Dominican Republic prepares for first 5G networks

The Dominican Republic’s telecoms regulator, Indotel, is set to sign contracts with the successful bidders of the 5G tender and the first of these networks should be activated by the end of 1Q22, said Indotel head Julissa Cruz.

According to Cruz, who participated in a panel on regulation during the Digital Summit Conecta Latam event, the technology will be available in the largest cities shortly after the signing of the contracts for rights of use.

Claro and Altice each acquired 70MHz of spectrum in the 3.5GHz frequency band in the October tender, for which they will pay US$53.1 million and US$20 million, respectively.

Claro will have the right to operate the band for 20 years and Altice for 14 years.

There were no bids for the 700MHz frequency, which was declared deserted, Cruz added.

As each of the operators already had around 30Mhz of spectrum in 3.5GHz, through a previously concluded restructuring process, Claro and Altice will have a total of 100MHz in the frequency to deliver 5G services.

Experts and global standardization bodies such as 3GPP consider this amount as the minimum necessary for an adequate 5G offering.

At the end of June, the Dominican Republic had 7.28 million active mobile lines with data services. Claro led with 4.3 million accesses, followed by Altice with 2.6 million and Viva, with over 360,000 users.

The authorities are now working on a new spectrum auction for next year, according to Cruz, who could not give details on the bands to be included.

Meanwhile, as part of the country’s new broadband plan, which is being subsidized by an IDB loan, the government plans to rely on the national fiber optic network operated by state-owned power utility CDEEE to expand fiber broadband.

The goal is for all municipal districts to have at least one fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) operator within four years.

The government also has a plan to bring connectivity to 17 low-income communities across the country that have no connection.

The plan is to distribute mobile devices and subsidize, for a period of two years, a basket of digital services.

The Dominican Republic has an internet coverage of around 94% and the goal is to reach 98%-99% in two years, Cruz said.


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