Telefonica to switch on Movistar 4G this week, offer data-allowance sharing

Spain’s biggest mobile operator has unveiled a number of changes it hopes will reverse falling revenue and subscriber numbers, starting with the launch of 4G services
Written by Steve Evans, Contributor

Telefonica has announced that its 4G services in Spain will finally go live on Friday.

The launch is among a raft of new developments the company hopes will improve recent performance.

Telefonica's mobile brand Movistar, Spain's biggest mobile operator, is sharing the 4G network infrastructure of fourth-placed operator Yoigo while it continues to build out its own.

Telefonica has now revealed that the first areas to be covered by its own network will be Madrid, Barcelona, Alicante, Palma de Mallorca, Valencia, Murcia, Valladolid and Zaragoza in October.

Movistar will make 4G available to its customers at no extra charge, following the lead set by Yoigo, which launched its own LTE network earlier this year. Orange and Vodafone have both also recently began offering 4G services in Spain.

Telefonica is revamping Movistar's services under the motto "more for the same". Among the changes announced on Wednesday is the removal of lock-in on its Zero and Total mobile contracts. Customers will no longer be tied into contracts of 18 months or more, and will have the freedom to move between mobile operators — a feature available to both new and existing customers.

Movistar is also aiming to introduce data-sharing by the end of the year, meaning users will be able to split their data allowance between different registered devices such as a mobile phone and tablet.

The company hopes that these new initiatives, along with a revamp of its home internet,TV and mobile combination contracts, will reverse recent disappointments in revenue and subscriber numbers.

According to figures from CMT, Spain's telecoms regulator, Movistar lost 102,000 lines during the month of June. This followed a report released in May this year that claimed Movistar lost around 700,000 subscribers during the first quarter of this year while revenue for the same period dropped over 16 percent to €3.26bn. Revenue for the first half of 2013 came in at €6.56bn, a year-on-year decline of 15.1 percent. During that period revenue from handset sales fell to €261m, down 60 percent year-on-year.

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