Uruguay’s Telecommunication Market Outlook and Opportunities.
Uruguay’s largest telecommunications company, state-owned Antel, plans to invest US $152 million in 2021 to expand 4G coverage across the country and to prepare its networks for 5G by 2022. This investment represents an increase of 11% over the 2020 budget. Currently, 4G technology covers 89.3% of Uruguay’s territory, up from 64% in June 2019, according to data from Uruguayan regulatory agency, Ursec.
Antel dominates the mobile market with a 51.5% market share of Uruguay’s 5.33 million mobile lines. Telefónica’s Movistar is second with 30.5% of the market followed by América Móvil’s Claro at 18%. Antel intends to acquire more radio spectrum, take mobile technology to 377 locations in the interior, and invest in the extension of its already extensive fiber optics infrastructure.
Antel was one of the first operators in Latin America to activate a 5G network, albeit as a limited scope trial. In April 2019, the company launched a pre-commercial 5G network around Montevideo and select cities outside of the capital using spectrum in the 28GHz band that had already been assigned to the company for fixed services. ANTEL believes that it will still take time before 5G becomes a reality for end users in Uruguay and that the first 5G use cases will likely be industrial in the fixed wireless access (FWA) format.
Uruguay´s Telecommunications Regulator URSEC is drafting a spectrum and connectivity policy that emphasizes 5G, which it expects to have ready during the first quarter of 2021. The regulator also authorized mobile operators to carry out 5G pilots using temporarily assigned spectrum in the 26GHz band.
For U.S. firms interested in learning more about opportunities in Uruguay’s telecommunications sector, please contact Office.Montevideo@trade.gov.