Embratel confirmed Friday, August 30, that it is negotiating with Horizon, Canbrás and TVA as well as Net Serviços for the use of their pay-TV networks to offer local telephone service. The incumbent long-distance carrier is expected to announce agreements with some of these providers soon. Trials have begun in the case of Net Serviços, but a source in TVA rebutted the announcement.
Embratel hasn?t begun delivering local service but believes it has a solution to circumvent the lack of number portability, one of the main obstacles to competition with the LECs. The idea is to offer lines with 21 as a two-digit prefix to the existing number. Embratel believes this will surmount many corporate customers? reluctance to change numbers. ?The strategy will initially be used in major cities with eight-digit numbers, like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo,? says Paulo Roberto Ribeiro, Embratel?s director of government sales. ?The prefix 21 is like the Mercedes-Benz star for us in terms of marketing power.? Embratel expects to start delivering local service within the next few months. All it needs to do is conclude interconnect agreements with other telcos. Until the end of 2002 it will focus on the corporate segment in major cities. The platform of choice appears to be voice over IP.