The smallest of Venezuela’s three nationwide mobile operators, Digitel, has set a date of December 2012 to launch 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) data services utilising the 1800MHz frequency allocation it was awarded last month by telecoms regulator Conatel. Inside Telecoms quotes Digitel head Oswaldo Cisneros, who revealed that LTE services will be rolled out initially in a few selected urban centres with the highest concentration of mobile data demand, with plans to expand coverage further in 2013. Cisneros added that Digitel’s main focus remained for now on the completion of its national 3G W-CDMA/HSPA network deployment in conjunction with the rollout and upgrading of high speed fibre-optic ring backbone infrastructure, including projects in the states of Vargas, Carabobo, Anzoategui and Guarico. The domestically-owned company is working on upgrading its transmission capacity from 50Mbps to 100Mbps to help multiply ‘by five times or more’ the current data user capacity of the network, its president claimed.
In the same interview, Cisneros also commented on a lack of cooperation on infrastructure-sharing proposals between Venezuelan cellcos, despite rival Movistar’s announcement last month upon receiving new 1900MHz spectrum, in which the Telefonica subsidiary said that co-investment and network inter-operability was necessary as ‘the only way to maximise investment’. The Digitel president said that, to date, slow progress has been made on co-location agreements between operators to reduce costs in the installation of towers and cells at shared sites. He claimed that Digitel had so far approved colocation at 48 of its base station sites whilst it had only received approval for ten sites it had requested access to, indicating, he said, a lack of reciprocal treatment of its applications from rivals. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Digitel has around 6.4 million subscribers on its GSM and W-CDMA networks, both of which it currently operates in the 900MHz band.