Company profiles

The main companies providing telecommunication services are CANTV, Movistar, Digitel, Inter, NetUno and Supercable, most of them present in the Internet, mobile and TV branches. The biggest of them is CANTV, the state-owned company, with a market share over 66 percent –reaching more than 91 percent of the fixed telephone lines– (Conatel, 2019); the quality of their services, with frequent cuts of the service and complaints from users, has arose criticism. It has also been accused of blocking certain pages or contents, in what has been considered another form of censorship. Most companies are based in Caracas and, although they are present in the whole country, in some small rural areas the only telecom provider is CANTV (Díaz; in Avendaño, 2018). A few smaller groups, like CIX, in the Monagas state, operate beside these national ones. We can define the system as an oligopoly, something that is even clearer in the mobile network market, controlled by only three companies: Movilnet, Movistar and Digitel. CANTV is also present in this market with its subsidiary Movilnet, with almost 40 percent market share, although it has been replaced as the leader of this market by Telefónica (43.5% of the market at the end of the second quarter of 2019 according to Conatel). This three companies are also the only ones present in the market of mobile internet connection.

Hyperinflation and the decrease of lines due to the poverty of Venezuelans have made telecommunication companies, especially private ones, drop their revenues and this has stopped their investments in order to improve or expand their services. The nationalisation of CANTV, the strongest and most supported by the state, as well as price limitations, make the other companies compete in a position of disadvantage.

Finally, a bill passed in 2017 by Conatel (the Providencia Administrativa N 171 mentioned in Media legislation), substituting one of 2005, forces providers of mobile services to store personal data, such as photos or fingerprints of users, and share them with the State (Urribarrí & Díaz, 2018). This is another measure that ensures state control over the population.