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Founded 1994
Headquarters Colombia
Industry Wireless Telephone
Employees 2,600

COMCEL is the cellular telephone leader in the Colombian market. Approximately 58.9 percent of national subscribers use COMCEL, according to information from the Ministry of Communications in June 2005.

Company History

On January 22, 1994, all of Colombia was expecting one of the most important tenders in the channels of communication: the sale of a cellular mobile phone service. The country was divided into three zones of service operation: Bogotá and the eastern region; Medellín, Cali and the western region; and the Atlantic Coast. To guarantee competency, the Government established two bands or segments of electromagnetic spectrum that were assigned for a specific service. To the private enterprises were awarded the band ‘B’ and mixed businesses were awarded band ‘A’. In order to satisfy the financial and technical demands on the tender, each group was integrated with at least two elements: an experienced cellular operator that guaranteed quality of service and large businessmen with a high capacity of investment.

In the second half of 1994, cellular operators chosen entered to offer their services. In the western region, Celumovil is covering band ‘B’, COMCEL covered band ‘A’. In the eastern region, band ‘B’ was covered by Cocelco and band ‘A’ was covered by Occel. On the Atlantic Coast, Celumovil covered band ‘B’ while Celcaribe covered band ‘A’.

In July 1994, COMCEL began as a company of mixed economics, with participation form Bell Canada International (BCI), the ETB and Telecom. On March 26, 1998, BCI bought 68.4 percent of the shares of Occel (Occidente y Caribe Celular S.A.). In this operation, BCI obtained control of the shares of Cable & Wireless Plc, Caribe Celular S.A., Empresa Cafetera Celular S.A., and other minority investors.

On September 28, 1998, the final step for the integration of COMCEL and Occel, with an administrative agreement that COMCEL would directly administer Occel’s operations under its own brand. December 23rd of that year, BCI sold to COMCEL its participation in Occel, an operation that permitted COMCEL to consolidate with Occel. Although legally the companies continued to operate in an independent way, the process of integration, approved by the different governmental entities, permitted that the brand utilized commercially was COMCEL. The negotiation permitted the union of the two businesses as a single organization, thus not only covering the eastern region, but also the western region where 37 percent of the population resides.

November 2000, COMCEL presented changes in its composition, since BCI is associated with America Mobil Inc. of C.V. of Mexico and with SouthWestern Bell. Communications of the United States (SBC) began a union with Telecom Americas Ltd. And since then these three businesses have integrated and become the main shareholders of COMCEL with 77.92 percent. February 12, 2003, COMCEL acquired the Regional Communications Business of the Atlantic Coast, Inc. Celcaribe to MIHL. Celcaribe covered the 7 Caribbean coast departments (Atlántico, Bolívar, Magdalena, Cesar, Sucre, Córdoba, and La Guajira). With this new integration, the service of Celcaribe included the advantages that belonged to COMCEL, as well as the benefit of the availability to all the plans for the subscribers of the Atlantic coast.

In October 2003, the country entered into an operation of the first mobile phone system operator business PCS called ‘Colombia Mobile’. At that time, Colombia counted on three mobile operators, those who worked on a national level. Band ‘A’ became COMCEL, band ‘B’ became Telefónica, and for the PCS operator, Colombia Mobile remained.

In December 2004, the companies COMCEL Inc., Occel Inc. and Celcaribe Inc. fused together after the approval on the part of the Supervisions of Values and Companies under the resolutions 1017 of December 17, 2004 and 320-003573 of December 20, 2004 respectively. In June 2005, the number of subscribers to mobile telephones on a national scale grew approximately 49.8 percent from 10,400,578 subscribers in December 2004 to 15,381,389 in June 2005.

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