The cell phone market has been fluctuating since the number portability system began to operate, as of the Law of Urgent Consideration (LUC). Each month has had its oscillations with respect to “who wins and who loses the battle” for attracting customers. There were months that Antel, the state company, was “quite above” its competition. Today, however, it is below.
This was reported in Parliament by the Minister of Industry, Omar Paganini. According to the data he provided, at the end of May, Antel had a negative balance of 1,200 fewer customers than before the new system came into force. “That’s the net balance”, he clarified. “It’s not like 1,200 customers have been lost,” she said. As he explained, that figure is the result between those who left and those who arrived at the company. Or, as the hierarch chose to define it, they are clients who “ported” and who said: “From now on, I am going to use the number with another telephone operator.”
In his presentation this Wednesday before the Budget and Finance Commission of the Chamber of Deputies, the minister relativized the entity’s situation. Those 1,200 clients, he pointed out, represent just 0.05%. “In a total of two million, it’s nothing,” he stressed. Official data indicates that 70% of that negative balance maintained by Antel benefited the Movistar company.
Paganini stressed that Antel’s negative situation on this issue is “circumstantial.” At some point, he assured him, the balance became positive in up to 3,000 clients. “Then it varied because of what it has to do with each one’s marketing campaign,” he said. “What I mean by this is that in the end, a lot more people end up changing operators. That’s normal and that’s what’s going to happen.” On the other hand, the minister indicated, there is another market: that of people who, instead of changing companies, choose to hire a new number. And, in the “heat of battle” when the portability system begins, “those people end up being very favorable to Antel,” he assured.
“The citizen has been more than benefited by number portability”, he added. “We have all seen the plans and the different types of instruments that the different operators developed, which ended up being beneficial for the final customer,” she said. In his opinion, that should be the focus of the discussion: number portability fulfilled its objective, which was to put the customer at the center and give them alternative offers to choose better. “It was what we wanted with this,” he assured. Everything, he added, with an “absolutely minimal” investment by operators in a market that moves billions of dollars.
A campaign in which the entity invested US$ 1.1 million, according to the response that the ministry sent to a request for information from Senator Enrique Rubio.
The market reports that indicate this type of data are quarterly, clarified the director of the National Directorate of Telecommunications (Dinatel). According to the hierarch, between the changes and the new contracts entered, in the first three months of the year Antel gained 25 thousand clients.
According to Acosta and Lara, the process is still in a very early stage to determine if the current results mark a trend. In any case, he pointed out that in other parts of the world where there are public telephone companies in the process of portability, all of them have gained clients. As an example, he cited the Bolivian case.
2021 was an “excellent year” for Antel
Paganini pointed out that the Rendering of Accounts indicates that 2021 was an “excellent year” for Antel. In absolute termshad growth in the main areas of its business. Data traffic grew 52% and increased its share of the mobile market. In addition, he added, the company managed to install fourth generation base stations (LTE) in 50 remote locations in the interior of the country that lacked connectivity, also covering 89% of the main national routes.
At the end of last year, the minister indicated, some 100 radio bases of the new 2.6 ghz bands were turned on, with some 80 sites remaining installed that already anticipate their evolution to 5G.
For this semester, Paganini advanced, the Executive Power aspires to finalize the auction of three available bands in the 3.5 ghz, in which the enabled telephone companies will be able to offer.