GSM operator Digitel, the smallest of Venezuela’s three cellcos, has launched commercial services over its new 3G/3.5G UMTS-900 network. In a first phase, laptop and PC users are being offered broadband internet access via USB wireless modem devices over Digitel’s 900MHz W-CDMA/HSDPA network in selected areas, which supports download speeds of up to 3.6Mbps. Pre- and post-paid packages are available, including flat-rate unlimited usage plans and a low-end user package with a monthly 500MB data limit.
To date, around 30 districts and towns receive Digitel’s 3G signal, in the following regions: South East Caracas, Miranda, Vargas, Zulia, Portuguesa, Barinas, Lara, Falcon, Tachira, Merida, Nueva Esparta Trujillo and Yaracuy. Digitel has invested around USD160 million to deploy around 120 UMTS-900 base stations, and will roll out a total of over 250 3G cell sites in the first phase.
The second phase of the commercial launch is scheduled for mid-2009, when Digitel plans to launch integrated 3G voice and data services, including services such as mobile TV, videoconferencing and 3G roaming. By the third quarter of this year, the operator intends to have coverage in all areas of the country, with around 500 W-CDMA/HSDPA base stations.
By the end of 2009 Digitel is aiming for around 7.5 million 2G/3G subscribers, up from 5.3 million GSM users at end-September 2008. To assist its continuing expansion, the company was awarded an additional 10MHz block of frequencies in the 900MHz band in January 2009, for which it paid around USD26 million, according to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database.