- Telefónica Chile’s 5G network went live alongside peers Entel and WOM.
- Plans for “nationwide” availability in early‑2022.
Telefónica Chile (Movistar) launched its commercial 5G network and outlined plans to extend coverage to the country’s 16 regions by March 2022.
Movistar noted that the network remains “under development”, a process which will see 1,500 5G base stations deployed to connect the country.
Roberto Muñoz Laporte, Chief Executive at the operator, said the launch will enable Movistar to develop its provision to the industrial sector, leveraging the “millisecond era” 5G brings. He added that 5G will support use‑cases such as smart cities, automated industry, autonomous vehicles, and telemedicine in the country.
Competitors in tow
Movistar’s commercial 5G launch came after local regulator Subtel “activated” the country’s “nationwide” network, allowing Movistar and rivals Entel and WOM to begin their service provision.
Muñoz’s promise to launch 5G across all 16 regions was matched by Entel, which committed to make the technology “available to everyone”, although General Manager Antonio Büchi projected Entel will “complete” the network in 2023.
WOM, meanwhile, refused to pin down its 5G plans, other than to claim it has the “fastest growing” 5G network according to CEO Christopher Laska.
Subtel auctioned 5G‑ready spectrum in early‑2021 before formally green‑lighting network deployment in November 2021. Chilean President Sebastián Piñera cut the proverbial ribbon on the 16 December, enabling operators to deploy 5G networks “nationwide”.
Movistar holds a licence for spectrum in the 3.5GHz band, which it picked up in the February 2021 auction following irritation with Subtel about the regulator’s handling of the bidding and allocation process. Muñoz indicated that Movistar’s bidding for 3.5GHz rather than 700MHz was because of the higher frequency’s greater capacity for “contiguous growth”, and because it has the “most developed” device ecosystem.