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Chile Anti-Trust Court Rules for Mobile Number Portability

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SANTIAGO (Dow Jones) Chile's Anti Trust Tribunal ruled in favor of mobile telecommunications providers allowing clients to take their numbers with them when they change providers, the court said Thursday.

Last year, the Anti-Trust Office, at the bequest of the Undersecretariat of Telecommunications, asked the tribunal to rule on several mobile telephony issues, including number portability and the possible entrance of new players into the mobile telecom market.

In its presentation to the tribunal, the Anti-Trust Office recommended the Anti-Trust Court set a maximum band spectrum of 60 megahertz for each mobile telecom operator in the country, ahead of the undersecretariat launching a tender for third-generation cellular telephony services.

Three carriers currently operate in the South American country - Spain's Telefonica Moviles' Chilean unit Movistar, Mexico's America Movil's local unit Claro, and local Empresa Nacional de Telecomunicaciones, or Entel.

All three carriers are either at or close to the recommended 60-MHz limit.

On Thursday, the court ruled against this recommendation, saying that current participants couldn't be excluded from new tenders.

"However, in order to allow the incursion of new operators, the Telecommunications Undersecretariat must implement" number portability, the subdivision of the wireless spectrum into blocks and establish tender rules that don't restrict participants, the Anti-Trust tribunal said in a statement.

The government aimed to restrict the three current market participants to allow for the entry of a fourth operator into the local market through the planned tender.

The government now plans an international road show this year to drum up interest in the tender. The new concessionaire will likely go into operation in mid-2009, according to the undersecretariat's estimates.

Mobile telephone coverage in Chile has boomed in recent years. It is the most commonly used mode of telecommunications, with an 88.1% penetration rate in Chilean homes, according to the undersecretariat's data.

-By Carolina Pica, Dow Jones Newswires; 56-2-820-4244; carolina.pica@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

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Tags: telefonica  anti-trust  number portability  Chile