Mobile number portability set to shake up Chile’s mobile market

 Data published by Chile’s major telecoms operators and the national regulator, Subtel, show that after a surge in net additions in late 2010, mobile subscriber numbers continue to be buoyant...

Data published by Chile’s major telecoms operators and the national regulator, Subtel, show that after a surge in net additions in late 2010, mobile subscriber numbers continue to be buoyant. With year-on-year (y-o-y) growth at over 20% for the past three consecutive quarters, the capacity for Chile’s mobile market to grow has surprised many. In the light of this data for Q211, BMI calculates that Chile will have 26.7mn mobile subscribers by 2016.

The mobile market is set for further changes, as from 1 January 2012, a Chilean will be permitted to change to a new mobile operator without losing his or her number. In August 2011 the government announced that Telcordia was the successful in its bid to administer Chile’s mobile number portability programme. Not only has Telcordia ample experience of MNP schemes in countries such as Mexico, India and Greece, but it was also the firm that offered the lowest fee, at US$0.81 a portage. In expectation of the changes, in Q211 Entel created a points scheme ‘It all adds up’, whereby customers are awarded points for voice, text and data usage, in an attempt to foster customer loyalty.

There are also changes ahead for the fixed-line sector. In October 2011 the government introduced new tariffs in Valparaíso, whereby users are only charged for local-to-local calls when phoning someone in the same region. Previously these calls were charged at domestic long-distance tariffs. Over the next 20 months, the government aims to roll out this scheme across all Chile’s regions, with the goal of eliminating domestic long-distance tariffs altogether by June 2013, when it wants fixed-line calls in all regions to be charged at a local tariff. This move will help consumers make savings, but is unlikely to turn the market around from its current state of decline.

Continued mobile subscriber growth and plans for investment in mobile infrastructure announced by Movistar and Entel for 2012 are signs of investor confidence and the market’s capacity for future expansion – particularly in terms of mobile broadband offerings and high-speed fixed-broadband connections.

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