Movilnet launches restricted commercial GSM service

18 Dec 2008

On 16 December Venezuelan state-owned mobile operator Movilnet launched commercial services over selected parts of its recently deployed GSM network, which it will operate in parallel to its nationwide CDMA-based services. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, the cellco, a subsidiary of national PTO CANTV, launched a test phase of GSM services over a 850MHz/1900MHz network in May 2008, and had deployed 760 GSM base stations by September; a total which has now reached over 1,000, according to local news reports. However, it is following a cautious path to full commercial launch, and the service is initially only available in the Portuguesa and Nueva Esparta areas, which were chosen because they are relatively sparsely populated, reducing the chances of network failure. Major cities including Caracas, Maracaibo, Valencia and Barquisimeto will have to wait several months to receive coverage, according to local sources, who also said that Movilnet has tentatively scheduled the rollout of 3G UMTS services for late 2009. Movilnet’s closest rival, Movistar Venezuela, launched commercial GSM services in December 2006 and has swiftly migrated large sections of its CDMA-based customer base to the new platform; the Telefonica subsidiary launched 3G/3.5G W-CDMA/HSDPA services earlier this month. The third largest cellco in Venezuela, Digitel, has offered GSM-based services since 1999. Both Movilnet and Movistar have enjoyed high levels of user demand for their 3G EV-DO-based data/internet services, which they both launched in 2005.

Venezuela, Movilnet