There are three cell phone companies in Guatemala (4 according to Wikipedia). Tigo is the mobile phone brand of Millicom International Cellular. Claro mobile telephone operator is owned by the Mexican group América Móvil, which in turn is the umbrella name for the mobile telephone division of Telmex, owned by Carlos Slim (estimated fortune of US$67.8 billion). Carlos Slim’s empire also owns the Guatemalan National Telephone Company, Telgua, and Telgua’s division of cellphone Claro brand. Movistar is the mobile division of the Spanish transnational Telefónica telephone company. Believe it or not the Telmex/América Móvil and Movistar/Telefónica are probably bigger than AT&T.
Among the three major mobile telephone brands in Guatemala, they have over 6.8 million subscribers (December 2006). There are 1.3 million land lines, most of them, belong to Telgua. If you consider that the total population of Guatemala to be close 12 million, you could say that one in two Guatemalans owns a mobile phone. It is an incredible figure if you also consider that about 70% of the population is poor.
One more interesting aspect of the mobile telephone companies is their illogical rate structure. Let me explain, it is cheaper for me to call Manolo who lives in Toronto than to call his brother who lives in Guatemala City. Yes, calls to the U.S.A. and Canada cost about Q0.80 (80 centavos of Quetzal or about US$0.10) while calls within Guatemala cost around Q1.35 (1 Quetzal and 35 centavos or about US$0.17). Mobile telephone rates vary very little between the three mobile telephone companies.
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