TBY talks to two executives in the telecommunications sector on the status of the industry, opportunities for public and private cooperation, and key growth segments.
What is your evaluation of the mobile telephone sector in Ecuador in 2012?
JUAN F. GOULU The year 2012 will present great challenges and opportunities for telecommunications, one of the economy’s most dynamic sectors. At Telefónica Ecuador we strive for our customers to rely on state-of-the-art technology and to become a milestone technical brand in favor of our users. We have, thus, pioneered the operation of the HSPA+ network to promote faster mobile connectivity in order to offer companies higher productivity possibilities based on ICT. The national use of the mobile network for voice communication has reached very high penetration levels; this year, the challenge is to increase the penetration of data use. Movistar is prepared for this and, offers the most competitive alternatives in the market.
What effects has América Móvil made on the Ecuadorean market?
ALFREDO ESCOBAR Between 2000 and 2011, the mobile telephone penetration rate in Ecuador increased by 104% as a result of enormous investment from companies such as América Móvil and its brand, Claro. We have assigned more than $5 billion over the past five years to the development of telecoms in the country. We can proudly say that we have coverage from Yasuní in the east of the country, to Isabella Island in the Galápagos, which is the furthest point in the west. We have coverage that serves 96% of the population with both voice and data services, and in some areas we are the only service provider available because we have decided not to focus only on the big urban sectors, where there is obvious demand and profitability. Instead we have tried to reach towns with less than 2,000 people, who have sometimes been isolated.
Which segments do you target in the country?
JFG At Telefónica-Movistar, we seek to offer tailored services for all segments because we believe that telecommunications is essential. It is important to offer solutions that respond to each individual need—sophisticated solutions for big accounts, plans and promotions that reduce prepayment access barriers, and easy payment terms for small and medium companies. To achieve this, we are based upon the group’s synergies in 26 countries throughout the world and current investigation and development progress aimed to offer the best global solutions. This includes carrying out research to improve health services, reduce hospitalization costs with permanent mobile monitoring, establish tele-consultations to improve response times, and enable reaching increasingly large audiences. We also work on solutions to connect machines, which is the future of telecommunications. We support all mobile banking developments and are permanently seeking to remain the most state-of-the-art supplier in Ecuador.
AE The internet is a great opportunity for every provider in the country. We are committed to introducing a new digital environment in Ecuador. The indices for internet penetration are low, at around 14%. Increasing this figure will be positive for business and for Ecuadorean society as a whole. The most feasible way to make that happen today is to take the first steps into the digital world through mobile phones. Cellphone coverage is nationwide, and smartphone makers are gaining space and lowering their prices, which allows more people to access the internet who didn’t have access before or could only access it through traditional means, such as computers. It will thus be very helpful that public policies align with private policies in order to provide greater benefits to society. If smartphones and certain components are the basis for the growth of usage levels, they should be exempt from certain taxes that stop the growth of the adoption curve—at least in some segments. It’s important to have a balance and stimulate the companies that develop non-traditional market segments like ours.
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