Roundup: Fixed telephony, AT&T, Cybercafes – Ecuador, Puerto Rico

Roundup: BlackBerry, Novatel Wireless, Etapa – Regional

Hondutel expected to reach US$30mn in losses for 2013 – Honduras

Nagra signs agreement with Telefónica Digital to launch next generation TV services – Regional

Sony ups stakes in wearable computing with SmartBand, challenges iPhone with Z1 Compact – Regional



Roundup: Fixed telephony, AT&T, Cybercafes – Ecuador, Puerto Rico

Ecuador ended November with 2.40mn fixed telephone lines in service, telecoms technical superintendency Supertel said on its website.

The country’s overall fixed telephony penetration was 15.2% at the end of the month, according to the watchdog.

The market was led by state-telco CNT, with 2.06mn fixed lines.


Mobile operator AT&T Puerto Rico has launched an offering to attract customers from competitors, local paper El Vocero reported.

According to the report, AT&T will offer credit of up to US$450 for subscribers from rival operator T-Mobile who decide to migrate to AT&T and exchange their current smartphone.

The offer was launched on January 3 and will be valid for a limited time, according to the report.


Ecuador ended November with 2,378 registered cybercafes, local telecoms technical superintendency Supertel reported.

The provinces with the highest numbers of cybercafes were Pichincha and Guayas with 762 and 435, respectively.


Roundup: BlackBerry, Novatel Wireless, Etapa – Regional

Canadian wireless device and services firm BlackBerry (Nasdaq: BBRY) has appointed Ron Louks as its devices and emerging solutions president, BlackBerry said in a statement.

Ron Louks joins BlackBerry from The OpenNMS Group, where he served as Chief Executive Officer. Prior to that, Ron held many leadership positions over several decades in the technology industry, including as Chief Strategy Officer of HTC America and Chief Technology Officer at Sony Ericsson.


US provider of wireless solutions Novatel Wireless said that its MiFi 5510 mobile hotspot is available to support Verizon Wireless’ regional partners and B13 (700Mhz) carriers in the US and Puerto Rico, Novatel Wireless said in a statement.

The MiFi 5510 is a personal mobile hotspot providing connectivity on the go, capable of sharing internet connectivity with up to 10 Wi-Fi enabled devices simultaneously for up to 10 hours.


Ecuadorian telecoms operator Etapa ended November with a total of 152,436 telephony lines in service, the country’s telecoms technical superintendency Supertel reported.

The telco had a total of 599 public phones in service, according to the report.


Hondutel expected to reach US$30mn in losses for 2013 – Honduras

Cash-strapped Honduran state-owned telco Hondutel ended 2013 with losses of 600mn lempiras (US$30mn), local daily La Prensa reported.

At the end of November, the company had reported income of 1.99bn lempiras, with which it was making a loss of 574mn lempiras. However, according to estimations for December, the final loss for the year could be over 600mn lempiras.

Nonetheless, the expected losses are lower than the 948mn lempiras originally forecast. The company implemented a series of austerity measures this year to reduce its losses.

In 2011, Hondutel saw losses of 250mn lempiras, an amount that doubled in 2012.

After years of corruption, financial mismanagement and an excessively large workforce (in excess of 4,000), Hondutel has found itself in a financial crisis and competitively irrelevant in the market.

It is estimated that Hondutel needs a cash injection of US$500mn-600mn to put it on a competitive footing with Claro and Tigo.

In February last year, President Lobos set up a so-called intervention committee to explore options of how to improve the company’s finances, including selling off or renting assets pertaining to the company such as properties.

The current plan is to restart the search for a strategic partner to invest in the company in 2014. In a spectrum auction held at the beginning of October, the government reserved a spectrum block for Hondutel with the intention of sweetening the prospect for a future investor to be able to provide 4G services.

However, Orlando Mejía, the president of Hondutel’s union (Sitratelh) and also a member of the intervention committee, said that Hondutel risks losing its spectrum license as it has yet to pay the 480mn for the canon. If the company were to lose the license it would probably lose its only attractive element for an outside investor.

Nagra signs agreement with Telefónica Digital to launch next generation TV services – Regional

Swiss-based Nagra, a provider of content protection and multiscreen television solutions, has signed an agreement with Telefónica Digital, the global business division of Spanish telecoms giant Telefónica (NYSE: TEF), to launch next generation TV services in Latin America, both firms said in a joint statement.

The next generation TV services will be powered by Nagra’s latest middleware solution, OpenTV 5. This solution will enable Telefónica to deliver hybrid and over-the-top services through a unified user experience to Telefónica’s Latin American customers in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Venezuela.

OpenTV 5 will be deployed by Telefónica across satellite, cable, terrestrial and pure over-the-top networks supporting a range of broadcast, on-demand and interactive services.

“Next generation middleware solutions such as Nagra’s OpenTV 5 will allow Telefónica to combine our strengths as pay TV operator and a telco provider to create more powerful end-user services,” Telefónica Digital’s media services product director David del Val said. “Adding broadband connectivity to our satellite and cable services in the context of a quadruple play offering will bring them to a new level of experience around content curation, flexilinear TV and multiscreen capabilities,” the executive added.

Nagra is the digital TV division of the Kudelski Group.

Telefónica ended the third quarter of last year with a total of 2.64mn TV subscribers in Latin America, an increase of 12.3% year-on-year.

Peru, Brazil and Chile are the three markets in the region with the highest number of pay TV subscribers for Telefónica. The firm ended Q3 with 904,800 subscribers in Peru, up 2.2% year-on-year.

Meanwhile, the telco ended September with 587,700 pay-TV subscribers in Brazil, down 5.1% year-on-year. In Chile, the operator’s pay-TV clients totaled 480,500, up 17.7% year-on-year.

Sony ups stakes in wearable computing with SmartBand, challenges iPhone with Z1 Compact – Regional

Sony has sent out a clear message at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas that it plans to experiment with multiple sizes of smartphones and wearable devices in 2014.

The company announced on Monday the launch of the Xperia Z1 Compact, the 4.3-inch little brother to the Z1, similar in size and look and feel to the iPhone 5S.

Like Apple, Sony has realized the importance of multiple colors and the “Compact” comes in white, black, pink and lime green.

Indeed, during a demonstration of the device in Santiago, Sony Mobile Chile’s marketing manager Daniel Marre even called it an “iPhone killer.”

The device has all the components of the high-end Z1, including the 20.7Mpx camera with the ability to take photos and videos underwater. The main drawback is a slightly reduced battery life compared to the Z1.


Sony also launched the SmartBand at CES, representing its interest in further pushing into the wearable computing market, following the launch of a smartwatch last year.

The waterproof wristband tracks everything from daily physical activities and nightly sleep patterns to how much you’ve socialized with friends.

The sensor band has no display, however, and interacts wirelessly with an Android device through an app called Lifelog.

SmartBand also informs its wearer of incoming calls and messages by vibrating. Users listening to music can use it to play, pause or skip tracks.

Smartwatches are still to prove themselves, so a wrist band without a display might seem like a step too far.


Marre also demonstrated the Z1 Ultra, a 6.3 inch phablet clearly designed to challenge Samsung’s Galaxy Note range. However unlike the Note, it comes without a stylus. It comes compatible with digital TV and is designed either for executives with the need to check and edit documents or for the entertainment-oriented consumer.

The Z1 Ultra will go on sale in Chile at the beginning of February with operator Claro, the Z1 Compact will be available at the end of February with Movistar, and the SmartBand in Q2.