 1,900 MHz, 2,500 MHz and 3,500 MHz, as well as others in the extended AWS band of frequencies, which range from 1,700 MHz to 2,100 MHz.

Colombia closed 2022 with some 80 million mobile subscribers, largely on contracts with America Movil’s Claro.

Other leading operators include Colombia Telecomunicaciones, a local unit of Spain’s Telefonica, Colombia Movil’s Tigo and WOM, owned by Icelandic billionaire Thor Bjorgolfsson.

Brazil’s Telecall is also set to enter the Colombian market through Wednesday’s auction.

($1 = 3,938.5000 Colombian pesos)

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