Venezuelan state-owned mobile operator Movilnet has launched a 3G/3.5G pilot network using W-CDMA/HSDPA technology with 80 base transceiver stations (BTS) being tested by staff at the fire department in Caracas, reports Venezuelan news site Entorno Inteligente. Movilnet, a wholly owned subsidiary of national fixed line incumbent CANTV, aims to expand its number of active UMTS-enabled BTSs in the capital to 350 before launching commercial 3G services in the fourth quarter of this year. The pilot involves fire officers using the high speed mobile network to transmit video in real time to a central command station. Aiming to target the corporate mobile data market, amongst the first commercial 3G services to be offered will be videoconferencing, said the chairperson of CANTV and Movilnet, Jaqueline Farias. The operator, which already covers the entire country with CDMA2000-based 2.5G/3G services as well as GSM technology, also said it will soon offer new data packages for pre-paid customers. The news of Movilnet’s 3G plans in Caracas follows reports from various bloggers that have been appearing on local technology sites in the last few weeks, with network users reporting 3G signals in other cities including Barquisimeto, Lara state, and Guayana, Bolivar state.
Alongside its pilot scheme announcement, Movilnet presented an up-to-date summary of its network coverage across all its technology platforms, claiming that its combined CDMA2000 1x/1xEV-DO network covers virtually 100% of the population with 1,381 BTSs, whilst 75% of the population is now under its GSM footprint via 1,207 BTSs, and its UMTS network rollout in densely built-up areas has already put 20% of the population in reach of W-CDMA services. Both of Movilnet’s cellular competitors, Movistar and Digitel, have commercial W-CDMA/HSDPA networks in service.