Ecuador reshuffles telecoms sector, tightens state control

17 Aug 2009

With the passing of a new decree on 13 August 2009, Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa has given the go-ahead to create the Ministry of Telecommunication & Information Society (MTIS) to take overall responsiblity for policy-making decisions in the sector, a role currently performed by the telecoms secretariat, Secretaria Nacional de Telecomunicaciones (Senatel). The MTIS will oversee the operation of state-owned telco Corporacion Nacional de Telecomunicaciones (CNT) and mobile operator Telecsa (Alegro PCS), reducing their autonomy, according to local newspaper El Universal, despite the fact that Correa announced in September 2008 that the new organisational structure under the MTIS was aimed at reducing bureaucracy. The planned reorganisation also involves merging the National Radio and Television Council (Conartel) into the telecoms regulator, the National Telecommunications Commission (Conatel), whilst the current Secretary General of Telecoms Jaime Guerrero Ruiz will take over the administrative functions of the president of Conartel. At the same time, Correa has decided to dissolve the state’s Fondo de Solidaridad (Solidarity Fund), which existed to assist infrastructure projects. However, the fund’s former president Jorge Glass now becomes Minister of Telecommunication & Information at the newly created MTIS, which will form ICT policies, coordinate public and private institutions in technological research and promote internet usage. No mention was made of the Telecommunications Superintendency (Suptel), the fourth organisation that currently wields regulatory power in the sector, responsible for spectrum monitoring and enforcement, type approval and statistical services.