Brazilian mobile operator Vivo has begun testing on its new GSM network, writes BNamericas citing local newspaper Gazeta Mercantil. Vivo, the largest mobile operator in Brazil, is a 50:50 joint venture between European telcos Telefónica of Spain and Portugal Telecom, amalgamating both parents’ mobile subsidiaries in the country. Having started out as a TDMA-based operator, it began the process of migrating to CDMA2000 in 2000-01 and is the sole provider of CDMA technology in the country.
In June 2006 however, Vivo created a stir when it said it was holding talks with various equipment suppliers about proposals to build a GSM network overlay on its existing CDMA infrastructure. The cellco consulted companies such as Ericsson, Siemens, Nokia, Huawei and Alcatel over the plan, to determine the exact cost of such an undertaking. It was estimated at the time that the project could eat up as much as EUR2 billion (USD2.51 billion) of the EUR9 billion global investment budget set aside by Vivo co-owner Telefónica Móviles for the period 2006-09. One week later Portugal Telecom confirmed that Vivo hoped to introduce GSM technology before the end of 2006. The cellco says it has set up its core central telephone exchanges and will soon start the second phase of installing radio base stations for the GSM overlay project. It plans to install 1,000 GSM radio base stations in São Paulo city and another 1,000 stations throughout the state, and has purchased 250,000 GSM handsets from suppliers such as US manufacturer Motorola, Nokia and LG.