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Communications in Argentina

This article is about the various communications systems of Argentina.

Telephone

The Argentine telephone system is more modern following privatization in the 1990s and, more recently, market deregulation; a sizable minority of households, however, do not have fixed-line telephones. The privatization brought a new numbering plan. The growth of the mobile telephone market since the beginning of the economic recovery has been impressive, with many people now preferring a comparatively cheap cellular phone to fixed-line household service.

  • Fixed lines in use: 8,966,800
  • Mobile (cellular phones): 43,700,000
  • Public phones: 164,800 (data as of August 2008)

The domestic telephone trunk network is served by microwave radio relay and a domestic satellite system with 40 earth stations. It carries a monthly traffic of about 1.3 billion local calls, 300 million inter-city calls and about 20 million outgoing international calls (as of August 2008).

International communications employ satellite earth stations - 3 Intelsat (Atlantic Ocean); two international gateways near Buenos Aires; Atlantis II submarine cable (1999). This system is largely replaced with a domestic fiber optic ring connecting the main cities (actually the main central offices). This link runs at 2.5 Gbit/s. From these head central offices, local calls are routed through 10 Gbit/s fiber optic links, or 3 × 155 Mbit/s microwave links. These links are spaced at about 30 km. Some of these links (the ones serving smaller towns) are spaced at 60 km and this makes communications unreliable in certain weather conditions.

According to a report released on 31 January 2006 by INDEC, mobile phone lines increased by 68.8% during 2005, with 11 million mobile phones sold and now service three quarters of the population over 14 (28.5 million). A growing minority of users are children under 14, something that has raised concern and debate in Argentine society. A private study conducted by Investigaciones Económicas Sectoriales (IES), covering January–October 2006, found a 51.2% growth compared to the same period of 2005. In December 2007, the number of these units (40 million) exceeded Argentina's total population. Most of the phones (almost 90%) are imported from Brazil or Mexico.

Companies

In the 1990s the Argentine telephone system (which was formerly property of a state-owned company, ENTEL) was sold to two private corporations looking to invest in the local market: Telefónica, a telco from Spain, and Telecom Argentina, owned by France Télécom. The country was divided in two zones, within which one of the companies was the exclusive provider of the service (a state-sanctioned monopoly).

The service was then deregulated in several steps, first allowing the participation of other companies to provide international phone call services, then mobile services and finally the domestic service.

Telecom has a subsidiary Internet service provider, Arnet Other ISPs, such as Flash (property of the Clarín group), hire the facilities of Telecom and Telefónica.

Several newcomer companies in the telephone market (2005) offer high-speed broadband access, Voice over IP and other services to a restricted market group (businesses and high-level residential users).

Radio

Television

Argentine television broadcasting began in 1951 with the inaugural of state-owned Channel 13 (since privatized). A technology jealously guarded by U.S. broadcasters at the time, this was largely the achievement of Russian-Argentine engineer Jaime Yankelevich. Color television broadcasting, however, was not widely available until after 1978, when the government launched Argentina Televisora Color (ATC), now Channel 7 (Argentina's principal public television station). The prevalence of cable television, incresing steadily since the first CATV transmitter opened in the city of Junín in 1965, is now the third-widest in the world, reaching at least 60% of households.

  • Television broadcast stations: 42 (plus 444 repeaters) (1997)
  • Television sets: 9.5 million (2004)

Internet

The number of Internet users in the country has been estimated at 16 million (2007 est) and the number of internet hosts was approx. 1.7 million in August 2008.

Besides monthly-paid Internet connections (either flat rate or with a number of free minutes), in Argentina there are also a number of Internet service providers that have commercial agreements with the telephone companies for charging a slightly higher communication rate to the user for that communication, though without any monthly fixed fee. Among the roughly 7 million PCs registered in Argentina in March 2008, the number of residential and business computers connected to Internet totaled about 3.3 million, of which about 92% were broadboand connections.

The number of dial-up users decreased has drastically since 2005, in favor of broadband Internet access; whereas, at the end of 2005, there were 794,614 broadband connections (as well as 508,608 dial-up connections), by December 2007 2,557,413 broadband connections were registered, 93% of which were residential and 81% of which connected at a speed of least 512 kbit/s. Among residential users, 47.1% were located in the city of Buenos Aires, 26.4% in Buenos Aires Province (including Gran Buenos Aires), 7.1% in Santa Fe Province and 6.4% in Córdoba.

Among companies and organizations, 272,725 connection contracts were valid as of March 2008, 99% of which broadband. Among the total (in late 2005), 39.0% correspond to the city of Buenos Aires, 37.7% to the Buenos Aires Province, 4.7% to Santa Fe Province, 3.3% to Córdoba Province and 6.2% to Patagonia.

The number of e-mail accounts in June 2008 was calculated around 5.15 million, with a monthly traffic of 1.59 billion messages (only partial information available).

Argentina's Internet top-level domain is .ar.

Broadband Internet access

ADSL first appeared in Argentina in 1998, named Speedy by Telefónica, a Spanish company. Fibertel, a cable provider, now offers Cablemodem service in a limited range of cities, and ADSL is monopolized by the 2 major phone companies:

  • Telecom (in the north with Arnet ADSL)
  • Telefónica (in the south with Speedy ADSL)

In 2004, Arnet announced new plans. Controversy ensued, as in small print it mentioned that it was capped to 4 GB monthly. This plans were never put in practice until late 2005, though they were modified from the original announcements. There are no longer any capped plans. They currently offer from 640/128 kbit/s download/upload to 5 Mbit/s / 256 kbit/s (the second highest download rate offered in the country after Fibertel's Fiber6M 6 Mbit/s / 256 kbit/s) for home users. The uncapped 5 Mbit/s plan costs 148 AP (Argentine Pesos), about US$ 48 at the current exchange rate, whereas the 2.5 Mbit/s /256 kbit/s plan costs 109 AP or US$ 35. Arnet has been slowly recovering its reputation, which was tarnished amongst connoisseurs due to their 2004 announcement. See: Arnet prices

Both Speedy and Flash have a declining user base, many opting to go the way of Fibertel. Their services are often mentioned to limit P2P download activity. The best connection both ISPs offer is 6 Mbit/s / 512 kbit/s.

The tendency has been towards lowering costs to the public, instead of making investments to offer higher speeds.

Saturation and Overselling

The minimum theorical ADSL speed is 1 Mbit/s for download, 128 kbit/s for upload; but due to severe overselling started in 2007 and cheap prices, this speed is rarely effective, being disconnections and great latencies a constant on both companies. International connectivity has the worst part, multiplayer gaming is nearly impossible due to latencies beyond 500 and 1000 ms. There are no plans to solve the congestions and the CNC (National Communications Comission) has proven largely ineffective in regulating these services.

Post

The format of a postal address in Argentina is as follows:

Person's name
Company name (if applicable)
Street address
Postal code City
(optionally) Province

For example:

Marcelo A. Muñoz
Telefónica de Argentina
Defensa 390, Piso 5
1089 Capital Federal

There are no standard abbreviations for provinces' names; but the province name is optional and usually not needed if the postal code is correct. The format of the postal code was expanded in 1998 to include more specific information on location within cities; it now uses a letter that identifies the province, a four-digit number, and then three more letters (and slightly different numbers are used for different parts of a city, which was formerly done only in the case of Buenos Aires). See Argentine postal code for details.

The largest mail carrier nationally is the public Correo Argentino, followed by two private carriers operating nationwide (OCA and Andreani) and a number of regional ones.

References

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