Telecom Americas (Claro) extends LTE coverage with Belem launch

1 Aug 2013

Telecom Americas (Claro), the Brazilian mobile subsidiary of Mexico’s America Movil (AM), has extended its Long Term Evolution (LTE) network to 18 cities, with the launch of 4GMax in the city of Belem. Earlier this month TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate reported the company as saying that its 4G rollout is currently running well ahead of schedule, allowing it to meet the government’s deadline to launch commercial LTE services in the remaining football 2014 World Cup host cities of Cuiaba, Manaus and Natal. In a statement published in early-July, Claro said that as a result of its rapid rollout, it hopes to be the first carrier in Brazil to make 4G mobile services available in all twelve host cities, namely: Manaus, Natal, Cuiaba, Curitiba, Sao Paulo, Porto Alegre, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Fortaleza, Recife and Salvador. National telecoms regulator Anatel has published its official timetable for 4G rollout, stipulating that licensees must provide coverage of all World Cup host cities by 31 December 2013. Claro’s 4GMax service is currently accessible to more than 38 million Brazilians.

AM’s Claro unit reported revenues of more than BRL8.1 billion (USD3.55 billion) in the three months ended 30 June 2013, up 8% year-on-year, with sales derived from fixed line services accounting for the majority, or 64.1%, of revenue. Mobile revenue edged up by 2.3% y-o-y to BRL3.2 billion and pay-TV sales climbed by more than one-fifth, it said. In addition, sales from mobile data rose by 17.8%. Second-quarter EBITDA of BRL1.9 billion was 2.7% higher on the same period of 2012, although EBITDA margin slipped to 23.3% from 24.5%.

Operationally, Claro reported a total mobile user base of 66.472 million at end-June 2013, up 5.6% year-on-year, of which post-paid users accounted for 13.7 million lines (8.3%). However, blended ARPU fell by 5.3% y-o-y to BRL15 it said, and minutes of use reached 119 minutes (11.7%).

In terms of fixed revenue generating units (RGUs), Claro counted 66.8 million RGUs at 30 June 2013, 9.1% more than a year before. It added 1.6 million new fixed line accesses in the second quarter of this year, 44% of which were pay-TV RGUs. Bundles remained popular: 60% of the net additions were triple-play packages, 31% were dual-play and only 9% were single access clients. Nearly 70% of the new RGUs signed up in 2Q 2013 came from Brazil, its largest fixed line operation with 30.8 million RGUs.