According to data published by the Brazilian telecoms regulator Anatel, mobile operator Vivo ended March with a 28.4% share of the market, down from 29.1% at the end of December 2006, and well down on the 34.5% figure reported at end-2005. Nonetheless, Vivo retained top spot ahead of Telecom Italia’s unit TIM Brasil, which increased its market share slightly to 25.7%, followed by América Móvil unit Claro, with 24%, and Oi with around 13%.
GSM technology accounted for 65.6% of Brazil’s mobile telephony subscriber base at the end of March, followed by CDMA (25.3%) and TDMA (9.1%). Vivo is the country’s only CDMA operator but it is currently deploying a GSM overlay. In March 2007 Vivo said its new pre-paid GSM service had attracted 300,000 customers in the first three months of commercial operations, with nine out of ten people taking the service being new customers. Bolstered by the success, it launched a post-paid GSM option on 1 April, offering a range of 23 handsets from six manufacturers with prices for the new handsets starting at BRL49 (USD23) for a monthly contract and BRL99 for a pay-as-you-go phone. Vivo is investing USD514 million on the rollout of its GSM network in 2007 but says it is not abandoning its legacy CDMA network. ‘It is not our plan… at least for the foreseeable future… to deactivate our CDMA network,’ said Vivo CEO Roberto Lima, although it is notable that Vivo’s existing CDMA users are being advised they can switch to a GSM handset without changing their number.
In a separate development, Telefónica has reportedly reached an agreement with Portugal Telecom to take full control of Vivo, their joint venture in Brazil. According to BNamericas, citing Spanish daily El Confidencial, the deal hinges on Portugal Telecom replacing its 50% stake in Vivo with another investment in the Brazil’s mobile phone sector. Telefónica has declined to comment on the rumour, although in the past it has made no secret of its desire to take control of Vivo. However, only last month Portugal Telecom reaffirmed its commitment to Brazil and even said it had the capacity to take full control of Vivo.