Portugal Telecom (PT) and Telefónica Móviles have announced the launch of their 50-50 Brazilian joint venture, Vivo, which will start to operate commercially on 13 April. Based in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Vivo consists of four holding companies – Telesp Celular Participacoes, CRT Celular Participacoes, Telerj Participacoes and Teleste Participacoes – through which it oversees the following operating units: Telesp Celular, Global Telecom, Tele Sudeste Celular, CRT Celular, Tele Leste Celular and Tele Centro Oeste Celular.
To date PT and Telefónica Móviles have invested USD23 billion in Brazil, including spending on fixed line technology; the launch of Vivo required investment of USD12.6 million. Vivo will be the largest mobile operator in the country with a subscriber base of 17 million, roughly three times the customer base of Brazil’s next largest cellco. Operations will cover 86% of the Brazilian territory excluding only the northeast region and Minas Gerais state, where Vivo will rely on roaming agreements with local operators. The parent companies plan to upgrade the existing TDMA networks to CDMA in the second half of 2003, in order to expand mobile data and allow for the migration to 3G, and will provide services to both the corporate and residential sectors.