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BOLIVIA

  • Ermanno Pietrosemoli, president of la Fundación Escuela Latinoamericana de Redes (EsLaRed, the Latin American School for Networks Foundation) sent us these comments from Freddy Bohorquez in Bolivia, written in August 2010, which we publish with Freddy's permission. An English translation follows:
    "Lastimosamente las bandas ISM no son libres en Bolivia, se considera que todas las bandas deben ser licenciadas. El organismo encargado de otorgar las licencias es la Autoridad de Fiscalización de Transporte y Telecomunicaciones (ATT).

    "EL problema mayor es las concesiones ya existentes sobre las bandas ISM, en el caso de 2.4GHZ está concesionado a una empresa de CAT-TV para MMDS, pero estas la utilizan en un acuerdo con ENTEL (Empresa Nacional de Telecomunicaciones) para provisión de internet inalámbrico utilizando tecnología wifi...

    "La banda 5.8 está en concesión a la empresa AXS que provee Internet utilizando tecnología WiMax. Otras bandas en 5GHZ UNII e ISM tambien están concesionadas a otras empresas.

    "Hace algunos años se discutio desde las ONGs y el Estado para liberar las bandas no licenciadas de ISM, pero no se logró hacerlo. En la actualidad el tema se ha complicado más por temas políticos y es dificil que las ONGs influyan en cambiar esta situación.

    "La ATT en los dos últimos meses a denuncia de las empresas que tienen la concesion sobre las bandas ISM ha notificado a muchas ONGs y particulares que si no dejan de operar en esas bandas se procederá al decomiso de los equipos..."

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    Unfortunately the ISM bands are not free in Bolivia. It is considered that all bands should be licensed. The licensing agency is the Authority for Fiscalization of Transport and Telecommunications (ATT).

    The biggest problem is the existing licenses in the ISM bands. 2.4GHz is contracted to a cable TV company for MMDS, but they have an agreement with ENTEL (the incumbent telco which was privatized, then re-nationalized) letting the cable company use these frequencies for providing internet access via WiFi...

    There is a concession in the 5.8 GHz band for a company to provide Internet access using WiMax technology. Other bands at 5GHz (UNII and ISM) are also licensed to other companies.

    It was discussed some years ago between NGOs and the State to release ISM bands for unlicensed use, but it was not possible to do so. Currently the issue is further complicated by political issues and it is difficult for NGOs to influence or change this.

    In the last two months companies which have concessions in the ISM bands have complained to ATT, who has informed many NGOs and individuals if they continue operating in these bands their equipment will be confiscated...
  • LocustWorld's Lindsey Anderson, on a mission for the International Institute for Communication and Development to help rural wireless broadband development in Bolivia, blogged in April 2005 that the legality of unlicensed networks in the 2.4 GHz band was unclear even then. Apparently a law was being drafted to limit use of the band to communication for commercial purposes, with only one authorized service provider in any given locale. (So far as we can tell, ISPs in Bolivia have sought and received local commercial monopoly concessions for Wifi services for some time already, but this practice had not been legally mandated. See "Resolución Administrativa Regulatoria N° 2004/0834," Superintendente de Telecomunicaciones, 9 June 2004, in Spanish: an official response upholding a complaint by Multivisión S.A. against Comteco Ltd. because Comteco started advertising a commercial WiFi-based Internet access service in Cochabamba where "Multivision S.A. has the concession and licenses in the band of Wi-Fi.")
  • "La plaza principal y la Manzana Uno están conectadas a Wi-Fi," [The main plaza and Square One are connected to Wi-Fi] by Sandra R. Quiroga, El Deber, 21 April 2011 in Spanish. Translated excerpts: on 24 September 2010, the places in Santa Cruz de la Sierra which are mentioned in the title of this article, got free Internet access via Wi-Fi. This is part of the "Digital City for All" project led by Councilman Oscar Vargas. In coming months, municipal parks, libraries, public schools, city offices and other places will have Wi-Fi access enabled. Restaurants and cafes around the main plaza also offer their customers Wi-Fi, as it is a service much in demand.
  • An April 2004 news release from Teletronics International says that the company signed a strategic agreement with formerly-state owned telephone company, Empresa Nacional De Telecommunicaciones (ENTEL), to create a nationwide wi-fi infrastructure.
  • "Bolivia desarrollará un plan de inclusión digital," [Bolivia to develop a plan for digital inclusion] by Teresa Agrasot, AHCIET, 17 October 2006 in Spanish: 1,500 rural "telecenters" will be built in 2007, and 500 more by 2011, to provide voice, data and television service. Only 0.6 percent of the rural population now has telephone service, compared with 60 percent in the cities.
  • "El Congreso boliviano da su visto bueno al decreto de nacionalización de Entel," [The Bolivian Congress approves the decree nationalizing Entel] by Teresa Agrasot, AHCIET, 18 May 2007 in Spanish: after approval by the Senate, the government will negotiate the repurchase of Telecom Italia's 50% stake in the company.
  • This law has been superceded but is worth noting anyway as it shows a different policy toward unlicensed radio: "Decreto Supremo 24132," Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones, 27 September 1995: Capítulo VII. (Equipo que no requiere licencia) says:

    "No se requiere obtener licencia para la operación de equipo industrial, científico y médico que emplee el espectro electromagnético; ni para la operación de Radiadores Involuntarios; ni para la operación de Radiadores Voluntarios de potencia muy baja... Radiadores Voluntarios con potencia muy baja significan aparatos que intencionalmente generan y emiten frecuencias electromagnéticas para uso en la rama de telecomunicaciones o para usos además de industriales, científicos o médicos: (i) a menos de cincuenta (50) milivatios; o (ii) a niveles m´s altos según lo permitido mediante el presente Reglamento o el Plan Nacional de Frecuencias y en las bandas apartadas para dicho uso por dicho Plan..."

    ("It is not required to obtain a license for the operation of industrial, scientific and medical equipment which uses the electromagnetic spectrum; nor for the operation of Involuntary Radiators; nor for the operation of Voluntary Radiators of very low power... Voluntary radiators with very low power means apparatuses that intentionally generate and emit electromagnetic frequencies for use in the branch of telecommunications or for uses in addition to industrial, scientific or medical: (i) at less than fifty (50) milliwatts; or (ii) at higher levels according to what is allowed by this Regulation or the National Frequency Plan and in the bands reserved for this use by this Plan...")

Latin America & Caribbean - Regional Overview