The Communications Regulation Commission (CRC) modified the mobile number portability process to facilitate the right of users to switch to another operator while keeping their line.
This change, in addition to serving to mitigate the risks of fraudulent conduct during porting requests, modifies the process within the company, something that Wom and its president, Ramiro Lafarga, see as a benefit for the market that still has a lot to change.
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How have you received the port changes?
Well, in principle it is quite premature, but we see that the rules of the game are being aligned a bit, that the market was demanding and it is doing so by cleaning up a situation that was complex, where there were certain distortions, especially on the part of some operators, in what is a clean transfer and portability process between one operator and another, so that is improving the level of customer rejections substantially in a few days, I would hope that it will take a few more weeks to try to see the complete movie, but in principle I think it is good news.
What do you think will happen with the next 5G auction?
In 5G there are some expectations, especially on the part of the Government, of being able to promote a tender. In a short time we will see what are the conditions established for us to participate. With more information at the table, it is easier to answer how we will participate. In business terms, we see that 5G is a natural evolution in mobile telephony and Colombia does not have to be the exception.
But what is needed?
We see that there are also certain pending issues in the Colombian market, where there are technologies that still need to take the step, for example, more than 30 percent of customers in Colombia today have 3G; in other words, 4G has yet to be deployed. Therefore, if 5G is launched, it is very good, but there are some processes that are not yet completed in the country. In the region, for example, 3G is already in one digit and here we are still at 30 percent. So 5G is fine, but be careful, we still have some pending to promote connectivity at the country level. We even see that companies like Tigo and Movistar come together for the auction.
How should you handle that in a technology that you’re rolling out to the world?
We know that it will be much more expensive, much more difficult, and well, those of us who still don’t even have access to the previous one. As always, there must be a balance between what the public sector does, in favor of the connectivity of all Colombians, and then what the private sector does. I believe that there is definitely an opportunity in Colombia to promote connectivity. The Government itself has an agenda of bridging the gap from 50 to 85 percent broadband and penetration.
As you get the right incentives, not just antennas and networks, but also available phones and healthy competition to compete for the customer in the market, we can really close that connectivity gap. I believe that there is a healthy dialogue today between the Government and the private sector for fair
What conditions do you consider to be part of a healthy market?
The Government itself has an agenda of bridging the gap from 50 to 85 percent broadband and penetration.
What conditions do you consider to be part of a healthy market?
In the ideal world, for example, in other markets not too far from Colombia, there is a fair play. We see that there is a distortion in the market that does not allow a client to want to behave, yesterday it was for a derisory debt of 1,000 pesos and tomorrow it will be I do not know, his name is not spelled correctly and I do not know what.
If we really put the customer in front and we really want as an industry that the customer really has the privilege and benefit of being able to, we must exercise their right to have a number to any operator. We have to put all these tricks and bureaucracies in second place, which what they do is stop a process that should be fluid and simple, such as the fact that a client can change from one operator to another then.
And as an industry, what should exist?
As an industry we should have much more consideration for the customer and put them first, not only from the regulator, the regulator is there to defend the customer, but not us, the operators, we have to do that too. I am optimistic that this will improve in the medium and long term because I do believe that the industry is leaving aside the practices, excesses and abuses that existed for decades in this country, little by little they will be left behind and there will really be healthy competition. With a healthy game to dispute the client. And in the long run at some point people are going to stop behaving.
What happened to those commitments you made at the 2019 auction?
We are talking about the obligations to perform, we have complied with the investments, with covering the localities where we were asked to have this service that did not exist before and today we have some 648 areas that have been reached.
We are in the process of providing an increasingly better service, in those places where there is a lack of connectivity.
Should we keep that policy with the next tenders?
Considering how important it is to close that digital gap that is being talked about so much, we are ready to look more closely.
In certain processes, in other auctions in other countries, payment is not required to have use of the digo spectrum, but it is required just give me your best coverage expansion plan at the population level, but whoever offers something better, be it coverage or service, does not always win. We don’t know what will happen with the 5G auction, but it is a good policy.
We will go to auction, but we still do not know the conditions, we hope the schedule is met and we will see the rules.
What else has happened to other processes in the industry?
We are very expectant to know the decisions that the CRC must make on the situation of dominance, since there is a promise of the determinations. This topic, which is very relevant for the industry, since there is a high concentration and for a long time, because it is not a concentration of a year or two, but rather that it has been happening for decades and demands an adjustment at the regulatory level and I think that is something important.
This decision should be independent of the auctions, it is transversal to all decisions, the problem is that it exists, so you have to take action on the matter.
How do you see the alliance of Tigo and Movistar on 5g?
It is important to me that there is cooperation between companies, so that especially investments in network sharing can be effective, and I think that is a good thing. It also happens in several countries in the region and also happens worldwide and it should not surprise us that it happens here.
It is very good that we can all share resources to better reach customers. Having said that, in this particular case, I hope that the conditions will be made known since in the case of the auction they are not given yet.
LAURA LESMES DIAZ
Writing Economy and Business