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Costa Rica Telecoms See Hurdles With State Company: Claro

Nov. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Private telecommunications companies in Costa Rica are at a disadvantage to the state-run operator two years after a government monopoly ended, said Victor Garcia, an executive with America Movil SAB’s local unit.

“The playing field has not been leveled,” said Garcia, the head of regulatory services at Claro, in an interview today in San Jose, Costa Rica. “There are institutional asymmetries that operate fundamentally against the newcomers.”

Claro currently holds 20 percent market share in Costa Rica and has some 1.2 million clients, Garcia said. The company’s reach is limited by restrictions at the municipal level on installing infrastructure and a more limited radio spectrum to provide data services compared to state-run ICE, Garcia said.

ICE has “50 years of offering first-class telecommunications” in Costa Rica, said Elbert Duran, the company’s communications director, via e-mail.

Claro, the first private operator to enter the Costa Rica market in late 2011, has expressed interest in the potential auction of an additional 70 MHZ of bandwidth that was originally offered in 2010 but was never released, Garcia said.

The total number of mobile users in Costa Rica has multiplied by 3.4 since the market opened two years ago, Foreign Trade Minister Anabel Gonzalez told reporters today, without giving exact figures.

To contact the reporter on this story: Isabella Cota in San Jose, Costa Rica at icota@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Bill Faries at wfaries@bloomberg.net; Andre Soliani at asoliani@bloomberg.net

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