Ecuadorian state-owned full-service operator Corporacion Nacional de Telecomunicaciones (CNT) has announced on its website the expansion of its 4G LTE mobile network to the western province of Santa Elena, with a first phase of commercial deployments in the region including Salinas and Montanita. Having launched full commercial LTE services in Quito and Guayaquil in March 2014, CNT – currently the country’s sole LTE provider – extended the network to the cities of Ambato, Santo Domingo, Manta and Portoviejo through the remainder of the year.
According to a recent report from Telesemana quoting CNT executive Efren Ortiz, the government-backed operator is aiming for 300,000 LTE subscriptions this year, up from a current total of over 84,000 (including smartphone, tablet and dongle modem users – which the company notes is a higher figure than recent tallies reported by the Ecuadorian telecoms authority Supertel which apparently did not include all types of devices). CNT says it has recently installed 411 base stations in locations including Ambato, Duale, Duran, Guayaquil, Latacunga, Portoviejo, Salinas, Samborondon and Quito, and a second phase will deploy 350 base stations in areas including Cuenca, Esmeraldas, Ibarra Loja Machala and Riobamba. For these projects, the company secured a budget of USD35 million, of which USD23 million has already been spent. CNT currently sells 22 smartphones compatible with LTE, with upfront prices ranging from USD300 to USD900; the range has been expanded courtesy of a recent relaxation of import quotas. CNT offers post-paid data plans ranging from USD19.99 up to USD99.99 per month and including free minutes to other operators and SMS, plus ‘zero-rated’ (incurring no data usage) access to Facebook and WhatsApp.