Open Mobile to launch LTE before year-end

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Puerto Rican mobile operator Open Mobile plans to launch what it claims will be the first LTE service in Latin America before year-end, with which it will increase its current broadband speed offering tenfold, company marketing director Josué González told BNamericas.

Open Mobile announced last week that it had signed an agreement with Swedish telecoms equipment supplier Ericsson (Nasdaq: ERIC) to deploy the LTE network.

Open Mobile - which offers unlimited calling and broadband plans - currently provides speeds of 600-800 Kbps. That could soon reach 10 Mbps, helping the company to differentiate itself from the four other competitors in the market that have HSPA+ - AT&T, Claro, Sprint and T-Mobile.

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Helped by the launch, Open Mobile expects to add some 20,000 subscribers by year-end to its current base of 350,000.

Currently, 80% of the operator's subscribers also have data access plans, and some 85% of new sales are for plans with data. Roughly 40-45% of the client base is made up of smartphone users.

"There was a market need for LTE. Clients were seeking faster speeds than the market could offer at the moment. The market is demanding higher speeds for tablets, etc, and LTE gives them that option," González said.

Of course, the greater speeds will come at a cost, and the LTE service will be priced 15-20% more than current plans. Open Mobile's current unlimited internet access ranges from US$35-55.

Under the deal, Ericsson will roll out a complete 4G/LTE solution and also provide managed services for the network. This is Ericsson's first contract for an LTE network combined with MPLS-enabled mobile backhaul.

Established in 2007, Open Mobile specializes in unlimited internet access without contracts, credit verification or penalties. It owns 19 stores, three kiosks and 175 points of sale.

As of September, LTE is available on more than 160 devices, mainly smartphones, dongles, tablets and built-in modems.

Open Mobile's network is CDMA-based, and the LTE service will be offered over 700 MHz, the same standard being used in the US.