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DSA expresses concern over SUBTEL’s decision to reduce spectrum for Wi-Fi


The Government of Chile has been urged not to disadvantage Chilean internet users by reducing the radio spectrum used in Wi-Fi equipment in homes and businesses across the country.

The members of the Dynamic Spectrum Alliance, together with other companies within the industry, met with the Undersecretary of Telecommunications Claudio Araya to review the reasons behind the sudden decision which has left Chile out of the regional harmonization trend, which accounts for 67% of the regional population and more than 90% of the Americas GDP. The decision endangers the legal stability of those who have already invested, and had plans to continue investing, in advanced wireless broadband solutions for Chilean users.

Almost two years after the initial decision made by SUBTEL to enable 1200 MHz for the evolution of Wi-Fi, this change of direction has been met with surprise and concern from the Wi-Fi industry, given that the decision takes away 700 MHz of Wi-Fi spectrum. This creates constraints for the use of equipment that was being homologated and uncertainty about future availability that allows the evolution towards Wi-Fi 7. The decision made by the Chilean government in October 2020 to enable 1200 MHz for Wi-Fi deployment – and taken after the decisions of the United States and Korea – placed the country at the forefront of a trend, and was later followed by Brazil, Peru, Canada, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, and the Dominican Republic.

At the meeting, Undersecretary Araya expressed that he seeks to gather information from the industry that will allow him to analyze which would be the best destination for the upper part of the band for Chile in order to make a final decision.

Martha Suarez, President of the DSA, said, ‘The DSA trusts that SUBTEL will rectify its decision in the short term once it collects the pertinent information and is in the best disposition to collaborate with the necessary information and studies’, ‘successful public consultation processes have already been carried out by 8 administrations in the Americas region, which resulted in the destination of the entire band for Wi-Fi applications in all these countries’.

Members of the DSA and the industry, including executives from companies such as Cisco, Meta Platforms, Google, HPE Aruba, Intel, and Apple among others, expressed concern that the grounds put forward by exempt resolution 2844 did not respond to internal studies, with the considerations based on a misleading motivation. The exempt resolution expresses the need “to await the decision on international harmonization that will take place at the next World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-23), indicated in item 1.2 of the Agenda for said meeting.” However, this agenda refers to Resolution 245 (WRC-19) where the band in question (6425 to 7025 MHz) will only be discussed for Region 1, which includes Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, and from which Chile is not part. Only the portion from 7025 to 7125 MHz will be discussed at a global level in WRC-23.

The DSA understands that this decision contradicts the Zero Digital Gap Plan, as well as the spirit that has always characterized Chile as a country promoting innovation, industry development, and competition. The decision to reduce the available spectrum for Wi-Fi deployment also adds uncertainty and legal instability for investment, limits the user experience, and isolates Chileans from the benefits of economies of scale in the region. For these reasons, the DSA urges this decision to be reconsidered as soon as possible, and confirms they are ready to provide all the information that SUBTEL has requested.

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