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Ecuador: Telephone Cos Should Invest $50Mln in Portability

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QUITO (Dow Jones) Cellular telephone companies operating in Ecuador will likely need to invest $50 million over the next two years in order to implement telephone number portability, Jaime Guerrero, the head of the country's telephone regulatory agency, said Wednesday.

Ecuador's Constituent Assembly, which is acting as the nation's legislature, on May 23 ordered the implementation of number portability for mobile telephones. Number portability allows people to switch phone companies without changing their cellphone numbers.

The companies that operate mobile services in Ecuador are local units of Spain's Telefonica and Mexico's America Movil, and the state company Alegro.

At a press conference, Guerrero said that it hadn't yet been determined what amount each operator would have to invest.

Telefonica representative Jose Luis Diaz de Mera said that number portability would require an annual investment of $10 million for maintenance.

According to the latest official data, there are 10.37 million mobile subscribers in the country. America Movil's local unit, Porta Celular, is Ecuador's leading mobile operator, with 7.19 million subscribers, while Movistar, a unit of Telefonica, holds the No. 2 spot with more than 2.6 million users.

America Movil and Telefonica have both reached agreements to renew their concessions in the Andean country for 15 years.

Porta Celular, whose concession expires in August, will likely pay $480 million, while Movistar, with a concession that ends in November, will pay some $220 million.

Both companies will make an initial payment for the concessions followed by additional payments over 15 years based on annual income.

-By Mercedes Alvaro, Dow Jones Newswires; 59-39-9728-653; mercedes.alvaro@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

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Tags: telefonica  number portability  porta  telefonica,  Ecuador