Colombia’s dominant telco, Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Santa Fé de Bogotá (ETB), has announced plans to take its total number of fixed lines installed to 2.1 million by the end of this year. The operator has thus far installed 76,000 lines in Bogota this year, and aims to roll out a further 34,000 in the last four months of the year, to reach its goal of installing 100,000 new lines in 2003. ETB also revealed plans to focus on the provision of data services during the next few years, particularly the introduction of VoIP and the expansion of its ADSL offering; it currently has an ADSL capacity of 4,000. The dominant operator raised the money to expand its network through a share sale.
In the fixed line arena ETB’s main competitors are former incumbent provider of long-distance and international services Empresa Nacional de Telecomunicaciones (Telecom) and Medellin-based municipal telco Empresas Públicas de Medellín (EPM). Despite the liberalisation of the local market in 1994 and the long-distance and international sectors in 1998 few companies have gained a significant footing. The local market has witnessed the most competition, however, with a total of 55 operators licensed to provide services at the end of 2002. Although the majority of these are relatively small with limited networks, there are four which have installed capacities exceeding 200,000 lines, namely Telecom, ETB, EPM and Emcali. Telecom also controls 15 rural local network operators, the Teleasociadas, which claimed a total of 1.01 million subscribers at the end of 2002. At that date there were 9.29 million local lines installed, of which 7.85 million were in service, a teledensity of 18.5%, up from 7.19 million and 17% at the end of 2001. Network digitalisation varies greatly, ranging from 100% for most of the urban-based operators, to 36% in some rural areas.