Finalmente VTR abandona su red móvil y se convierte en MVNO

VTR anunció que dejará de utilizar comercialmente su red de telefonía móvil y se convertirá en un operador móvil virtual (MVNO), informó el chileno Diario Financiero. La noticia había sido adelantada en agosto, luego de que Liberty Global —propietario del 80 por ciento del cableoperador chileno— afirmara ante la Securities and Exchange Comission (SEC) de los Estados Unidos que “estaba explorando alternativas estratégicas de VTR Wireless en Chile, incluyendo opciones que podrían involucrar la disposición de la red móvil de VTR Wireless en favor de acuerdos expandidos de operador móvil virtual”.

En 2009, VTR adquirió 30 MHz de espectro en la banda AWS (Advance Wireless Services) para el despliegue de una red 3G WCDMA, pero recién en 2012 pudo iniciar la comercializar su servicio de telefonía móvil. La compañía inició su negocio en Chile bajo un modelo híbrido, que contemplaba el uso de su propia red y un acuerdo de roaming con Movistar.

En agosto, cuando el gerente general de VTR, Guillermo Ponce salió a desmentir los rumores de que su compañía abandonaría su red, adelantó que la estrategia era fortalecer el vínculo con Movistar a partir de la migración de tráfico desde su red propia a favor del roaming. No obstante, el modelo no funcionó y en diciembre la compañía renegoció su contrato con Movistar para que le provea servicios como “full MVNO”, informó el Diario Financiero.

El acuerdo para transformarse en MVNO le permitirá al operador disminuir sus costos de mantenimiento de la red y focalizarse exclusivamente en la comercialización del servicio móvil.

La llegada de VTR al mercado móvil chileno no fue como esperaba. A la demora en iniciar sus operaciones en el país, el operador se encontró con un mercado saturado y en el que debía competir con gigantes de la talla de Movistar, Claro y Entel. El operador ya había reclamado por herramientas que favorezcan la competencia como la política de precios en los cargos de acceso y hasta se había esperanzado con la posibilidad de que la subasta de espectro en la banda de 700 MHz ofreciera una oportunidad para establecer reglas “razonables y justas”, que permitan que cualquier operador interesado participe en condiciones igualitarias.

Lo cierto es que a junio de 2013, VTR contaba con 76.861 clientes, lo que la ubicaba por debajo de otros entrantes como el MVNO Virgin Mobile, que a la misma fecha registraba 105.606 suscriptores, según datos divulgados por la Subsecretaría de Telecomunicaciones (Subtel).

Por otro lado, Liberty Global anunció que separará sus negocios de VTR GlobalCom, VTR Wireless y su par VTR Finance. A partir de entonces, VTR GlobalCom dejará de ser parte de UPC Holdings. La reestructuración contempla la creación de una unidad latinoamericana que integre el 60 por ciento que la estadounidense tiene en Liberty Cablevisión de Puerto Rico. La operación deberá ser aprobada por el consejo de directores de Liberty Global.

La reorganización societaria supone además una oferta de notas senior por parte de VTR Parent por un total de 1.400 millones de dólares. Los títulos, que comenzaron a comercializarse en 13 de enero, permitirán pagar las deudas adquiridas.

La renuncia de VTR a su infraestructura física de red móvil ofrece dos incógnitas. La primera, qué destino tendrá el equipamiento ya instalado por el operador y, la segunda, qué ocurrirá con el espectro en posesión de VTR. La mirada estará en qué camino tomará la Subtel, tras una decisión que incumple el contrato de concesión de frecuencias. La clave radica en si el regulador decide o no aprobar el proyecto para crear un mercado secundario de espectro, en el que los operadores puedan arrendar y hasta vender sus porciones en desuso.

Leticia Pautasio
Leticia Pautasio es periodista y Licenciada en Comunicación Social por la Universidad Nacional de Quilmes (Buenos Aires, Argentina). Durante su carrera profesional se desempeñó en gráfica, radio y medios de comunicación en línea. Desde 2009 se especializa en tecnología, telecomunicaciones y negocios; cubriendo la realidad del sector en América latina. En 2013 obtuvo el diplomado "El Periodista Latinoamericano como agente y líder en el desarrollo social" del Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (México). Contacto: leticia.pautasio@telesemana.com

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