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Chile to end long distance rates by 2014

The Chilean government has set a series of ambitious telecommunication goals, including charging all types of voice calls as local calls and eliminating long distance rates or extra rates currently charged by mobile carriers. Also, Chile’s secretary of telecommunications (Subtel) has released number portability for both mobile and fixed lines, ended on-net and off-net rates and the has standardized numbers.

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According to Subtel, the new rules follow changes in the way users communicate in Chile. Undersecretary of Telecommunications, Jorge Atton, noted that today many families use free alternatives based on Internet connections. “So there is no justifies maintaining a communication model with added charges because it is in the process of becoming obsolete,” Atton said in a statement.

In the past 11 years, the annual traffic minutes per user of domestic long distance has decreased 61%, replaced by the explosive growth of mobile traffic and the spread of applications that allow users to communicate at free or discounted prices.

As of June, Chile counted more than 22.4 million mobile lines, more than 3.3 million fixed lines, more than 3.8 million mobile broadband connections and more than 2.1 million fixed broadband connections. At the end of 2011, smartphones accounted for more than 1.7 million connections across the country, while over the past 11 months mobile traffic has increased 905%.

Subtel explained that the new measure are focused on facilitating telecommunications across the country, without territorial restrictions, technological differences or to restrict calls between customers using different mobile carriers. The moves also follow initiatives enacted last year designed to curtail domestic long distance by cutting local areas from 24 to 13, a move that is claimed to have benefited six million people.

Subtel Minister Pedro Pablo Errázuriz added that cutting long distance charges represents a great savings for households and enterprise customers that communicate in their region. Errázuriz added that the plans will continue to be deployed throughout 2013, with the goal to set all calls as local calls in the country regardless of origin or destination city.

Subtel also reported that all fixed-line numbers will become standardized by adding the number “2” to all of them. The change will begin in Arica on Oct. 20, and will gradually expand to the rest of the country. In Santiago the change is set to begin on Nov. 24, when users must first dial “2” to call landline numbers.

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