Marco de Benedetti, CEO of the TIM Group, declined to say whether Telecom Italia will resume a major holding in Brasil Telecom as soon as it meets regulatory targets. The law requires ILECs to provide universal access with satisfactory quality by next year. ?Our main goal in Brazil is to have a nationwide GSM network and a leading position in mobile telephony. Other decisions not taken yet are a matter for the future,? Mr de Benedetti said at the unveiling of TIM?s full GSM service in São Paulo Tuesday, October 16. Only after 2003 will it be possible to decide what to do, depending on the state of the Brazilian market at the time, he added. Not even the possible synergy between fixed-line and mobile operations, considered a key competitive advantage, will affect the decision. ?We?re leaders of the mobile segment in other countries where we don?t have wireline operations. Synergy of that kind isn?t essential in telecommunications,? said Giorgio della Seta, president of Telecom Italia for Latin America and also present at the launch. Interest in whether and when Telecom Italia will return to Brasil Telecom arises as BrT?s board, and in particular controlling shareholder Opportunity, are considering whether to bid in the auction of PCS leftovers. Telecom Italia has an agreement with Opportunity to reclaim its recently relinquished stake in BrT once the ILEC fulfills its regulatory targets, but won?t be allowed to do so if BrT wins PCS licenses and succeeds in setting up mobile operations. Anatel?s rules debar a company from owning more than one license for a given service in the same area.
TIM has applied for a long-distance license and will have to choose a new carrier code to enter the LD market. Given the strategy of focusing on mobile, it considers this license important as a means to grow its customer base and as an additional revenue source rather than for providing service to other carriers. PCS users dial the carrier of their choice with every domestic LD call, so this revenue will go to existing LD carriers until TIM has its own license.