Following last week’s decision by Paraguayan regulator Conatel to end Copaco’s monopoly on wholesale internet access, the incumbent telco has announced that it will reduce retail and wholesale internet access tariffs for the second time this year in May, reports abc.com.py. From the beginning of March, Copaco cut certain tariffs by an average of around 23%, with a 64kbps connection falling from USD19 to USD17 per month, and a 128kbps subscription falling from USD25 to USD22 a month. However, Paraguay’s prices remain the highest in the Mercosur region, with a 1Mbps ADSL connection costing Copaco customers USD92 per month, 318% more than in Argentina, where the same service is charged at USD22. The monopolistic market and high prices have inhibited growth in the sector; Copaco reportedly finished 2008 with fewer than 15,000 broadband customers, up from an estimated 10,000 at end-2007. Details of the new price list planned for May were not released.
Last week Conatel passed a resolution giving all authorised operators access to national and international capacity provided by any domestic or international company. Although there are no alternative fixed line telcos active in Paraguay, it is expected that the country’s mobile operators will establish new fibre-optic links to internet gateways. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database notes that cellcos Telecel Paraguay (Tigo) and Nucleo (Telecom Personal) provide fixed-wireless and mobile broadband access services via WiMAX technology. Tigo also operates a fibre-optic backbone network which covers the entire metropolitan area of Asuncion and surrounding cities, whilst Nucleo also uses its wireless infrastructure to offer data services to corporate customers in the country’s largest cities, under a separate licence, partly via its own fibre-optic network in Asuncion.
Alongside the wholesale resolution, Conatel reassured Copaco that its exclusivity on the provision of VoIP telephony in Paraguay would continue. The telco launched VoIP services on a commercial basis early last year.