Entel Chile launches LTE network early

Entel Chile has launched a 4G LTE network in the country, one week ahead of its deadline, according to local reports.

National regulators gave Entel a deadline of April 3 to launch its network, which now comprises 803 sites and covers all major population sites in Chile.

The network was launched using spectrum in the 2600MHz band – which it secured in the country’s 4G auction in August 2012 – and the operator is offering customers an automatic, free upgrade to the 4G service.

Entel is the third operator to deploy commercial 4G services in Chile – after Claro in June last year and Movistar in November – and it hopes to grow its subscriber base from 10,000 to 30,000 by the end of April.

The company had reportedly been waiting to secure additional spectrum in the 700MHz band before launching the LTE network, in order ensure there were no gaps in its service.

The company, alongside rivals Claro and Movistar, was awarded this spectrum in February this year.

“If you implement 4G with the two bands (2600MHz and 700MHz), you’ll have an even coverage with no gaps in between,” said Manuel Araya, Entel’s regulatory manager. “Therefore all [LTE] operators need the 700MHz band – it is an industry-wide requirement.”