Pre-paid registration stalls Q3 cellular growth; mobile internet users reach 1.3m

25 Oct 2011

Ecuadorian regulatory agency Superintendencia de Telecomunicaciones (Supertel) reports that the country’s number of mobile telephony lines in service reached 15.75 million at the end September 2011, up by 8.3% in a year. However, the reported growth rate was down from the 11% recorded in the second quarter of the year, and on a quarter-on-quarter basis, the figures show a growth rate of just 0.4%. The reason behind the slowdown would appear to be the introduction of a mandatory pre-paid mobile registration scheme for new and existing users in July 2011. As previously reported by CommsUpdate, existing Ecuadorian SIM card owners have been given nine months from 5 July 2011 to register their details on a national database or have their services limited from April 2012 to incoming calls or messages only. In July 2012 all remaining unregistered SIMs will be disconnected.

As of end-September 2011 Supertel reported that the mobile market leader Conecel (Claro), owned by America Movil, had a 70% share of subscribers, with over eleven million GSM and W-CDMA lines in service, while Movistar Ecuador had nearly 4.5 million GSM/W-CDMA/CDMA2000 users, giving it a 28% slice of the market. State-run operator Corporacion Nacional de Telecomunicaciones (CNT) claimed a market share of less than 2% at the same date. At the end of the third quarter pre-paid mobile subscribers accounted for 85% of the national total, down from 86% the previous quarter.

Supertel also reported that Ecuador’s fixed broadband subscribers reached 534,000 at the end of June 2011, up from 393,000 twelve months earlier. Of the total, CNT accounted for 293,000 high speed customers, or nearly 55% of the total, followed by the TVCable Group (including CableNet, formerly Suratel) with 120,000 broadband lines in service at mid-2011. Claro Ecuador, recently rebranded from Telmex Ecuador by parent America Movil, had around 56,000 broadband subscribers at the same date.

Alongside the fixed broadband figures, Supertel reported that the number of cellular mobile internet subscribers in the country reached nearly 1.3 million by the end of June 2011, a statistic which included W-CDMA/HSPA, CDMA2000 1xEV-DO/Rev A and GPRS/EDGE network users. Previously, the authority had reported that the country was home to 332,000 data-only mobile internet connections at the end of December 2010, up from around 212,000 a year earlier. The huge jump in the total six months later is assumed to be partly due to a change in reporting practices, in particular as the base of Conecel (Claro) leapt from 140,000 (confirmed all broadband-speed) at end-2010 to 1.02 million at mid-2011, while Movistar was credited with 250,000 mobile internet accounts in June (182,000 at end-2010), and CNT 38,000 (10,000).