Chile - Country Commercial Guide
Telecommunications Equipment

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2021-01-22

Overview

Chile has the most advanced and modern telecommunications network in Latin America continuing to grow and offer numerous opportunities for U.S. companies.  Chile has to import almost all of its telecommunications equipment, therefore, while significant opportunities exist, U.S. suppliers face intense international competition.  

Chile´s main challenge in telecommunications is to overcome the existing digital gap by providing internet connectivity to all Chileans in all regions.  Due to the pandemic, the internet has become a critical service for consumers, which will continue after the pandemic while also accelerating the digitization process.

In 2018, the Undersecretariat of Telecommunications (SUBTEL) announced development of a plan to increase telecommunications investment in Chile by 30percent over four years.  SUBTEL has established a Telecommunications Investment Working Group with the participation of representatives from the private and public sector and academia to help guide investments in telecommunications infrastructure.

 

2017

22018

2019

Est. 2020

Total Local Production

84

110

116

120

Total Exports

48

50

65

70

Total Imports

648

640

815

825

Imports from the US

126

180

244

265

Total Market Size

684

800

866

                    875

Exchange Rates: 1 USD

649

641

770

                    790

Total market size = (Total local production + imports) – exports = Total Market Size

Source: Chilean Customs Data, SUBTEL, and information from local industry. 

Leading Sub-Sectors

Wireless

In December 2019, Chile’s mobile phone penetration reached 129.9 subscribers per 100 inhabitants for a total of 25 million subscribers.  The three main operators (Entel, Movistar, and Claro) had 79 percent of the market in 2019, compared to 86 percent in 2018.  New entrant WOM has increased its market share to 19 percent 2019. Total fixed landlines are 14.3 per 100 inhabitants, which represents a decrease of 8.2 percent.

Internet

Internet penetration, including wireless and fixed landlines, totaled 116 per 100 inhabitants in 2019, an increase of 3.3 percent compared to the previous year. The main suppliers of wireless internet, Entel, Movistar, and Claro, had 74 percent of the market in 2019. WOM increased its market share from 19 percent in 2018 to 22 percent in 2019.  The main suppliers of fixed internet are Movistar and VTR with a 66percent of the market.

Opportunities

In May 2020, President Sebastian Pinera announced an ambitious telecommunications program to be implemented before the end of his Presidential term in March 2022.  The program includes the first nationwide 5G network in Latin America, a subsea fiber optic cable to connect South America and Australia, and a new satellite network.

5G

On August 1, 2020, SUBTEL released four public tenders to grant telecommunications service concessions to install, operate, and deploy a high-speed wireless network (LTE Advanced Pro and 5G or higher) in the frequencies of 700 MHz and AWS bands, and 5G or higher in the frequencies of 3.5 GHz and 25 GHz bands.  A total of 1,800 MHz will be tendered.  The implementation of 5G will require an estimated investment of US$ 3 billion over the next 5 years. 

SUBTEL will conduct a ¨beauty contest¨ to award the spectrum to those companies that offer the best model and the greatest social benefit in the use of spectrum.  The deadline for submitting proposals is November 18, 2020, and the spectrum should be awarded in early 2021. The companies will have one year to complete their project. Once 5G is implemented, there will be several opportunities open for US suppliers of multiple applications.

Fiber Optic Subsea Cable

Chile is planning to build a submarine fiberoptic cable connecting South America to Asia.  On July 27, 2020, President Piñera announced that the route selected for the cable would be from Chile to Australia with an additional landing point in New Zealand.  This route was considered the most cost-efficient option due to it requiring fewer kilometers of cable. A terminus in Australia would also take advantage of Australia’s existing 12 submarine fiberoptic cables with the rest of the world, including a new link to Japan.

The next phase of the project is to complete the engineering study and develop the business case to attract investors. SUBTEL is working with Chile’s infrastructure development fund, Desarrollo Pais, to conduct outreach to potential investors. The estimated investment required for the project is US$ 500 million.

Web Resources

For additional information, please contact CS Santiago Commercial Specialist Isabel Valenzuela, Isabel.valenzuela@trade.gov.