Venezuela's telcoms monopoly seeks massive internet connections

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CARACAS -, the ISP of Venezuela's fixed-wire andlong-distance telephone monopoly Compa11a An¢nima Nacional de Telfonos (Cantv), is promoting a series of new Internet service plansin an attempt to increase the number of Internet users in the country.

The products include Free Mail, Control Net and Unlimited Service. is currently handing out 2 million Free Mail signup software CDs across the country. It is also planning to provide userswith a virtual mall for on-line shopping. is automatically charged at $2.50 an hour to the subscriber's credit card without the necessity to contract a minimumnumber of hours as under the existing arrangement. The UnlimitedConnection plan costs $37.50 per month, about a third less thanthe previous offer.

Alfredo Pallota, director of mass distribution of, estimates that's existing 75,000 subscribers last year willdouble by the end of 1999 as a result of the new subscription structure and pricing.'s principal competitor is T-net, affiliate of Telcel,Cantv's one competitor in cellular telephony.

A major obstacle to widespread Internet usage however, remains thehigh cost of local calls. But this is expected to change when Cantv'smonopoly ends in November, 2000, to be replaced by a fully competitive telecoms market.

Copyright July 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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