Venezuela’s Digitel joins Movistar in suspending international services due to forex crisis

11 Apr 2016

Domestically-owned Venezuelan cellco Digitel on 9 April 2016 ‘indefinitely’ suspended international long-distance calling and international mobile roaming services due to the inability to obtain foreign currency to pay overseas telecoms partners, TeleSemana reports. The move by Digitel follows the local division of Telefonica, Movistar Venezuela, announcing last week the suspension of its roaming services because of the difficulty in procuring foreign currency, whilst several Venezuelan telecoms operators have been forced to reduce the available destinations for international calls over the past year. Another victim of the currency crisis is AT&T’s local pay-TV subsidiary DirecTV (Venezuela) which has postponed the launch of TD-LTE broadband services in the 2.5GHz spectrum band it won at auction. The currency shortage has been exacerbated by government policy in adopting a new official ‘complimentary currencies’ exchange rate, which had the knock-on effect of forcing operators to alter prices for international services.

Attempting to address the problem, Venezuelan telecoms regulator Conatel last week reported that it was working towards a consensus with operators to enable the implementation of measures aimed at resolving the suspension of services due to the currency crisis, acknowledging the difficulties caused by government fiscal policy. However, the watchdog simultaneously demanded that companies design mechanisms to compensate users for the loss of services.