State-owned telcos Une-EPM and Empresa de Telecomunicaciones de Bogota (ETB) have revealed plans to invest COP500 billion and COP800 billion (USD244.5 million and USD391.3 million) respectively to expand their networks in 2014, local news outlet La Republica reports. Une-EPM said that it would use the funds to expand its 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network to underserved areas of cities, with a view to increasing its subscriber base by 30%, having signed up 200,000 LTE customers by the end of 2013. The telco’s president, Marc Eichmann, explained that the strategy aimed to help increase broadband penetration in poorly served areas, whilst aiding the company in increasing its user base by minimising the amount of competition it will face. Eichmann added that Une-EPM’s focus is on offering LTE as an alternative to fixed broadband, noting that it was not economically viable to use its 2600MHz frequencies to serve the mobile segment. However, Une-EPM will gain access to 700MHz LTE frequencies more suitable for mobile 4G through its planned merger with Tigo Colombia – which is expected to be completed by end-Q2 2014.
For its part, ETB intends to use the investment to expand the reach of its fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) networks and to develop its mobile and TV offerings. ETB’s FTTH platform currently passes just under 300,000 homes, although just 1,000 of these currently make use of the fibre network. The telco aims to pass one million homes with FTTH technology with a target take-up rate of 20%.