Spanish-backed integrated telecoms operator Telefonica Colombia (Movistar) has committed to new rollouts of fixed broadband lines to lower-income families under the Digital Home Project, an initiative of the Ministry of Information Technology and Communication (MinTIC), and part of the Compartel social programme, which aims to extend broadband internet access to the masses. As reported by CommsUpdate in July, the government has earmarked COP300 billion (USD165.5 million) per annum over the next two years for purchasing computers and subsidising internet access for families in the lowest two ‘strata’ – Colombia operates a system that gives areas a designation between one and six depending on its level of prosperity, strata one being the poorest areas and strata six the most affluent. 100,000 families receiving free housing from the government will also receive computers and free internet access; additional families in strata one and two that purchase broadband access will not be charged VAT on the service. Movistar’s latest planned rollout will involve connecting 28,000 families in strata one and two housing categories in 38 municipalities to high speed services, charged at subsidised rates, whilst the beneficiaries of the scheme are also offered internet-related education courses, the company said in a press release.
TeleGeography notes that in May 2012 parent group Telefonica unified all of its Colombian operations under its preferred Movistar brand, including fixed line telephony, broadband, wireless and pay-TV, following an agreement to merge fixed line telco Telefonica Telecom with its sister cellular network operator. The merger, which involved the Colombian government taking a 30% stake in the newly combined company, was completed in late-June 2012.