Colombia receives offers from six telecom firms for 4G auction

BOGOTA Thu May 9, 2013 5:56pm EDT

BOGOTA May 9 (Reuters) - Colombia received offers from six companies interested in taking part in a tender for 4G telecommunication airwaves for which the winners will have to pay at least $250 million in total, the government said on Thursday.

Minister for Information Technology and Communications Diego Molano said he has received offers from Claro, a unit of Mexico's America Movil, and from a consortium formed by Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Bogota and Tigo, which is controlled by Millicom.

Offers also came from Colombia Telecomunicaciones, controlled by Spain's Telefonica and the Colombian government; Avantel ; DirecTV and a consortium of companies led by Mexico's Azteca 4G, Molano said.

The ministry will evaluate the offers for compliance with the requirements before announcing a shortlist on June 26.

Winners will have to pay the government at least $250 million for the right to launch 4G networks, and they will have to donate 500,000 tablets for the education sector. They will also have to provide 4G services for the army.

"The government is pleased that a good number of companies are interested in taking part because that means that we put the right rules for the tender," Molano told journalists.

The government says the companies that win the tender will launch networks that will cover the totality of Colombia, a fast-growing Andean nation with a population of 46 million.

Next-generation 4G services deliver speeds more than five times faster than 3G services, enabling smartphone and tablet users to make video calls and consume more and more content.