BUENOS AIRES Argentina has loosened regulations to allow more competition in its telecoms sector and widen internet penetration, according to a decree published on Monday that the government hopes will attract billions of dollars in investments.
Companies will no longer be barred from simultaneously providing cable TV, internet, fixed line and mobile phone services.
Satellite TV company DirecTV will for example be allowed to sell internet services while cable operator Cablevision SA gets the green light to enter the 4G mobile telephone market.
But the main telephone players including Telefonica, Telecom Argentina and Claro will only be able to offer paid television starting in January 2018, according to the decree.
A source at the local branch of Spain's Telefonica, said the measure was unfair and that Telefonica is evaluating judicial action against the government, the company source said.
Analysts have said phone companies were at a disadvantage to cable operators, which can offer internet and television through the same fiber optic cable. Phone companies need to improve their network cables in order to deliver television.
The telecom reform is one of many changes on PresidentMauricio Macri's agenda as he tries to attract investment into an economy that was highly regulated, cut off from international capital markets and largely ignored by foreign investors for a decade before he took office.
Macri's government expects the telecom reform to help draw in $20 billion in investment over four years.
The first article of the decree, published in the government's official bulletin, says the state will: "Implement the basic rules to achieve a greater degree of convergence of networks and services under competitive conditions, promote the deployment of next generation networks and the penetration of broadband internet access throughout the national territory."
(Reporting by Hugh Bronstein and Walter Bianchi; Editing by W Simon and Alan Crosby)