Ecuador rolls out 4G, but users stick with 2G

Juan Fernandez Gonzalez | 07-01-2014

Ecuador has been deploying its LTE 4G network during 2013, but, according to the latest figures from Supertel (the country's telecoms authority) reported by El Comercio, 85.8% of mobile users are still using 2G technology.

This means almost no mobile Internet use in a market in which 83% of lines are pre-paid.

Over 15.5 million mobile customers in Ecuador use their mobile phones for calling and sending SMS, contrary to the worldwide trend of users increasingly using Internet-related features. 3G HSPA+ customers represent only 2% of the market, despite it being the network operator since 2011.

In fact, according to research carried by El Comercio, private customers are barely using mobile Internet at all, and the figures point to companies taking most of the data plans. The need to change devices to connect to the new network is one of the reasons behind the slow 3G and 4G uptake.

In spite of the lack of willing customers, most of Ecuador's telcos are ready to launch their LTE plans. The country's telecom council Conatel approved the new frequency slots in October 2013, and in December CNT presented its LTE service, for which it will invest over $30 million. Claro and Movistar have already asked for permission to deploy their networks.