Brazilian mobile start-up Unicel do Brasil Telecomunicacoes (Unicel), which launched commercial operations in Sao Paulo on 8 September 2008 under the brand name aeiou, has lost its strategic investor, after HiTS Telecom announced it was pulling out of the venture. In a press release, Unicel said it was not completing the partial transfer of its control in Hits Brazil Empreendimentos e Participacoes to Saudi-based HiTS Telecom. According to the Brazilian company, ‘after having exhausted all attempts at conciliation between the parties, Unicel took the decision [not to proceed] in light of the failure of HiTS [to fulfil] the Investment Agreement and the agreed payment obligations.’
Unicel was awarded a licence to operate in the 900MHz band in October 2007. It paid BRL15 million (USD8.23 million) for two 2.5MHz blocks of spectrum authorising it to provide services in 63 municipalities of Sao Paolo. The award adds to the operator’s existing portfolio of 30MHz of bandwidth in the 1800MHz band. Unicel is offering a pre-paid SIM card with a minimum of BRL20 (USD11.73) credit loaded either online or at its retail store in Vila Madalena. It ended 2008 with 16,700 subscribers.