Colombia’s Ministry of Information & Communication Technologies granted five radio spectrum permits for 5G technical network tests to validate the technology locally. The permits are for 6 months and extendable for another 6 months, and were issued to Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Bogotá S.A. (ETB) E.S.P., Colombia Telecomunicaciones S.A. E.S.P (Movistar), Comunicación Celular S.A. Comcel S.A, (Claro) Xiro Investment Group SAS, and ITICS S.A.S.
Tests will take place in 36 locations throughout the Colombian cities of Tolú, Barrancabermeja, Cali, Medellín & Bogotá and will cover a myriad of technical challenges including thermal imaging, IoT, remote medical monitoring and 5G broadcast digital television transmission. 5G telecommunications development has been a priority of the government under President Ivan Duque, who seeks to see the country take a leading role in its deployment with the goal of a commercially active 5G network in Colombia by 2022.
Over 34 million Colombians do not access the internet from mobile devices, while 9.5 million have obsolete 2G or 3G mobile internet connections.
“We are confident that 5G technology will enable entrepreneurship models never seen in the country, generating new sources of social and economic development for Colombians,” said ICT Minister Karen Abudinen.
“With these tests we are closer to the possibility that cities and their inhabitants access 5G services and applications that will improve productivity and competitiveness in different industrial activities, from medicine, transportation, education, environment and entertainment, and will open the door to more entrepreneurship and employment.”
Some of the countries that currently use 5G are South Korea, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, China and Japan, which have commercial plans after successfully completing the testing phase
4G Modernization Continues Alongside 5G Trials
Abudinen also announced the “Transition to New Technologies Plan” establishing the roadmap for moving Colombia’s consumers off of 2G and 3G networks on to 4G networks as a minimum. While 4G is widely available in Colombia’s primary urban centers, it is less common in rural areas, and many users are still on basic or older model mobile phones.
For the rest of 2020, the Transition to New Technologies Plan focuses on removing legal barriers to 4G infrastructure deployment and tax incentives for the purchase of 4G mobile handsets, along with internet data plans favorable to low-income and rural consumers. The ministry indicates a desire to eventually dismantle the 2G network.
For next year, the country is considering incentives and spectrum auctions in the 700 MHz, 1900 MHz, 2500 MHz and 3500 MHz bands.