In the U.S., the name Telefonica isn't as common as AT&T. But make no mistake, the company - which started off as a small telecommunications company in Spain - is making a play for a global footprint.
In a keynote speech at the CTIA Wireless show in Las Vegas, Inaki Urdangarin, chairman of Telefonica Internacional USA, said one of the key plays for his company is emerging markets, notably key parts of Latin America, from Mexico down to Argentina. Today, Telefonica has a presence in 25 countries on 4 continents, present under its own umbrella or through alliances with companies such as China Unicom and Telecom Italia.
The keynote served as a bit of an introduction to the company for those unfamiliar with it. But it also served as a stage for Urdangarin to highlight the company's commitment to mobile innovation, notably in the areas of access to financial services in remote locations and the ability to change mobile commerce habits.
It's interesting to hear Urdangarin talk about the growth potential and investments in innovation because it's not too far off from what AT&T executives talked about, from a U.S. perspective, on the same stage earlier. The demand for growth won't slow - but it's up to the carriers and providers to make the investment to drive that growth.
That's a tough spot for big telecoms to be in but companies like Telefonica see the revenue potential in emerging markets like Latin America. And, so do U.S. investors. Urdangarin notes that a "significant" number of Telefonica's shares are held by U.S. investors.