Costa Rica: The Cell Phone Tower Problem

While operators are putting up new antennas, the lack of regulation in the field is creating problems for the future.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The opening of the telecommunications market in the country has been accompanied by a significant increase in the installation of new antennas, many of them owned by private companies that will join the market when the privatisation process is formalized.

While this represents in the near future more and better wireless coverage, which will benefit users, it also means a challenge for the authorities, since a lack of clear regulations to determine in which areas antennas are permitted and how they are to be built has resulted in uncontrolled growth in installations.

An article in Insidecostarica.com notes: "the greatest opposition is toward the highest towers, some of which are over 30 meters tall. Although local permits are required to build the towers, residents of some areas have notified the authorities about the existence of towers that apparently may not have the appropriate permits.

The problem of cellular antennas reflects the reality of Costa Rican institutions, and society itself: lack of planning, improvisation and “quick fix” solutions,using workarounds and "putting out fires", all of which are very far from resolving the real problem. "



More on this topic

Battle for Cell Towers Continues

November 2012

The privatization of telecommunications in Costa Rica is still hampered by bureaucracy and lack of agreements in favor of consumers.

They are still 13 Costa Rican municipalities who are not authorizing the installation of “so called” cell towers because of lack of regulations in this respect, or because the regulations, where they do exist, contains disproportionate demands which make it "virtually impossible to install the structures."

Barriers to Opening up the Cell Phone Market

May 2012

The telephone operators Claro and Movistar are still facing serious bureaucratic obstacles with the municipalities of Costa Rica over the installation of cellular towers.

Some municipalities are delaying, hindering or even prohibiting the installation of infrastructure by the operators Claro and Movistar, an operation which needs to be carried out in order to comply with their contracts.

The Monopoly on Cell Phones is Hard to Crack ...

September 2011

Since November 2010 installing a cell phone tower within 15 kilometers of a Costa Rican airport has required a detailed analysis and authorisation by the Civil Aviation Authority.

Prior to that date, the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE) had no trouble installing the towers, but now the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has decided to adhere to international standards and make everyone endure the the red tape required for granting installation permits.

Costa Rica: No Authorizations for Cell Towers

October 2010

Municipalities still have 2.000 pending applications for building towers.

Problems in issuing permits (just the municipality of Turrialba has 200 requests) have to do with the lack of knowledge on how to process such permits.

"The Government asked on Oct. 21st for representatives of local governments to support a general regulation for municipal procedures on telecommunications" publishes El Financiero on its web page.