A judgment rendered by an Argentine federal trial court has struck down Executive order No.690, an urgency order (in Spanish DNU) issued by the Executive Branch in August 2020 setting forth that Pay TV, Internet and mobile phone services were to be considered essential strategic public utilities in an industry in which there is competition (landline phone services were already considered so). Although the current administration may appeal against the resolution, the judgment sets a very important precedent. It is worth noting that as from December 10 Argentina will be ruled by a new president, Javier Milei, whose political affiliation is different from that of the government currently in power.

Over the last few years, Executive Order No.690 has been objected to by all telecommunications operators (large, medium and small-sized) in Argentina. The public utility status of the above mentioned services resulted in their fees being closely regulated. As a result, every increase had to be authorized by the government. In spite of that, several companies managed to raise the price of their services by having courts grant provisional remedies.

The judgment, rendered by Justice Cecilia de Negre, is the outcome of a legal action brought by Telecom in 2021. Telecom is a telecommunications company operating in Argentina with Flow and Personal brands. The explanation on which the judgment was grounded was the following: “Classification of an economic activity as a public utility requires an act formally enacted by Congress and the Executive Branch is barred from using an urgency executive order, DNU, for such purpose.”

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