At the end of the first year of market liberalisation the new Fixed Telephone Service providers carried 14% of all long-distance traffic generated in Portugal, according to data compiled by the Instituto das Comunicações de Portugal (ICP). Long-distance calls, i.e. interurban and international calls, was the main market these operators competed in, as a result of the low number of direct accesses installed by themselves, and because of the fact that local and regional connections only became eligible for indirect access on 1st January 2001.
The share held by the new operators in the market in which they carried out most of their activity increased throughout the year as follows: 10.4% in June, 12.1% in September, and 14.2% in December. By the end of 2000, this market share represented more than 270 million minutes of traffic. In its turn the historic operator carried 1,600 million minutes of long distance traffic during the same period.
International calls originating in Portugal was the segment in which the new operators had the highest penetration, for which they carried almost a fifth of traffic, or 19%. These operators also carried 12% of interurban traffic. Local and regional connections, being possible only by direct access, and by virtue of the above-mentioned reasons, the new operators were underrepresented in this market with a share of only 0.2%.
The same scenario is clearly reflected when traffic is analysed according to the type of access. Counting only national (local, regional and interurban) connections, we can conclude that 99% of all traffic was carried by direct access, the latter being provided mainly by the historic operator, Portugal Telecom. Considering international outgoing traffic exclusively, we can conclude that 81% was carried by direct access.
By the end of 2000, there were 23 licensed Fixed Telephone Service (FTS) providers, of which 14 were in activity. Out of this total, two operators provided direct access services only (Cabovisão and Portugal Telecom), six provided indirect services only (Global One, Interoute, Oni Solutions, Telecel, Teleweb and TMN) and six provided direct and indirect access (HLC, Jazztel, Maxitelsat, Novis, Oni Telecom and PT Prime).
The penetration rate of the fixed service reached 43.1%, representing an increase of 2% in comparison with the end of 1999 (42.3%) and the existence of about 4.3 million main telephone accesses. Almost all of these necessarily direct accesses were conducted by the historic operator. Among the direct accesses installed by the new providers - 0.3% of the total - only 26% were carried out by FWA technology.
Indirect access to the Fixed Telephone Service is understood to mean the provision of a service carrying telephone calls by means of a provider to which the customer is not directly connected. This type of access is possible in two ways: by call-to-call selection, which implies the dialling of a code (10xy) every time that the user intends to make a call; or by means of pre-selecting the provider, a function that enables the customer's line to be programmed in order for the eligible calls to be carried by default by the provider previously selected by the customer.
On the other hand, direct access implies the installation of equipment in the customer's home.
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