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 Thursday, 28 February 2008

The Ecuadorian regulator Supertel has reported customer numbers for the end of 2007 just short of the 10m mark, as the total count increased to 9.98m during the year. Net additions over the 12 months to 31st December 2007 amounted to 1.47m, the lowest figure recorded since Q1 2005, whilst on a proportionate basis rolling annual growth fell to an all-time low of 17.2%. These trends are less remarkable when noting that penetration in Ecuador reached 72.1% at the end of 2007, after an increase of almost 10pp in the year.

America Movil’s Conecel pulled further ahead of its two competitors in 2007, registering 87.5% of the year’s net additions and extending its market share from 66.5% to 69.5% in the process. Its position was helped by the fact that its main rival, Telefonica’s Otecel, has floundered somewhat this last year, adding just 92k customers on a net basis over the 12 months: this equates to proportionate growth of just 3.7%, against 22.7% at Conecel. In fact, Telefonica actually lost customers in Ecuador in the fourth quarter, according to data from Supertel, its base falling from 2.66m to 2.59m in the three months to December.

Whether the company itself agrees with this version of events has yet to be seen, as Telefonica does not publish its own figures until this Thursday.

The third operator in the Ecuadorian market is Telecomunicaciones Móviles del Ecuador, or Allegro PCS, which finished the year with 450k customers. This gave the operator a 4.5% share of the market, up from 4.2% at the end of 2006. (As with market-leader Conecel, Allegro’s gain also came at the expense of Telefonica, whose own share fell from 29.3% to 25.9% of the total base during the year.) The fourth quarter of 2007 was significant for Allegro PCS as it saw the introduction of GSM technology by the company, which has hitherto been an exclusive proponent of the CDMA standard.

The development leaves CANTV as the only CDMA-only operator in Latin America, until later midway through this year, that is, at which point the renationalised Venezuelan carrier is due to launch its own GSM overlay network.

Penetration vs Proportionate Annual Growth

Source: Cellular News.