Argentina broadband plan unveiled

Broadbandtech aims to sign up 30,000 subs in first year

BUENOS AIRES — Argentina’s Broadbandtech plans to invest $200 million over the next five years to offer Internet access over the same pipes that pump cable television into homes.

It aims to sign up 30,000 subscribers in the first year, said Jorge Alvarez, prexy of Broadbandtech, backed by chipmaker Intel.

Broadbandtech will rent capacity on existing cable systems, he said. It is already in talks with a dozen of the country’s 600 MSOs. Many of those operators need to upgrade their systems, Alvarez acknowledged.

Value-added is key

Argentina’s cable industry is increasingly offering Internet access to boost average revenue per sub. Given that over 60% of the country’s 10 million homes already have cable or satellite service, industry execs say future growth depends on value-added services.

The No. 1 MSO, Hicks Muse-based Cablevision, is focusing on its cable-modem subsid Fibertel, according to CEO Julio Gutierrez. Fibertel has 45,000 subs and expects to add 6,000 per month by the end of 2001.

U.S. research firm the Yankee Group earlier this year projected that broadband subs would increase to 90,000 by year-end and reach 618,000 by 2005.

Eight companies offer free access, and dial-up service costs an average of $30 per month compared with an average of $80 for cable-modem access, according to industry figures.

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