Mexican Billionaire Carlos Slim is playing a game of RISK with his telecomms firm TelMex to beat Telefonica's second colonization of South America, and he's pouring his millions into expanding his telco's presence throughout the region. While it remains hated as the "local monopoly" in its home country, TelMex is behaving as an agressive competitor in new markets throughout the region, where it often has to battle an entrenched local loop monopoly. In many instances, it's Telefonica. Additionally, in some countries like Argentina where the "local loop" in the last mile is not unbundled, this is an unequal fight, so TelMex in most instances has to reach customers using the airwaves.
It was thus with great excitement that I learned last year about a new service from the firm -which already operates one of the biggest mobile operators in the country, CTI- a phone + interweb service dubbed "SCI" which basically gives you WLL phone service *and* Internet using the firm's licensed spectrum at the 3.2GHz frequency. The firm inherited the spectrum as a by-product of acquiring MetroRed- and using WLL equipment from Canadian firm "SR Telecom".
The offer last year was quite attractive for what is the sad reality of the local marketplace: a 1Mb internet link plus one phone number, for about $50 greenbacks a month. And it included a few thousand minutes of local phone calls in the monthly fee. Telefonica's lines come by default with zero, nothing, nada.
So after getting really mad at Telefonica, I contacted the firm to subscribe to the service... the sales lady was sorry to inform me that the service level with one megabit Internet and a single phone line was "discontinued" last November '06, but gladly informed me that they are now offering for the same price TWO phone lines/numbers with 512K broadband. I told the TelMex lady that Net access at 512K was not very attractive for me, to which she replied that the firm no longer has the Canadian CPE originally used, nor is the 1Mbit service plan in its sales system. She added that it was a really neat deal, since for the price that used to include two phone lines, you can now get *four*. I imagined myself on a four-way voice conference, and didn't like it.
While these TelMex offerings might find a small niche with voice-hungry small businesses, this slower Internet speed makes the firm's offer not very attractive for us geeks or anyone who spends a lot of time downloading, specially considering Telefonica's 2.5Mb residential ADSL offerings. TelMex might have a card up its sleeve, since it recently acquired the largest WiMAX WISP, Ertach, but the merger is not yet complete. To boot, prices of WiMAX service are not very palatable at least for the average home user.
What is ironic is that some of us are so annoyed with Telefonica's performance over the years, that some of us might eventually grab whatever TelMex has to offer, just to stop funding the incumbent's local loop monopoly.µ
The week in Google in brief
Sega hedgehogging its bets
And not a purple duck in sight