Entel Movil: 10% of users to adopt dual mode phones

Wednesday, December 4, 2002

Bolivian mobile operator Entel Movil expects 10% of its 350,000 TDMA users to purchase GSM/TDMA dual mode phones during the next year, Entel Movil marketing manager Juan Carlos Porro told BNamericas.

Last week Entel Movil introduced the Nokia GAIT dual mode handsets to encourage its subscriber base to migrate to its GSM network. Entel Movil plans to launch a second GAIT handset model from Sony Ericsson in January next year, he said.

The operator launched GSM services in December 2000 using a license in the 1900MHz band, and today 120,000 subscribers, about 25.5% of its total client base, use GSM handsets.

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Entel Movil sees the handsets as a key part of its strategy to steal an undisclosed number of clients from its two competitors, Porro said. Millicom International Cellular (Nasdaq: MICC) subsidiary Telecel uses TDMA technology, while Nuevatel is a GSM operator.

"The main goal for our GAIT handset is to take subscribers from our competitors," Porro said, adding Entel Movil has 52% of the country's mobile users today.

GAIT handsets will be used while Entel Movil builds out its GSM network, which only covers 40% of the population. In comparison, the TDMA network covers 60% of the population, making it the "biggest competitor" for the company's GSM division, he said.

While the GAIT alternative is an interesting and practical option during GSM build out, the company is losing out on wireless application revenue as GAIT handsets are not WAP or MMS-enabled, Porro said.

However, in three months' time Entel Movil plans to launch SMS through an in-house application it developed for US$150,000, Porro added. The operator's GSM subscribers today send 40,000 SMS messages monthly.

Entel Movil is a subsidiary of former long distance monopoly Entel Bolivia, which is controlled by Telecom Italia (NYSE: TI).