Colombia: Consumers Now Free to Choose Between Telecom Companies

The Colombian government is taking steps to ensure that consumers can choose between various telecom companies, even in new construction buildings.

The Duque administration has made greater consumer choice in telecom a top priority (Twitter).

Telecom regulatory reform is bringing good news for Colombian consumers: Colombians will now be free to choose between multiple internet providers, in order to promote competitiveness among service providers.

This means that Colombian internet users may now exercise their right to free choice in internet service, when signing long-term contracts, without having to limit themselves to the first service provider that arrives at their building in the course of a new construction project.

This new set of regulations, which will come into force as of July 1, was born as part of an agreement with the Communications Regulation Commission (CRC), which will grant all new housing projects the possibility of enjoying the appropriate infrastructure that allows access to signals for digital services, television, telephony, and broadband internet through a wide variety of companies.

The CRC explained that the regulation arose from the need to eliminate the current barriers that impede the access of multiple service providers with respect to technical conditions, “which in turn means that residents can not choose the communications service they require.” In writing the technical documents, the Housing Ministry, the National Planning Department (DNP) and the Superintendence of Industry and Commerce (SIC) took part, as well as entrepreneurs in the telecommunications field.

The Minister of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT), Sylvia Constain, said that one of the promises of President Ivan Duque’s campaign was the Law on Modernization of the ICT sector. “Today we have a law passed by the Congress of the Republic, which provides the tools to be able to digitally transform Colombia.”

In this regard, Carlos Lugo Silva, director of the CRC, said that the entity has regulatory instruments that clarify the rules for sharing telecommunications and electrical infrastructure, poles, and ducts, which will greatly expand consumer choice.

“With these regulatory instruments we apply a cost methodology, where we consider the prices for entrance of the various operators, and recognize the value of the use of infrastructure,” he said. He added that in order to implement 5G technology, we must work within the current ecosystem to shut down 2G and 3G, in order to transition towards 4.5G. “This will make it easier for operators to take that leap, and consumers to use it,” said Lugo.

The communications sector in Colombia, guided by the Law on Modernization of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), and the sanctioned National Development Plan (PND), provide greater guarantees by creating an investment and infrastructure framework, which makes it possible to have a robust institutional framework, legal security, and fewer barriers for the implementation of new technology.

They ask to define whether Claro is the dominant operator or not

The mobile operators ETB, Telefonica, Virgin, Tigo, Flash Mobile, and Suma, have asked the government to declare Claro a “dominant operator” with respect to the provision of mobile data service, so that there is greater competitiveness in the sector.

Now, the CRC must determine whether Claro is a dominant operator in this market. The lawsuit, according to the other operators, is based on the fact that the Mexican company, which has operations in 18 countries, has market share in Colombia that allows it to establish the rules and conditions of the market, to the detriment of its competitors. It is an issue that has been studied technically in the country for 12 years.

Colombian airline Avianca finds itself in a similar position, as other competitors claim that the company enjoys a dominant position in the aviation industry. Under the provisions of Colombian law, a company is allowed to hold a dominant position in a particular industry; however, the abuse of that position is prohibited and sanctioned by the Constitution and the Superintendence of Industry and Commerce (SIC).

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