Access Alert | Colombia shares its roadmap to digitise the country, updates its regulation for infrastructure sharing, and asks for more spectrum

Access Alert | Colombia shares its roadmap to digitise the country, updates its regulation for infrastructure sharing, and asks for more spectrum

Read this Access Alert in Spanish | Lea este Access Alert en Español

The coffee-growing country has generated several regulatory developments in recent days in search of greater connectivity, competitiveness, and digitisation.

A more digital Colombia

Last week, the ICT Ministry published for comment the Agenda Colombia Digital 2022-2026, which seeks to develop the country’s digital ecosystem through the implementation of strategies framed under five fundamental axes:

  • Digital literacy and skills
  • Digital economy
  • Digital public management
  • Secure digital ecosystem
  • Internet governance and use of emerging technologies

This agenda determines, among others, digital transformation objectives in different sectors of society, promoting literacy, and social inclusion as part of a medium-term governmental commitment. The agenda also seeks to promote the development of a secure digital ecosystem in which technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things (IoT) coexist.

On the other hand, it establishes goals regarding the development of cybersecurity, highlighting a possible regulatory update in this area, as well as an increase in the digital skills of public servants.

More spectrum for the 5G auction

Through Resolution 1505 of 2023, the MinTIC requests the different actors in the sector to express their interest in accessing spectrum use permits in the AWS-3 (AWS Extended) band, comprised between 1,755-1,780 MHZ and 2,155-2,180 MHz, which in total represents 50 MHz.

Interested parties will have until 26 April to send the corresponding expression of interest, as well as the required documentation, to [email protected] and [email protected].

This expression of interest is in addition to the one made in December 2022 and could represent an increase in the total amount of spectrum that the country will offer in the imminent 5G auction, as described here.

New regulation for infrastructure sharing

For its part, the Communications Regulation Commission (CRC) issued Resolution 7120 of 2023, which updated the conditions for access, use, and remuneration of the poles and ducts of telecommunications network and service providers, and of the infrastructure elements of other services that can be shared for the provision of telecommunications services.

In this context, the new regulation adds the figure of Infrastructure Provider and determines the sectors susceptible to having infrastructure that can be used for the provision of communications services, such as mass transport systems, distribution and transmission of electricity, roads, or urban furniture.
Likewise, all providers of communications networks and services will be able to access such infrastructure under the conditions and costs defined in the regulation. For the implementation of the regulation, a transition period, an efficient remuneration framework, and agreement formats for the materialisation of sharing were established.

What do these measures represent?

Once again, the Colombian government is showing its intentions in terms of connectivity and digitisation. On the one hand, the potential offer of an additional 50 MHz of spectrum to the market means that for the 5G auction, the government would have a total of 3,300 MHz in six spectrum bands. In this sense, the market is likely to respond favourably to the request for an expression of interest for the AWS-3 band. However, issues such as the rules of the objective selection process or spectrum caps would have to be reviewed in light of the new amount of spectrum to be offered and the need to incentivise competition.

On the other hand, the digitalisation agenda stands out for the definition of concrete goals, which are fundamentally set for the Petro government’s term in office. In this sense, a greater development could be expected in terms of the components associated with cybersecurity and digital literacy, which are undoubtedly closely related to the progress in connectivity achieved by the national government.

Finally, the regulation issued by the CRC stands out for integrating, for the first time, traditionally non-telco sectors that could take a leading role in terms of infrastructure deployments in densely populated environments in a 5G context. Similarly, greater dynamism could be expected in terms of sharing relationships, as well as a shift in passive infrastructure investments by telecoms operators as sharing rules would seek to avoid duplication of infrastructure in urban environments, maximising CAPEX efforts.

Access Partnership continuously monitors public policy and regulatory developments in Latin America. For more information, please contact Geusseppe Gonzalez at [email protected], Paula Rabacov at [email protected], Yamel Sarquis at [email protected], or Rodrigo Serrallonga at [email protected].

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