Ecuador’s telecoms regulator Suptel has revealed that the country was home to just under three million mobile subscribers by the end of July, up from 2.95 million a month before. With 1.58 million fixed lines in service at the same date, mobile penetration is close to double the wireline rate. The regulator says that the country’s cellular market has grown at an average 67.14% from a base of 60,000 users in 1996 after two operators, Porta and BellSouth, launched the first services in 1994. These two are still the dominant players, with market shares of around 61.6% and 36.5% respectively.
They were joined by a third firm, PCS operator Alegro, in December 2003. The newcomer had attracted around 60,000 subscribers by the end of July and is targeting 100,000 by year-end. The company, a joint venture between Ecuador’s two main fixed line telcos Andinatel and Pacifictel, plans to invest USD20 million to expand coverage to at least four new cities by the end of this year on its way to offering a nationwide service.