In September 2010 Antel launched a broadband project to offer one megabyte for the price of 512 kilobytes. What can you tell us about this and other projects to increase bandwidth?
What we’ve done is to double all ADSL broadband services from 256KB up to 1Mb. The 2MB has grown to 3MB and customers with 4MB enjoy reduced rates. This is a project that we finished last August, expanding international broadband that will allow us to offer this service. Also, in this way we are favoring the deployment of multimedia technologies, among which we’re focusing on the generation of national contents.
As of October 15, 90% of ADSL services will have a minimum speed of 1MB per second. All new contracts will enjoy this speed, while all of our existing customers will be automatically transferred over.
Also, ANTEL has been negotiating for greater access to international bandwidth through various access routes.ANTEL aims to position Uruguay as a laboratory and a logistics ‘hub’ for new technologies. How do you intend to achieve this?
I believe this is a really important objective as well as a tremendous opportunity for ANTEL. I’ve spoken on various occasions about incentivising scientific and technological research in ANTEL. Whenever we have a technical issue to resolve, we could open a pilot project at the national level and work in conjunction with technicians and scientists from Brazil and Argentina, two countries with whom we collaborate often.
Last October, ANTEL launched the Idea Project: a first step in what will be a continuous research and development and innovation (R&D&I) project, in which all employees can present initiatives for innovation and research, having an impact on the company and/or the community. Now a commission is evaluating these ideas in order to propose to the board of directors their implementation. More than 200 initiatives were presented.
We’ve also got a company called ITC that offers consulting services in telecoms, which it markets to countries in the region and this is the road we’d like to take. As ANTEL still holds a monopoly in fixed telephony, in what ways do you consider the company to be competitive?
The company competes whether its products and services have competition or not. I think we offer highly competitive products, especially in terms of the region.With its successful Plan Ceibal, the government of Uruguay is making access to computers and Internet a reality in schools throughout the country, and ANTEL is the company behind this connectivity. However, there are still about 200 schools without the service.
So far, ANTEL has provided connectivity services for more than 2,400 public schools participating in the Plan Ceibal, among many other public places like plazas.
We lend our services to the schools through the coordination from the personnel at CITS [Center for Technological and Social Inclusion]. Of those 200 schools you mention, around 150 have no electricity, and about 30 of them rely on a private company – contracted by CITS – to connect to ANTEL’s services.
That leaves us to resolve the problem at some 18 schools, which we’re doing through a work schedule coordinated with CITS.
We’re highly aware of the requirements demanded by Plan Ceibal and we’ve got a large team here at ANTEL working on meeting them.