Argentina loosens regulation to revive telecoms investment

Argentina loosens regulation to revive telecoms investment

Argentina has loosened regulations to allow more competition in its telecoms sector and widen internet penetration.

A government decree published on Monday declared that the government hopes its actions will attract billions of dollars in investments.

Companies will no longer be barred from simultaneously providing cable TV, internet, fixed line and mobile phone services.

Satellite TV company DirecTV will, for example, be allowed to sell internet services while cable operator Cablevision SA gets the green light to enter the 4G mobile telephone market.

However, the main telephone players including Telefonica, Telecom Argentina, and Claro will only be able to offer paid television from next January 2018.

Reuters quoted a source at the local branch of Spain's Telefonica, who said the measure was unfair and that Telefonica is evaluating judicial action against the government.

Analysts have said phone companies were at a disadvantage to cable operators, which can offer internet and television through the same fibre cable. Phone companies need to improve their network cables in order to deliver television.

The telecom reform is one of many changes on President Mauricio Macri's agenda as he tries to attract investment into an economy that historically has been highly regulated and cut off from international capital markets. As a result it has been largely ignored by foreign investors for years.

Macri's government expects the telecom reform to help draw in $20 billion in investment over the next four years.

The first article of the decree says the state will: "Implement the basic rules to achieve a greater degree of convergence of networks and services under competitive conditions, promote the deployment of next generation networks and the penetration of broadband internet access throughout the national territory."

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