Despite surpassing the 100% barrier, Venezuelan growth remained strong. Quarterly growth stood at 3.1%, only 0.8pp down on the year-earlier quarter, while annual growth was an impressive 21.3%, down from 35.0%.
In real terms, quarterly growth stood at 0.80m, down slightly from 0.82m in the year-earlier quarter, while annual net additions fell from 5.71m to 4.68m. CANTV retained its market leadership in Q3, although second-placed Telcel topped the market for quarterly net additions and thereby reduced CANTVís advantage. At the end of Q2, CANTVís customer base was more than 1m larger than Telcelís, but with net additions of 0.27m to Telcelís 0.44m, the lead was cut to 0.89m at the end of Q3. In real terms, CANTV had 11.17m customers to Telcelís 10.28m. Meanwhile, third-placed Digitel finished the quarter with 5.22m having added 87k during the quarter, its worst performance for three years.
The Venezuelan market is still dominated by CDMA technology, although GSM is increasingly asserting its presence. At the end of Q3 07, more than two-thirds of total connections were on CDMA, but a year later this figure was down by almost 10pp at 57.7%. In terms of annual growth, CDMA connections increased by just 3.7% to 15.38m, while the GSM base was up 63.2% to 11.24m. CANTV operates almost exclusively CDMA technology with only a handful of TDMA connections remaining, while Digitel is a GSM- only operator. However, Telcel operates both CDMA and GSM technology, and in Q2 08 the size of its GSM base exceeded that of its CDMA base, despite only launching in Q1 07. At the end of Q3 08, 58.5% of its base was on GSM technology, and this percentage will certainly rise in future.