Digital trunking firm NII Holdings has announced plans to invest USD80 million over the next 12-18 months in building out the network of its Chilean unit Nextel Chile. According to Chief Operating Officer Lo van Gemert the expansion will build on the limited network that it currently uses. When completed, the expansion will address a market of around seven million people primarily in the central region surrounding capital Santiago. According to NII’s CEO and chairman Steve Shindler the decision to expand its Chilean infrastructure was made after it completed a test with a smaller trunking platform from US telecoms equipment provider Motorola, called Harmony. However, the company did not want to limit its client base in Chile to Harmony’s capacity of around 20,000-25,000 subscribers, as it sees ample opportunity to surpass that amount. ‘We felt that the test had run long enough to give us the information we were looking for. Clearly with the spectrum in our pockets and the kind of momentum we are seeing throughout the region and our growing confidence in the Chilean opportunity, we decided to pull all these things together,’ Shindler told BNamericas.
By the end of 2008 Shindler expects the company to have finished construction of its network using Motorola’s iDen technology, which it uses for the rest of its operations. The Chilean operation is likely to reach at least the current size of NII’s Peruvian unit, with 399,000 subscribers. However, Shindler believes that in the long term the company’s client portfolio in Chile should exceed that number.