Country Listing

Chile Table of Contents



Chile's Ministry of Transportation and Telecommunications oversees the telecommunications sector. The development of this natural monopoly (telecommunications) is highly influenced by the type of regulations to which it is subjected. In the mid-1980s, Chile had an estimated deficit of 300,000 telephone lines. This deficit had accumulated through years of deficient management by the public sector. It was clear that major investments were needed and that the old regulatory framework was outmoded.

Reforms that directly affected telecommunications occurred in 1982 and 1985. Before the 1982 reform, Chile's telecommunications sector had been dominated by state-owned national companies. Santiago and the central part of the country had been served by the Telephone Company of Chile (Compañía de Teléfonos de Chile--CTC), a subsidiary of Corfo. The southern part of the country was served by two private companies, the National Telephone Company (Compañía Nacional de Teléfonos--CNT) and the Telephone Company of Coihaique (Compañía de Teléfonos de Coihaique). Another Corfo subsidiary, the National Telecommunications Enterprise (Empresa Nacional de Telecomunicaciones--Entel), had controlled Chile's international telephone service and much of the domestic long-distance service (including Easter Island).

Following key pricing reforms in 1987, most of the state-owned telecommunications firms were privatized during the 1987-89 period. The National Telephone Company of Spain (Telefónica) obtained control of CTC, which has been 50 percent privatized. Entel retained its monopolies. By 1991 Chile had 768,000 telephones. CTC plans called for installing 190,000 new lines in 1992 and investing US$500 million in 1993 in expanding and upgrading the telephone network. This would permit the installation of 280,000 new lines and the replacement of the remaining analog switching systems that were serving 320,000 lines in 1992. In April 1992, however, Chile's monopoly commission ordered Telefónica to sell its stake in one of the two Chilean telephone companies in which it owned shares--CTC and Entel. Telefónica was appealing the decision to the Supreme Court.

Chile's modern telephone system is based on extensive microwave relay facilities. The rapid development of cellular telephones, digital technology, and satellite links have put even the smallest town in Chile within reach. In 1992 telecommunications service increased 36 percent; CTC had installed more than 900,000 telephone lines by that year. In 1991 there were 4.25 million radios in the country (see The Media , ch. 4). The United States firm ScientificAtlantic , under contract to CTC, built a US$29 million domestic digital satellite communications receiving system. Chile was the first South American country to establish an emergency satellite rescue receiver station. A European Space Agency ERS-1 tracking and command station is located in Santiago.

Chile has 167 AM radio stations, no FM stations, 131 television stations, and 12 shortwave radio stations. Most of these units are affiliated with the Association of Chilean Broadcasters (Asociación de Radiodifusores de Chile--Archi). Chile uses two Atlantic Ocean stations and three domestic satellite ground stations of the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization ( Intelsat-- see Glossary).

Data as of March 1994