Bolivia’s president Evo Morales is said to have guaranteed investment of USD300 million for state-owned telecoms provider Empresa Nacional de Telecomunicaciones (Entel), with the funds expected to be spent on expanding telecoms coverage across the nation. According to FM Bolivia, it is understood that some 5,932 miles of fibre-optic cabling will be installed using the money provided by the state, while the company’s mobile unit Entel Mobile is expected to renew its infrastructure. Noting that the planned expenditure for 2014 is almost triple the USD106 million spent in 2013, President Morales reportedly claimed that with Entel disclosing revenues of USD243 million in 2007 – the last year before it was renationalised – in 2013 it generated around USD355 million. Further, in terms of profit, having recorded a net income of around USD69 million in 2009 (the first full year after being returned to state hands), in 2013 that figure rose to USD105 million.
Coupled with the financial improvements at the telco President Morales also highlighted the improved coverage, stating that while Entel only reached 29 municipalities in 2009, that figure rose to 165 by end-2009 and had more than doubled to 339 municipalities by the end of last year. Total subscriber numbers meanwhile stood at 4.377 million at end-2013, though it was not confirmed how many of these were fixed line users and how many mobile. However, the report did cite the president as saying that, with LTE-based services now available in all 339 of the country’s municipalities, some 137,756 customers have taken up a 4G service with Entel Movil.