Chile fast-tracking 5G roll-out, but with tight rules on security, official says
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By Fabian Cambero
SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Chile is fast-tracking an ambitious plan to roll out a 5G mobile technology network across most of the country within two years, a senior official told Reuters, but will assure strong oversight at a time of simmering global tensions over cybersecurity.
With the United States and China at odds over cybersecurity and data protection, Chile, which counts both countries as top trade partners, will keep doors open to any company that adheres to its strict rules, Telecommunications Undersecretary Pamela Gidi told Reuters.
"As long as (the regulations) are respected, we neither have nor are we going to influence the supply chain nor the nationality of the companies," she said.
Fifth-generation technology networks are expected to power everything from high-speed video transmissions to self-driving cars. The long battle over the safety of critical communications technology led Washington to blacklist dozens of Chinese firms, including telecoms equipment giant Huawei Technologies Co.
The blistering two-year timetable would put Chile well ahead of regional neighbors, and Gidi said she hoped it would attract Amazon Web Services. The Amazon.com Inc unit has long toyed with the idea of installing a southern cone data center in Chile or Argentina.
"We think obviously (5G deployment) can help in the decision of Amazon and other companies that in the future decide settle in Chile," she said.
WOM, a mobile telephone brand launched by London-based investment firm Novator Partners, won a government tender in February to establish a 5G spectrum in Chile, in addition to Spain-based Movistar and the Chilean telecoms firm Entel.
Chilean market analysts have speculated that WOM will hire Huawei, a leader in the sector, to provide the necessary technology.
WOM did not immediately reply to a request for comment. Huawei declined to comment, but has repeatedly denied U.S. allegations that it is a security risk and says it abides with local laws in the countries in which it operates.
Gidi said WOM was free to choose how best to roll-out the technology within the terms of its contract.
"We give freedom to the companies that concession the spectrum to make their commercial decisions freely provided the (cybersecurity) technical standards are respected."
(Reporting by Fabian Cambero, writing by Dave Sherwood; Editing by David Gregorio)
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