The number of mobile phones in Brazil reached 99.92 million at the end of December 2006, up from 97.33 million the previous month, according to the latest data published by the regulator Anatel. However, the figure fell short of the watchdog’s earlier forecast of 100 million by the year end, with a total of 13.7 million subscriptions added in the year, an annual growth rate of 15.9%, compared with over 31% in 2005. Anatel said that the pre-Christmas period, traditionally an active time for Brazil’s mobile companies, was the worst for the sector since 2002.
The country’s leading mobile operator by subscribers, Vivo Participaçoes, saw its market share cut again in December. The cellco, a joint venture of Spain’s Telefónica Móviles and Portugal Telecom, controlled 29.08% of the market at the end of the year, down from 29.48% a month earlier and 34.54% at the end of 2005. Second placed TIM Participacoes, the local unit of Telecom Italia, increased its share marginally from 25.4% to 25.45% (month-on-month) and 23.42% in December 2005. América Móvil’s Claro unit controlled 23.9% of the market, up from 23.51% in November and 21.64% last year.