Entel Chile has launched its 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network and will automatically upgrade existing data customers to 4G services for free BNamericas, writes, citing CEO Antonio Buchi. The LTE-2600 network consists of 803 sites, providing coverage of all major population centres throughout the country. The free upgrade to 4G is expected to immediately give the cellco a subscriber base of around 10,000 users, which it intends to increase to 30,000 by the end of April. The launch makes Entel the third operator to activate 4G services in the Chilean market, following Claro (June 2013) and Movistar (November 2013).
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Entel delayed its LTE launch until the eleventh hour – it would have faced sanctions from sector regulator Sub-Secretaria de Telecomunicaciones (Subtel) if it had failed to commence services by 3 April – as it had its reservations over the use of just the 2600MHz range for mobile data services. Concerned that the limited coverage properties of the band would negatively impact service quality and its reputation with customers, Entel sought to delay its launch until it could acquire 700MHz frequencies to support wider coverage and better penetration. Entel’s regulatory manager Manuel Araya, commented: ‘If you implement 4G with the two bands (2600MHz and 700MHz) you’ll have an even coverage with no gaps in between. Hence the importance, and therefore all [LTE] operators need the 700MHz band. It is an industry-wide requirement.’